The Air & Space Brief: B-21 rollout; Space Force standup; ‘New normal’ for Taiwan; and more…
Welcome to the Defense One Air and Space newsletter. Here are our top stories this week:
Big reveal. Northrop Grumman and the U.S. Air Force will unveil the top-secret B-21 stealth bomber at a Friday ceremony in California, Defense One’s Marcus Weisgerber reports. But it’s unlikely that many other new details will be released about the plane, which was designed to evade radar detection and fly with or without pilots.
Space Force in INDOPACOM. The U.S. Space Force recently stood up a component within U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, the service’s first permanent presence outside the continental United States, Defense One’s Lauren C. Williams reports. The move “gives the Space Force a direct line to Adm. John Aquilino,” commander of INDOPACOM, as well as “involvement for discussions that were previously filtered through the Air Force,” Williams writes.
Afghanistan awards. USAF Air Mobility Command in Charleston, S.C., awarded 51 Distinguished Flying Crosses for heroic actions during the Afghanistan evacuation during a Nov. 21 ceremony the Air Force called the “largest of its kind in decades.” AMC Commander Gen. Mike Minihan said the installation’s airmen “were ready to do whatever it took to deliver the forces needed to secure the Kabul airport and then to evacuate and save as many lives as possible. It’s what they did next that displayed heroism and selfless devotion to duty.”
‘New normal.’ The uptick in Chinese military activity around Taiwan that began around the time of U.S. House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the island is expected to continue as “kind of a new normal,” a senior U.S. defense official said before the release of the newest edition of the Pentagon’s China Military Power report, Defense One’s Patrick Tucker reports. Read more about that report, here.
Sign up to get The Air & Space Brief every Tuesday from Jennifer Hlad, Defense One’s news editor. On this day in 1961, NASA launched the Mercury-Atlas 5 spacecraft, with Enos the chimpanzee aboard. The spacecraft orbited the Earth twice before splashing down southeast of Bermuda. Enos was in “excellent physical condition” after the flight.
From Defense One
Revealed: The Public Finally Gets to See the B-21 Stealth Bomber this Week // Marcus Weisgerber
Some of the Northrop Grumman employees building the secret plane also worked on the B-2 bomber.
Space Force Is Setting Up Inside Combatant Commands // Lauren C. Williams
INDOPACOM is the first warfighting command to stand up a USSF component, but it won't be the last.
China's Increased Military Activity Near Taiwan, a 'New Normal' Says Pentagon // Patrick Tucker
The Pentagon identifies 2027 as a key deadline for China military modernization, then 2035 and 2049.
I'm Thankful for American Troops – All of Them // Kevin Baron
The right-wing war on American LGBTQ+ troops and diversity in the military is getting worse. Maybe it's time Pentagon leaders defend their own.