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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

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? ®


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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