Crash Claims Two AirmenUS officials announced Feb. 19 that two Marine Corps helicopters based in North Carolina crashed off the coast of Dijouti, in the Horn of Africa, killing 10 service members, including two airmen.
SrA. Alecia S. Good of Broadview Heights, Ohio, from the 92nd Communications Squadron at Fairchild AFB, Wash., and SSgt. Luis M. Melendez Sanchez of Bayamon, Puerto Rico, from the 1st Communications Squadron at Langley AFB, Va., were among those killed in the crash.
The two CH-53 helicopters were carrying crew members and US troops from a counterterrorism force, when they went down during a training flight Feb. 17 near Ras Siyyan in Djibouti.
Eight marines from MCAS New River, N.C., also were killed in the crash. Two crew members were rescued and taken to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.
Air Force Civilian Killed in BlastThe Department of Defense on Feb. 21 announced the death of an Air Force civilian who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Daniel J. Kuhlmeier of Omaha, Neb., died Feb. 20 in Baghdad when an improvised explosive device struck the convoy truck in which he was riding.
Kuhlmeier was assigned to Det. 204, 2nd Field Investigations Region, Offutt AFB, Neb.
Top Chief Sets RetirementCMSAF Gerald R. Murray, the 14th Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, will retire this summer after serving more than 28 years, the Air Force announced in January.
Murray is the highest-ranking noncommissioned officer in the Air Force, providing direction to the enlisted corps and serving as personal advisor to the Chief of Staff and the Secretary of the Air Force on all issues related to the enlisted force.
Before being named Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force in July 2002, Murray served as command chief master sergeant of Pacific Air Forces, Hickam AFB, Hawaii, from August 2001 to June 2002. He entered the Air Force in October 1977 and earned his eighth stripe in 1994. During his career, he served at Yokota AB, Japan, as well as in Turkey and Bahrain, and deployed for Operations Desert Storm and Southern Watch.
Although Murray’s official retirement date will be Oct. 1, a ceremony appointing his successor is scheduled for June 30.
$439 Billion Budget UnveiledThe Pentagon’s $439.3 billion budget for Fiscal 2007, made public on Feb. 6, was keyed to findings of the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), released at the same time. Below are some of the Defense Department’s requested amounts in the QDR’s three main areas of emphasis. (See also “Defense Budget Chart Pages,” p. 62.)
Prevail in irregular warfare operations: The budget seeks increases in special operations forces ($5.1 billion), adding Army capability with development of the Future Combat System ($3.7 billion) and larger brigades ($6.6 billion), increased language training for SOF and intelligence units ($181 million), and a larger unmanned aerial reconnaissance force ($1.7 billion).
Defend the homeland against advanced threats: The budget highlights enhanced ability to tag, track, locate, and render safe nuclear weapons ($1.7 billion), expanded missile defense capability with improved early warning systems ($10.4 billion), and increased global communications through satellites ($0.9 billion).
Maintain America’s military superiority: Keeping up the nation’s conventional warfare edge translates to new weapons systems—the F-22 Raptor, Super Hornet, and Joint Strike Fighter ($15.1 billion)—and investment in new destroyers and littoral combat ships, a Virginia-class submarine, an amphibious assault ship, and a logistics ship ($11.2 billion).
C-17 Halt Brings PenaltiesThe Pentagon’s plan to mothball C-17 production equipment after construction of the 180th aircraft could drain $8.4 billion from the US economy, the Department of Commerce said in February.
DOC believes the plan would cause the loss of more than 25,000 American jobs, especially among suppliers that provide parts and systems to aircraft manufacturers. The Boeing-built airplane relies on 702 suppliers in 42 states.
Moreover, should the Air Force want to restart C-17 production, the cost could be enormous. The Commerce report predicts that Boeing will sell the 424-acre Long Beach, Calif., C-17 plant if it is shuttered, obliging USAF to spend $3.2 billion to set up a new factory elsewhere.
Collateral damage would include the forced movement of other lines associated with the Long Beach plant, such as parts made for the Army’s AH-64 Apache, and chances for export sales of the airlifter would be killed.
Lawmakers Line Up for C-17The Air Force has said that its requirements trump economic considerations in the case of the C-17. However, some lawmakers have already announced their intention to keep the C-17 line intact.
Sens. Jim Talent (R-Mo.) and Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.) sponsored a Senate amendment to the Fiscal 2006 defense authorization bill in November, allowing the Air Force to buy up to 42 more C-17s. Talent has pledged to fight the Pentagon’s decision to terminate C-17 production.
“If we do not purchase additional transports, we will lack the capability needed to deploy and adequately sustain forces overseas,” Talent said.
Lockheed In $2 Billion DealLockheed Martin was awarded a $2.02 billion contract in January for the Transformational Satellite Communications Sysem (TSAT) Mission Operations System (TMOS) contract.
The nine-year TMOS contract covers ground stations that will manage a new constellation of high-speed military communications satellites. The ground stations will enhance airborne intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance for troops in combat as well as situational awareness. The contract is part of the estimated $18 billion TSAT program that will be the space-based part of the Global Information Grid.
Work is scheduled to be completed by September 2015.
Big UASes Get US ClearanceIn January, Global Hawk became the first unmanned aerial system to receive the military airworthiness certification.
The unmanned intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance system’s certificate recognizes that the aircraft has a proven history of safe operations. Global Hawk was first authorized to fly in national airspace in 2003 when it was awarded a Certificate of Authorization.
“The aircraft was evaluated against over 500 technical criteria in order to get this certification,” said Randy Brown, Global Hawk Systems Group Director.
Global Hawk was assessed against various safety risks and found to be of acceptable reliability.
Five Global Hawks have been delivered to the Air Force, and two of those have begun flying missions in support of the Global War on Terror. Global Hawk aircraft have flown more than 5,000 hours in combat operations.
C-130Js Put on Military ContractThe C-130J, which the Air Force had been buying under a commercial contract, was converted to a traditional military procurement under a $136.4 million contract awarded to Lockheed Martin on Feb. 10.
The move was made in response to concerns from Congress that USAF had not gotten the best possible deal on the C-130J and that the terms of the commercial contract allowed Lockheed Martin to withhold certain information about program costs.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) criticized the Air Force in February for failing to meet Congressional demands for more data about the C-130J program. McCain was so upset that he threatened to block the nomination of Michael L. Dominguez, a former acting Air Force Secretary, to be deputy undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness.
Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.), head of the Senate Armed Services Committee, later joined McCain in this action.
The Air Force bought 23 aircraft under the old contract and will buy 39 more under the converted contract, which will be made definitive by the end of the fiscal year, the service said.C-5 Re-Engine Test Succeeds
New engines were successfully tested on a C-5 Galaxy at Lockheed’s Marietta, Ga., facility in January, leading program managers to claim that the biggest hurdle in a C-5 life-extension upgrade has been cleared.
Lockheed ran a range of operations with General Electric F138-100 engines on the C-5 test bed, encountering no problems. Air Force program officials said the tests indicate that technical risks in the C-5 Reliability Enhancement and Re-engining Program are low.
The re-engining is part of an omnibus, 70-item upgrade that is intended to give the C-5 service life beyond 2025, with a mission capable rate of 75 percent. The Air Force plans to upgrade 112 C-5As, Bs, and Cs to C-5M configuration. The improved aircraft also will be able to operate from shorter runways and climb to altitude faster and comply with all new international aviation regulations for electronics and communications.
The RERP follows an avionics modernization program, which is a necessary precursor to using new digital engine controls and communications gear. The C-5 fleet is expected to be modified by 2020.
US Transportation Command chief Gen. Norton A. Schwartz said in December that the tooling for the C-17 line should be retained in case the C-5 AMP and RERP upgrade do not produce necessary capability. (See “Rising Risk in Air Mobility,” March, p. 28.)
Robert Scott, “Flying Tiger”Retired Brig. Gen. Robert L. Scott Jr., a World War II ace with 10 aerial victories and author of the best-selling book God Is My Co-Pilot, died at a nursing home in Warner Robins, Ga., on Feb. 27. He was 97.
Scott flew 388 combat missions from July 1942 to October 1943 and was one of World War II’s earliest American aces.
At the start of the war, Scott went to the China-Burma-India Theater where he laid the groundwork for what was to become Air Transport Command and the “hump” flights to resupply forces in China. He later flew with the Flying Tigers, which had been formed under Claire L. Chennault.
After the war, he commanded the nation’s first jet fighter school at Williams AFB, Ariz., before becoming the director of information for the Air Force.
Scott wrote God Is My Co-Pilot, about his wartime exploits, which became a major motion picture. He also wrote Boring a Hole in the Sky, among other books.
Scott received two Silver Stars, three Distinguished Flying Crosses, and three Air Medals during his time in the Air Force and the Army Air Forces. He was a 1932 West Point graduate.
Bush Seeks New War FundsPresident Bush delivered a $72.4 billion supplemental package to Congress on Feb. 16 for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The $72.4 billion included $65.3 billion for the Department of Defense alone. The remaining $7.1 billion will fund the State Department and Intelligence Community operations.
The $65.3 billion request is the sixth major war supplemental since the war on terror began in 2001.
The majority of the funds are set aside for ground forces, with the Army receiving $10.8 billion. The Navy and Marines would get $3.9 billion and the Air Force $2 billion.
The request would offset the cost of military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan through Sept. 30, the end of FY06.
Congress Hits JSF Engine Cut ...Congress is none too happy about Pentagon plans to cancel an alternative engine for the Joint Strike Fighter. (See “Aerospace World: England Targets F-35 Engine,” March, p. 17.)
Many condemn the decision as a risky move.
Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, planned to hold two hearings about the engine. He was responding to several Ohio lawmakers asking the Senate and House to reverse the cut.
Reps. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) and Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio) wrote HASC Chairman Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) a Feb. 13 letter opposing the cut. Republican Sens. George V. Voinovich and Mike DeWine wrote to Warner, charging that the Pentagon had not consulted with Britain, the chief US partner on the F-35 program.
Pratt & Whitney makes the F135 engine which is the initial powerplant for the JSF. General Electric and Rolls Royce had teamed to develop and build the F136 engine as a fully interchangeable alternate motor. It was believed that competition between the two power plants would lead to lower prices and higher quality in the program. (See “The F-35 Gets Real,” March 2004, p. 44.) With a JSF production run in excess of 3,000 aircraft planned, it had been decided that there was sufficient market to split the buys.
... While London Weighs InBritish Prime Minister Tony Blair personally lobbied President Bush in December, objecting to the cancellation of the engine. The move would affect jobs in Bristol, England, where Rolls Royce engine parts are made.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said on Feb. 16 that there was “modest and acceptable” risk for ending the second engine program, saying that “there were better things that could be done” with $1.8 billion, the estimated Pentagon cost savings.
GE and Rolls Royce were awarded a $2.4 billion F136 contract in August. The program was ordered killed in a Dec. 20 memo from Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England.
PACAF Welcomes First C-17Gen. Paul V. Hester, commander of Pacific Air Forces, presided over a Feb. 8 arrival of the first of eight C-17 transports to be based at Hickam AFB, Hawaii.
The aircraft was the first C-17 to be permanently based outside the continental US and marked the beginning of PACAF’s first strategic airlift wing.
Airmen from the 15th Airlift Wing and the 154th Wing, Hawaii Air National Guard, flew the C-17 together, a step Hester saw as natural for PACAF, since Guardsmen will work side by side with active duty airmen to maintain and fly the aircraft.
The first aircraft to beddown at Hickam is named Spirit of Hawaii, Ke Aloha.
The eighth C-17 is expected to arrive at Hickam by the end of 2006. Another eight are scheduled to be delivered to Elmendorf AFB, Alaska, in 2007.
World War II Airman IdentifiedAn airman whose airplane went missing during World War II was identified in February, and his remains were to be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
Aviation cadet Leo M. Mustonen of Brainerd, Minn., was on an AT-7 navigation training aircraft flying from Mather Field in Sacramento, Calif., when it disappeared on Nov. 18, 1942. Wreckage and remains were discovered on Mt. Mendel in Kings Canyon National Park in the Sierra Nevada Mountains five years later, but it was not until October 2005 that climbers found a body encased in the ice not far from the crash site.
The frozen remains were turned over to the Joint POW-MIA Accounting Command at Hickam AFB, Hawaii. Lab officials in November narrowed down the possibilities to four men, all of whom disappeared on the training flight. Mustonen’s remains were identified using the mitochondrial DNA method.
US-China Hot Line ProposedA “hot line” between the Pentagon and the Chinese Defense Ministry was one of the ideas to emerge from a recent Congressional trip to China.
Rep. Mark S. Kirk (R-Ill.) and Rep. Rick Larsen (D-Wash.), who are the co-chairmen of the US-China Working Group in Congress, told the Washington Times that the idea of a hot line surfaced during their recent visit to Beijing and several other military sites in China and that the Defense Department is considering the link. Such a connection already exists between the White House and the State Department and their counterparts in China.
A hot line was established between Moscow and Washington during the Cold War in summer 1963, less than a year after the Cuban Missile Crisis. President Kennedy suggested the idea as a way to ease tensions and establish an effective communication link between the US and Soviet Union after the two countries realized how close they had come to nuclear war.
The initial system was a set of teletypes with messages punched in, but was replaced with two satellite systems and an undersea cable link in the 1970s. The hot line uses text messages, rather than spoken or video messages to avoid confusion.
Cope Tiger Draws A-10sCope Tiger 06, a yearly airpower exercise between the US, Thailand, and Singapore, ran Feb. 7 to 18 at Korat RTAB, Thailand. This year, A-10 Thunderbolt IIs, operators, and maintainers from Osan AB, South Korea, participated. The 25th Fighter Squadron at Osan normally does not deploy, making the exercise a special occasion.
A total of 1,300 military personnel were involved, including 300 US personnel and 1,000 Thai and Singaporean forces.
The exercise, held annually since 1994, fosters international cooperation and develops flying skills.
Planned F-22 Bases NamedThe Air Force wants to establish operational F-22 Raptor fighter locations at Holloman AFB, N.M., and Hickam AFB, Hawaii, to join those at Langley AFB, Va., and Elmendorf AFB, Alaska, the service announced March 1.
The two new “preferred” locations for F-22 beddown must still pass environmental impact assessments, the Air Force said. It did not give a timetable for the beddown.
The F-22 is already well-established at Langley, which has more than 20 of the fighters, and at Tyndall AFB, Fla., the F-22 “schoolhouse.”
The Air Force has announced its desire to retire all its F-117 stealth fighters, which are based at Holloman. The F-22s would replace the F-117s sometime after 2008, if the retirement plan is approved by Congress.
Hickam has recently taken on the C-17 airlift mission. Adding the F-22 would give that base the newest aircraft in the USAF inventory in two mission areas.
Small contingents of F-22s also are based at Nellis AFB, Nev., and Edwards AFB, Calif.
The Air Force said that in each F-22 operating location, it will seek a mix of active duty and Air National Guard involvement in operating and maintaining the Raptors.
Claude Kinsey, World War II Ace Retired Lt. Col. Claude R. Kinsey Jr., a “flying sergeant” and World War II ace, died Feb. 4 at the age of 86.
Kinsey entered the Army in 1940 and was among a relatively few enlisted personnel permitted to train as pilots. After flight training, he was promoted to staff sergeant. He was commissioned an officer and trained in P-38s soon after the US entered the war.
In early 1943, Kinsey shot down seven Axis aircraft over North Africa. He was himself hit and brought down, crashing near Tunis. Kinsey would later claim his own novice wingman shot him down. Badly injured, he was captured and taken to a prisoner of war camp in Italy. Kinsey and other prisoners were being transferred to German Army control when he made a daring escape and made it more than 100 miles back to Allied lines.
He came back to the United States and completed a war bond sales tour and then trained pilots to fly the P-38 in combat. After the war, he flew B-47s for Strategic Air Command and retired in 1965 as a squadron commander.
He received the Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart, and nine Air Medals among his awards.
Gold Medal for Tuskegee AirmenThe Congressional Gold Medal, the highest award given by the House, is to be awarded collectively to the Tuskegee Airmen under a bill that passed the House Feb. 28.
The Tuskegee Airmen—so named because they entered the Army Air Forces through Tuskegee Institute, Ala.—were the first black pilots in the US military. About 1,000 black pilots served in the war, and their 99th Fighter Squadron was credited with never losing a bomber to enemy fighters. The unit amassed a record of more than 100 enemy aircraft shot down.
Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.) sponsored the bill, a version of which passed the Senate last October. It is believed that about 200 of the airmen are still living.
Vietnam MIA Airman IdentifiedThe remains of an Air Force colonel, missing in action since the Vietnam War, were recently identified and returned to his family for burial with full military honors, the Department of Defense announced Feb. 3.
Col. Eugene D. Hamilton of Opelika, Ala., was flying an armed reconnaissance mission over North Vietnam on Jan. 31, 1966, when his F-105D was hit by enemy ground fire over Ha Tinh Province. Hamilton was flying the mission as part of Rolling Thunder, which attacked air defense systems and the flow of supplies along the Ho Chi Minh Trail.
Airborne searches for Hamilton’s aircraft that day were unsuccessful and he was declared missing in action.
US-Vietnam teams, led by the Joint POW-MIA Accounting Command, conducted four investigations and two excavations between July 1993 and November 2000 to search for the pilot. A team finally found wreckage and remains during an August-September 2000 excavation.
In 2004, Vietnamese citizens turned over to JPAC remains they had discovered at the same site a year earlier. It was not until May 2005 that the team discovered a leather nametag with the name “Hamilton” printed on it.
JPAC scientists and Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory personnel used the mitochondrial DNA method and analysis of dental remains to identify Hamilton.
Aerial Tanker Competitors Edge Toward Starting Line
Competition for the contract to replace the Air Force’s fleet of refueling tankers will likely begin in the middle of this year, according to Kenneth J. Krieg, Pentagon acquisition, technology, and logistics chief.
The first step is a formal request for information. The Air Force released an RFI last fall, only to call it back as “premature.” A new one could be released as early as this spring. The next step, a request for proposal, is expected in early fall, and a winner could be selected in early 2007.
Krieg said the Pentagon is reviewing options in a 1,500-page Rand analysis of alternatives for the tanker.
The AOA says that “tanker recapitalization is a good thing,” Krieg reported. “It didn’t find that there was a ‘crisis reason’ to do it,” but the AOA noted that existing tankers are 45 years old, he said, “and you bought them all in seven years, and you are not going to buy [all replacements] in seven years this time, so get on with it.”
Boeing and the Northrop Grumman-EADS team are the two known competitors for the tanker work.
Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, is opposed to buying EADS aircraft; he believes it would give thousands of jobs to France. Hunter favors the Boeing 777 aircraft, which, if chosen,would help Boeing’s Everett, Wash., plant. (See “Could Boeing Tankers Be Built at Long Beach?” p. 19.)
Cost of the War on Terror
The Congressional Research Service recently published a report estimating that the Department of Defense has spent $326 billion in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001, which includes spending on military operations, reconstruction, and for enhanced security at bases.The following table shows both monthly and total estimates of costs for Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. Estimates were taken from the CRS report.
Monthly average rate for 2005Iraq (OIF) Afghanistan (OEF) Total OIF and OEF$6 billion $1 billion $7 billion
Each country and total, as of June 2005$226 billion $76 billion $302 billion
Monthly average rate for 2005Iraq (OIF) Afghanistan (OEF) Total OIF and OEF$6 billion $1 billion $7 billion
Each country and total, as of June 2005$226 billion $76 billion $302 billion
*All amounts include costs of military operations and reconstruction and exclude enhanced base security costs. Starting Oct. 31, 2005, DOD is not required to report costs for base security.
The Navy’s F-14 Tomcat Calls It a Career
In the skies over Iraq in February, the Navy’s famed F-14 Tomcat fighters flew the final combat missions in a legendary 35-year service lifetime. They will soon be retired from active service.
The last 22 Tomcats in operational service, all deployed on USS Theodore Roosevelt, flew bombing and strafing missions against insurgent targets in Iraq.
The venerable Tomcat began rolling off Grumman’s line in 1971. It carried Phoenix air-to-air missiles, six of which could be fired and guided simultaneously to six different targets.
The first combat assignment for the Tomcat was providing cover for the US evacuation from Saigon in 1975 as the city fell to the North Vietnamese.
In the 1980s, the US Navy engaged in repeated “freedom-of-navigation” demonstrations north of Libya in the Gulf of Sidra, which dictator Muammar Qaddafi had unilaterally claimed as Libyan territorial waters. On two occasions, F-14s engaged in actual combat.
The first incident occurred on Aug. 19, 1981. Two Libyan Su-22 Fitters engaged two Tomcats over the gulf, which was being aggressively patrolled by USS Nimitz. The lead Fitter attacked one of the Tomcats with a heat-seeking missile, which it easily evaded. The F-14 crews shot down both Libyan fighters.
A second battle erupted on Jan. 4, 1989, when two Tomcat crews deployed aboard USS John F. Kennedy concluded they were being engaged by two Libyan MiG-23 Flogger fighters. Again, the Navy aircraft easily dispatched both enemy fighters.
The first incident provided grist for the 1985 movie “Top Gun,” which featured Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer as Tomcat pilots.
After the Cold War, the Navy gave its famous air-combat machine a new mission as a ground-attack aircraft. Aircraft so equipped were nicknamed “Bombcats.”
The nickname Tomcat was bestowed in recognition of two principal patrons in the late 1960s. They were Vice Adm. Thomas F. Connolly, deputy chief of naval operations for air warfare, and Adm. Thomas H. Moorer, Chief of Naval Operations and later Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Electronic Warfare—Mission in Search of a Service
Who’s in charge of electronic warfare these days?
Gen. Michael W. Hagee, Commandant of the Marine Corps, told reporters in February that US defense leaders should have a discussion about the future of EW since the Air Force dropped its B-52 standoff jammer program. Hagee described the Navy’s EA-18G Growler as only an interim fix for capabilities that will be lost when the EA-6B Prowler retires.
“As a nation, ... we need to have a discussion on who’s going to provide electronic attack capability,” Hagee said.
The Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps have shared the duty for electronic warfare, or electronic attack (EA), using the Prowler ever since USAF retired the EF-111.
Hagee said the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, with some EW pods, would make for a “tremendous EA capability,” which would be more effective than the Growler. A multiservice powwow on the subject should also assess the role to be played in EW by unmanned aircraft, he said.
—Marc V. Shanz
CSAR Mission Is On the Move—Again
The Air Force announced that the combat search and rescue mission will be reassigned from Air Force Special Operations Command to Air Combat Command. By way of explanation, Gen. T. Michael Moseley, Chief of Staff, said, “Our military must always have the combat capability to rescue its people ... wherever and whenever required.”
AFSOC and ACC were given until the end of March to develop a transition plan. Rescue assets assigned to Pacific Air Forces and US Air Forces in Europe will not be affected.
The decision means ACC will again have control of combat rescue officers, pararescue jumpers (PJs), HH-60 helicopters, and HC-130 refuelers. The change comes less than three years after the mission came out of ACC and was realigned under AFSOC. (See “CSAR, Under New Management,” August 2003, p. 84.)
“Under ACC, [the CSAR asset] can be mobilized faster during a national crisis, integrated into combat training, and tasked to support all Air and Space Expeditionary Force rotations,” Air Force officials said.
To realize these benefits, ACC will have to pay more attention to rescue than it did in the past. When the mission was given to AFSOC in 2003, Gen. Hal M. Hornburg, ACC chief at the time, said the command had done a “less than adequate job” of budgeting for CSAR.
ACC inherits the HH-60 replacement program dubbed CSAR-X. The Air Force this summer will announce the winning design for a fleet of 141 larger and more capable rescue helicopters.
This is actually just the latest in a long line of administrative moves for CSAR personnel. The proper home for rescue has been debated since at least 1990, when AFSOC was created from the former 23rd Air Force.
In a statement, AFSOC officials note that the health of the mission area has improved. CSAR-X was accelerated by three years to a planned in-service date of 2011; funding was inserted in outyear budgets to begin a tanker replacement program; and chronic spare parts shortages have been reduced. AFSOC has “continually improved the readiness and capability of the legacy fleet,” officials wrote. Despite old and overused assets, mission capable rates have increased by four percent.
The announcement notes that the “core competency” of CSAR is “directly linked to the combat air forces and the personnel” it supports. An Air Force official said the move is supported by Army Gen. Bryan D. Brown, commander of US Special Operations Command. Rescue has traditionally been a side mission in the special ops world.
ACC will likely assume control of Moody AFB, Ga., which came under AFSOC’s jurisdiction with the previous realignment. An Air Force official said there will be “no reason” for AFSOC to run Moody if the rescue mission is not part of Air Force special operations.
Could Boeing Tankers Be Built at Long Beach?
Despite some recent orders, Boeing plans to shut down its 767 airliner production line, company Chief Financial Officer James A. Bell announced in February. The Everett, Wash., 767 line will close after the current backlog of 30 orders is filled, Bell said.
Leased 767s were the planned basis for replacement of USAF’s aging fleet of KC-135 tankers, but the plan stalled after the Darleen A. Druyun acquisition scandal tainted the deal. (See “Tanker Twilight Zone,” February 2004, p. 46.) Subsequently, the Air Force has said it is considering a larger aircraft to fill both the tanker and cargo missions.
If the Air Force still wants to buy 767s for the tanker mission, Boeing will probably build them in Long Beach, Calif., at the C-17 plant now slated for closure, Bell said. (See “C-17 Halt Brings Penalties,” p. 14.) If the service opts for the larger 777, Bell said Boeing will build the aircraft in Everett.
A spokesman for Boeing’s C-17 division told the Los Angeles Times that the company is still lobbying to keep the C-17 in production.
“We just need to be open to all kinds of alternatives,” he said. “We’re certainly not giving up on the C-17 line.”
The Iraq Story Continues
Operation Iraqi Freedom—Iraq
Iraq CasualtiesAs of March 16, 2006, a total of 2,310 Americans had died in Operation Iraqi Freedom. This total includes 2,303 troops and seven Defense Department civilians. Of those fatalities, 1,808 were killed in action by enemy attack, and 502 died in noncombat incidents.
There have been 17,124 troops wounded in action during OIF. This includes 9,212 who returned to duty within 72 hours and 7,912 who were unable to quickly return to action.
USAF Conducts Air StrikesFour USAF F-15E multirole fighters on Feb. 15 carried out an air strike in southern Baghdad against a terrorist bomb facility, the Air Force announced.
The uninhabited weapons storage complex was being used by insurgents in Babil Province to assemble bomb-making munitions to use in attacks.
The Strike Eagles performed multiple passes to completely destroy the munitions bunker.Before the bombings, the four aircraft conducted a clearing pass and helicopters from Multinational Division-Baghdad scanned the scene for any civilians in order to limit collateral damage.
Iraqi Air Force Boosts OperationsThe Iraqi Air Force (IQAF) Operational Air Headquarters was planning to move in March to a new building in Baghdad to be collocated with the Iraqi ground force commander, according to Jane’s Defence Weekly.
An operational air tasking process has been developed to allow all Iraqi military agencies to send their aircraft out through the Iraqi Joint Operations Center.
The Iraqi air reconnaissance 70 Squadron, based at Basra, for the first time operated with the Iraqi Army’s 10th Division in December to give real-time updates and reports to ground headquarters.
The 70 Squadron also performed its first joint operations with the Iraqi Navy in January.
IQAF was first formed in July 2004 and was rebuilt as a new air force from scratch after the US-led invasion in 2003. It was formed with the help of the Coalition Military Assistance Training Team, which tasked their officers with forming a small air cell to train the new Iraqi forces.
The Coalition Air Force Transition Team was formed in November 2005 in Baghdad to “advise, train and assist the nation of Iraq to develop an independent and viable air force,” according to Jane’s.
The Iraqi Air Force currently operates from air bases in Basra and Kirkuk, both tasked with air reconnaissance; Taji, tasked with battlefield mobility; and Al Muthana, near Baghdad airport, tasked with air transport. IQAF operational headquarters is commanded by a major general and includes a staff of more than 100.
IQAF uses a range of aircraft, from Comp Air 7SL utility, SB7L Seeker light surveillance, CH2000 Alarus light, and C-130E transport aircraft and Mil Mi-17 medium and Bell Jet Ranger utility helicopters.Operation Enduring Freedom—Afghanistan
Afghanistan CasualtiesAs of March 16, 2006, a total of 278 Americans had died in Operation Enduring Freedom, primarily in and around Afghanistan. The total includes 277 troops and one DOD civilian. Of those fatalities, 141 were killed in action, and 137 died in nonhostile incidents such as accidents.
A total of 703 troops have been wounded in Enduring Freedom. They include 289 who were able to return to duty in three days and 414 who were not.
USAF Drops Humanitarian SuppliesAn Air Force C-130 Hercules flown by an Alaska Air National Guard crew dropped 10 container delivery systems of supplies to a village in central Afghanistan after heavy snow left it isolated in early February.
At the request of the Afghan government, the aircrew dropped 11,840 pounds of rice, oil, blankets, and other relief supplies to the mountain village of Ajrestan.
During the first six weeks of 2006, there were 37 airdrops, delivering more than 350,000 pounds of humanitarian relief supplies in Afghanistan.
News NotesBy Tamar A. Mehuron, Associate Editor
Daily Report: Read the day's top news on the US Air Force, airpower, and national security issues.
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