The Air & Space Brief: B-2s still grounded; NDAA, budget pass; New weather sat; and more
Welcome to the Defense One Air and Space newsletter. Here are our top stories this week:
B-2s still grounded. The runway at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, reopened Dec. 21, but the U.S. Air Force’s B-2 fleet remains grounded after a Dec. 10 mishap, a spokesperson confirmed to Defense One on Jan. 3. And despite the safety standdown, President Joe Biden can still ask B-2s to fly “to fulfill mission requirements.”
Budget, NDAA signed. President Biden on Dec. 23 signed the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act and the $1.7 trillion omnibus funding bill into law. Language in the NDAA requires Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to rescind the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for the military within weeks, but a Pentagon spokesperson said the department is still working out the details on how to do that.
Space Force launches weather satellite. An experimental weather satellite for the U.S. Space Force launched aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket Jan. 3, C4ISRNET reported. The satellite is part of the service’s Electro-Optical/Infared Weather Systems program, “demonstrating emerging space weather imaging technology,” C4ISRNET’s Courtney Albon writes.
BACN deployment. The U.S. Air Force deployed an E-11A with a Battlefield Airborne Communication Node—BACN—to Saudi Arabia in December, Air & Space Forces Magazine reported. The aircraft is the newest of the Air Force’s E–11As; BACN enables communication between different data links, as well as between troops on the ground and those in the air, and has been described as “wifi in the sky.”
From Defense One
Debris from damaged stealth bomber cleared from a Missouri runway more than 10 days after the mishap, USAF says.
Measure now heads to the House ahead of Friday's shutdown deadline.
The 2023 Omnibus' Cyber, Tech, and Space Provisions // Edward Graham and Kirsten Errick
The $1.7 trillion bill introduced on Tuesday aims to spur investment in cyber defense, space, and other cutting-edge tech.
Lawmakers Omit R&D Tax Break From 2023 Spending Bill // Marcus Weisgerber
Company execs have credited the multibillion-dollar tax break with spurring innovation.