No Rush for Guard Seat on JCSThe Defense Department voiced opposition to seating a National Guard general on the Joint Chiefs of Staff. It called on Congress to wait for a formal commission studying the idea to issue its report. However, a Guard support organization urged lawmakers to press ahead, claiming the Pentagon is prejudiced against giving the Guard greater authority.
The issue was taken up at a June hearing of the House Armed Services Committee considering legislation that would elevate the chief of the National Guard Bureau to four-star status and also give his organization broad new procurement powers aimed at meeting domestic needs, such as equipment needed to deal with natural disasters.
Both the House and Senate are working on the National Defense Enhancement and National Guard Empowerment Act of 2006.
Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England noted that the Commission on the National Guard and Reserves is looking at the issue and asked that Congress hold off until the commission offers its findings “in the spring of next year.” England asserted that the legislation would make profound changes in the structure of the military and that such changes should be made carefully. He noted that the Goldwater-Nichols law that restructured the military in 1986 took more than four years to hammer out and asked that Congress allow DOD to take the time to make the best decisions.
However, retired Brig. Gen. Stephen M. Koper, president of the National Guard Association of the United States, told the committee that DOD is “deeply mired in an institutional bias” and doesn’t want to elevate the Guard to higher status. The new law, he said, would give the Guard “a seat at the table and a relative voice in the decisions” that affect the Guard’s readiness.
England acknowledged to the committee that DOD’s record with the Guard does “leave room for improvement,” but insisted that reforms are being made.
The commission was tasked by Congress to look at how the Guard and Reserve operate and make suggestions on how to improve them. The commission, which began work in March, has already identified three issues: command and control structure, the shift from “strategic” to “operational” force, and equipment woes.
The final commission report is due to Congress in March 2007.
Angry Veterans Sue the VA Angry over the theft of their personal data, veterans on June 6 filed a class-action lawsuit in the US District Court in the District of Columbia against the federal government, saying that their privacy rights were violated during the May data breach. (See “Action in Congress: Stolen VA Data Recovered,” p. 24.) The vets sought damages of $1,000 per person.
They demanded that Veterans Affairs disclose names of all those affected and bar VA workers from using important data until safeguards are in place.
In response to the theft, the VA has introduced new security measures, including restricting sensitive data. Unauthorized software and data are being erased from VA laptops. Employees are no longer allowed to put VA information on personal computers.
The VA spent $7 million to mail letters to 17.5 million people whose Social Security numbers were compromised. The agency was spending $200,000 per day to maintain a call center for those affected; by mid-June, the bill had reached $7 million and was still climbing.
The VA call center can be reached at 1-800-333-4636. Additional information is available at www.firstgov.gov.
Airmen Can Check Data OnlineAirmen can check the Air Force Personnel Center Web site to see if their personal information was compromised during the data theft. The Web site is located at http://ask.afpc.randolph.af.mil.
Retired personnel and dependents are not included in this AFPC database for the recent theft.
Crew Faulted for C-5 CrashCrew mistakes caused the April 3 crash of a newly upgraded C-5 Galaxy at Dover AFB, Del., an Air Force investigation found.
A series of errors contributed to the crash, but the chief causes were that the pilots were approaching the runway too low and slow, and when they tried to make corrections, they attempted to throttle up an engine they had shut down. Flap settings were also incorrect. The accident board investigating the crash faulted the pilots for their complacency in the landing.
The airplane had recently received the Avionics Modernization Program, or AMP, upgrade, which gave the C-5 “glass cockpit” displays and instrumentation. The new hardware apparently did not contribute to the crash.
The giant aircraft broke into three sections—nose, fuselage, and tail. No one was killed, but three crew members, among the 17 on board, were badly injured. (See “Aerospace World,” May, p. 18.)
The board determined that the C-5 made a normal takeoff and initial climb from Dover, but an engine warning light prompted the air crew to turn off the No. 2 engine and return to base. While making a faulty approach, they tried to power up the shut-down engine, and left another, working engine at idle. Coming in too low, the aircraft hit a utility pole and pancaked into the ground short of the runway. Only two engines were running when the Galaxy crashed.
There were three pilots in the cockpit, with a combined 10,000 hours in the C-5. In addition, there were two flight engineers aboard with more than 12,000 flight hours combined.
The pilots were taken off flying status pending the results of disciplinary hearings at the 512th Airlift Wing at Dover.
Firm Joins Tanker CompetitionA private tanker company has joined the upcoming competition to offer aerial refueling solutions to the Air Force.
Omega Air Refueling, Alexandria, Va., announced plans on June 12 to compete in the Air Force’s upcoming tanker competition, previously thought to be a duel between Boeing and the Northrop Grumman-EADS team.
Omega, a subsidiary of Ireland-based Omega Air, plans to offer 60 modified DC-10s for the service’s tanking requirements. Omega promises up to 20 tankers over three-and-a-half years, with an option for 40 additional airplanes.
However, the proposed solution would not meet the Air Force’s full requirement, which is to replace the capability of 500 KC-135 Stratotankers. The company admits that the proposal is a stopgap measure to quickly meet tanker needs, according to the Chicago Tribune.
If Omega won the contract, the company would provide refueling service in an outsourcing scheme instead of leasing or selling aircraft. Omega would give the Air Force the option to pilot its private tankers in combat missions, to reduce the hazard to Omega’s pilots.
This is not a new endeavor for the company, which currently uses a Boeing 707 airframe to refuel Navy and Marine Corps aircraft.
Final proposals are expected in the fall. The Air Force plans to award its contract in summer 2007.
Raptor Makes Highest Release An F-22A Raptor made its highest and fastest bomb release yet in a test over White Sands Missile Range, N.M., in May. A 1,000-pound, satellite guided Joint Direct Attack Munition was dropped from 50,000 feet while the Raptor was flying at Mach 1.5.
The JDAM traveled nearly 28 miles before hitting its target. It was not equipped with any range-extending devices, such as pop-out wings.
The test demonstrated the F-22’s ability to release air-to-ground munitions from very high altitude and its ability to strike ground targets at standoff range.
The Air Force has taken delivery of 71 F-22s from prime contractor Lockheed Martin; another 107 are on order.
KC-135 Marks 50th AnniversaryA ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of the KC-135 Stratotanker’s first flight was held at March ARB, Calif., in June.
The 452nd Air Mobility Wing held the event, which commemorated the KC-135’s entire history, ranging from early jet aerial refueling operations to variants for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance.
The KC-135, developed in tandem with Boeing’s first jetliner, the 707, first flew in August 1956. The first production aircraft was delivered to Castle AFB, Calif., in June 1957. The last KC-135 was delivered to USAF in 1965.
The KC-135 was the first aerial tanker that could fly fast enough to service the Air Force’s new fleet of jet aircraft in the 1950s and 1960s. It extended the range of bombers, airlifters, and fighters alike and has seen nonstop use in the 50 years since. In the 1980s, some of the fleet received new engines and other improvements, converting them to KC-135R models. Replacing the Eisenhower-vintage aircraft with a new generation of tankers has been hotly debated for the past five years, but a new program is expected to get under way this fall.
Americans Don’t Blame Troops Americans view the deaths of Iraqi civilians as isolated events and believe that the military is doing its best to avoid civilian casualties, according to an AP-Ipsos poll.
The poll, conducted in early June, found that 63 percent of Americans believe civilian killings are isolated incidents and not part of a broad, intentional pattern.
The poll was taken in the wake of allegations that marines murdered 24 Iraqi civilians in Haditha, Iraq, in November 2005. Seventy-six percent of those questioned said they were following news reports about troops killing unarmed civilians.
Sixty-one percent of those polled give troops the benefit of the doubt and said the military is doing all it can to avoid such deaths.
The poll also found that Americans oppose the war, with 59 percent saying it was a mistake to go to war, a significant increase from 34 percent recorded in December 2004.
Only 44 percent said a stable government is likely to emerge in Baghdad.
The survey of 1,003 adults had a three point percentage of error.
USAF To Get Mini-UAVs?Battlefield Airmen may be adding another weapon to their inventory: a miniature, hand-launched, unmanned aircraft.
Called the Battlefield Air Targeting Micro Air Vehicle, or BATMAV, the drone will give airmen the chance to see over hills and beyond their line of sight in real time and in low light. The Air Force wants the new UAV to be portable and launchable by one person, as well as durable and field-repairable.
One BATMAV system will include two micro air vehicles, one laptop ground control station, day and night cameras, and an operator’s kit with batteries, repair materials, and instructions. The service wants to buy 221 BATMAV systems through 2009.
A request for proposals was issued in May.
Missing WWII Airmen IdentifiedTwo Army Air Forces airmen and an Army soldier carried as missing in action since World War II were identified, the Defense Department announced in June.
The servicemen are 2nd Lt. Robert H. Cameron of Elkhart, Ind.; Cpl. George E. Cunningham of Rich Hill, N.Y.; and Army Medical Corps Capt. Vladimir M. Sasko of Chicago.
Cameron was buried at Arlington National Cemetery on June 9, and Sasko was buried in December 2005 in Chicago. Cunningham’s funeral plans were unconfirmed in late June.
On Dec. 10, 1944, Cameron and Cunningham were flying a C-47 “Gooney Bird” from Dobudura, New Guinea to Hollandia, with three passengers on board, including Sasko. The crew called for a weather report. A nearby pilot replied that the weather was bad and that he was changing course. There was no further communication with the C-47 crew.
Search teams from the Royal Australian Air Force were unable to find the crash site.
In 1979-80, search teams from the US Army’s Central Identification Laboratory, Hawaii, found the accident site and identified remains of 2nd Lt. Stanley D. Campbell and Cpl. Carl A. Drain.
The Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, successor to CILHI, returned to the site in 2004 and recovered remains of Cameron, Cunningham, and Sasko.
JPAC scientists used mitochondrial DNA and dental remains to positively identify the servicemen.
Refueling in SWA Is FasterA new ground system deployed in Southwest Asia is allowing USAF crews to cut aircraft refueling time in half—and with half the personnel.
The transportable equipment, called Fuels Operational Readiness Capability Equipment, or FORCE, supplements the large fuel bladders located some distance from the flightline. It can directly refuel an airplane or it can be used as a refueling fill-stand for fuel trucks.
Fuels technicians can now fill up two fuel trucks at a time, instead of just one.
The system has cut aircraft refueling time almost in half. It now takes 24 minutes to refuel a C-17 Globemaster instead of 42 minutes. It requires a two-person team operating a two-piece system, rather than four people operating four pieces of equipment.
The system was first tested in late 2005 at Ali Al Salem AB, Kuwait; testing was completed in May.
The Air Force wants eventually to replace old fuel equipment with 81 FORCE sets capable of receiving and delivering 400,000 gallons of fuel each day.
C-130s Aid Indonesian ReliefThe Air Force sent two C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft and medical personnel to Indonesia in June after a 6.2 magnitude earthquake hit near Yogyakarta on May 27.
Pacific Air Forces airmen deployed immediately after Indonesian officials asked for help. They formed the 374th Air Expeditionary Group. The C-130s transported relief supplies for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations. Also deployed were experts in surgery, shock trauma, lab work, x-ray, preventive medicine, and dentistry. The medical personnel came from PACAF units on Guam and Marine units on Okinawa, as well as from the hospital ship USNS Mercy.
The earthquake was estimated to have killed more than 5,000 people, with 6,500 seriously injured and 100,000 homeless.
Russian Rival to the F-22?Russia will start flight-testing a fifth generation fighter—the equivalent of the F-22—next year and begin production in 2009, Russian officials claimed in June.
Russian Air Force chief Gen. Vladimir Mikhailov said several “experimental” examples of the new I-21, built by Sukhoi and a successor to the Su-27 Flanker family, will fly in 2007 with placeholder engines while the production-version engines complete development.
Sergei Ivanov, Russian Defense Minister, said production of the I-21 will commence in 2009 “with a new engine.” The remarks of the two defense officials were carried by Novosti, the official Russian news and information agency.
Mikhailov earlier had compared the new fighter to the F-22 and F-35, claiming that it has stealth, advanced integrated avionics, and high maneuverability. He has suggested the I-21 will be an alternative for countries that don’t want to buy the American F-35.
Russia has made grandiose pronouncements about fifth generation fighters before. It rolled out the MiG I-44 in 1994, claiming it to be a fifth generation fighter, but its appearance suggested that it was not at all stealthy, and its performance was judged comparable to the Su-27. The project was abandoned in 1997.
Since then, Russia has been experimenting with a forward-swept-wing derivative of the Flanker, called the S-37 Berkut.
2nd Woman Joins ThunderbirdsA second woman has been selected to fly with the Thunderbirds, the Air Force’s aerial demonstration team.
Capt. Samantha Weeks of the 12th Fighter Squadron at Elmendorf AFB, Alaska, will join the team for the 2007 season as Thunderbird No. 6, opposing solo. Her selection follows by just a year the appointment of Maj. Nicole Malachowski, who is the Thunderbirds’ first female pilot. She began her tour with the 2006 season, as Thunderbird No. 3, right wing. (See “Aerospace World,” August 2005, p. 18.) Other women have served as Thunderbirds in the past, but not as one of the six demonstration pilots.
The Thunderbirds are based at Nellis AFB, Nev., and fly F-16s. Pilots who apply for the elite flying team must have more than 1,000 hours of fighter time and be recommended by their commanders.
CSAR-X Award Coming SoonThe Air Force is expected to select a contractor in the competition for a new fleet of combat search and rescue helicopters (CSAR-X) this month and announce the winner next month. Secretary of the Air Force Michael W. Wynne will make the choice.
Competitors include Boeing, with the CH-47 Chinook; a Sikorsky-Rockwell Collins team offering the HH-92—a derivative of the H-60 Blackhawk family—and the team of Lockheed Martin, AgustaWestland, and Bell Helicopter, offering the US101, a derivative of the European EH101. The US101 was selected by the Marine Corps as the next Presidential helicopter.
Lockheed Martin CSAR-X program Vice President Daniel Spoor told reporters in late May that the company expected to submit its proposal on June 19 and make one more revision before a final proposal in July.
The contract award was initially slated for spring 2006, but was delayed when the Air Force revised its requirements, asking for more capability sooner.
Seoul Inches Toward CommandThe South Korean military will be in charge of joint wartime operations on the peninsula in about five years, said South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun in early June.
Since the 1950s, joint defense of South Korea has been commanded by a US officer and a joint staff. South Korea regained peacetime command of its military forces in 1994.
In 2003, the two countries’ military leaders decided to transfer 10 tactical and operational missions from the US to South Korean military. Six of those 10 missions have been transferred, and the other four are slated for transfer by the end of 2006, according to American Forces Press Service.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has expressed his support for South Korea’s interest in taking over defense operations, saying that the time has come for it to claim more responsibility.
USAF Lets Big JASSM ContractThe Air Force awarded Lockheed Martin a $440 million Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile contract on June 15.
The contract provides for testing, development, and sustainment. It includes integration of the JASSM on F-15s, JASSM integration, and some foreign military sales.
Work was scheduled to be completed by May 2012.
Five Years of War on Terror Has Cost $437 Billion
The cost of the war on terror will reach $437 billion by the end of Fiscal Year 2006 on Sept. 30, according to the Congressional Research Service.
In a recent report, CRS said current spending plans through the end of Fiscal 2006 will stand at $436.8 billion in military and foreign aid expenses attributable to the war on terror. That total includes $7.1 billion in 2003 funding that “may or may not” have been spent on war expenses, the report notes.
The total includes $69 billion in additional dollars from the latest supplemental funding bill. War costs are rapidly approaching half a trillion dollars, as the above totals do not include $50 billion in supplemental “bridge” funding that is expected early in Fiscal 2007.
Measuring total budget authority for defense operations, reconstruction, security enhancements, foreign aid, and new veterans benefits since 9/11, CRS reports the cost of the war has increased annually. Operations Noble Eagle, Enduring Freedom, and Iraqi Freedom cost $31.4 billion in 2001 and 2002; $81.2 billion in Fiscal 2003; $94.3 billion in Fiscal 2004; $107.2 billion in Fiscal 2005; and $122.2 billion this year.
Iraq has consumed the lion’s share of the funding: $318.5 billion. The OEF cost has come to $88.2 billion, and “enhanced security” since 9/11 has required $26.2 billion. CRS said it was “unable to locate” the destination for $3.9 billion in Fiscal 2003 dollars.
Air Force, NRO Reaffirm Close Relationship
The traditional relationship between the National Reconnaissance Office and the Air Force—complicated by the reorganization of the US intelligence community last year—was reset on June 7 when Gen. T. Michael Moseley, USAF Chief of Staff, and Donald M. Kerr, director of the National Reconnaissance Office, signed a “statement of intent” to improve cooperation between the two outfits.
Under the agreement, USAF will assign a two-star general to the NRO, with that officer to serve as the NRO director’s principal military advisor and commander of the agency’s uniformed airmen. This officer, who had not been named by late June, will be third in command at the NRO.
The pact also calls for the reconnaissance office to assign a civilian to Air Force Space Command to serve as AFSPC’s deputy director of operations, and for a joint AFSPC-NRO board to oversee assignment of Air Force space officers.
The changes are expected to be complete by the end of the year.
When Kerr was named NRO director last year, he was the first person to hold that position who was not also a top Air Force official. (See “The Split-Up in Space,” April, p. 80.) Kerr, a CIA veteran, was later given a newly created Air Force position.
The Air Force has been “working very closely” with the NRO “over the last several months to see if there weren’t ways, given our common responsibilities, [to] more closely cooperate and collaborate,” said Lt. Gen. Frank G. Klotz, AFSPC vice commander at a June 20 briefing announcing the agreement. “We look forward to what is already a good collaborative, cooperative working relationship with the [NRO] becoming that much closer.”
The goals of the agreement are to improve the acquisition and operation of the NRO’s classified reconnaissance satellites and to strengthen the Air Force’s core group of space professionals. The Air Force supplies roughly half the NRO’s personnel.
“I think increasingly what you’re going to see ... is more movement back and forth of Air Force officers and noncommissioned officers between the Air Force and the NRO,” said Klotz. “I think this is going to be the wave of the future.”
—by Adam J. Hebert
Persistence Paid Off in Killing of Zarqawi
The killing in June of the most-wanted terrorist in Iraq drew into sharp focus the Air Force’s overarching contribution to the war effort.
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the head of al Qaeda in Iraq, was responsible for the deaths of thousands of Iraqi civilians and coalition troops, directing many suicide bomber attacks and the placement of improvised explosive devices on Iraqi roadsides. Coalition intelligence had been pursuing him for more than two years, but he had always managed to slip away. He met his end when an Air Force F-16 released two bombs into his reinforced safe house on June 7.
The F-16—one of a pair overhead at the time—was just one element of a “24/7 umbrella” of Air Force monitoring and strike assets over Iraq. On that day, there were 54 close air support and 15 intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance sorties over the country, most of which were carried out by USAF crews.
The 24-hour presence paid off when a tip came in from an unidentified al Qaeda insider identifying Zarqawi’s location. Shortly thereafter, the F-16 struck.
The F-16s, one active duty and one Air National Guard, were equipped with a range of weapons for a variety of contingencies. They were on a routine air patrol when the tip came in.
“We outfit all our fighters in the [area of operations] with the appropriate munitions to allow us to strike a wide variety of targets, on call, as required,” explained Lt. Gen. Gary L. North, head of US Central Command Air Forces.
The aircraft also carried a Litening targeting pod, “which allows the pilot to ... case the house, and then magnify the picture that he wants to see,” North said.
There is typically so much air traffic over Iraq that the presence of the F-16s likely didn’t tip off anyone in the safe house, North said. “If I was on the ground, I would not think anything” of the aircraft overhead, he added.
“We knew exactly where he was,” North said. “We took our time to make sure everything was correct.” Once commanders had “100 percent assurance” that Zarqawi was present, the order came to shoot, he explained.
The attacking F-16 first released a 500-pound GBU-12 Paveway II laser guided bomb. Video footage recorded through the pod showed the bomb causing a massive explosion, seemingly destroying the house. Just to be sure, the pilot then released a 500-pound GBU-38 satellite guided Joint Direct Attack Munition, which also hit the target squarely.
Gen. John D.W. Corley, Air Force vice chief of staff, said on June 14 that he was proud of the Air Force team.
“Not just the pilot ... and those that trained him to be able to accomplish this critical mission ... but also the intelligence troops who got extremely timely and perishable information to the right individuals ... and our tanker aircraft that allowed his F-16 to remain airborne ... and the decision-makers who diverted the aircraft from a counter-IED mission ... and the maintenance professionals who made sure that F-16 got airborne ... and the weapons troops that loaded the bombs on the airplane ... and our satellite operators who made sure the GPS constellation was running that guided the second bomb to impact ... and our strategic airlifters that made sure the first bomb’s laser guidance kit got to theater. I’m proud of them all.”
When ground forces arrived minutes later, Zarqawi was found to be still alive, the only survivor of the attack. North said the safe house had been “very well constructed” with reinforced concrete.
Zarqawi was put on a stretcher but attempted to roll off it, so he was tied to it by US and Iraqi ground troops. However, he had been gravely injured. A CENTCOM spokesman said Zarqawi “died almost immediately thereafter from the wounds he received from the air strike.”
The War on Terrorism
Operation Iraqi Freedom—Iraq
CasualtiesBy July 17, a total of 2,547 Americans had died in Operation Iraqi Freedom. This total includes 2,540 troops and seven Defense Department civilians. Of those fatalities, 2,015 were killed in action by enemy attack, and 532 died in noncombat incidents.
There have been 18,874 troops wounded in action during OIF. This includes 10,246 who returned to duty within 72 hours and 8,628 who were unable to quickly return to action.
Balad Air Base Sets New RecordBalad AB, Iraq, set a new record in May, with 1,300 cargo aircraft flying into the base. Balad beat its previous record by more than 100 for the number of aircraft that fly in and out of a single-runway airport.
Second only to Heathrow Airport in London, Balad is among the busiest airports in the single-runway category. Heathrow and Balad only use one runway at a time, even though they have more than one, classifying them as single-runway airports. Balad ranks No. 1 in the Department of Defense for most single-runway operations.
Balad is also the busiest cargo hub in Iraq. Airmen there move as much cargo as major airlift wings in the US—with less than 100 airmen—according to the Air Force. Major Air Mobility Command hubs in the US have up to 500 airmen.
The increase of in-theater cargo airlift missions has decreased the number of Army convoys needed on the ground. The 777th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron at Balad moves the equivalent of 30 Army trucks of cargo per day aboard its C-130s. Since January, the 777th EAS has moved more than 13,000 truckloads of people, equipment, and cargo, according to the Air Force.
Since October 2004, the base has been a central hub for airlift missions in Iraq. The 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing is the first Air Force wing to forward-base a C-130 squadron in a combat zone.
Operation Enduring Freedom—Afghanistan
CasualtiesBy July 17, a total of 314 Americans had died in Operation Enduring Freedom, primarily in and around Afghanistan. The total includes 161 troops killed in action and 153 who died in nonhostile incidents such as accidents.
A total of 815 troops have been wounded in Enduring Freedom.They include 319 who were able to return to duty in three days and 496 who were not.
Mountain Thrust Marks Upsurge in Air StrikesCoalition forces made 750 airstrikes in May during Operation Mountain Thrust in southern Afghanistan. The operation marked a significant uptick from the 660 air strikes conducted in May 2005.
Mountain Thrust was conducted in response to a spring offensive by insurgents in southern Afghanistan, mostly in the Oruzgan, Helmand, and Kandahar Provinces. The operation is an ongoing campaign to stop enemy forces and destroy their safe havens.
Since the operation began, coalition forces have relied on a variety of aircraft, including the A-10 Warthog, B-1B bomber, Predator, French Mirage 2000, and the British RAF GR-7A. The B-52 bomber was used early in the operation, but has since been replaced by the B-1B.
News NotesBy Breanne Wagner, Associate Editor
Daily Report: Read 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.
Daily Report: Read the day's top news on the US Air Force, airpower, and national security issues.
Tweets by @AirForceMag