Talk about a control plane... US Air Force says upcoming B-21 stealth bomber will use Kubernetes

Google staff who protested drone AI effort could be quite interested in this

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An assistant secretary of the United States Air Force appears to have revealed that its forthcoming B-21 stealth bomber will use container-orchestration tool Kubernetes.

The B-21 is expected to fly in 2025 and to have intercontinental range and nuke capability, making it a significant strike weapon. It's touted as a likely replacement for America's heavy bomber fleet.

Dr Will Roper, assistant secretary for acquisition, technology and logistics, took to LinkedIn with the following short post about the bird:

USAF innovation hasn't missed a beat during COVID-19. Our B-21 team just ran containerized software with Kubernetes on flight-ready hardware! Another step towards "DevStar": our initiative to bring radical autonomy to software development, partnering with Northrop Grumman.

Owning the digital OODA loop or bust!

DevStar is a programme that aims to get DevOps flying in the USAF, giving it the capability to "enable rapid, continual delivery of cyber-resilient systems". OODA stands for "observe–orient–decide–act" and is a rapid decision-making framework developed for use in combat but also widely used in business.

Dr Roper's post is brief, though the mention of Kubernetes – which controls the lifecycle of containers within an installation – suggests some part of the B-21 will isolate workloads, perhaps chain them into microservices, or even spawn workloads when needed for different aspects of a mission.

Or the whole post could be misdirection, a notion The Register suggests given that once you tell the world your shiny new bomber programme runs Kubernetes, your adversaries know where to focus their security research.

A final consideration: Kubernetes started life at Google and staff there have previously protested against efforts like the Project Maven image-recognition AI for the military. Google eventually binned that system. As the internet giant is still big on Kubernetes, might Chocolate Factory staff – or the wider Kubernetes community now that it is open source – make their displeasure known? ®

Bootnote

This sort of social media post can sometimes disappear so we've captured a screenshot you can view here. The missive's URL is, or was, this if you wish to verify its existence.

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