F-16s Scramble During Blackout
US Northern Command launched two F-16 fighters out of Andrews AFB, Md., as a precaution during the massive power outage that affected a huge swath of the United States and Canada on Aug. 14.
The command also increased the alert status for other air defense units in the eastern US. However, US officials quickly determined the outage was not caused by terrorists and was, instead, the result of problems caused by the age of the power grid system.
Formed just last year, NORTHCOM is the first unified command with responsibility for defense of the US homeland.
Wald: Some Bases Irreplaceable
US European Command’s move into new Eastern European operating locations does not mean established Western European bases such as the Air Force airlift hub at Ramstein AB, Germany, have outlived their usefulness, said Gen. Charles F. Wald, deputy EUCOM commander.
Wald said during an Aug. 5 visit to the Pentagon that Ramstein, the Grafenwoehr Army training area, and EUCOM’s Stuttgart headquarters, all in Germany, should be retained because they offer irreplaceable benefits.
“ What good would it do to give something like that up, just to say you did it?” Wald asked.
Nonetheless, Wald said he expected to see US power continue to move to new locations, possibly as force levels are reduced at existing facilities. Bulgaria, Lithuania, and Romania were cited as possible homes for new operating locations. (See “Lighter Footprint, Longer Reach,” p. 48.)
AMC To Reorganize
Air Mobility Command announced a major reorganization that will reduce its numbered air forces from two to one and create two expeditionary mobility task forces. Plans called for the changes to take effect Oct. 1.
AMC will redesignate its two existing NAFs—15th at Travis AFB, Calif., and 21st at McGuire AFB, N.J.—as EMTFs. They will each report to a new NAF—18th Air Force—to be headquartered at Scott AFB, Ill.
Leading 18th Air Force will be a three-star general, who will be responsible for “all presentation of forces to the warfighter,” said Gen. John W. Handy, commander of US Transportation Command and AMC. The NAF commander will oversee the Tanker Airlift Control Center, the flying units, the two EMTFs, and the en route system, explained Handy.
The EMTF commanders—both of whom will be brigadier generals—will lead and have administrative control over AMC’s four air mobility operations groups. The AMOGs provide the multifunctional teams that create working airfields at bare bones bases anywhere in the world.
The two commanders also will be “deployable directors of mobility forces during contingency operations,” serving as the “designated agent for all air mobility issues” in a theater, according to an AMC statement.
DOD Cancels Bright Star
The high demand for US forces worldwide rompted the Pentagon to cancel Exercise Bright Star, a major biennial multinational desert training exercise held in Egypt. Canceling Bright Star was “an extremely difficult decision,” Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said in an Aug. 9 announcement.
Bright Star, which began in 1981, was to have taken place in September. It normally features more than 70,000 troops from 10 nations.
The release noted that, because of the demands of the war on terrorism and the continued US military presence in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, 49 of DOD’s 182 military exercises scheduled for this fiscal year have been rescheduled or canceled.
USAF May Seek Common Helo
Air Force officials believe the service could save more than $600 million over 30 years by replacing its 62 Vietnam War-era UH-1 helicopters with a variant of the same helicopter it plans to buy to replace its combat search and rescue HH-60 Pave Low. USAF’s requirements board approved the tentative plan for a common helicopter in June, said Lt. Col. Griffith S. Massey, but the plan had not been reviewed by the Pentagon’s Joint Requirements Oversight Council.
The common helicopter program would be an annex to the service’s plan to buy a new CSAR helicopter to replace the HH-60s, said Massey, who is USAF’s chief of CSAR and special operations force requirements.
USAF plans not only to purchase a more advanced and capable helicopter but to increase the size of its CSAR fleet from 104 aircraft to 132, beginning in 2005.
Increasing the fleet size by more than 25 percent reflects the growing demand for search and rescue forces.
Potential replacements include a modified Sikorsky S-92 or Lockheed Martin–Agusta Westland US101—either of which would be significantly larger and more capable than the UH-1 or HH-60.
USAF To Test New BDUs
The Air Force is evaluating a new battle dress uniform that would look distinctly different from today’s version, which is the same as the one worn by the Army. More importantly, it would be easy to maintain.
Officials said the new BDU would eliminate the need for professional laundry service, saving each airman up to $240 a year.
For 20 years, airmen have worn the same woodland camouflage BDUs used by soldiers, as did Marines until a few years ago. In that time, said Gen. John P. Jumper, Air Force Chief of Staff, “material technology has improved greatly.” He said that the current BDU has been “adequate,” but it is time to consider how and where the uniform is used today.
The new uniform is designed to be more versatile. With a blue and gray color scheme, it should provide camouflage in a wider range of visual conditions—such as for urban areas and for night operations. It will also be suitable for a greater range of climates, officials said. The service plans to use the same fabric the Marines identified as best for durability and wash-and-wear characteristics.
USAF will begin a six-month wear test in January. Personnel at nine bases, representing various operating environments, will test 300 of the new BDUs. Officials emphasized that the wear test is designed to solicit feedback from airmen in the field that will lead to a decision sometime late next year.
Questioned about the new uniform on a visit to Fairchild AFB, Wash., Jumper said that nothing is final and the service is “still playing with the different camouflage patterns.”
DOD Slows V-22 Production
Acting Pentagon acquisition chief Michael W. Wynne decided in August to slow the planned increase in the V-22 tilt-rotor’s production rate.
The first bump up—from 11 per year to 15—was expected in Fiscal 2005. (See “Aerospace World: DOD OKs V-22 Osprey Production,” August, p. 17.) Now, according to an Aug. 8 acquisition decision memo, the 2005 rate will remain at 11, while the 2006 rate—cut by at least three aircraft—will be capped at 17.
Wynne indicated he wanted any savings generated by this move to go toward V-22 interoperability improvements, such as installation of the Joint Tactical Radio System and the Link 16 data link.
For 2007 and beyond, “production rates should increase by about 50 percent per year for a total of 152 aircraft through FY09,” said Wynne. He expects to accelerate multiyear procurement “as soon as possible.”
The Osprey combines the speed of a prop airplane with the takeoff and landing capabilities of a helicopter, but two deadly crashes in 2000 forced an extended grounding and redesign of the aircraft.
USAF intends to buy 50 CV-22s for special operations missions to replace its fleet of MH-53 helicopters.
Wanted: FAP Pilots, Maintainers
Air Combat Command and Air Force Reserve Command officials said they are ready to hire experienced Reserve instructor pilots and aircraft maintainers to launch the Fighter Associate Program at five active duty bases starting in October. They expect to have FAP fully implemented by spring 2004.
The program, which began as a test in 1998, is designed to increase fighter pilot experience levels throughout the Air Force. To accomplish this, ACC and AFRC plan to place experienced Reservists in active flying units and inexperienced active pilots in Reserve units.
AFRC will place a detachment of four Reserve IPs—one full-time and three traditional—within active duty units at Eglin AFB, Fla., Hill AFB, Utah, Langley AFB, Va., Nellis AFB, Nev., and Shaw AFB, S.C. At some of these bases, AFRC will also have six enlisted maintainers—two full-time and four traditional.
For its part, ACC will embed three active duty pilots—one trained IP and two inexperienced pilots fresh out of fighter upgrade training—in Reserve squadrons. ACC plans to send active duty pilots to AFRC units at Hill AFB, Utah, Homestead JARB, Fla., NAS JRB Fort Worth, Tex., NAS JRB New Orleans, La., and Whiteman AFB, Mo.
GAO Sees Force Structure Strains
The Defense Department has not transformed its force structure to meet post-9/11 defense requirements, so missions such as homeland air defense are straining imbalanced military resources, asserted the General Accounting Office in a new report.
“ The present force structure may not be sufficient to address the increase in domestic and overseas military missions,” the Congressional watchdog agency said. The reason: The new missions have been heaped on top of DOD’s existing responsibilities.
For the Air Force, Stateside post-9/11 missions have included nonstop support for Operation Noble Eagle. Combat air patrols and air defense alerts often prevent pilots from keeping up with combat training needed to stay proficient for deployments. In its response to the report, DOD said it is “studying and implementing significant changes” to the force structure. No increases in topline end strength are currently planned, however.
CSAF Unveils New Fitness Test
Gen. John Jumper, the USAF Chief of Staff, announced in late July that the Air Force will be going back to basics for its physical fitness regime. The service is dumping the bicycle ergometry test as its primary tool to gauge physical fitness.
“ The amount of energy we devote to our fitness programs is not consistent with the growing demands of our warrior culture,” Jumper said. “I think all of us can agree that we were disappointed with the fitness standards.”
The new physical fitness test will measure activities that airmen can do while deployed. That means a return to traditional activities such as the push-up, the sit-up, and the 1.5-mile run.
The testing standards are slated to go into effect Jan. 1.
Bush Wants England at Navy
In an unusual move, President Bush announced on Aug. 22 his intent to nominate Gordon R. England to serve a second tour as Secretary of the Navy. England resigned from the Navy’s top civilian spot in January to become the deputy director of the new Homeland Security Department.
England’s nomination was prompted by the recent death of Colin R. McMillan, the Administration’s choice to succeed England as Navy Secretary. Bush announced on May 7 his intent to nominate the New Mexico businessman for the job. McMillan, who had battled cancer for a year and underwent cancer-related facial surgery in early July, committed suicide July 24.
Upon the Administration’s renomination of England, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said that England “did a fine job as the Secretary of the Navy prior to moving to the Department of Homeland Security, and I look forward to working with him again.”Serving as acting Navy Secretary since Feb. 7 has been retired Air Force Gen. Hansford T. Johnson, who is the Navy undersecretary for installations and environment.
DSB To Endorse Sea Basing
The influential Defense Science Board is expected to endorse the sea-basing concept that would create mobile offshore bases to improve military reach.
The DSB will release a report that supports sea basing, according to Jane’s Defense Weekly, but that calls for development of fast sea-lift capabilities to move large loads quickly from ship to shore and among maritime vessels. The DSB maintains the fast sea-lift capability is essential for the concept to be effective.
Officials told Jane’s that what sea basing will ultimately look like is still undecided. Competing approaches include using a small number of large platforms or using a large number of smaller vessels that are capable of acting as a base when working together.By late August, the science board’s report had not yet been released.
Russia, China Seek Space Talks
Russian and Chinese officials opened the door for discussions with the US on how to avoid the weaponization of space. They told attendees at the 65-nation Conference on Disarmament in August that now they would be willing to talk even if the discussions do not lead to a formal treaty.
The concession is viewed as a key step in moving forward with discussions on the issue. Previously the two governments had pressed solely for formal treaty negotiations.
The US has opposed a treaty banning weapons in space, but officials had indicated a willingness to enter into nonbinding negotiations.
Strykers Arrive at Osan
A detachment of the Army’s new medium-weight Stryker combat vehicles arrived at Osan AB, South Korea, in August. They were delivered by C-17, giving Air Force and Army crews the opportunity to practice transporting and off-loading the vehicles.
The Strykers are an integral part of the Army’s transformation effort. They are lighter and more mobile than the heavy Abrams tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles.
Strykers can be transported within a combat theater by C-130 airlifters. If delivered by air, the larger tanks and armored personnel carriers require use of C-17s or C-5s, which are far less numerous than C-130s. And, in the case of the C-5, the number of possible landing locations is greatly reduced.
USAF Tests Anticollision System
Two F-16s flying out of Edwards AFB, Calif., on Aug. 7 successfully tested an Automatic Air Collision Avoidance System—the world’s first such system.
During the test, two F-16s—one equipped with Auto ACAS, the other not—repeatedly flew toward each other. The system prevented a collision each time, without pilot input, said Steve Markman, flight test director for Air Force Research Laboratory’s air vehicles directorate at Wright–Patterson AFB, Ohio.
The Auto ACAS takes over control of an aircraft to maneuver it out of harm’s way. Current collision avoidance systems only provide pilots with audio and visual notice of a potential collision. That works for transports and other slower-moving aircraft but not for fighters engaged in high-speed maneuvers near other aircraft, said Markman. He noted that midair collisions are a major cause of USAF fighter aircraft losses.
The new system provides the usual warnings, then, at the last instant, when it’s clear the pilot has not responded, takes control just long enough to maneuver the aircraft to avoid the collision. “Auto ACAS returns control to the pilot as soon as the aircraft begin to separate, typically in a second or two,” said Markman.
AFRL plans further flight tests of the system, which was the result of two years’ effort, including simulations on the ground and with single aircraft flying against computer-generated aircraft. It will also be used for unmanned aerial vehicles.
Maj. James Less, one of the pilots on the Auto ACAS-equipped F-16, believes fighter pilots, once they see the system work, will have no qualms about using it.
Eglin Hosts Combat ID Exercise
A joint combat-identification exercise was held in August to help warfighters solve the vexing problem of what to do when there is disagreement over exactly where targets are located.
A common problem, said officials, is that two sensor aircraft could designate the same target, but they may cite coordinates that vary by almost a mile.
To help resolve this type of issue, the Joint Combat ID Evaluation Team at Eglin AFB, Fla., organized an exercise at the Combat Readiness Training Center in Gulfport, Miss. Some 2,000 troops—using their normal equipment and procedures—participated in the event, which officials called a realistic simulation of the fog of war.
US Joint Forces Command analysts pored over the data generated at the exercise to determine where inconsistent targeting information originates. Their recommendations on how to improve tactics, techniques, and system compatibility were sent to senior leaders.
Pilot Yields on Anthrax Shots
A Dover AFB, Del., pilot who had asked for a court-martial to argue against taking the anthrax vaccine has relented and taken the shots, reported Stars and Stripes. Lt. Col. Jay Lacklan, an Air Force Reserve Command C-5 pilot, told the publication he had concluded that he could not win his case and risked going to prison.
Several hundred personnel have been disciplined for refusing to take the shots. At least two Dover pilots were given general discharges in 2000. Reportedly, there were many incidents of serious reactions to the vaccine among personnel at Dover.
Lacklan had planned to argue the shot program was illegal because the vaccine contained a booster the Food and Drug Administration had not approved for the anthrax vaccine. The booster is squalene, a naturally occurring substance in human livers. DOD officials admit squalene has been found in minute amounts—less than the level of squalene found in the human bloodstream—in some of the vaccine lots, but they insist it is not the reason for side effects experienced by some personnel.
According to DOD, the FDA said that its own tests could have introduced the squalene into the vaccine samples. The FDA found trace amounts of squalene in diphtheria and tetanus vaccines, as well as the anthrax vaccine.
DOD has recorded about 1,000 adverse reactions—with nearly 900 of them minor—among almost 530,000 members who have been vaccinated against anthrax since it began the program in 1998.
Vandenberg ATC Goes Private
In a first for the active duty Air Force, Vandenberg AFB, Calif., on Aug. 1 ceded air traffic control tower operations to a private contractor.
The switch to a contractor will save the Air Force $520,000 over three years and “frees slots in a critical career field,” said Capt. Michael Horowitz, of the 30th Operations Support Squadron at Vandenberg.
USAF will pay Serco Management Services $1.3 million over three years. Four of the five air traffic controllers working for Serco at Vandenberg are former military controllers.The Vandenberg contract may be just the first of several as Air Force officials try to find ways to relieve the stress on one of its shortage career fields. The service is looking at other installations with “slower towers,” said Horowitz, for potential outsourcing.
George W. Marquardt, an Army Air Forces B-29 pilot who flew on both atomic bomb raids at the end of World War II, died Aug. 15 in Murray, Utah. He was 84 and had suffered from Parkinson’s disease for many years.
On Aug. 6, 1945, Marquardt flew bomber No. 91, equipped with special cameras, and accompanied Col. Paul W. Tibbets Jr. as he flew the Enola Gay on the bombing of Hiroshima, Japan. Three days later, he substituted for Tibbets as pilot of the Enola Gay on a weather reconnaissance sortie in conjunction with Bockscar’s attack on Nagasaki.
Marquardt was a native of Princeton, Ky., and left Illinois Wesleyan University in March 1941 to join the service. He left the AAF shortly after the end of World War II and settled in Utah, where he became a steel company executive.
In a 1995 interview with the Salt Lake Tribune, he said: “I have never for one moment regretted my participation in the dropping of the A-bomb. It ended a terrible war.”
Moseley Details “The War Before the War”
The daily confrontations between US and Iraqi forces in the southern no-fly zone dramatically increased in the summer of 2002 and continued at that accelerated pace until the official start of Operation Iraqi Freedom, said Gen. T. Michael Moseley.
Moseley is now the Air Force vice chief of staff, but he was US Central Command’s air boss during that time.
The Iraqis began “more numerous and more threatening attacks” on coalition aircraft patrolling the no-fly zone, Moseley said at a “lessons learned” conference at Nellis AFB, Nev., in late July. In response, he said, CENTCOM approved a “wider set of air defense related targets.”
Beginning in June 2002, in an operation known within CENTCOM as Southern Focus, coalition airpower responded to 651 Iraqi attacks by dropping 606 bombs. The operation ended with the F-117 strikes in Baghdad on March 19.
Under the more liberal rules, coalition aircrews were authorized to attack military targets that hadn’t directly threatened patrolling aircraft. The result: The coalition was able to attain air supremacy more rapidly once OIF kicked off. Southern Focus strikes were aimed at air defense installations such as radars and surface-to-air missile sites, as well as against command and control targets intended to degrade Iraq’s overall ability to wage war.
Fiber-optic cable repeaters were one target of particular interest. As they gave Iraqi commanders in Baghdad the ability to communicate with fielded forces, Moseley said destroying the repeaters was a priority. Because the repeaters are about the size of manhole covers, targeting them “required incredibly accurate attacks,” he said.
Air Force Bids Farewell to Prince Sultan
The Air Force on Aug. 26 officially ended its presence at Prince Sultan Air Base near Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The service held a small ceremony to commemorate the end of 13 years in the kingdom.
The 363rd Air Expeditionary Wing, which oversaw US Air Force operations at the base, was deactivated at the same time.
At the ceremony, Maj. Gen. Robert J. Elder Jr., 9th Aerospace Expeditionary Task Force vice commander, said, “The end of ... Saddam Hussein’s government means the American military mission here is over. ”
The Air Force presence in Saudi Arabia began in 1990 after Saddam Hussein’s regime invaded Kuwait. US forces stayed in the country after the Persian Gulf War, eventually building PSAB into a state-of-the-art facility. The advanced combined air operations center—used to help coordinate Gulf War II this spring—had already been dismantled, and the coalition force housing complex had been returned to Saudi officials in July.
From the close of the 1991 Gulf War through Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Air Force provided protection to the Saudi kingdom through its presence and used Prince Sultan for missions enforcing UN mandates and the no-fly zone over southern Iraq.
However, the US presence in the conservative Islamic country had been controversial from the beginning and was frequently a focal point of criticism among radicals, including Osama bin Laden. The Air Force presence in Saudi Arabia was consolidated at PSAB in 1996 after the Khobar Towers bombing in Dhahran killed 19 airmen.
The Air Force will in the future use al Udeid Air Base in Qatar to host many of the activities previously performed at PSAB.
Army To Re-evaluate Apache Tactics
The Army is reviewing how it employs its AH-64 Apache attack helicopters after being forced to modify its tactics during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“ We are taking a look at aviation doctrine and how to use Apaches at long distances,” said Gen. John M. Keane, Army vice chief of staff. The goal is to answer the question, “Does our doctrine still make sense? ”
Apache helicopters, operating forward from supporting assets, were damaged—some heavily—early in the war. The force “ran into an organization that was much more spread out” than expected, Keane explained.
The Republican Guard’s defense surprised the attacking Apache force, damaging most of them, with small arms and rocket-propelled grenades. One helicopter was shot down in the battle and its two crew members captured by Iraqi forces. (See “Ambush at Najaf,” p. 60.)
For subsequent missions, Apache flights were led by Kiowa Warrior scout helicopters used to validate targets. The Army “also brought in close air support,” said Keane. “In other words, we had airpower with them as well. ”
Gen. W.L. Creech, 1927-2003
Retired Gen. W.L. Creech, head of Tactical Air Command from 1978 through 1984 and one of the most influential Air Force officers of recent times, died Aug. 26 at the age of 76.
Creech helped create a culture of excellence at TAC, setting high standards for performance and integrity that permeated the entire service and persists to this day. He was also a champion of new technologies and ideas—stealth and precision weapons among them—that created the foundation for the Air Force’s successes in the Balkans, Afghanistan, and Iraq.
After retiring from the service in 1984, Creech became a guru of leadership training. He was credited with coining the term “Total Quality Management” and wrote a book that has become a staple of leadership and management courses on the topic ever since.
Creech was “a great air and space pioneer who personified leadership,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. John P. Jumper. “From flying combat missions over Korea and Vietnam to building Tactical Air Command into a dynamic, proud organization, General Creech leaves us with a lasting legacy of mentorship and friendship.”
Born in Argyle, Mo., in 1927, Creech, at 17, enlisted in the Army, hoping to enter flying training. He was selected for the reserve aviation cadet program and called to active duty in June 1945, as World War II ended. He decided to stay in the Army as an enlisted man, serving as a travel clerk in finance. In 1946, he got out of the service to attend college on the GI Bill, but, in 1948, he tried the aviation cadet route again. This time, he succeeded.
Creech was commissioned and received his wings in 1949. He flew 103 combat missions over North Korea and also served a tour as a forward air controller with the Army’s 27th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division.
In 1953, Creech joined the Thunderbirds aerial demonstration team. Three years later, he became the commander and leader of the Skyblazers, the demonstration team for US Air Forces in Europe.
During six months in Vietnam in 1968, Creech flew 177 combat missions with the 37th Tactical Fighter Wing. For his combat actions in Korea and Vietnam, he received three Distinguished Flying Crosses, 14 Air Medals, and the Silver Star.
Creech commanded two flying wings in Europe, served as vice commander of Aeronautical Systems Division at Wright–Patterson AFB, Ohio, and was head of Electronic Systems Division at Hanscom AFB, Mass.
It was at TAC, however, that Creech made his greatest mark. As its commander for six years, he raised sortie production by 80 percent and cut the accident rate by more than half, while driving retention numbers from historic lows to historic highs. He was famous for his statement—often quoted by Jumper—“If you measure something, it will improve.”
A stickler for professionalism, Creech also trained a generation of USAF leaders to get top productivity out of their people.
Creech championed stealth technology “at a time when many people in the system wanted to kill it,” said retired Gen. Joseph W. Ralston, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, Europe. It was largely due to Creech’s backing “from within the Air Force” that the F-117 stealth fighter went from an idea to an operational capability, Ralston asserted.
Creech recognized the potential of precision attack and nighttime capability, said Ralston, who served under Creech at TAC. When the LANTIRN targeting system was in danger, Ralston accompanied his boss as they went “door to door” in Congress to get the program restored. Creech also pushed through the AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile.
“ Precision attack, stealth technology, and all-weather day and night attack were a gift to the Air Force of General Creech’s vision and leadership,” Ralston said.
Retired Gen. Ronald R. Fogleman, a former USAF Chief of Staff, was a “Misty Fast Fac” flying under Creech in Vietnam in 1969. He described Creech as “a superb aviator.”
However, he said, the reason Creech’s influence has been felt so long—it is now more than 18 years since his retirement—was that “he required the colonels in TAC to attend courses designed to impart values and teach leadership skills for all the various operational and support functions in the command. He personally taught these courses and turned the attendees into disciples, who then went on to teach their subordinates the same principles and values.”
Fogleman’s own bid to create an Air Force ethic—“Service Before Self”—echoes Creech. Fogleman said that, when he was Chief of Staff in the mid-1990s, he was “still referring to notes” he had taken in Creech’s courses 10 years earlier.
“ In my view, his mastery of the operational arena allowed him to explore and focus on the other elements of the force—particularly people—required to produce effective combat power,” Fogleman said.
Ralston noted that Creech “was a teacher who spent an enormous amount of his time and talent educating succeeding generations.” He said, Creech “taught us all to establish high standards, give the troops a stake in the outcome, measure performance, and let people know when they were meeting the standard—and let them know when they weren’t.”
Gen. Charles F. Wald, vice commander for US European Command, said Creech “will no doubt go down in Air Force history as a Jimmy Doolittle or a Tooey Spaatz.” Wald added, “He was the architect of the modern Air Force, and we owe him a giant debt of gratitude for who we are.”
Creech “was more responsible than anyone I know for building the Air Force we have today,” Ralston said. “All who knew him will see his hand in our Air Force for many decades to come.”
— John A. Tirpak
A Preview of the Enola Gay
The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum gave the news media an advance look Aug. 18 at the newly restored Enola Gay, the B-29 that dropped the first atomic bomb in 1945, on Hiroshima. The famous airplane had not been fully assembled for more than 40 years.
The preview was held at the museum’s Udvar–Hazy Center, under construction near Dulles Airport, about 25 miles west of Washington, D.C. The facility, built as a huge aviation hangar, will open to the public Dec. 15. There will be an open house Dec. 9 for military aviation veterans who obtain tickets in advance from the museum.
For the media event, the Enola Gay rested on the hangar floor, but it will be displayed on an eight-foot-high platform with a basic descriptive label alongside. Museum Director John R. Dailey said the exhibit “delivers the facts” and “allows people to understand these facts within the context of their own beliefs.”
This is the third shot at displaying the Enola Gay. Ten years ago, the museum—then under different management—planned to use the aircraft as a prop in a political horror show that played down Japan’s role as aggressor in World War II. That show was canceled in response to public outrage, and the museum director was fired.
From 1995 to 1998, the main Air and Space Museum in Washington displayed, in a depoliticized setting, the Enola Gay forward fuselage, the tail fin, a propeller, and two of the engines. That exhibit drew four million visitors, the most by far for any special exhibition in the museum’s history. Visitor comments were overwhelmingly favorable.
There is again some clamor to show the Enola Gay in a less objective context. At the Udvar–Hazy preview, Hideki Yui of the Japanese radio-television conglomerate NHK told the Associated Press that “Japanese survivors want to focus attention more on the damage of the atomic bomb.”
In Tokyo, Akito Suemune of the Hiroshima Council Against Atom and Hydrogen Bombs, said, “The exhibition is seen as a campaign by the US authorities to support the use of atomic bombs and show off its nuclear power.”
The Udvar–Hazy Center will eventually house about 200 aircraft, some of them on the floor, others hanging from the ceiling, and none of them will be accompanied by extensive explanations.
The restoration of the Enola Gay took about 300,000 hours. The aluminum skin has been polished to its original shine, and the configuration is authentic, inside and out. Parts and systems are of World War II vintage, and many of them are original.
The Norden bombsight, for example, is the one that flew on the Hiroshima mission. The tires—treated with material to help preserve the rubber—are the ones that were on the aircraft when it was delivered to the museum in 1949. The museum tracked down Boeing logo caps for the center of the pilot’s and copilot’s control wheels. The radio tubes were a gift from a World War II veteran.
Two World War II fighters, a P-38 and a P-47, will be parked under the wings of the Enola Gay in the exhibit.— John T. Correll
The Iraq Story Continues
DOD Recovers Iraqi MiGs Buried in Sand
A Defense Department search team operating in Iraq recently discovered several MiG-25 and Su-25 fighters buried in the sand at al Taqqadum airfield west of Baghdad. The search team uncovered and removed a partially dissembled MiG-25 Foxbat B interceptor, the fastest fighter in operation today.
The fighters were buried in an area coalition forces had been operating in for weeks, prompting Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to comment Aug. 5 on how difficult it can be to find things the Iraqis had concealed.
“ You don’t know it’s there because you don’t run around digging into everything on a discovery process,” Rumsfeld said at a Pentagon briefing. “So until you find somebody who tells you where to look, or until nature clears some sand away, ... we’re simply not going to know” where all of Iraq’s buried weapons are located.
In answer to a question specifically about the hunt for weapons of mass destruction, Rumsfeld added, “The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.”
“Chemical Ali” Captured
US Central Command officials announced in August they had captured Ali Hassan al-Majid, commonly known as “Chemical Ali” for his role in overseeing the deadly chemical weapons attacks against the Kurds in northern Iraq after the 1991 Persian Gulf War.
Majid was taken into custody in Mosul, the same city where Saddam Hussein’s sons Uday and Qusay were killed July 22.
Majid, the fifth most-wanted Iraqi on CENTCOM’s list of former regime officials, had previously been thought dead, after a British attack targeted his compound. Senior US and British officials believed—but never expressed certainty—that coalition forces had killed Majid in the April attack against his residence in Basra.
“ Obviously he was not there, [or] if he was, he survived the attack,” a CENTCOM spokesman told Reuters.
More Saddam Henchmen Captured
In August, Kurdish militiamen captured Taha Yassin Ramadan, a former Iraqi vice president nicknamed “Saddam’s Knuckles.”
Ramadan was No. 20 on CENTCOM’s list of the 55 most-wanted fugitives from the former regime. Kurdish officials in Mosul captured Ramadan without a fight and handed him over to US forces.
The spate of recent captures, months after the collapse of the Hussein regime in April, prompted President Bush to comment from his ranch in Texas that “slowly but surely we’ll find who we need to find.”
CENTCOM also announced the capture of Rashid Mohammad, a leader of Saddam’s Fedayeen paramilitary force. Based on his position as leader of a paramilitary group and some of the items found in his possession, officials believe Mohammad was still actively planning attacks against US and coalition forces in Iraq.
Transports Keep the Goods Flowing
While most Air Force assets have returned from their Iraqi Freedom deployments, Air Mobility Command is still running at full speed to support the large ground force presence that remains in Iraq, AMC officials reported.
Lt. Col. Zyna Captain, commander of the 436th Aerial Port Squadron at Dover AFB, Del., told Stars and Stripes that the 436th has worked 60-hour weeks for 12 of the 13 months she has commanded the unit. “We’re in a marathon ... [but] still sprinting,” Captain said.
All told, AMC flew 8,500 missions in support of OIF between Jan. 1 and July 28. The command delivered 196,000 tons of cargo and brought 462,500 troops to and from the theater.
Administration officials expect the US ground force level to remain at some 156,000 troops into next year.
News NotesBy Tamar A. Mehuron, Associate Editor
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