America’s First B-21 Bomber Was a Bust
The U.S. Air Force has been especially tight-lipped about the specifics of its upcoming Long Range Strike Bomber. The Northrop Grumman-designed plane doesn’t even have an official nickname, yet. But we do know one thing — its designation. The B-21. “The designation B-21 recognizes the LRS-B as the first... Read more
In 1990, the U.S. Government Accidentally Gave Up a Nuclear Secret
In mid-February 2016, the U.S. government finally admitted what observers had long known — that the Pentagon stashed atomic weapons on the Japanese island of Okinawa during the Cold War. This despite repeated official denials and Tokyo’s long-standing opposition to nuclear weapons. The National Security Archive at George Washington... Read more
The U.S. Air Force Still Plans to Prematurely Retire the A-10
Supporters of the U.S. Air Force’s A-10 Warthog attack jet celebrated in February when the Pentagon announced that the flying branch would delay retiring the heavily-armored, gun-armed planes until 2022, eventually replacing the A-10 squadrons one at a time with units flying the new F-35 stealth fighter. Previously, the... Read more
Aviation Scribe Robert F. Dorr Soars Toward His Own Sunset
Robert F. Dorr was a teenager when he became a military writer. Just 16 years old and a high-school student, he got an opinion piece into the November 1955 issue of Air Force Magazine. The young pundit contended that the U.S. Air Force needed to pay more attention to... Read more
Forty-Five Seconds
Forty-five seconds of swirling dust was all it took to kill two U.S. Marines and injure 20 other service members. On May 17, 2015, a Marine Corps V-22 Osprey tiltrotor — a $70-million hybrid aircraft that takes off like a helicopter but cruises like an airplane thanks to its... Read more
These Weird Warplanes Didn’t Need Runways
Originally published on July 29, 2013. Warplanes’ biggest vulnerability is their runways. Modern airfields are no match for modern weapons; bunker-busting munitions can crater the thickest concrete. There was a brief period after World War II when the U.S. military thought it had a solution: simply design planes that... Read more
Here’s an Idea — Stick Missiles on America’s Giant Spy Drone
It’s a little-known fact that when Northrop Grumman designed the Global Hawk spy drone back in the 1990s, the company added underwing hardpoints for weapons — just in case the U.S. Air Force decided, down the road, that it wanted to arm the currently-weaponless 737-size surveillance robot. Lo and... Read more