F/A-22 Software Gets Thumbs-Up
The Air Force recently met a Pentagon-imposed requirement that F/A-22 software reliability improve to 20 hours between system restarts. As a result, the Defense Acquisition Board gave the software a thumbs-up. Then it imposed a stiffer goal.Last February, the new fighter’s software needed a restart every two to three hours. By July, the reliability rate had improved to 21.2 hours.
However, the software that will be used for a data link between four fighters and for the Joint Tactical Information Distribution System still requires improvement, said Maj. Gen. (sel.) Richard B.H. Lewis, USAF’s program executive officer for fighters and bombers.
The new goal levied by the board incorporates a more demanding software reliability metric. The new metric measures restarts in conjunction with subsystem resets and hardware failures. It is known as the “mean time between avionics anomaly” rate, or MTBAA rate. In July, that rate was about five hours.
Congress Reviews Tanker Lease
USAF on July 11 sent Congress its report on the proposed lease of 100 Boeing 767s to be modified for use as aerial refueling aircraft. The report said that leasing will cost about one percent—roughly $150 million—more than buying tankers outright but that it will provide new aircraft sooner.
Service leaders consider time to be the critical factor. Ninety percent of USAF’s refueling capability currently resides in KC-135s that average 43 years in age. These older aircraft are becoming costly to maintain, said USAF, and there is an “increasing probability” the fleet could “encounter a fleet-grounding event, crippling our combat forces.”
The lease would provide 60 aircraft by 2009 and all 100 by 2011. Under a standard purchase, the first aircraft would be delivered in 2009 and the remainder by 2016—at least five years later than with the lease.
In the 2002 defense appropriation bill, lawmakers authorized the service to undertake a lease arrangement for up to 100 767s, despite criticism from some—most notably Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). The 2003 defense authorization bill called for authorization and appropriation of funds or a request for new-start funds before USAF could enter into the lease.
The lease plan submitted by the Air Force already has passed three of the four Congressional committees that must approve the deal. The fourth, the Senate Armed Services Committee, was slated to hold a hearing on the lease this month.
Bush Forwards Roche Nomination
Months after announcing his intent to do so, President Bush on July 7 formally nominated Air Force Secretary James G. Roche to be the next Secretary of the Army.The Senate was expected to consider the nomination this month.
Several Senators, including Sen. John McCain, have criticized Roche for his handling of the sexual assault allegations at the Air Force Academy. However, even Sen. Wayne Allard (R-Colo.), the leading critic of USAF’s handling of the academy sex scandal, has said he supports Roche’s efforts to overhaul academy policies.
The Army position came open in May when Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld forced out Army Secretary Thomas E. White, with whom he had numerous philosophical differences. (See “Washington Watch,” August, p. 7.)
Air Force Removes Stop-Loss
USAF officials on July 23 released the last of the career fields still held under the most recent Stop-Loss order. The Air Force had enacted the order in early March to stop active and reserve personnel in selected fields from leaving the service during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The order initially covered 43 officer and 56 enlisted specialties. After President Bush on May 1 announced the cessation of major operations in Iraq, the service released more than half those career fields. The July 23 order released the rest.
USAF Names Top 12 Airmen
The Air Force on July 10 announced the 12 Outstanding Airmen for 2003. The 12 will be recognized at the Air Force Association’s 2003 National Convention in Washington, D.C., and will serve on AFA’s Enlisted Council.
The selectees and their assignments at the time of the award were: SMSgt. Thomas O. McConnell, 39th Wing, Incirlik AB, Turkey; MSgt. Douglas A. Ackerman, 726th Air Mobility Squadron, Rhein–Main AB, Germany; MSgt. Keith D. Finney, 51st Civil Engineer Squadron, Osan AB, South Korea; TSgt. James H. Coffey III, 50th Security Forces Squadron, Schriever AFB, Colo.; TSgt. Tara A. Marta, 932nd Air Control Squadron, NAS Keflavik, Iceland; TSgt. Kevin D. Vance, 17th Air Support Operations Squadron, Hunter Army Airfield, Ga.; SSgt. Omar Ali Abed, 37th SFS, Lackland AFB, Tex.; SSgt. Jason R. Blodzinski, 23rd Special Tactics Squadron, Hurlburt Field, Fla.; SSgt. Christopher D. Tuck, 325th Contracting Squadron, Tyndall AFB, Fla.; SrA. Hector G. Bauza, 18th Medical Group, Kadena AB, Japan; SrA. Nathan H. Summers, 317th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, Dyess AFB, Tex.; SrA. Harold J. Tolbert II, 9th Civil Engineering Squadron, Beale AFB, Calif.
GAO: Strykers Will Overtax Airlift
Transporting the Army’s fledgling Stryker brigades will take longer than planned and under some circumstances could tie up a third of the Air Force’s strategic airlift fleet, according to a new report from the General Accounting Office. The Army set a goal of being able to deploy a Stryker brigade anywhere in the world within four days.
GAO, the Congressional watchdog agency, claims the task may take 14 days, depending on the location, and require use of more than 30 percent of USAF’s C-17 and C-5 airlifters.
The Strykers—smaller and lighter than Abrams tanks or Bradley fighting vehicles—are a key component in the Army’s plans to transform itself into a lighter, more mobile force. Each Stryker brigade will comprise roughly 3,600 soldiers and 1,000 vehicles—300 of which are Strykers.
The Army maintains it would only deploy about a third of a brigade by air—using USAF C-17s and C-5s. The rest would travel by sea.
In its response to the GAO report, DOD said it intended to keep the four-day worldwide deployment goal, which it called a target rather than a standard.
Global Hawk Led Eyes Over Iraq
The Air Force’s RQ-4A Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle generated 55 percent of the targeting data used to destroy time sensitive targets in Iraq during Gulf War II, said Maj. Gen. Joseph P. Stein, director of aerospace operations for Air Combat Command.
Global Hawk enabled the service to shorten the “kill chain”—the time it takes to find and destroy a target. The time required to pass intelligence from the UAV to Stateside analysts and back to “shooters” over Iraq sometimes dipped under 10 minutes.
Imagery from the UAV led to the destruction of 13 surface-to-air missile batteries, 70 SAM transporters, and 300 tanks, said Stein.
Global Hawk’s success prompted Army Gen. Tommy R. Franks, then commander of US Central Command, to tell lawmakers that DOD planned to add “laser designation and delivery of precision weaponry” to the RQ-4. That testimony appeared to be news to the Air Force.
According to Aerospace Daily, the service said no such plans exist. USAF has “no plans to weaponize Global Hawk now, or in the future,” the Daily quoted from a written response to a query.
Belgium Mends War Crimes Law
Belgium’s new government changed a controversial war crimes law that allowed charges to be brought against officials with no connection to Belgium. The 1993 law had been used to charge officials such as President Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld with war crimes.
Belgium amended the law to limit its use to charges against Belgian citizens and residents.
Rumsfeld had indicated that Belgium’s law could make the United States unwilling to send officials to the country, which is home to NATO headquarters.
Iran Deploys Shahab-3 Missile
Iran earlier this summer conducted its final test of a medium-range missile capable of hitting Israel or other targets throughout the Persian Gulf region, Iranian government officials announced in July.
The missiles officially entered service with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards on July 20. At a televised deployment ceremony, at least five of the missiles were seen mounted on portable launchers.
The Shahab-3 is reported to have a range of at least 800 miles and to carry a 2,000-pound warhead. The missile was first flight-tested in July 1998.
New Academy Leader Takes Over
Lt. Gen. John W. Rosa Jr. on July 10 took over as commandant of the Air Force Academy. His confirmation had been held up in the legislative roadblock set up by Idaho Sen. Larry E. Craig (R). (See “Aerospace World: Promotions Imbroglio Ends,” August, p. 12.)
Air Force Secretary James G. Roche announced the same day that Rosa’s predecessor, Lt. Gen. John R. Dallager, would be retired as a major general, not as a lieutenant general. The service said Dallager “did not exercise the degree of leadership in this situation we expect of our commanders.” (See “Aerospace World: Report: Academy Lost Focus on Assault Problem,” August, p.12.)
Rosa was the last of four new leaders installed at the academy after the Air Force removed the previous officials in the wake of the sexual assault scandal.
USAF Details Structure Changes
The Air Force announced on July 23 several force structure changes for 2004, among them a formal notice of retirement for its fleet of 20 C-9 Nightingale medical evacuation aircraft and 44 KC-135E tankers.
Officials said the service faced rising costs to support the C-9 aircraft. They also maintain the mission can be handled more efficiently without a dedicated fleet of medevac aircraft.
USAF is replacing the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Command KC-135Es with 24 KC-135Rs.
The announcement also stated the service would cut 2,260 military positions, 2,839 civilian positions, and 1,055 part-time reserve authorizations. Some of the cuts are related to the aircraft retirements, while others are part of “workforce reshaping.”
Many of the positions had been identified for elimination in prior budgets but were never removed from USAF books. They had been unfunded and unfilled.
Boeing, Loral See Space Losses
In mid-July, space powerhouses Boeing and Loral announced that the collapse of the commercial space market had hit them hard. Loral filed for bankruptcy protection, and Boeing said it would no longer market its Delta IV launch vehicle for commercial use.
Launch and orbital systems have become a “terrible marketplace,” said Boeing chairman Philip M. Condit in a conference call with financial analysts. Boeing will instead focus efforts on the government launch business—even though the Air Force just cut Boeing’s share of current launches. (See “Washington Watch,” p. 11.)
Overall, the number of commercial space launches has fallen by more than 50 percent since 1998.
The Air Force has said it remains committed to assured access to space, meaning the nation needs to preserve at least two heavy-lift launch providers—Boeing and Lockheed Martin. Boeing would not be allowed to fail as a government launch provider, if that would leave the government with only one viable launch option, say USAF officials.
US Public Thinks War Was Right
Despite pundit claims about American unease, a July Gallup poll determined that only 27 percent of Americans believe it was a mistake to send US troops to Iraq.
According to Gallup, “Concern about the validity of the war in Iraq this spring is somewhat higher” than the concern about Gulf War I at a comparable time, but it is “nowhere near” the percentage of people who questioned US involvement in Vietnam.In July 1991, only 15 percent of Americans considered Gulf War I a mistake; by May 1971, more than 60 percent of the US considered the Vietnam War to be a mistake.
USAF Drops “EAF,” Goes With “AEF”
The Air Force has officially stopped using the term “Expeditionary Aerospace Force,” or EAF, to refer to its expeditionary organizational concept. Supplanting EAF is the acronym AEF, currently defined as “Air and Space Expeditionary Force.”
Top Air Force leaders with great fanfare rolled out the EAF concept in 1998, holding a press conference to do so. In 1998, EAF was described as the overarching concept that employed, as its operating structure, 10 AEFs (or air expeditionary forces) made up of a cross-section of active, Guard, and Reserve personnel, units, and weapons from around the Air Force.
Over time, EAF fell into disuse. Then came a little-noticed change to Air Force Instruction 10-400, “Aerospace Expeditionary Force Planning,” issued on Oct. 16, 2002. The instruction’s glossary included this information: “Expeditionary Aerospace Force (EAF)—No longer used—‘Aerospace Expeditionary Force (AEF)’ replaces all references to ‘Expeditionary Air Force (EAF).’ ”
The 2002 instruction, however, is itself already out of date. Air Force leadership no longer uses the term “aerospace,” preferring to use “air and space.” Hence, the new formulation: Air and Space Expeditionary Force.
Fleet Viability Board To First Evaluate C-5A
The Air Force has charged its new Fleet Viability Board, which begins work this month, with the complex task of objectively determining the collective health of USAF’s older aircraft. The first order of business will be a look at the health of the C-5A Galaxy airlifter.
There are currently 76 older C-5As in the C-5 fleet. They first entered service in 1969.
The new board was the brainchild of Air Force Secretary James G. Roche, a retired Navy officer. Roche decided that USAF should adopt a system akin to the Navy’s 100-year-old process for determining whether a ship continues to be seaworthy.
Roche and other Air Force leaders realized earlier this year that the service did not have a definitive process to determine whether an aircraft should remain in service.
According to Maj. Gen. (sel.) Elizabeth A. Harrell, Air Staff director of maintenance, the service needed a definitive, repeatable process for determining the health of such aircraft. Harrell said one challenge facing the new board is to balance the competing concerns of the logistics and operational communities. Logisticians might favor safety and supportability in evaluating aircraft, but operators might emphasize the need to keep an aircraft in service.
Consequently, board recommendations will go directly to the Secretary of the Air Force and Air Force Chief of Staff.
After the service reaches a conclusion on the health of the C-5A airlift fleet, the board next will focus on the E-8 Joint STARS aircraft.
Task Force Finds 22,277 Possible Conversions
An Air Force task force has identified 22,277 uniformed members performing jobs that could be done by civilians. The task force is part of the service’s effort to identify efficiencies that could help it meet post-9/11 manpower demands.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld directed each service to review its force structure for personnel and technology efficiencies. He has steadfastly refused to consider end strength increases until all other avenues are examined.
The Human Capital Task Force Report, approved by the Secretary of the Air Force and Chief of Staff, identified many such efficiencies. However, converting them would require hiring roughly 14,000 new civilian employees. As yet, Pentagon leaders have not guaranteed that they will fund any new civilian employees, even if the move would free uniformed members to shift to core military work. But even before the war on terror began, the report noted, “Manpower was ‘stressed.’ Estimates of additional manpower requirements ranged as high as 10,000.”
“ At the most basic level,” the report stated, the Air Force “has a content/skills mix problem. Resolving this problem determines whether or not we have an end-strength problem. ”
The task force identified 16 initiatives to correct the workforce imbalances, but “workforce substitution”—civilian for military —will cost about $5 billion through Fiscal 2009.
Some changes have been made. For example, to meet its post-9/11 force protection demands, the Air Force has increased the number of personnel headed to the security field. “We knew we had a security forces problem—that’s pretty obvious,” noted William H. Booth, senior civilian in the Air Force manpower and organization office. The service is working on 3,700 realignments right now, said Booth. However, two-thirds of them are going to fields other than security forces.
So far, the Air Force has been unable to obtain money from DOD to pay for such changes and will have to pay for much of the realignment out of existing funds. USAF officials are concerned that, if they convert the 22,277 military positions to civilian posts, DOD might simply zero out the military positions and not shift them to other highly stressed fields.
“ If you gave me $100 million to buy civilians,” Booth said, “I’d move $100 million worth of military into stressed [Air Force specialty codes] tomorrow.”
Instead, the service is taking a phased approach to the changes. The cost of the next 1,000 realignments was added to the Fiscal 2005 budget plan, with the hope that the shift will be approved and signed into law, setting a precedent. The next goal is to realign 7,000 new positions in the 2006 budget.
US Raids Hit 18 US Companies
The Departments of Defense and Homeland Security announced in July they had raided the offices of 18 US companies for allegedly supplying military equipment that was bound for Iran, in violation of the Arms Export Control Act.
The investigation was spread over 10 states and centered on a London-based company, Multicore.
According to DHS, the export control items included components for Hawk missiles, F-14 Tomcat fighters, F-4 Phantom fighters, F-5 Tiger fighters, C-130 airlifters, military radars, and other equipment. The investigation dates to 1999, when a look at Multicore revealed that F-14 parts were being purchased for shipment from California to Iran, via Singapore. A 1999 raid of Multicore’s Bakersfield, Calif., office yielded documents showing that parts had come from a host of US companies.
According to the Associated Press, the US companies raided were: Aerospace Technologies Intl., Boulder, Colo.; Alamo Aircraft, San Antonio; Assorted Hardware, Wichita, Kan.; Brandex Corp., Sunrise, Fla.; Continental Industries, Hinsdale, N.H.; Centerfield Pump, Tomball, Tex.; DG Air Parts, Jacksonville, Ore.; Harry Krantz Co., Garden City Park, N.Y.; Instrument Associates, Port Washington, N.Y.; Instrument Support, Holbrook, N.Y.; Island Components Group, Bohemia, N.Y.; Jay Tex Inc., Mount Pleasant, Tex.; Jet Midwest, Kansas City, Kan.; Orion Intl., Charleston, S.C.; Quintron Aircraft Parts, Waukesha, Wis.; Space Age Supply, Crowley, Tex.; Sunrise Helicopter, Spring, Tex.; and Talon Aviation, Lake Charles, La.
As Time Went On, A-10s Dominated CAS Mission
The 110th Fighter Wing, a Michigan Air National Guard unit that flew A-10s out of Tallil Air Base in Iraq during Gulf War II, found that ground commanders grew to love the Warthog during the war. They said that early requests for close air support aircraft tended to be generic, but, by the second week, commanders asked specifically for A-10 support.
Up to 90 percent of the CAS requests identified A-10s as the aircraft of choice, the wing officials said at a July 16 Pentagon briefing.
A-10 units train for CAS constantly, said Lt. Col. Dave Kennedy. While other aircraft, even B-52s, can perform close air support for ground units, it “takes time” for pilots not trained in the mission to master CAS.
The A-10’s durability proved to be an asset during the low-level CAS runs. In one 24-hour span, three Warthogs were hit by Iraqi fire, but only one went down, and no pilots were killed.
Maj. Jim Ewald, whose A-10 was hit by a surface-to-air missile over western Baghdad, said he was able to fly his crippled aircraft 30 to 40 miles to a safe area, before one engine failed completely and he had to “punch out.” Ewald was quickly recovered by an Army unit that saw his airplane go down.
The Fiscal 2004 Budget at Midyear
$378 Billion Defense Budget Moving Forward
The House and Senate each overwhelmingly passed $378 billion defense appropriations bills in July. The military construction portion totaled $9 billion.The money bills basically matched the Administration’s Fiscal 2004 request, which sought nearly $380 billion. Lawmakers explained that the topline reduction was tied to increased 2003 supplemental contingency funding previously provided but not yet spent by DOD.
Completion of the 2004 appropriations bills means the Administration’s request is largely on track. House and Senate authorizing committees, which set budget policy, previously approved similar totals. Any differences between the House and Senate appropriations and authorization bills will be resolved in conferences this fall.
The Senate’s defense appropriations bill passed unanimously July 17. In addition to the $9 billion for military construction (including family housing), it provided $99 billion for personnel expenses; $116 billion for operations and maintenance; $74 billion for procurement; $64 billion for research, development, test, and evaluation; and $16 billion for defense health and other programs.
F/A-22 Fighter Dispute
While lawmakers funded most of USAF’s high-priority procurement programs near the requested levels, the F/A-22 was an area of contention. Both appropriations committees approved the Air Force request to buy 22 Raptors next year, but the two authorization committees cut the quantity to 20.
Authorizers removed savings the Air Force expects to accrue from new program efficiencies, rather than letting the service apply that money toward additional aircraft. The service had counted on using savings to buy more F/A-22s, as long as it stayed within its total program budget. (See “Aerospace World: Raptor Cuts Undermine ‘Buy to Budget’ Plan,” August, p. 11.)
Three Committees Favor B-1B Reconstitution
By mid-July, a plan to bring some B-1Bs back from retirement had picked up steam. Three of the four defense oversight committees approved a plan to give the Air Force $20.3 million in Fiscal 2004, to return to service 23 of the 32 B-1B bombers that are being retired this year.
The Air Force opposes the plan, noting in a formal appeal to lawmakers that the B-1B is now experiencing its highest mission capable rates since 1996. The service attributes the higher rate to the consolidation of support at two bases (down from five) and to the relative increase in parts availability from supporting a smaller number of aircraft.
The Air Force maintains that lawmakers failed to provide the $1.1 billion it would actually cost to support the aircraft through 2009. (See “Washington Watch,” p. 11.)
Nuclear Weapons Programs Debated
By mid-June, the fate of proposed changes to nuclear weapons research was far from settled. House and Senate appropriators came to different conclusions on the merits of studying nuclear bunker busters and improving nuclear test readiness.
The House panel proposed eliminating the $6 million sought for research into low-yield nuclear weapons and the $25 million needed to improve nuclear test readiness.
President Bush wants to halve the time required to resume nuclear tests, if a decision were made to test again. Currently, the time lag is 36 months.
House appropriators also cut $10 million from the Administration’s request of $15 million for research into a Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator that would be used to target hardened, underground facilities.
The same week, Senate appropriators fully funded each of the above accounts, setting up a showdown over nuclear issues in the conference committee.
Gulf War II: The Story Continues
US Forces Kill Hussein Sons
Uday and Qusay, two sons of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, were killed by US forces July 22. The sons were slain after refusing to surrender and engaging in a protracted battle with US forces in the town of Mosul in northern Iraq.
US forces were tipped to their location by an informant described as a “walk up.” The informant could receive up to $30 million because the two sons, missing since the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom in March, each had a $15 million reward on his head.
After Saddam himself, Uday and Qusay were the biggest Iraqi fugitives, considered No. 2 and No. 3 on US Central Command’s wanted list of former regime fugitives.
CENTCOM Undergoes Change of Command
Army Gen. John P. Abizaid took command of US Central Command on July 7, succeeding Gen. Tommy R. Franks, who retired. Abizaid had been CENTCOM deputy commander.
Franks, a 38-year veteran, had led CENTCOM since June 2000. During his tenure, he oversaw Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan as well as Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Abizaid Describes Guerilla Campaign
At a July 16 Pentagon briefing, Abizaid created a stir when he described the ongoing situation in Iraq as a “classical guerilla-type” war.
Abizaid added that the troops were doing a “magnificent job” dealing with this particular style of threat.
The US is fighting remnants of Saddam Hussein’s forces that are conducting “what I would describe as a classical guerilla-type campaign against us,” said Abizaid. “It’s low-intensity conflict, in our doctrinal terms, but it is war, however you describe it.”
Abizaid’s comments were notable because it was the first official declaration that the repeated attacks against US and coalition forces in Iraq were not isolated events but part of a concerted, probably organized, campaign.
Gulf War II Deaths Surpass Gulf War I Total
On July 17, the US suffered its 147th combat death in Gulf War II, thereby equaling the total from the 1991 Persian Gulf War. According to Pentagon data, 32 of the deaths took place after May 1, when President Bush declared major combat activities to be over. Sporadic fighting has continued since that time.
Counting deaths caused by accidents, the US had suffered a total of 224 deaths in Gulf War II by July 17.
Rumsfeld Doubles Iraq Cost Estimate
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld informed a Senate committee in July that ongoing Iraq operations will likely cost $3.9 billion per month for the foreseeable future. That figure nearly doubled a previous Administration estimate of roughly $2 billion per month.
The military cost includes food, fuel, transportation, weapons, and personnel costs associated with keeping a force of about 145,000 troops in Iraq.Continuing operations in Afghanistan cost an additional $900 million to $950 million monthly, Rumsfeld added.
Bob Hope, 1903-2003
Bob Hope, the beloved comedian who entertained American forces for some 50 years, died July 27 at his home in Toluca Lake, Calif.
Hope was born May 29, 1903, in Eltham, England, but moved to the US with his family when he was four years old. He appeared in vaudeville, radio, and numerous movies. He also had a long career in television. Hope has been described as being “a part of American folklore.”
Hope was the first and only American to be made an honorary veteran of America’s armed forces. He began entertaining US troops during World War II and continued over the years, making his last tour in 1991 to the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm.
Daily Report: The day's top news on the US Air Force, airpower, and national security issues.
Daily Report: Read the day's top news on the US Air Force, airpower, and national security issues.
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