BECOME A MEMBER DONATE TODAY

An F-22 Pilot in a Real Jet Just Took on China’s J-20 in Augmented Reality

An American veteran F-22 pilot just took on a virtual representation of China’s Chengdu J-20 stealth fighter from the seat of a very real aircraft in flight. The Chinese fighter was projected on the pilot’s augmented reality helmet-mounted display, giving a real pilot in a real aircraft the opportunity to train against a seemingly real foreign opponent. According to the two firms responsible for the test, this marks the first time such an engagement with a virtual adversary has ever been achieved.

In a story first covered by Thomas Newdick at The Warzone, U.S. companies Red 6 and EpiSci announced the successful test of their augmented reality training program earlier this week. Their veteran F-22 pilot participated in the test from the stick of a Freeflight Composites Berkut 560 experimental aircraft. Inside the cockpit, he wore a helmet that included an augmented reality display that projected the image of his opponent, China’s J-20, in his field of view. The enemy aircraft was not controlled by another aviator, but was instead a reactive adversary controlled by EpiSci’s Tactical AI technology.

READ MORE

US Air Force chief’s top modernization priorities aren’t what you think they are

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Air Force is spending tens of billions of dollars every year to buy new aircraft, including F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, KC-46 tankers, the T-7A trainer jet and more. But none of those platforms makes the list of Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown’s top three modernization priorities.

“In some cases, I’m not so much enamored with airplanes, although, you know, I flew airplanes,” Brown said during a Nov. 12 interview where Defense News asked him to list his top three weapons priorities for the Air Force.

“It’s really the capability” that matters, he said. “And as we look at, you know, future conflicts, we may be fighting differently. I don’t know that for a fact. But when I came in, cyber wasn’t a thing. Now it is. Space was a benign environment. Now, not as much.

READ MORE

Senators Push for More F-35 Oversight in Spending Bill

Col. David Shevchik, Jr., commander of the 158th Fighter Wing, Air National Guard, flies the wing’s final F-35A Lightning II to the South Burlington Air National Guard Base during a ceremony marking the arrival, South Burlington, Vt., Oct. 14, 2020. The aircraft is the 20th and final to be assigned to the wing since taking delivery of the first two in Sept. of 2019. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Ryan Campbell)

The Senate Appropriations Committee wants to keep a closer eye on the Pentagon’s most expensive weapons program.

Lawmakers added multiple provisions to the committee’s version of the fiscal 2021 defense spending bill that call for more reports on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, as well as greater transparency in future budgets.

The committee is offering $1.1 billion for 12 more F-35As, and $525.5 million for five more F-35Cs, than the Pentagon requested. In total, Senate appropriators want to spend $5.5 billion on 60 F-35As for the Air Force in 2021. That’s nearly identical to the House’s plan for the F-35A, which offers $5.8 billion. The service requested 48 of the jets.

READ MORE

Female fighter pilots test modified ATAGS “G-suit”

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (AFNS) —

Five female fighter pilots tested a modified version of the Advanced Technology Anti-Gravity Suit Oct. 26-30.

ATAGS is a proven design and a critical life support item that protects aircrew members from the effects of high-G forces during maneuvers in fighter aircraft, but the ATAGS design, which has been in use since 2001, was developed primarily for standard men’s body types. Pilots who are shorter or have smaller or hard-to-fit body types often struggle to properly adjust the G-suit to fit well due to a limited range of adjustability in the standard sizes.

Directly tasked by the secretary of the Air Force, engineers and subject matter experts at Air Force Life Cycle Management Center and AFWERX set out to address priority shortfalls in female specific aircrew equipment and gear, to include ATAGS. Instead of creating a new product altogether, experts determined modifications could be made to the current ATAGS design to better fit women and various body types.

READ MORE

The Air Force Plans to Retrain Weapons System Officers to Be B-21 Bomber Pilots

As the U.S. Air Force prepares to bring the next-generation stealth bomber into its inventory over the next two decades, it plans to slash the number of weapons system officers by as much as half to make room for more pilots, according to a top general.

Though the service has not announced exactly how many B-21 Raiders it expects to purchase, it will no longer need as many WSOs — commonly referred to as “wizzos” — the aircrew who manage the delivery of bombs as well as intelligence-gathering sensors. It plans to retrain them to become pilots in the years ahead, according to Maj. Gen. Mark E. Weatherington, 8th Air Force commander.

READ MORE

The U.S. Air Force Looks To Advanced Manufacturing To Keep Existing Aircraft Flying And Develop Next-Gen Capabilities

What if there were Olympic events that weren’t physical, but were focused instead on completely geeking out on super-cool breakthrough technologies for real-world aerospace and defense challenges? Even better, what if they offered prize money totaling nearly a million dollars?

Now there are just such events, thanks to the U.S. Air Force’s Rapid Sustainment Office (RSO). In fact, participants in five such Olympic “sports” (or Technical Challenges, as the RSO calls them) have already been competing over the past few months. Those competitions will culminate when the winners are announced during next week’s four-day Advanced Manufacturing Olympics. This virtual conference runs from October 20-23, and features technology demonstrations, expert speakers from both industry and the military, virtual networking opportunities, and the awarding of prized for those Technical Challenges mentioned above.

“RSO is working to revolutionize sustainment, while building an agile supply chain for the future,” said Nathan Parker, Deputy Program Executive Officer at the RSO. “Originally, we were planning to hold this inaugural event outside Salt Lake City, Utah. But then Covid hit, so we’ve taken the whole thing virtual.”

READ MORE

Air Force seeks a radical shift in how jets, missiles and satellites are designed

When Will Roper, the top acquisition and technology official at the Air Force, first saw how Boeing and Saab came up with the design for the Air Force’s new training jet, he realized the way the military devises new weapons, planes, satellites and missiles needed to change.

When designing the T-7 Red Hawk trainer aircraft, Boeing and Saab relied heavily on computer models to test system designs and iron out inconsistencies, a far less time-consuming approach, Boeing executives said in an interview, than physically piecing together the plane’s advance system. Though the company has long employed various forms of digital modeling, Boeing executives said the T-7 relied more heavily on it than any of the company’s previous aircraft.

Now Roper wants to make this sort of process a requirement for companies building any of the Air Force’s premier systems in the future. He is hoping to usher in a new era of weapons development in which computer-generated models — owned by the government and enabled by artificial intelligence technology — can test millions of possible designs in a virtual format before ever creating a prototype.

READ MORE

The new U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff has a reputation of only asking for what he needs. He’s going to need a lot.

WASHINGTON — In September 2016, when the U.S. Air Force’s new chief of staff, Gen. Dave Goldfein, took the stage at the service’s largest conference, he spoke of the heavy responsibility of leading the service. He said the portraits of former chiefs had eyes that followed him like “a Harry Potter movie,” and he recounted his own experience as a young F-16 pilot in combat for the first time during Desert Storm.

Then he used the speech, like his predecessors had, to lay out his goals for the Air Force.

He wanted to reinvigorate squadrons where pilots had become overloaded with administrative work. He wanted to improve joint operations in the face of emerging Russian and Chinese threats. Perhaps, most ambitiously, he wanted to create a new command-and-control enterprise that would connect the military’s legacy platforms and inject new technologies like data fusion and artificial intelligence.

READ MORE

What aircraft does the US Air Force need to beat China and Russia? This new study has an answer.

WASHINGTON ? Last September, the U.S. Air Force revealed that it will need a total of 386 operational squadrons to take on future threats posed by Russia and China. A new congressionally mandated study posits that number may not be enough. Further, the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments study ? which has been obtained exclusively by Defense News ? goes on to recommend that the Air Force begin developing a handful of new technologies not in its plans, including a stealthy weaponized drone, a new unmanned reconnaissance plane that can penetrate into contested spaces, and refueling tankers that are unlike anything in its current inventory.

READ MORE

Blurring the Lines Part II: A Pilot by Any Other Name

It?s been pointed out so often that it?s gotten boring: The Air Force has a pilot shortage. Imagine: The organization that bills itself as the premier aviation organization on the planet is short of fighter aviators, has been for some time, and will continue to be for a significant period to come.

READ MORE