WASHINGTON: Watch the skies. While they’re far from falling, the head of Air Force Space Command said today, the heavens aren’t the “peaceful sanctuary” they once were, either. Nothing short of a nuclear missile could pull the plug on a satellite constellation as robust as the Global Positioning System (GPS), Gen. William Shelton said, semi-reassuringly.… Keep reading →
At 1:03 pm today, the US Air Force launched a robotic space plane that can stay in orbit for over a year. That’s good news for the nation’s troubled space program. The X-37B, as it’s called, is pretty cool — and highly classified. But beyond the veil of secrecy, what’s it really good for? The answer is intriguing but hardly obvious.
First of all, despite some overheated speculation, the Boeing-built X-37B is probably not a space fighter, a space bomber or some kind of satellite-killer to take on the burgeoning Chinese space program. For long-range strikes on ground targets, the Air Force has a much more modest — and affordable — program for a Next-Generation Bomber, basically a souped-up B-2 that won’t even break the speed of sound, let alone reach orbit. And the military has had working anti-satellite weapons since the 1980s: The current satellite-killer is the Standard Missile SM-3, which launches off the Navy’s Aegis ships. You don’t need a robot space plane to do either job. Keep reading →
The U.S. defense industry, being reshaped by declining post-war budgets, globalization, and the increased pace of technological change, must work with the Pentagon and take proactive steps to maintain our historic preeminence on the battlefield. Our industry does not easily embrace change. In fact, history demonstrates that shifts in the defense industry have largely been… Keep reading →