Bill Sweetman

Bill Sweetman
Senior International Defense Editor,
Aviation Week & Space Technology

Bill's 40-year career as an aerospace and defense journalist has covered almost every aspect of the topic, from satellites to submarines, from infantry gear to classified ultra-stealthy bombers and from nano-UAVs to aircraft carriers. He was the first reporter to suggest that a funny Euro-Project called Airbus might be going somewhere, that the Eurofighter had a nasty streak in the low-speed, high-alpha envelope and that Boeing’s 7J7 and Sonic Cruiser were vaporware. Bill played a key role in breaking stories about the classified RQ-170 and RQ-180 UAVs, and the still-secret stealth helicopter used in the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in May 2011.


He is a regular speaker and international conferences, is frequently interviewed or cited as an authority on technical issues - stealth technology in particular - by U.S. and global media and is the leading independent expert on the Joint Strike Fighter program. Bill’s groundbreaking work on stealth received simultaneous and detailed attention from the CIA and the GRU, the Soviet military intelligence agency. 


The 2013 Jesse H. Neal award for Best Subject-Related Package was awarded to Bill and other members of Aviation Week's defense team for their package "Balance of Fear: Iran, Israel and the Calculus of War." The same package won the award for Best In-Depth Feature at the 2013 Aerospace Media Awards.


Bill has also received Aerospace Journalist of the Year awards from the Royal Aeronautical Society in 1997, 1999, 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2007.

Podcast: Pregame Analysis of the Fiscal 2017 Defense Budget 2
Days before the Pentagon details its request for spending $582.7 billion, Bill Sweetman provides his thoughts on how an “arsenal plane” might work. And Michael Fabey explains why the Littoral Combat Ship might not experience the budget cuts others have predicted.
Test Report Points To F-35 Combat Limits  8
F-35s fly with speed and G force restrictions—and most weapon tests needed special treatment to hit the target, according to Pentagon test report.
Carter On New Budget: ‘Arsenal Plane’ Coming, A-10 Retirement Reversal  7
U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter previewed the fiscal 2017 U.S. defense budget: The $582.7 billion top line will conform to last fall’s bipartisan budget agreement but will also be a “major inflection point” in terms of long-term re-equipment of the force.
Analysts Predict Fight Over Pentagon Test Director Succession 
Appointment of a successor to Pentagon director of operational test and evaluation (DOT&E) Michael Gilmore will spark a lobbying war in Washington, fueled by Gilmore’s harsh criticism of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program, according to defense analyst Pierre Sprey and Tom Christie, the Pentagon’s first DOT&E.
Carter Touts ‘Arsenal Plane,’ Surrenders on A-10  126
The new U.S. defense budget to be published Feb. 9 will include initial development of an “arsenal plane” which would operate in conjunction with Lockheed Martin F-22s and F-35s and “act as a very large magazine,” according to Defense Secretary Ash Carter.
Think Tank Predicts F-35 Cut In Budget 
U.S. Air Force orders for the Lockheed Martin F-35A Joint Strike Fighter could be cut back in the fiscal 2017 budget, to be published Feb. 9, according to Katherine Blakeley, budget research fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.
F-35’s Combat Limits Highlighted In Pentagon Test Report 
F-35s fly with speed and g restrictions – and most weapon tests needed special treatment to hit the target, according to a Pentagon test report.
Test Report Points to F-35’s Combat Limits  174
F-35s fly with speed and g restrictions – and most weapon tests needed special treatment to hit the target, according to a Pentagon test report.
New U.S. Navy Office To Promote Quick Unmanned Fielding 
Designated as the Navy’s unmanned warfare systems office, N99 will not take over existing programs run by air, sea or subsurface weapons groups.
Opinion: F-35 Software Fixes Likely To Take Time  71
The Pentagon’s weapons-test watchdog and the F-35 program leaders are at loggerheads. Don’t expect it to change any time soon.
Low-Key Budget Will Punt Issues To Next Admin, Think Tank Says 
The fiscal 2017 defense budget to be released on Feb. 9 will contain few surprises, and is unlikely to address a looming acquisition “bow wave” dominated by Air Force aircraft programs, according to analysts at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
Testing Chief Warns Of JSF Software Delays  142
The JSF Program Office says it is making good progress with F-35 software, but the Pentagon’s testing watchdog says problems are ahead.
Missile Defense Agency Targets Improvement In Homeland  33
The Missile Defense Agency is preparing plans to improve the effectiveness of homeland missile defense by a factor of 12 by the end of the next decade.
A Short History Of Making Flying Safer 2
The pioneer years of aviation included both successful and misguided efforts to make the number of safe landings approximate to the number of takeoffs. Here are some notable examples on both sides of that record.
100 Years Of Attention To Safety Brings Results
Debate swirls around the right way forward for air safety. But the history of air safety shows that debates and mysteries are part of the process.
Opinion: F-35 Software Fixes Likely To Take Time
January 28, 2016

Couple of points: Gilmore talks "deficiency" rather than "bugs" per se. That is, things that matter. The JPO in its response mentioned that "safety critical deficiencies"...

U.S. Marines Planning U.K. F-35 Debut
January 28, 2016

Try again, Remf. I flew as a passenger on an FBW commercial airplane 40 years ago and on one without mechanical backup just over a decade later.

Testing Chief Warns Of JSF Software Delays
January 23, 2016

In the light of history (real history) there was never any serious challenge to the F-14 mission nor do I recall much evaluation of alternatives, other than a back-of-the-...

The Struggle For Safer Flight
January 15, 2016

Since it was only the curvature of the Earth that allowed the D.H. Ground-Gripper to be anything other than a very fast train, I didn't include it. Seriously, good catch!...

Opinion: Why Does U.S. Air Force Want New F-15s Or F-16s?
December 17, 2015

By Sept 2009 - only a few months after the F-22 decision - the F-35 published schedule was clearly unrealistic: it called for the flight-test program to go from the slowest on...

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