ACC Cancels Exercises
Air Combat Command on Aug. 19 announced that it will cancel all major flight competitions for the rest of 1997 in an effort to ease the workload of hard-pressed pilots and crews.
The move came in the wake of a Rand Corp. report finding that high Air Force operational tempo has helped produce unacceptable levels of stress among aircrews.
Scaling back on operations and competition commitments was one way to ease the pace for people, ACC said in a statement announcing the unusual move.
Among the competitions that were scrapped or postponed was Gunsmoke ’97. This big air-to-ground meet, originally scheduled for October at Nellis AFB, Nev., was postponed until 1998. Proud Shield, an Air Force bombing competition, was similarly postponed. William Tell, the biennial air-to-air meet scheduled next for 1998, has been deferred until 1999.
Checkered Flag, a Tactical Air Command readiness exercise first run in 1979, was ended altogether. Air Warrior and Air Warrior II close air support competitions will be reduced from 22 to 15 each year.
F-22 Makes First Flight
F-22 Raptor 01, first of what USAF hopes will be a fleet of at least 339 stealthy fighters, made its first flight on Sept. 7 over northern Georgia.
Air Force and company officials expressed satisfaction but appeared subdued. "Bringing the airplane to first flight marks the end of the beginning," said Tom Burbage, F-22 Team Program Office general manager. "Now it is time to test the Raptor, start production on schedule, and then get the aircraft fielded."
USAF announced the Raptor lifted off the runway at 140 mph, reached an altitude of 15,000 feet in some three minutes, reached speeds up to 285 mph, and went through power changes to test handling characteristics and engine performance. Midway through the flight, Paul Metz, chief F-22 test pilot, retracted theF-22’s landing gear.
Metz flew the advanced Lockheed Martin fighter from Dobbins ARB, Ga., for about one hour."There is no problem with that airplane," he said. "The airplane is ready to turn and fly again."
The flight was originally set for May 29 but had been delayed several times because of technical glitches.
New Alert Bomber Force?
USAF may soon revive the concept of a bomber force kept ready for combat missions on a moment’s notice—but this time the alert force would be armed with conventional bombs, not nuclear weapons.
Such a force would give the United States a quick response capability for sudden emergencies such as Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait. The handful of alert bombers would be able to carry the fight to an adversary within hours as a larger Air Expeditionary Force organized and moved toward the theater.
"We may in the not-too-distant future see bomber forces going back on alert," former Chief of Staff Gen. Ronald R. Fogleman, who retired Sept. 1, told an AFA symposium in Dayton, Ohio, in July.
Initial plans for the armed bomber initiative call for the use of B-52s and B-1Bs armed with precision guided weapons. The alert force might later include B-2s as the conventional capability of stealth bombers develops.
Current force structure plans call for inventory of 21 B-2s, 71 B-52s, and 95 B-1Bs, upgraded to handle conventional weaponry. In fact, the B-1 System Program Office is already considering an as-yet-unfunded Block G conventional capability upgrade. Block G upgrades would include Link 16 data link capability and a more flexible precision guided munition targeting system.
Major Promotions Leap
The Air Force selected 2,576 captains for promotion to major in 1997, the largest one-year number since 1991. Among those promoted were 905 pilots, the most since 1985.
Ninety percent of eligible candidates won their increase in grade. That is up from an 80 percent promotion rate over the past five years.
Virtually all captains recommended as "Definitely Promote" material by senior raters were tapped for major, as were 52 percent—compared to 42.2 percent in 1996—of those rated "Promote."
Some Pilots Pass Up Promotion
The 1997 Majors’ Board results did contain one warning sign: Over 100 pilots wrote the board president asking to be removed from consideration. Presumably the majority of these have decided to leave the Air Force and did not want to stand in the way of another promotion candidate.
The board letters should not be taken as a sign of a decline in quality in this year’s crop of majors, said USAF officials.
"A board always runs out of promotion quotas before it runs out of good people," said Lt. Col. Gayle Staten, chief of the Air Force Personnel Center’s Officer Promotion and Appointment Branch.
But they could be a warning sign of problems in pilot retention. They might also lead to misunderstanding at some USAF facilities.
"We wouldn’t normally address the subject of letters written to the board, but there are going to be several good officers at bases around the world who weren’t selected, and other officers may question why they weren’t promoted," Staten said. "This could be the reason."
Bahrain Gets New AEF
The Defense Department on Aug. 26 announced the mid–September deployment of an Air Expeditionary Force to the Persian Gulf nation of Bahrain.
Plans called for the new 366th Air Expeditionary Wing to consist of some 20 F-15E and F-16 fighter aircraft along with associated support personnel and equipment, all drawn from the 366th Wing located at Mountain Home AFB, Idaho.
The DoD announcement disclosed that the AEF task is to support Operation Southern Watch, the imposition of a restricted, no-fly zone over southern Iraq.
"Deployment of the 366th AEW was based upon consultations between the governments of Bahrain, the US, and other states in Southwest Asia," said the Pentagon announcement. "This deployment augments existing US forces in the region while validating our capability to rapidly reinforce in-place forces."
The Air Force now is sending AEFs to the Gulf on a regular basis. In early February, an AEF with about 30 fighters deployed to Qatar to support Southern Watch. That unit drew its forces from Seymour Johnson AFB, N.C.; McEntire ANGB, S.C.; Cannon AFB, N.M.; and Shaw AFB, S.C.
Hamre Pushes Depot Maintenance Competition
Deputy Defense Secretary John Hamre told Congress that he is in favor of more-frequent competitions between public and private sectors for depot maintenance contracts. Hamre made the remarks during his July 24 confirmation hearing.
Such competitions should be limited to work that is not needed to maintain crucial in-house capability at military logistics centers, he said.
"I would also like to increase depot maintenance public–private partnering in an effort to preserve necessary skills and utilize excess capacity," Hamre said in response to prepared questions.
Hamre also indicated that he supports regional consolidation of depot workloads that cut across military service lines. Such intraservice cooperation could lower costs while maintaining needed capabilities, he said.
Hamre on F-22, B-2
The new deputy secretary has some reservations about F-22 fighter cost projections.
Air Force officials have expressed confidence that they can build 339 F-22s for a total price of $43.4 billion. There is some risk in that estimate, Hamre told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
An updated F-22 cost estimate is due out early next year. This study could provide more understanding of contractor ability to implement the cost reduction initiatives that will be necessary to meet the $43 billion price tag, said Hamre.
On the B-2, Hamre expressed confidence that new questions regarding the ability of the airplane to evade radar are not as serious as quality problems that were encountered in the course of B-1B production.
The problem centers on materials and maintenance training for low-observable aspects of the B-2, according to Hamre.
T-3A Operations Suspended
The Air Force on July 25 temporarily suspended T-3A Firefly operations, pending an investigation into engine problems in the trainer aircraft.
The T-3A is used to screen abilities of young pilots. Since its introduction into the force in 1994, T-3As have experienced 30 in-flight engine stoppages, according to Air Force Safety Center statistics.
The causes of 13 of these incidents remain undetermined. The rest have been attributed to problem valves, bad fuel, or other mechanical problems.
Gen. Lloyd Newton, commander of Air Education and Training Command, ordered the stand-down after a July 23 engine mishap. Experts from prime contractor Slingsby Aviation and engine contractor Textron Lycoming are working with Air Force officials to determine the cause of the problems.
The Air Force currently has 110 T-3As in service. Fifty-three are based at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., and 57 are based with the 3d Flying Training Squadron at Hondo Airport in Texas. Both units are assigned to the 12th Flying Training Wing at Randolph AFB, Texas.
Medicare Subvention Test Approved
More Medicare-eligible military retirees will be able to enroll in the Pentagon’s new Tricare health plan under a limited Medicare Subvention demonstration project recently approved by Congress.
In recent years, most military retirees eligible to enroll in Medicare could not join the Tricare system. They received care at a military medical facility only on a space-available basis. But Congress included a Medicare Subvention test in its recently passed budget reconciliation legislation.
Congress’ action clears the way for DoD to show, on a limited basis, how it can improve access to military health care for those beneficiaries who are now eligible for Medicare. With Medicare Subvention, some patients will be permitted to enroll in Tricare. Demonstration details will be announced shortly.
The Department of Defense expressed its "pleasure" with the Congressional action.
"Improving access to military health care for Medicare-eligible military beneficiaries is important to the Administration, and a Congressionally authorized Medicare Subvention demonstration project is an important step toward achieving that goal for our beneficiaries," said Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen.
Edward D. Martin, acting assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, stated, "We are delighted with the outcome of this Congressional action; it provides us the ability to enroll and care for more of our Medicare-eligible beneficiaries in Tricare."
Gold Dust Peak Search Continues
Search crews battled dehydration, altitude sickness, deep snow, and rugged terrain as they continued the search for pieces of Capt. Craig Button’s A-10 attack aircraft on Gold Dust Peak in Colorado.
Last April, Button departed his Arizona training mission and flew north, slamming into the peak. The A-10 shattered into what one searcher called "a million-piece jigsaw puzzle." USAF units are scouring the area to clear debris before winter sets in and find any clues that could help explain Button’s behavior.
"Our job is to gather as much of what’s left of that airplane as quickly as we can, as safely as we can," said Brig. Gen. Donald Streater, head of the operation, on Aug. 13.
The biggest problem, said Streater: finding the A-10’s Mk. 82 bombs. USAF teams quickly found five bomb rack suspension hooks that were damaged in a way suggesting they were carrying something heavy on impact. But they have also recovered bomb rack parts that carry cartridge-powered ejection pistons, meant to jettison the Mk. 82 explosives. Some had been fired.
"The cartridges could have fired prior to impact, upon impact, after impact, or could have fired during a severe spring storm," he said. "We just don’t know. They can be fired by any electrical or electrostatic source."
USAF Tests Force Protection in Bosnia
The Air Force is trying out new force protection concepts at Tuzla AB in Bosnia.
The base’s entry checkpoint has been moved to a better vantage point. Defense bunkers now are scattered around the airfield. Security personnel say they have adopted a new and stricter attitude toward persons and vehicles entering the base grounds.
On July 1, security police units servicewide were redesignated "security forces." The name change is meant to help reinforce that there had been a change of emphasis from law enforcement to defense of troops and equipment from attack.
The first security force members to put this new concept to the test deployed from Ramstein AB, Germany, to Tuzla on July 8. They traveled to the base as a group, secured the airfield, and then integrated their base defense plan with that of the Army security personnel at the base.
"We normally depend on the Army to provide perimeter defense," Col. Kenneth Byrd, 401st Expeditionary Air Base Group commander, told European Stars and Stripes, "but what we’re learning from Beirut to Khobar Towers is that terrorism doesn’t care what uniform we’re wearing."
Airpower Trumps Ground Force
A force of land-based aircraft can halt and then overwhelm a large ground invasion force in a matter of days, according to a Rand Corp. study on the opening phase of armed conflict.
Rand analysts focused on Southwest Asian and Korean war scenarios. They found that an invasion force of 25 divisions, half armored, accompanied by upwards of 500 combat aircraft and surface-to-air missile batteries, can be turned back within 10 days by a "seriously outnumbered force" of land-based aircraft, including bombers and fighters, one carrier air wing, and attack helicopters.
That time frame can be cut to only three days if several squadrons of new F-22s are assumed to be available for combat, the study claims.
Analysts found that the most effective US tactics in such a case initially would not center on destruction of tanks. Rather, US forces should first establish air superiority and suppress surface-to-air and ballistic missile sites. Furthermore, the study said airpower should be unleashed quickly and en masse. The concept of husbanding aircraft and munitions to guard against counterattacks and to prepare for a ground counteroffensive was determined to be counterproductive.
New Guidance on Discipline
Only the most aggravated cases of improper relationships between USAF personnel should be punished with courts-martial, according to a July 16 memo to commanders.
Some infractions of relationship rules should be handled with counseling, reprimands, or nonjudicial punishments such as confinement to quarters, according to the memo from headquarters.
The document was signed by Secretary of the Air Force Sheila Widnall and Gen. Ronald R. Fogleman, who was then the Chief of Staff of the Air Force.
Senior officers need to set "an example of fair, evenhanded and thoroughly professional relations," said the document.
The Air Force has drawn criticism in recent months for pursuing criminal charges against officers involved in adulterous affairs and fraternization. Many commanders have begun to move cautiously in such cases.
At Barksdale AFB, La., a lieutenant who had a baby by a married superior officer and taunted the man’s wife was recently judged in a nonjudicial administrative hearing, instead of a court-martial. The officer, Lt. Crista Davis, was reprimanded and ordered to forfeit $2,000 in pay.
UFOs Were U-2s, SR-71s, Says CIA
Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, thousands of Americans who reported unidentified flying objects (UFOs) had in fact glimpsed high-flying reconnaissance aircraft such as the Air Force’s U-2 and SR-71, according to a CIA publication.
Unwilling to divulge the existence of these then-secret airplanes, the Air Force and the US intelligence community said the sightings resulted from ice crystals, swamp gas, temperature inversions, or other natural phenomena.
The disclosures were contained in an article written by Gerald K. Haines, a historian of the National Reconnaissance Organization. It was published in the spring issue of Studies in Intelligence, a CIA journal.
Lockheed’s secret Skunk Works division and the CIA began test flights of the U-2 over isolated areas of the American West in 1955. The airplanes flew at very high altitudes and were difficult to see from the ground, but the unpainted silver metal produced a distinctive flash to commercial pilots or other keen observers of the skies. The U-2 was later painted black, as was the SR-71, which began test flights in the early 1960s.
Historian Haines holds that over half of all UFO sightings in the US during the height of the Cold War could be accounted for by espionage aircraft flights.
Cohen Complains to Congress
On Aug. 7 Secretary of Defense Cohen sent the Senate Armed Services and House National Security committees a letter outlining his objections to their 1998 defense authorization bills.
Cohen objected to many of the changes Congress has made in tactical aircraft programs. He said that major reductions in funding for the Air Force’s F-22 fighter endanger the Pentagon’s fighter modernization plan. Furthermore, the Senate’s proposed cap of $43.4 billion for the total F-22 program robs the Air Force of flexibility, he said.
Cohen also complained about the House effort to provide funding to buy more B-2 bombers beyond the 21 now planned. He said this would be "a serious mistake."
The extra B-2s would add tens of billions of dollars in life-cycle costs to the defense budget, said Cohen. Such a burden would inevitably require cutbacks in more critical military programs, he wrote.
White House Lifts Latin American Arms Ban
The White House on Aug. 1 announced that it was lifting restrictions on the sale of most advanced weaponry to the nations of Latin America. The move clears the way for Lockheed Martin and Boeing to compete for an upcoming Chilean fighter deal.
President Jimmy Carter put in place restrictions on arms sales to the south. The policy aimed to deny modern equipment to military dictators who ruled much of Latin America.
In repealing the ban, officials of the Clinton Administration said they would evaluate arms sales on a case-by-case basis, essentially putting Latin America on the same basis as other nations when it comes to US weapons sales.
US airframe manufacturers could be the primary short-term beneficiaries of the move.
Chile is weighing competing proposals for a fighter force upgrade. Brazil, among others, is likely to soon follow suit.
St. Louis Gets Boeing Defense Unit
Newly enlarged Boeing Corp. will base its military aircraft division headquarters in St. Louis, company officials announced on Aug. 4.
The decision settles a sensitive management question that had lingered ever since Boeing announced plans to acquire McDonnell Douglas Corp. McDonnell Douglas executives had wanted defense aircraft to stay in Missouri, while Boeing wanted to move them to that company’s Washington state location.
Boeing also announced the creation of the Information, Space and Defense Systems Group to be based in Seattle. ISDS will oversee McDonnell Aircraft and Missiles Systems, as well as Space Systems, Seal Beach, Calif.; Information and Communications Systems, Seattle; and an advanced R&D unit, Phantom Works, the location of which was still undecided at press time.
B-2 and Overseas Deployments
USAF’s B-2 bomber in early fall became the focus of heated claims and counterclaims about how difficult it may be to protect and maintain its revolutionary "stealth" properties.
After several weeks of debate, the bottom line that emerged seemed to be this: Maintenance of B-2’s radar-defeating surfaces will take more work than expected. It will be harder—though far from impossible—to deploy the bombers overseas. And the prospect for successful fixes is reasonably high. Changes in materials or repair processes are among the possibilities.
Plans called for the B-2, produced by Northrop Grumman, to be able to attack directly from Whiteman AFB, Mo., its home base, or deploy to a forward location such as Guam in the Pacific and Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean.
However, DoD said USAF discovered that humidity, ice, and other weather events can damage its radar-absorbing coatings and affect its "low observable" traits. It may be that, for a while, they have to stay on the ground only at locations with special climate-controlled shelters.
The problem was the subject of a recent report from a Congressional watchdog agency, the General Accounting Office. GAO said that the discoveries have caused the Air Force to drop the overseas basing requirement.
Another critical report came from DoD’s director of operational test and evaluation. In a briefing for members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Philip E. Coyle III expressed concern about the reliability and maintainability of the B-2’s LO features. He claimed that the bomber averages more than three LO discrepancies per flight hour, according to press reports.
However, the Air Force said that the majority of LO discrepancies are fixed during regular maintenance and that those actually affecting low observability are fixed immediately.
In a statement, Northrop Grumman charged that the critical reports refer to old problems—affecting Block 10 and Block 20 aircraft—which "have either been solved or are being addressed." The contractor went on to say, "Neither GAO nor OSD has any data suggesting that the Block 30 [bomber] shares the same LO maintainability problems exhibited by the early Block 10 and 20 B-2s." All B-2s will be put in Block 30 configuration over the next several years.
Gen. John Shalikashvili, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters on Aug. 28 that he would have confidence in the B-2 if he had to send it into combat, and that the LO problems are "temporary" in nature.
A new survey indicates that members of the military are happier with their Tricare medical care than civilians are with their physicians. The Pentagon questionnaire, mailed in January to 75,000 service personnel who had recently undergone treatment, measured satisfaction with access, quality, and interpersonal relationships with medical staff.
The nation’s 15th and newest B-2 stealth bomber was named Spirit of Pennsylvania in a ceremony at NAS/JRB Willow Grove, Pa., on Aug. 5.
Research engineers at Wright Laboratory, Ohio, played a key role in NASA’s high-profile Mars Pathfinder mission. They developed the small, high-efficiency solar cells used to power the Sojourner robotic vehicle as it wheeled about the martian surface snapping photos of rocks and sampling dust.
On Aug. 2, the first active-duty Air Force officer to head an Air National Guard unit took command. Col. Walter Burns will command the Connecticut ANG’s 103d Fighter Wing for three years.
On July 31, NATO’s Defense Planning Committee approved the nomination of Adm. Harold W. Gehman Jr. to be Supreme Allied Commander, Atlantic. Plans called for Gehman to assume his duties in September.
On Aug. 7, Raytheon E-Systems delivered a refurbished C-130A to the Air Force for use as a memorial to service personnel who lost their lives on secret intelligence missions during the Cold War. The restored aircraft has been reconfigured to resemble a Rivet Victor C-130A shot down by Soviet MiG-17s on Sept. 2, 1958, after it strayed into Soviet Armenia on a reconnaissance mission over Turkey. It will be displayed in an airpark setting between the National Security Agency and the National Cryptologic Museum at Ft. Meade, Md.
The senior Air Force official in charge of equal opportunity programs was honored by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People at its annual convention. D. Michael "Mickey" Collins, deputy for equal opportunity in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force (Manpower, Reserve Affairs, Installations, and Environment), received the Benjamin L. Hooks Distinguished Service Award on July 17.
Air Mobility Command won AFA’s 1997 David C. Schilling Award for outstanding achievement. The award is given annually to recognize exceptional contributions by an Air Force person or organization to the field of manned flight. AMC’s worldwide airlift operations, from Bosnia to the humanitarian efforts after the Grand Forks, N.D., flood, were cited in the award.
The Air Force Aid Society has established a Jimmy Stewart Education Grant in memory of the late actor’s distinguished Air Force career. Sons and daughters of Air Force families will be eligible for the $1,000 annual award.
June Sims, employed at Warner Robins ALC, Ga., on July 29 was named Air Force Suggestor of the Year. Sims, an equipment specialist with the Space and Special Systems Management Directorate, is said to have saved USAF millions of dollars with her ideas for upgrading older M-16 rifles to M-16A2 configuration and refurbishing 20 mm guns rather then buying new ones.
Nearly 100,000 US troops may have been exposed to small, "trace" amounts of nerve gas following the demolition of an Iraqi ammunition dump at the end of the Gulf War, DoD announced July 24. That estimate, the result of a year-long study by Pentagon and CIA officials, is almost five times larger than preliminary figures, but DoD said long-term health problems were unlikely.
An 11th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron medic, based at Taszar AB, Hungary, saved the life of an Air Force coworker who suffered an anaphylactic reaction from eating seafood. SSgt. Victor M. Reyes Jr. quickly assessed the situation and administered life-saving injections of Benadryl and epinephrine.
The Air Force says it will deactivate the last unit still based at Torrejon AB, Spain—a nine-man detachment from the 635th Air Mobility Support Squadron. Though Torrejon was a major airlift refueling stop during the Gulf War, its use has dwindled in recent years as a result of Spanish political sensitivities.
C-141 Starlifter aircrews from the Air Force Reserve Command’s 446th Airlift Wing, based at McChord AFB, Wash., flew four victims of the Aug. 5 Korean Air jet crash in Guam to US medical facilities. The four, all in critical condition, were taken to a specialized burn treatment center at Brooke Army Medical Center, Texas.
The Air Force’s 67th Intelligence Wing opened its new state-of-the-art headquarters at Kelly AFB, Texas, on Aug. 14. The $3 million facility will provide worldwide communications capability for the wing, which has more than 8,000 people serving at 80 locations around the world.
The varsity men’s softball team from Lackland AFB, Texas, won the National Softball Association’s Military World Championship at an August tournament held at Ft. Leonard Wood, Mo.
Marines Object to Air Force Memorial Site
Washington, Sept. 8—A bill proposed in Congress by Rep. Gerald Solomon (R–N.Y.) would block construction of the planned Air Force Memorial on Arlington Ridge, overlooking the Potomac River. Solomon, a former Marine, says the site for the Air Force Memorial is too close to the Marine Corps Iwo Jima Memorial, which he declares to be "hallowed, sacred ground."
The perception of encroachment is unfounded, says Robert D. Springer, president of the Air Force Memorial Foundation. The Iwo Jima Memorial sits on more than seven acres of elevated ground. The Air Force Memorial will be located more than 500 feet from the outer edge of Iwo Jima, down a hill and behind mature trees.
Work began in 1992 toward the creation of a memorial to honor the men and women who served in the Air Force and its predecessors, such as the Army Air Corps. The process included review by numerous oversight bodies and the passage of enabling legislation in 1993. Among those briefed, Springer said, was the Marine Corps, which raised no objections at the time.
Now, however, a spokesman for the Marine Corps says that "we are concerned about the planned site for the monument, the impact, on our nation’s Marine Corps war memorial and prefer to see it elsewhere." Some of the objection to the Air Force Memorial comes from a neighborhood group calling itself "the friends of Iwo Jima," which is concerned about an increase of cars and visitors to the area and about the loss of green space.
Rep. Sam Johnson (R–Texas) said that "the comments I have seen about the design of the Air Force Memorial have been good. I think it will enhance the Marine Corps Memorial rather than detract from it." Johnson is a former Air Force pilot and was a POW during the Vietnam War.
Solomon and his colleagues say they agree that there should be an Air Force Memorial but that it should be located somewhere else. Air Force Memorial officials are understandably reluctant to start over again. The present site was chosen for a number of reasons, including the proximity of the spot to Ft. Myer from which Orville Wright first demonstrated flight to the military in 1908. The foundation has also committed nearly $1 million to a site-specific design that has been widely praised in the architectural community.
The Air Force Memorial Foundation has worked closely with the Air Force Association and the National Park Service to provide accurate information to Congress, get the facts out to the news media, and correct misunderstandings.
F-15 Celebrates Silver Anniversary
The F-15 Eagle—widely considered the world’s finest tactical fighter—celebrated the 25th anniversary of its first flight on July 27.
USAF first requested development money for the new fighter in 1965, as it looked for a replacement for the then-dominant F-4. McDonnell Douglas was selected as the prime contractor in 1969. Then in 1972, the first model took flight. Two years later, the first F-15B was delivered to the 58th Tactical Training Wing, Luke AFB, Ariz.
The F-15 is an all-weather air-superiority fighter. "Because of the avionics and weaponry, it’s just an awesome aircraft that no one can touch," said Lt. Col. Bill Shaw III, commander of the 54th Fighter Squadron at Elmendorf AFB, Alaska.
The Eagle incorporates two major technological improvements over the F-4, said Shaw. One is its look-down, shoot-down radar. The second is its HOTAS, or Hands On Throttle And Stick, controls.
Its major current disadvantage is that with a 42-foot wingspan it is easy to see. "It’s big," said Shaw, who has been flying F-15s since 1983.
Eagles are likely to long remain in the Air Force inventory even after F-22 Raptors begin taking over the air-superiority role early in the next century. Most B-52 pilots have long been younger than the aircraft they fly. Soon, and for years to come, many F-15 pilots may be in the same position.
SOF Craft Flies in "Air Force One"
Along with actor Harrison Ford, an Air Force Combat Talon I aircraft from the 8th Special Operations Squadron was one of the stars of the recent action-adventure film "Air Force One."
The airplane, with two complete crews, flew last year from its Hurlburt Field, Fla., home to California for filming with director Wolfgang Peterson. At the heart of the action was the aircraft’s Fulton STAR [Surface-To-Air-Recovery] system. With the Fulton system, the MC-130 can snag lift lines attached to helium-filled balloons and winch the payloads from the ground onto the back cargo ramp.
Through the miracle of special effects, Fulton equipment was used to simulate the transfer of a daring human rescuer between the Talon I and Air Force One, flying nearby.
No Air Force crew member became an inadvertent extra in the movie, however. "You won’t see any faces of our people," said Lt. Col. Jeff Alderfer, 8th SOS director of operations and the mission commander during filming. "All of the interior shots were filmed in a mock model of the inside of the Talon after we were back at Hurlburt Field."
Filming took place at odd hours of the night over the ocean. Throughout the shots the Combat Talon crew had to fly a tight three-aircraft formation with the huge 747 stand-in for the real Air Force One and the camera airplane, a converted B-25 bomber named Photo Lady.
50 Years Ago in Air Force Magazine
On the cover: "Warming Up the B-36." The job of the flight engineer, which came into military prominence with the B-29, takes on new stature with the Convair B-36. The magazine said that pilots "have their hands full flying the giant, so flight engineers get most of the dials."
■ At the request of the Air Force, AFA was the official sponsor of Air Force Day, Aug. 1, 1947. In Tokyo, more than 450 aircraft, including B-29s and jet-propelled P-80s, took part in an aerial review. The program was smaller in Berlin, where Americans and Allied guests watched a flight of Douglas C-47s pass over Tempelhof airport. At Andrews Field, Md., a flight of seven B-29s landed after a record-breaking, one-stop flight from Tokyo, accomplished in slightly over 31 hours, 24 minutes.
■ A report on Far East Air Forces included a photo of Capt. M.S. Sturgis fishing in the moat surrounding Emperor Hirohito’s palace in Tokyo. The article explained that fishing there had been legalized by an imperial directive.
■ July 25, 1947, was declared the final day which may be counted by military personnel as service during World War II for the purpose of establishing eligibility to various veterans benefits.
■ The last C-54 Skymaster rolls off the production line in Santa Monica, Calif. Of the total, 1,163 had been built for military purposes and 79 for postwar commercial use.
AFA news: After a membership drive at Yokota AB, Japan, 83 percent of the personnel stationed there are AFA members.
Senior Staff Changes
PROMOTIONS: To be ANG Major General: Rendell F. Clark Jr., Wilfred Hessert, Theodore F. Mallory, Loran C. Schnaidt, James E. Whinnery.
To be ANG Brigadier General: Garry S. Bahling, David A. Beasley, Jackson L. Davis III, David R. Hudlet, Karl W. Kristoff, John A. Love, Clark W. Martin, Robert P. Meyer Jr., John H. Oldfield Jr., Eugene A. Schmitz, Joseph K. Simeone, Dale K. Snider Jr., Emmett R. Titshaw Jr., Edward W. Tonini, Ronald A. Turner, Giles E. Vanderhoof.
CHANGES: Brig. Gen. John D. Becker, from Cmdr., 6th ARW, AMC, MacDill AFB, FL, to IG, AMC, Scott AFB, IL, replacing Brig. Gen. James E. Andrews ... Maj. Gen. Richard N. Goddard, from Dir., Log., ACC, Langley AFB, VA, to Cmdr., Warner Robins ALC, AFMC, Robins AFB, GA, replacing retiring Maj. Gen. Rondal H. Smith ... Maj. Gen. Dennis G. Haines, from Dir., Log., AFMC, Wright-Patterson AFB, OH, to Dir., Log., ACC, Langley AFB, VA, replacing Maj. Gen. Richard N. Goddard ... Brig. Gen. William A. Peck Jr., from Cmdr., 366th Wg., ACC, Mountain Home AFB, ID, to Dir., Rqmts., ACC, Langley AFB, VA, replacing Maj. Gen. John W. Hawley ... Brig. Gen. Randall H. Schmidt, from Cmdr., 24th Wg., ACC, and Cmdr., USSOUTHCOM Air Forces Forward, Howard AFB, Panama, to Cmdr., 366th Wg., ACC, Mountain Home AFB, ID, replacing Brig. Gen. William A. Peck Jr. ... Brig. Gen. James N. Soligan, from Exec. to SACEUR, SHAPE, NATO, Casteau, Belgium, to Cmdr., 6th ARW, AMC, MacDill AFB, FL, replacing Brig. Gen. John D. Becker.
SENIOR EXECUTIVE SERVICE CHANGES: Kenneth R. Boff, to Chief Scientist, Crew System, Armstrong Laboratory, Wright-Patterson AFB, OH ... Debra L. Haley, to Dir., Communications & Information, AFMC, Wright-Patterson AFB, OH ... Daniel F. McMillin, to Dep. Dir., P&P, USTRANSCOM, Scott AFB, IL.
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