Popular in defense: the most read breaking defense stories of 2021 – breaking defense breaking defense

The Chinese hypersonic test, a DARPA project and, of course, the Wedgetail were among the most popular reports this year. (Breaking Defense graphic. Original photo credit: US Air Force / Renae Pittman)

WASHINGTON: Breaking Defense is honored to have among its readers policymakers, practitioners and senior industry officials in the sprawling world of defense – those in the know, for whom JADC2 is not an impenetrable acronym but something totally logical to say. With that comes a great gift for journalists: we’re less concerned with general traffic and more concerned with who our readers are.

But every now and then a story hits a more general nerve, and readers around the world are drawn to original and in-depth reporting or analysis on the critical topics of the day. The list below is a reflection of these latest, most popular stories on the site for 2021. Popular perhaps because the story explains a complex subject in a clear and authoritative way (the Chinese story of FOBS) , announces fresh news (potential declassification of a space weapon) or for much less serious reasons (looking at you, DARPA turducken).

The Chinese J-35 aircraft carrier fighter appears; Switch to the “most powerful navy”?

By far the biggest hit story, in terms of numbers, for Breaking Defense this year was a report on China’s new J-35 stealth fighter and its appearance in an aircraft carrier building in Wuhan, years after its debut in 2014 Chinese Air Show.

Reuben Johnson of Breaking Defense reported that the aircraft is “not only a major step in the march of Chinese industry to create a modern carrier force, but is a leap of two generations beyond the original choice of the PLAN. for a combat aircraft capable of carrying aircraft carriers. […] the D-15.

Exclusive: Pentagon to Unveil and Demonstrate Classified Space Weapon

In August, Breaking Defense’s Theresa Hitchens exclusively reported that senior Pentagon officials had been working for months to declassify a mysterious space weapon and provide a real demonstration of its capabilities.

At the time, the push was led by the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General John Hyten, who recently retired but was delayed by the White House.

SOCOM to test anti-aging pill next year

2022 could be a banner year for the US Special Operations Command, if not for covert missions, than for an expected experiment with anti-aging technology. In June, Hitchens reported that SOCOM planned to test a pill over the next year that “has the potential, if successful, to really delay aging, really prevent the onset of injury – which is an incredible change in life. gives, “according to Lisa Sanders, director of science and technology for special operations forces, acquisition, technology and logistics.

“These efforts are not aimed at creating physical traits that do not already exist naturally,” SOCOM spokesperson Him Hawkins said at the time. “It’s about improving the mission readiness of our forces by improving performance characteristics that typically decline with age. “

Roper suggests that the NGAD could replace the F-35; Why? Life cycle costs

In early 2021, Will Roper, the Air Force acquisition czar, made the news when he said that the F-35, the most expensive weapon system in history, was still “far from at the sustainment point we need.” . “

In another report from Hitchens, Roper explained why the Air Force must continue to invest in developing its next-generation air domination platform – that is, its next-generation combat plan – not just in as a newer and better fighter, but as a “completely different acquisition paradigm.

It’s a FOBS, Space Force’s Saltzman confirms amid confusion over Chinese weapons tests

The fall of 2021 has been a very confusing time for anyone trying to unravel information, which first appeared in the Financial Times, that the Chinese government had tested an orbital hypersonic weapon, much to the surprise of U.S. intelligence agencies.

Appearing again, Hitchens noted that experts were in doubt as to what exactly happened. So it was news when Space Force Lt. Gen. Chance (Salty) Saltzman spoke clearly about what the test had, confirming that it was a Fractional Orbital Bombardment System (FOBS).

Australians will choose a “mature” nuclear sub-design; Is the leader of the Astute class in the UK?

The announcement of a new security partnership between the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia, dubbed AUKUS, came as a surprise not only to the very upset France, but also to naval experts. A key provision of the partnership was that the United States would supply nuclear submarine technology to the Australian Navy.

But the question remains: what kind of submarines would the Australians build? In it, Breaking Defense Indo-Pacific bureau chief Colin Clark gathered analysis that pointed to a likely choice for the design: the British Astute-class submarine.

DARPA’s aerial turducken, the LongShot, still cooking towards stage 2022

I have no one else to blame for this one other than myself. For the Thanksgiving holiday this year, I jokingly asked some of the staff which weapon system most resembled this culinary monstrosity, the turducken, and Breaking Defense Air and Pentagon reporter Valerie Insinna, m DARPA’s Longshot program, which began in February, said. .

The project involves an aircraft launching a drone which itself launches missiles. In November, the agency told us preliminary designs were due next year from contract giants General Atomics, Lockheed Martin and Northrup Grumman. Much like the turducken itself, the story began as an absurdity and took on a life of its own. I apologize to our readers.

Future Tank: Beyond M1 Abrams

So what will happen to the military after the Reagan-era M1 Abrams tank? That’s the question Sydney J. Freedberg Jr. of Breaking Defense asked in April. At the time, Major General Richard Ross Coffman, Director of Army Modernization, gave a vague response: “Everything is on the table at this point.

So Freedberg turned to a myriad of experts, who all agreed that even if the future leans towards unmanned options, armored fighting vehicles like tanks would still have their place.

Two stories about the Air Force’s interest in the Wedgetail to replace the E-3

In what has become something of a running joke in Breaking Defense’s (virtual) office, it turns out people love to read on the Wedgetail. That’s why two of this year’s 10 most important articles relate to the Air Force’s apparent interest in purchasing the platform to replace planes in the E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS). decades old.

The first story was about the Air Force commissioning a study of the aircraft’s capabilities, and the second was about how Boeing, the contractor that makes the Wedgetail, was “very confident” that the Air Force would choose its bird, according to a senior company official. . Valerie Insinna of Breaking Defense wrote both reports and will be all over Wedgetail’s beat for the foreseeable future.

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