Aerospace Power: An Imperative for National Security

An Imperative for the Nation

The Mitchell Institute is the only aerospace power-focused think tank in the nation’s capital. The Institute informs the national security debate, educates about the essential role of aerospace power, and cultivates aerospace-minded talent.
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In the News & Commentary

The Mitchell Institute’s editorials, media articles featuring Mitchell expertise, and other content.
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Aerospace Nation Interview Series

The Mitchell Institute’s Aerospace Nation Interview Series.
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Publications

Read Mitchell Institute Research Studies, Policy Papers, and the latest entries in the Mitchell Forum Paper series.
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Upcoming Events

Upcoming events feature thoughtful commentary from decisionmakers, thought leaders, and other authoritative voices from the aerospace power community.
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Aerospace Advantage Podcast

The Mitchell Institute’s Aerospace Advantage Podcast.
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References

An Aerospace Power Reading List For National Security Professionals.
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In the News and Commentary

All News

Biggest threat to Air Force modernization is funding misrepresentation, says national security expert

Government Matters | July 19, 2021 | Lt Gen (Ret.) Dave Deptula | Gen. David Deptula (USAF, ret.), dean of the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, said the false notion that the Department of the Air Force is receiving funds commensurate with the Army and Navy departments is standing in the way of needed modernization.
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US military must avoid a ‘Kasserine Pass’ failure for space power

Defense News | July 19, 2021 | Hon Matt Donovan| The congressional defense committees should closely monitor the continued development of the U.S. Space Force for adherence to their original legislative intent, and exercise the necessary oversight and budgetary responsibilities to make needed course corrections.
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Why America Could Lose Its Next War

Defense News | July 9, 2021 | Mark Gunzinger | The result of 30 years of “building down to build up” is a military that lacks the capacity to fight a single peer aggressor plus defend the U.S. homeland and deter nuclear attacks. Since defense leaders seem reluctant to be forthright and sound the alarm, Congress must step in.
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Maneuver Warfare in Space: The Strategic Imperative for Nuclear Thermal Propulsion

Defense News | July 8, 2021 | Chris Stone | Traditional chemical propellants used in current satellite designs are only designed to last for a limited life span, increasing the likelihood an adversary could “run them dry” by forcing more defensive maneuvers than their energy stores can sustain. Thanks to advances in technology, nuclear thermal propulsion would provide a solution to this challenge. Even though it sounds straight out of science fiction, advances in materials,
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Misleading Budget Accounting in the Department Of Defense Needs Correction

Forbes | July 6, 2021 | Lt Gen (ret) Dave Deptula |  The Air Force budget is burdened by $39 billion dollars in non-Air Force spending over which the Secretary of the Air Force has no control. These funds—which account for 18 percent of the total Air Force Department budget—go directly to other DOD agencies, passing through the Air Force untouched.
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What’s All the Fuss Over the Air Force’s “Pass-Through” Funding?

The Hill | July 2, 2021 | Hon Matt Donovan | For decades, a significant portion of the Department of the Air Force’s budget has been appropriated as a “pass-through” — that is, the money is passed through the Air Force to be spent by other government agencies. The Air Force has no control over these funds to fulfill its “organize, train and equip” military responsibilities, even though the money is counted toward its total
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Press Release: Italian Air Force Vice Air Chief Visits AFA’s Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies

ARLINGTON, VA | June 24, 2021 AFA’s Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies hosted Italian Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Lt Gen Luca Goretti and Italian Air Defense Attaché Maj Gen Stefano Cont to share their views and priorities regarding resourcing the Italian Air Force (IAF) on June 24.      As a NATO member and international partner with the United States on the F-35 fighter program, the Italian Air Force is a critical U.S. ally. Generals
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Platinum Nighthawk Speech: Commemoration of the First Flight of the F-117A

20 years ago at the 20th anniversary gala commemorating the first flight of the F-117A, then-Maj Gen Dave Deptula delivered remarks that still prove relevant today—and are worth a read. Platinum Nighthawk Speech Commemoration of the First Flight of the F-117A 18 June 1981 – 18 June 2001 Speaker: David A. Deptula, Maj Gen, USAF22 Jun 01, Palmdale, CA It is a real treat is to be here with all of you on this very
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Publications

All Publications

Speed is Life: Accelerating the Air Force’s Ability to Adapt and Win

Arlington, VA (July 20, 2021) — The Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies is pleased to announce a new entry in its Policy Paper series, Speed is Life: Accelerating the Air Force’s Ability to Adapt and Win by Lt Gen (Ret.) David A. Deptula, Dean of the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, and Heather Penney, Senior Resident Fellow at the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies. Success in tomorrow’s conflicts will largely depend on how warfighters are
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A “Check Engine” Light to Accelerate Change: 21st Century Approaches for Assessing Cost-Effectiveness

ARLINGTON, VA | June 30, 2021 — The Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies is pleased to announce a new entry in its Mitchell Forum short paper series, A “Check Engine” Light to Accelerate Change: 21st Century Approaches for Assessing Cost-Effectiveness by Major Stefan Katz, USAF. The Air Force and Space Force are aggressively striving to be more agile and affordable. This is a tough feat, since “agility” and “affordability” are not usually synonymous. The concept
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Building a Force That Wins: Recommendations for the 2022 National Defense Strategy

ARLINGTON, VA (June 15, 2021) | The Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies is pleased to announce the release of a new research study, Building a Force That Wins: Recommendations for the 2022 National Defense Strategy, by Mark Gunzinger, Director of Future Concepts and Capability Assessments at the Mitchell Institute; and Lukas Autenried, Senior Analyst at the Mitchell Institute. Every four years, each administration must evaluate the global threat picture and develop an overarching framework known
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Command and Control Imperatives for the 21st Century: The Next Areas of Growth for ABMS and JADC2

Arlington, VA  | May 26, 2021 — The Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies is pleased to announce a new entry in its Policy Paper series, Command and Control Imperatives for the 21st Century: The Next Areas of Growth for ABMS and JADC2 by Doug Birkey, Executive Director of the Mitchell Institute. The Air Force is at a major juncture in the development of command and control (C2) capabilities. Under the aegis of the Advanced Battle Management System
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Building an Agile Force

ARLINGTON, VA (May 18, 2021) | The Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies is pleased to announce a new Research Study, Building and Agile Force: The Imperative for Speed and Adaptation in the U.S. Aerospace Industrial Base, by Lt Gen David A. Deptula, USAF (Ret.), Dean; and Heather R. Penney, Senior Resident Fellow at the Mitchell Institute. The U.S. Air Force is the only service that can “meet our nation’s adversaries with mass, speed, agility, and
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Accelerating Change for Rapid Global Mobility: Delivering Joint Force Success in the High-End Fight

ARLINGTON, VA | March 27, 2021 — The Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies is pleased to announce a new entry in its Mitchell Forum short paper series, “Accelerating Change for Rapid Global Mobility: Delivering Joint Force Success in the High-End Fight” by General Jacqueline D. Van Ovost, USAF, Commander, Air Mobility Command. Rapid Global Mobility underpins joint force global power projection. It is integral to joint force success across the competition continuum. Without a credible,
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Understanding the Long-Range Strike Debate

Arlington, VA (April 22, 2021) — The Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies in partnership with the Hudson Institute is pleased to announce a new entry in its Policy Paper series, Understanding the Long-Range Strike Debate by Mark Gunzinger, Director of Future Concepts and Capability Assessments at the Mitchell Institute; Lukas Autenried, Senior Analyst at the Mitchell Institute; and Bryan Clark, Senior Fellow and Director of the Center for Defense Concepts and Technology at the Hudson
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Airpower Against the Islamic State: A Diagnostic Assessment of Operation Inherent Resolve

ARLINGTON, VA (April 6, 2021) — The Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies is pleased to announce a new entry in its Mitchell Forum short paper series, “Airpower against the Islamic State: A Diagnostic Assessment of Operation Inherent Resolve” by Benjamin S. Lambeth. Viewed in hindsight, the more than four-year-long effort against ISIS that CENTCOM launched in August 2014 turned out to have been another success story enabled largely by U.S.-led airpower, which was the deciding
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1,763
Air Force F-35 Procurement Requirement to Outpace Advancing Threats

Flying & Fighting
in the Modern Age

Employing successful modern combat aerospace power today and in the future demands questioning long-standing assumptions and seeking smarter ways of achieving desired mission goals.

270
The Number of Bombers Required to Meet Real-World Demand

Future Trends

Individuals engaging in tomorrow’s aerospace domain, whether at the tactical, operational, or strategic levels, will face a future far different than what they experienced in the past. The last century saw aerospace power ascend in the industrial age, when the state of the art was governed by mechanical prowess.

29.2
Average Age of an Aircraft in the Air Force Inventory

Dollars & Sense

The US Air Force is embarking upon a crucial modernization cycle. Presently, airmen are flying combat missions in aircraft that average over a quarter of a century in age. Said another way, many pilots are younger than the aircraft in which they are taking into the sky.

386
The Number of Operational Squadrons Required by the US Air Force

Analysis

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