The War Report: January 26-28, 2018

(Distributed via TinyLetter on Jan. 26, subscribe here)

Welcome to The War Report, a special weekend roundup of news articles by James Drew, Aviation Week defense editor from January 15-26, 2018. You can see my latest stories as they’re published at, or follow me @JamesDrewNews. Send notes and news tips to

  1. Has China Replaced Russia As U.S.’s No. 1 Rival? The Pentagon’s rollout of the 2018 National Defense Strategy in January might have been overshadowed by a three-day government shutdown, but it was not lost on Russia and China, nor U.S. allies and the defense establishment at home.
  2. USAF Spending Big On Technology Transition Projects: U.S. Air Force science and technology projects heading toward the “valley of death” should fear no evil in fiscal 2019, particularly if they relate to autonomy, directed energy, hypersonics, or low-cost and long-endurance aircraft.
  3. Afghanistan Will Fly 10 Orbital ATK AC-208s: The U.S. Air Force has confirmed that the Afghan Air Force will receive a total of 10 fixed-wing AC-208B “Eliminator” surveillance and strike aircraft from Orbital ATK.
  4. U.S. Navy Signs Orbital ATK To Develop Enlarged AARGM: The U.S. Navy has tapped Orbital ATK to develop the first anti-radiation missile designed for internal carriage on the carrier-based F-35C Joint Strike Fighter.
  5. Russia’s Doomsday Torpedo Is A ‘Third Strike’ Weapon: The Russian doomsday torpedo recently acknowledged by the Pentagon appears to be a multimegaton “third strike” weapon designed for maximum radioactive fallout.
  6. U.S. Navy Fire Scout Fleet Needs More Ship Deployments: As aircraft continue piling up at Naval Base Ventura County in Point Mugu, California, the U.S. Navy anticipates more deployments of the Northrop Grumman MQ-8B/C Fire Scout over the coming years as additional Littoral Combat Ships enter service.
  7. Raytheon Prepping New SM-3 Block 2A Interceptor For Aegis Ashore Test: Raytheon is preparing for another consequential intercept tests of its newly developed Standard Missile-3 Block 2A exoatmospheric interceptor, with plans to launch it against a ballistic missile target from the U.S. government’s Aegis Ashore testing complex on Kauai, Hawaii.
  8. Turkey Called U.S. Prior To Syria Airstrikes, Mattis Says: Turkey warned the U.S. in advance of its air strikes against positions in Northern Syria occupied by U.S.-backed forces on Jan. 20, Defense Secretary James Mattis has confirmed.
  9. Acting Administrator Takes Reins Of NNSA Amid Shutdown: The U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration went through a change of leadership the same day the semi-autonomous branch of the Energy Department was bracing for a partial shutdown of the federal government.
  10. Congress Fails To Avert Government Shutdown: The U.S. federal government went into partial shutdown mode on Saturday after a stopgap spending measure was blocked by the Senate.
  11. Pentagon Seeks More Lethal Force Ready For War: As the U.S. federal government prepares for another shutdown, the Pentagon says it must now be ready for a military showdown.
  12. Ryan: ‘Defense Budget Being Held Hostage’: U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has appealed to his congressional colleagues to pass a stopgap spending measure and avert a government shutdown, or risk further harming America’s already strained military.
  13. Sbirs Launch To Feature Centaur Deorbiting Maneuver: The upcoming launch of the U.S. Air Force’s fourth Space-Based Infrared System missile warning satellite will feature a launch vehicle deorbiting maneuver designed to limit space junk.
  14. The Pentagon Wants Its Nuclear Tomahawks Back: The Trump administration will embark on a big-league revival of the U.S. nuclear complex after decades of decline by reviving production of plutonium cores for new warheads and reintroducing a sea-launched cruise missile, among other plans.
  15. Trump Hopes To Rearm U.S. Navy With Nuclear Cruise Missiles: The U.S. Navy would be with re-equipped with nuclear-tipped cruise missile.

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