The Air & Space Forces Association’s national convention outside Washington, D.C., highlighted the industry’s preparations for the Air Force’s future competition to build robot wingmen for its “collaborative combat aircraft” (CCA) program. The event also revealed engine tests on the B-21 Raider, the Air Force’s upcoming stealth bomber, have begun. Additionally, Pentagon acquisition chief Bill LaPlante announced that the U.S. will ramp up its production of 155mm artillery shells to 100,000 per month by 2025, primarily to aid Ukraine and replenish domestic stocks. Other developments included the initial operating capability of Northrop Grumman’s MQ-4C Triton naval drone and the unveiling of a new drone by defense startup Anduril.
- Future Air Force Competition: The Air Force is preparing for a competition to build robot wingmen as part of its Collaborative Combat Aircraft (CCA) program, with a focus on aircraft architecture, communications links, autonomy architecture, and ground-control segments.
- B-21 Raider Developments: Engine tests for the B-21 Raider stealth bomber have begun, and new photos were released, fueling anticipation for its first flight later this year.
- Increased Artillery Production: The U.S. plans to increase production of 155mm artillery shells to 100,000 per month by 2025, up from the current 28,000, to support Ukraine and rebuild domestic stocks.
- MQ-4C Triton Drone: Northrop Grumman’s MQ-4C Triton naval drone has finally achieved initial operating capability and will be the Navy’s primary high-altitude, long-endurance, uncrewed aircraft for maritime intelligence and surveillance.
- Drone Developments: Defense startup Anduril has unveiled a new drone, “Ghost-X,” for reconnaissance, security, and force protection. The U.S. State Department has also cleared the sale of 25 more F-35s to South Korea, while Denmark received its first four F-35s.