Back after a year lost to Covid-19, and with a strict prove-you’re vaccinated and wear your mask mandate in place, an in-person version of the Air Force Association’s annual Air, Space & Cyber Conference 2021 is being held this week at National Harbor, Maryland near Washington DC.

Monday’s proceedings were headlined by Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall, who offered a blunt and unsparing blueprint Sept. 20 for the Air and Space Forces, Congress and others to follow if they are to meet — and overcome — challenges to the nation’s security posed by China and others.

Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall (photo credit AFA)

Also on the stage before a capacity crowd in the main conference hall and two overflow rooms, was Air Force Chief of Staff General C.Q. Brown, who also spoke of the threat posed by China and who encouraged both Airmen and industry in attendance to refuse to accept limitations in their efforts to change and improve the Air Force.

Air Force Chief of Staff General C.Q. Brown (photo credit AFA)

United Airlines CEO and former Air Force Academy graduate and Airman Scott Kirby joked about his moment of realization as a cadet that he would never be a fighter pilot, and explained how and why he likes to see and promote military veterans within his company. He stressed his preference to invest in electric propulsion over more costly and environmentally damaging rocket propulsion.

United Airlines CEO and Scott Kirby (Photo credit: AFA)

The Conference floor featured 153 vendors in what appeared to this observer to be the largest/most occupied trade show floor that this annual event has sported.

The big talk at this year’s event was actually released last week with Lockheed Martin’s introduction of its Airbus A330-based offering for the USAF’s fledgling KC-Y Tanker program.

Aerospace industry news released in the context of the show included: