“My personal view is, the first shots of the future fight will be either in the cyber domain or -- maybe it's an ‘and’ -- and the space domain.  And so we've got to make sure we have sufficient capability there because that's critical to our capabilities to fight and ...

Lockheed Martin says it will continue to bring down the hourly costs of operating the F-35 fighter jet, while continuing to address the problems that have been plaguing the program.  Some of those issues involve the supply chain and others speak to reliability.  The head of the program was at ...

The Cipher Brief’s new Friday column Cipher Select, is laser-focused on bringing you a range of different perspectives on special operations issues over the next several months. United States Special Operations Command (SOCOM) was established in 1987, with a mission to “Organize, train, equip and provide fully capable Special Operations Forces ...

President Donald Trump’s recent announcement to the National Space Council that he is asking the Pentagon to create a new ‘Space Force’ caught many off guard.  In particular, many at the Pentagon who will be tasked with plotting the way ahead. In the hours after the President made his comments, ...

Not a day goes by that Americans don't wake to the news of a new cyber intrusion affecting private sector or government networks, whether major cyber hacks at Target or Equifax, sloppy data breaches like those Verizon experienced, or nation-state-sponsored efforts like the WannaCry virus. Companies and institutions are pouring ...

The introduction of armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) permanently altered the modern battlefield. New technological advances in drone technology could do it again: from advanced materials that allow drones to fly, roll, run or swim in less forgiving environments, to thinking software than makes them more independent, to stealth technology ...

While most American news outlets last week focused on sexual harassment, tax reform and President Donald Trump’s red-carpet trip to the Far East, the Pentagon and some in Congress were dealing with North Korea and other serious national security issues. Use of Force Against North Korea The question of whether ...

America’s next stealth bomber, known as the B-21 Raider, will become the Air Force’s primary aircraft in the strategic bomber leg of the nuclear triad. Slated for delivery in 2025, it will employ cutting edge stealth and electronic warfare technologies while also incorporating a flexible architecture to allow for future ...

When North Korea commits a provocation, the U.S. often responds by conducting a flyover with its strategic bombers. American bombers flew over South Korea after both of Pyongyang’s recent intercontinental ballistic missile tests this month as well as nuclear tests in previous years. Strategic bombers can display American power and ...

America’s strategic bomber force is comprised of some of the Air Force’s oldest aircraft. The B-52 has served since the 1950s and will remain a valuable aircraft for decades more. However, this is contingent on developing the Long Range Standoff cruise missile to replace the aging Air-Launched Cruise Missile. This ...

When SpaceX successfully launched the National Reconnaissance Office's NROL-76 into orbit last month from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and recovered the rocket's first stage, it marked the commercial space launch company’s first successful delivery in a series of top secret satellite launch contracts for the U.S. Air Force. ...

Amidst the recent terror attack in Manchester, NATO’s announcement that it will formally join the fight against ISIS, and the ongoing wars in Syria and Afghanistan, outgoing Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James painted a sobering picture of the Trump Administration’s emergent policies at The Cipher Brief’s Georgetown ...

The core missions of the U.S. Air Force demand that it always be prepared to defend the United States while also being prepared to carry out operations anywhere in the world. Perhaps more than any other service branch, this requires maintaining a technological edge over adversaries. In The Cipher Brief's ...

How can the military fund its current forces while preparing for the future? There’s no simple answer to such a question. 2016 was a mixed bag for America’s military planning and largest procurement programs. Readiness assessments for the branches of the armed forces show they are falling behind in key ...

As the most expensive procurement program in history, the F-35 program exemplifies both the promise and pitfalls of developing and deploying an advanced weapons platform. After years of delays and cost overruns, in 2016 the program reached an important milestone: the USAF, the largest buyer of the airplane, declared it ...

What could possibly make the F-35 an even more advanced jet fighter? Lasers, according to the U.S. Air Force. The USAF plans, which would put the system into service sometime in the 2020s, will have to clear the same hurdles that have plagued all directed-energy weapons. These weapons have always ...

The size of the army matters—but technology wins wars. At the height of the Roman Empire, Roman Legions armed with arrows, long-staffs, and shields devastated the more numerous but ill-equipped barbarian hordes. In 1914, employing tanks and automatic weapons, the German army rolled across Europe, dominating the cavalry and breech-loaded ...

Directed-energy weapons have been an ambition of militaries across the world, since Archimedes focused the sun to set fire to Roman ships in 212 B.C. What was once considered a science project is now a necessity, and our continued military superiority depends on the outcome. Why? Our adversaries have made ...

For this year’s Thanksgiving Day feature, The Cipher Brief revisits its coverage of the innovation and procurement challenges behind the F-35 Lighting II. As production ramps up and the U.S. and its coalition partners take delivery, we reexamine what lessons can be learned from the procurement process and whether or ...

For this year’s Thanksgiving Day feature, The Cipher Brief revisits its coverage of the innovation and procurement challenges behind the F-35 Lighting II. As production ramps up and the U.S. and its coalition partners take delivery, we reexamine what lessons can be learned from the procurement process and whether or ...

In a September 7th speech, then-candidate Donald Trump described his vision for the future of the American military. “As soon as I take office, I will ask Congress to fully eliminate the defense sequester and will submit a new budget to rebuild our military. This will increase certainty in the ...

The F-35 will bring two important capabilities, which are currently not possessed by the UK armed forces, when it enters frontline service at the end of this decade. The first is the capability to operate inside airspace which is defended by high-end air defence systems, such as the Russian SA-21 ...

After years of delays and cost overruns, the F-35 is finally in the hands of military services across the globe. As of June of this year, Lockheed Martin has rolled out 174 F-35s and altogether these aircraft have racked up 68,000 flight hours. Now that the aircraft is reaching operational ...

Australia’s armed forces have fought as an ally of the United States in all if its wars since WWII. As an original partner in the Joint Strike Fighter program, Australia is keen to maintain a modern military that can operate as a coalition member in its backyard and farther abroad. ...

Speaking the Same Language Since the earliest stages, the F-35 was designed to improve the interoperability of coalition nations fighting together. The Cipher Brief spoke with former F-35 pilot Lt. Col David Berke, on the technologies that elevate the F-35 above 4th generation fighter aircraft for the U.S. and its ...

The crisis after 9/11 forced every branch of the military to reevaluate its mission set, its structure, and its identity. Fifteen years later, the process is ongoing. Last week, a congressional report highlighted the debate over whether it should be enlarged or reduced from its current 475,000 soldiers. In that ...

After the United States emerged from the Vietnam War, it witnessed the events of the 1973 Yom Kippur War—a state-level conflict fought against Israel by a coalition of Arab states led by Egypt and Syria. That war underscored how far potential enemies had advanced in terms of weapons and tactics. ...

Thomas Mahnken is the Jerome E. Levy Chair of Economic Geography and National Security at the U.S. Naval War College and served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Policy Planning, giving him a unique perspective into changes in naval warfare. He shared this insight, along with his expectations for ...

Whether or not we are officially at war with ISIS is a reoccurring debate in today’s mass media.  Part of what makes this question so compelling is that the concept of war, and how it’s fought, has dramatically changed since the end of the Cold War.  Take, for example, the ...

Three dramatic developments have occurred in the employment of U.S. air power in the past 25 years: the vulnerability of air defenses faced, leading to far less attrition of U.S. aircraft than was suffered previously; the ability to strike ground targets with great precision, day or night; and the ability ...

In American culture, Veteran is a powerful word, and for better or worse, it is used universally. The Department of Veterans Affairs is a common topic for Congress, the news, and Facebook. Veterans Day features sales, promotions, and free donuts. We are highlighted at sporting events, during the State of ...

For many Americans, holidays have become something to look forward to, because they mark the beginning of special season like summer, a day off from work, or the chance to get a deal on some big purchase. Too often, we fail to reflect on the true meaning of the holiday. ...

Every year, about 200 thousand service members complete their military service and transition to civilian communities and the civilian workforce. Military downsizing—forced by budget pressures and the end of large-scale combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan—will mean even more troops needing jobs. Unlike previous post-war downsizings, more of these troops ...

Retired LTG Guy Swan spent more than 35 years in the Army, commanding at every level.  Now, as a Vice President of the Association of the United States Army (AUSA), he stays attuned to the concerns of today’s new veterans.  Swan tells The Cipher Brief that those returning from the ...

As Veterans Day approaches, I find myself thinking about the veterans in my family—three generations. There is my 95-year-old father-in-law, who did his World War II service as an enlisted man in the Army in North Africa, Italy, and France. Next is my husband, whose nearly 40-year Air Force career ...

Master Sergeant William "Spanky" Gibson is a retired United States Marine, who served for 22 years in multiple theaters.  On May 16th, 2006, while on a foot patrol in Iraq, then-Gunnery Sergeant Gibson was shot through the left knee during a fire fight. His wounds required his left leg to ...