Raptor Declared Operational ... The F-22A Raptor was officially declared operational on Dec. 15, meeting a target set years ago. Gen. Ronald E. Keys, head of Air Combat Command, certified that he has enough aircraft, maintenance crews, spares, and pilots to take the F-22A to war if needed.
The 27th Fighter Squadron at Langley AFB, Va., had 21 Raptors by the end of December and will have a full complement of 24 by spring.
In June, a dozen of the aircraft will participate in Northern Edge exercises in Alaska, and Keys said he expects to send the squadron on a road trip through the Pacific sometime soon afterward. A second unit, the 94th FS, is expected to be fully equipped in October.
... And Is Renamed—AgainThe Air Force has again changed the Raptor’s designation, making it—for now, at least—the F-22A.It formerly had been known as the F/A-22. And before that, just F-22.
The plain old F-22 Raptor had become the F/A-22 in 2002, when it was given that designation by then-Secretary of the Air Force James G. Roche. The F stood for fighter, and the A stood for attack. Roche wanted to emphasize that the Raptor was not just a hot new air-to-air system but also a ground-attack weapon.
Roche evidently thought emphasizing the double mission would generate stronger political support for the aircraft.
The switch back—which was announced on Dec. 13—was a nod to the “lineage” of USAF nomenclature, according to Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley. (See “Washington Watch,” p. 14.)
In this formulation, the A does not denote attack but rather signifies the A model of the fighter.
4,000 USAF Officers To GoThe Air Force this year will shrink by 4,000 officers because strong retention is pushing USAF above its allowed end strength.
The move precedes an overall force reduction of 40,000 active duty, Guard, Reserve, and civilian USAF personnel, a reduction stemming from decisions made in the Pentagon’s Quadrennial Defense Review.
The personnel cuts, say USAF officials, reflect the lower manning requirements of modern systems and the Air Force’s sharp political need to achieve budget goals. QDR results are to be published this month.
Most of this year’s 4,000-person cut will come from voluntary exits and normal attrition. However, the reduction will encompass about 1,700 lieutenants commissioned in 2002 and 2003, and a significant number of those will be forced out.
Most Officer Fields Are VulnerableIn the upcoming round of force cuts, lieutenants who are pilots, navigators, missileers, and satellite specialists will be exempted, but all other fields will see sharp reductions in the ranks of lieutenants.
They will have until March 1 to volunteer for release before an April board recommends cuts.
Affected Air Force Academy graduates won’t have to repay their college debt, which usually amounts to about $142,000 if they quit before their time of duty is complete.
The service hopes the released officers will stay connected to USAF through the Guard and Reserve.
Wynne Elevates Cyber-warThe Air Force’s new mission statement for the first time rates cyberspace as being on a par with air and space in the USAF pantheon of operational arenas.
Secretary of the Air Force Michael W. Wynne released the new mission statement in December. It says USAF must “fly and fight in air, space, and cyberspace.”
Wynne told Reuters he wants to expand US capabilities to shut down enemy electronic networks.
The new Air Force civilian leader said cyber-warfare flows naturally from the Air Force’s traditional missions, which entail a need to download data from platforms in space.
The Air Force provides cyber-war resources to US Strategic Command, which blends them with other combat resources.
The Air Force has a combat record in the cyber-world, having jammed Serbia’s computer networks in Operation Allied Force.
Singapore Buys More F-15sSingapore will buy 12 F-15SG fighters, with an option for eight additional aircraft in the future, Boeing announced in December.
The aircraft, slated to be delivered in 2008 and 2009, will replace Singapore’s A-4SU Skyhawks.
“They will be equipped with sophisticated avionics and weapons systems and will give the Republic of Singapore Air Force significantly better system-level capability,” Singapore’s Ministry of Defense said, according to Bloomberg News.
Neither Singapore’s defense ministry nor Boeing disclosed the value of the contract.
Singapore, which has the largest defense budget in Southeast Asia, is the fifth foreign country to purchase the F-15, after Japan, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and South Korea.
Greek Deal Extends F-16 LineGreece will go ahead with a purchase of 30 or more F-16s from Lockheed Martin, closing a potential gap in production of the multirole fighter, the company said in December.
The contract involves 30 advanced F-16 Block 52s, with an option for 10 more, and is worth about $2 billion. Lockheed Martin would get $1.2 billion, the company said.
The order was a relief to Lockheed officials, who feared a break in Fighting Falcon production at their Fort Worth, Tex., factory. Pakistan recently postponed an order for 80 of the aircraft because it needs the cash for earthquake relief. (See “Aerospace World: Pakistan Suspends F-16 Buy,” January, p. 16.) With the firm order there is now enough F-16 work to carry the company through 2009, just short of the launch of F-35 Joint Strike Fighter production in the same facility.
Pakistan is expected to consider again the F-16 buy early next year, according to Air Force Lt. Gen. Jeffrey B. Kohler, head of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency.
The Hellenic Air Force is slated to receive its new aircraft in 2009.
Army Gets USAF InterrogatorsA group of more than 90 airmen stood alongside their soldier colleagues as the first blue-suit graduates from the US Army Intelligence Center’s interrogator school at Ft. Huachuca, Ariz., USAF announced in December.
The airmen volunteered for the job when the Army asked the Air Force to help meet its need for qualified interrogators.
The Air Force has already said more airmen will be recruited next year to fulfill the Army mission. The Air Force Personnel Center and the Air and Space Expeditionary Center will post information on how to volunteer. The service will consider senior airmen and above.
The collaboration is yet another area where the Air Force is backing up missions traditionally performed by the Army. Airmen have recently taken the Basic Combat Convoy Course to support soldiers in Iraq as combat convoy drivers, gunners, and security forces.
Joint STARS To Get Major UpgradeNorthrop Grumman will upgrade the E-8C Joint STARS surveillance aircraft under a $532 million Air Force contract.
The contract covers engineering, design, development, integration, test, and delivery of various enhancements and upgrades, according to the company. The effort also will include technical orders, support equipment, training, and procurement of retrofit kits.
Work on the contract is scheduled to be completed in December 2011.
Joint STARS is the most advanced airborne ground surveillance, targeting, and battle management system, working to detect and target enemy ground movements while transferring real-time information to Air Force and Army command posts.
ORIs Tailored for Combat ZonesOperational readiness inspections have been changed to better prepare airmen headed to combat deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, Air Combat Command announced in late November.
The old style of generate-and-fly-sorties ORIs has given way to emphasizing modern combat scenarios. They test combat capabilities to deal with new threats such as improvised explosive devices and mortar, rocket, and chemical attacks. Airmen also will be better prepared for stressful situations such as wearing chemical suits or working much longer hours than their predecessors did.
“We want to make sure that ... wartime skills being practiced during Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom are evaluated here before our airmen deploy,” said Col. Tom Jones, ACC inspector general.
UK Frowns Over JSF Tech TransferIf Britain can’t get satisfaction on technology transfer issues pertaining to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, it may pull out of the project, the Sunday Times of London reported in December.
Britain is the largest international partner with the US on the F-35 and is relying on the aircraft to equip two new aircraft carriers. However, it feels it is not reaping the full technology benefit of its $2 billion investment in the program.
To give teeth to its threat to pull out, Britain is considering a navalized version of the Eurofighter Typhoon. Government officials told the Times that the US would not take the negotiations seriously unless Britain had a legitimate alternative choice.
At issue is the touchy subject of source codes for JSF software, which is proprietary to Lockheed Martin. The two countries have haggled over the issue since last summer.
Britain also is concerned about cost increases on the project. However, the F-35 seems to have come out of the Quadrennial Defense Review intact, making further big increases less likely.
Raptor Drops Guided JDAMAn F-22A Raptor flying supersonic at Edwards AFB, Calif., demonstrated its air-to-ground capability in December by releasing a guided version of the 1,000-pound Joint Direct Attack Munition. It was the first time a guided JDAM had been released from a Raptor.
The Raptor began flying JDAM supersonic separation test missions in July. The supersonic JDAM capability will be tested further at Edwards from higher altitudes and faster speeds, the Air Force said.The Raptor is to begin testing with the Small Diameter Bomb this year.
KC-767 Gets Link 16Boeing’s KC-767, currently being tested for the Italian Air Force, will become the first tanker equipped with a Link 16 data system, providing command and control and increased situational awareness to the aircrew.
Italy has purchased four KC-767s, one of which has been built and is undergoing testing. The aircraft is slated to be delivered to the Italian Air Force in 2006. Japan also has bought four of the aircraft, one of which is being modified in Wichita, Kan., and is expected to be delivered at the end of this year.
Both Italy and Japan will pay for this unique capability that was not originally intended for the program.
Japanese and Italian boom operators will be able to use Link 16 to keep track of aircraft approaching for refueling instead of visually searching the sky.
Link 16 will give aircrews better situational awareness and allow real-time mission planning changes, particularly to deal with priority changes.
Tuskegee Airmen Award EndorsedSecretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld endorsed a measure to honor the Tuskegee Airmen with the Congressional Gold Medal.
Rumsfeld reported his decision in a December letter to Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.), a sponsor of the proposal.
Rumsfeld and Rangel, who have frequently tangled on policy issues, put aside their differences to honor the Tuskegee Airmen, a group of 1,000 African-American fliers who were the first to break the color line in flying units. (See “Tuskegee Airmen,” March 1996, p. 52.)
The Tuskegee Airmen comprised pilots and ground crew members of fighter and bomber units.In the letter to Rangel, Rumsfeld said, “This group of American heroes significantly contributed to victory in Europe during World War II and helped break down racial barriers in our armed forces.”
The bill had already passed in the Senate.
Pakistan Earthquake Relief Airmen Come HomeAirmen from the 818th Contingency Response Group came home to McGuire AFB, N.J., in early December after more than two months in Pakistan, where they were designated the 24th Air Expeditionary Group and assisted with earthquake relief at Chaklala Air Base.
The airmen had unloaded 263 aircraft containing 14.6 million pounds of relief supplies. The group also sent airfield survey teams to five Pakistani airports, and its combat control team conducted 108 drop zone surveys, ultimately calling in the only three airdrops allowed by Pakistan, said Col. Richard Walberg, 818th commander.
USAF continued relief operations in Pakistan after the McGuire airmen returned home. As of Dec. 16, the Air Force still deployed between 65 and 70 personnel in direct support of humanitarian relief efforts in Pakistan, the service said. They included pararescuemen, combat cameramen and various support personnel in areas such as communications and civil engineering.
Basing Deal Signed With RomaniaThe US will be permitted to temporarily base troops in Romania, under an agreement signed by the two countries Dec. 6. It marks the first time the US has been allowed military basing rights in a former Warsaw Pact nation.
The new bases will be limited, austere training sites, not large permanent facilities such as those in Germany, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said at a December press conference in Washington. Rumsfeld was trying to reassure Russia, which had expressed concern that the agreement might violate the 1990 Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty.
The US will use air training ranges in Romania and establish an Eastern European Task Force (EETAF) at an air base near Constanta on the Romanian Black Sea coast. Some 1,500 Americans might be located in Romania.
Ramstein Agreement UpdatedUS Air Forces in Europe and German leaders met at Ramstein Air Base on Dec. 1 to sign an updated agreement for a German support unit there.
The previous agreement was signed in May 1988, and since then, major changes have occurred in the US-German military relationship. NATO’s Component Command-Air Headquarters Ramstein is located at the base.
The new deal irons out long-standing ambiguities affecting housing, work space, and other support issues for a German support unit on the US installation.
The new agreement will set the tone for future such arrangements and also will serve as a model for new NATO members which may make their own support agreements with the US, according to USAFE officials.
Dynamic Weasel Unfolds at ShawExercise Operation Dynamic Weasel, intended to test the abilities of aircraft using the Link 16 “Internet in the sky” data network and to prepare for combat operations overseas, began Dec. 2 at Shaw AFB, S.C.
The exercise included 33 aircraft from nine Air Force bases and featured widespread use of Link 16. The exercise gave aircrews experience with sharing data and allowed them to develop new tactics using it.
Dynamic Weasel also was the first operational evaluation of the Fighter Aircraft Command and Control Enhancement pods on the Block 50 F-16s, allowing enhanced communications with a satellite phone and a receiver and transmitter.
Participating units included Whiteman AFB, Mo.-based B-2 bombers; F-16s from McEntire ANGS, S.C.; F-15s from Seymour Johnson AFB, N.C.; A-10s from Pope AFB, N.C.; B-1s from Dyess AFB, Tex.; KC-10s from McGuire AFB, N.J.; RC-135s from Offutt AFB, Neb.; and an E-3 AWACS from Tinker AFB, Okla.
Due to the success of the exercise, a second Dynamic Weasel was scheduled for this summer. It could become a semi-annual or quarterly event, Shaw officials said.
Iraqi Civilian Deaths EstimatedPresident Bush estimated the Iraqi civilian death toll at 30,000 since the American-led invasion in 2003. In a Dec. 12 speech in Philadelphia, he said further casualties are to be expected, although he believes 2005 will mark a “turning point” in Iraqi history, owing to its successful elections and its adoption of a new, democratic constitution.
Bush did not cite a source for his estimate, but White House officials subsequently said he was quoting public estimates reported in the media, rather than an official government figure. The Pentagon does not maintain an estimate of Iraqi civilian deaths.
A frequently cited source for Iraqi deaths is Iraq Body Count, a British volunteer group. By Dec. 13, the group estimated that up to 30,892 Iraqi civilians had died, not counting Iraqi troops or insurgents.
ElBaradei Gives Warning Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency, warned that 30 countries could have nuclear weapons in the next 10 to 20 years if nonproliferation efforts fail.
He did not name any candidate countries. Seven nations—Britain, China, France, India, Pakistan, Russia, and the US—have declared nuclear arsenals, while Israel and North Korea are seen by many as undeclared nuclear powers.
Several advanced nations such as Japan, Germany, and Sweden could easily go nuclear but refrain from doing so for political and diplomatic reasons. Aside from them, there are many nations such as Argentina, Brazil, Iran, South Korea, and Taiwan, which, under the right circumstances, would have an incentive and the wherewithal to acquire nuclear arms.
In a Dec. 13 speech to students at Uppsala University in Sweden, ElBaradei encouraged disarmament and remarked that the only alternative to a global nuclear arms buildup is a halt to the development and production of nuclear weapons.
Pentagon Emphasizes Stability OpsThe bureaucratic status of post-combat “stability operations” has been elevated to the same level of major combat operations, the Pentagon announced in December.
Pentagon Directive No. 3000 orders US military commanders to include stability missions in every war plan, according to the Washington Times.
Gordon R. England, then acting deputy defense secretary, signed the missive titled “Military Support for Stability, Security, Transition, and Reconstruction Operations” on Nov. 28.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld called for such a move more than a year-and-a-half ago, in an attempt to restore security quickly after major combat operations end. No such goal was in the war plans for Iraq.
Previously, stability operations were considered an afterthought because the main focus was defeating the enemy and securing territory.
Directive 3000 includes instructions to rebuild security forces, prisons, and judicial systems, “revive or build the private sector,” and “develop representative governmental institutions.”
Bockscar Crewman DiesRetired Vice Adm. Frederick L. Ashworth, the weaponeer aboard the second B-29 to drop an atomic bomb on Japan, died Dec. 3 in Phoenix at the age of 93.
Ashworth was aboard Bockscar and was responsible for arming the “Fat Man” atomic bomb that destroyed Nagasaki on Aug. 9, 1945. The attack, which came three days after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, prompted Japan’s unconditional surrender.
Speaking to a Los Alamos, N.M., historical group in August, Ashworth said the mission encountered a number of problems, including the need to change targets from Kokura to Nagasaki due to thick cloud cover.
Once the bomb was dropped, the crew aboard Bockscar heard a radio report suggesting that the Japanese were talking with Switzerland about a possible surrender. The Japanese surrendered unconditionally on Aug. 15, 1945.
Ashworth was a 1933 US Naval Academy graduate. After the war, he served as commander of the Navy’s 6th Fleet and did military liaison work with the Atomic Energy Commission.
World War II Ace DiesRetired Lt. Col. Norman J. “Bud” Fortier, a World War II fighter ace who also participated in the Berlin Airlift, died Nov. 20 in Gilford, N.H., at the age of 83.
Fortier flew 113 combat sorties and destroyed 5.83 German aircraft during the war. He left the service as a major, only to be recalled for the Berlin operation. He flew 38 missions in the Berlin Airlift and retired from the Air Force in 1964.
After retiring from the service, Fortier was a school principal and teacher.
Airman MIA From Vietnam War Identified
An Air Force sergeant carried as missing in action since the Vietnam War was identified in December, and his remains were returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
TSgt. Patrick L. Shannon of Owasso, Okla., along with 18 other servicemen, operated a radar site known as Lima Site 85 on Pha Thi mountain, Houaphan Province, Laos. The site came under attack on March 11, 1968, by North Vietnamese commandos, who scaled the mountain and overtook American forces.
On learning of the assault, USAF dispatched aircraft to attack the enemy and extract the site personnel. Eight of the 19 Americans there were rescued, although one died en route to Thailand. The others had attempted to escape down the mountain, but several were killed, according to survivor accounts.
In 1994, the Joint MIA/POW Accounting Command began interviewing witnesses in Laos and Vietnam. In 2002, an enemy soldier told investigators that the NVA troops had thrown the bodies of the Americans off the mountain after the attack. JPAC specialists scaled the cliffs, finding remains and personal items which belonged to Shannon. JPAC and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory identified Shannon’s remains using mitochondrial DNA.
Boeing Gives USAF Two Options in CSAR-X Competition
Boeing is offering two ways for the Air Force to buy its HH-47 Chinook helicopter for the combat search and rescue helicopter replacement, called the CSAR-X, but won’t be offering the CV-22 tilt-rotor.
Other competitors for the rescue chopper contract include Lockheed, offering the Eurocopter US-101, and Sikorsky, with its S-92, an enlarged version of the UH-60 Blackhawk.
Under one scheme, the Air Force would buy outright 141 HH-47s designated Block 0, at an agreed procurement price. However, the Air Force would then have to award a second contract later to upgrade the aircraft to a Block 10 version, with a new rotor blade system, air-to-air and air-to-surface weapons, and other upgrades which the service wants.
Under a second scheme, USAF would buy a mix of some Block 0s now and switch to Block 10s as they become available. The initial price would be somewhat higher, but USAF would eventually get all the aircraft brought up to Block 10 configuration at a considerable savings, according to Robert Sobey, Boeing’s Chinook program director. The advantage would be that USAF would get the Block 10s earlier and for less money overall.
Sobey declined to say what the program cost would be, or how the upgrades would be priced, but the CSAR-X program is valued at about $10 billion. A contract award is expected in the spring.
Boeing withdrew the CV-22 from the CSAR-X program because the company decided the aircraft offered more capability than the Air Force wanted or could afford for the mission.
The CSAR-X program is aimed at replacing USAF’s fleet of aging HH-60G Pave Hawk choppers.
The HH-47 is a version of the MH-47 helicopter now in use with Army special operations forces. Boeing completed MH-47G demonstration flights at Nellis AFB, Nev., in December.
Moody Crews Awarded Mackay Trophy
The crews of two HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters received the prestigious Mackay Trophy in December, awarded for the 2004 rescue of five soldiers in Iraq.
The Mackay Trophy, first given in 1912 and now awarded jointly by the Air Force and National Aeronautic Association, recognizes the “most meritorious flight of the year.” It was presented in Washington on Dec. 5.
On April 16, 2004, a sandstorm forced one of three Army CH-47s in a formation to put down near Kharbut, Iraq. On setting down, the right landing gear collapsed, causing the Chinook to roll over on its side.
Two HH-60G crews were sent to the rescue, but the sandstorm rendered their night vision goggles useless, forcing them to fly using only instruments. After finding and recovering the soldiers, the Pave Hawk crews were attacked with surface-to-air missiles and small-arms fire on the way back to friendly territory.
The honored airmen from the 41st and 38th Rescue Squadrons, Moody AFB, Ga., are: Maj. Joseph Galletti; Capts. Bryan Creel, Gregory Rockwood, and Robert Wrinkle; MSgt. Paul Silver; TSgts. Matt Leigh, Michael Preston, and Thomas Ringheimer; SSgts. Vincent J. Eckert, John Griffin, Patrick Ledbetter, and Michael Rubio; and SrA. Edward Ha.
Airlifters May Get “All-Seeing” Landing Technology
Air Force Research Laboratory is developing new technology to give mobility aircraft “all-seeing eyes” in adverse weather conditions, allowing the aircraft to land in fog, rain, snow, or blowing sand without the help of ground-based navigation systems.
AFRL’s Air Vehicles, Human Effectiveness, and Sensors Directorates are working on two technologies: Autonomous Approach and Landing Capability (AALC), in conjunction with BAE Systems, and the Opportune Landing System (OLS) in conjunction with Boeing.
The AALC will provide clear images of the runway approach via a sensor-based, head-up display that uses imaging radar and near real-time video. The image will appear as if the pilot were landing in the daytime during normal weather conditions.
The OLS system is being developed to analyze satellite imagery to assess an austere area’s suitability—dimensions, flatness, and obstructions—for a landing.
“Currently, air transport crews are being denied clearance for missions if the weather is bad enough and there is no instrument landing capability at the destination,” said James McDowell, AALC program manager. “Getting AALC’s capabilities demonstrated is a high priority.”
Officials plan to flight test the AALC with its present two-dimensional radar between October 2006 and February 2007 and a 3-D capability in 2007. Plans call for Air Mobility Command to get the technology in 2010.
The War on Terrorism
Operation Iraqi Freedom—Iraq
Iraq CasualtiesBy Jan. 6, a total of 2,189 Americans had died in Operation Iraqi Freedom. This total includes 2,184 troops and five Defense Department civilians. Of those fatalities, 1,720 were killed in action by enemy attack, and 469 died in noncombat incidents.
There have been 16,329 troops wounded in action during OIF. This includes 8,747 who returned to duty within 72 hours and 7,582 who were unable to quickly return to action.
All-Iraqi Aircrew Flies SoloAn all-Iraqi aircrew flew its first solo mission aboard a C-130E on Nov. 28, according to US military officials.
The nine-member aircrew, part of the 23rd Iraqi Squadron, flew from Ali Air Base near Nasiriyah in southeast Iraq to New Al Muthana Air Base. Once at New Al Muthana, the airmen practiced an engine-running onload, a method of loading the aircraft as quickly as possible, before returning to Ali.
“The flight marked a major milestone achievement by showing Iraq’s capability of providing its own military transport,” said Air Force Capt. Jerry Ruiz, forward operations executive officer at New Al Muthana Air Base.
The Iraqi squadron was to move to New Al Muthana in January.
Operation Enduring Freedom—Afghanistan
Afghanistan CasualtiesBy Jan. 6, a total of 255 Americans had died in Operation Enduring Freedom, primarily in and around Afghanistan. The total includes 129 troops and one DOD civilian killed in action and 125 who died in nonhostile incidents such as accidents.
A total of 675 troops have been wounded in Enduring Freedom. They include 274 who were able to return to duty in three days and 401 who were not.
US Reduces Military Force in AfghanistanDefense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld signed orders Dec. 19 that would reduce US forces in Afghanistan this spring from 19,000 to 16,000.
The troop reduction will be seen in the 4th Brigade of the 10th Mountain Division, based in Ft. Polk, La., which will send 1,300 soldiers instead of 4,000, according to the New York Times.
Pentagon spokesman Larry DiRita said that the move was in response to recommendations from Army Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry, the senior American commander in Afghanistan, and Army Gen. John P. Abizaid, CENTCOM commander.
Troop levels have been expected to decrease since NATO agreed to assume more control in southern Afghanistan this year. The organization already has soldiers in that country for security and reconstruction missions.
US forces will still have the main responsibility for counterterrorism missions. Afghan security forces will take on additional security duties.
Iran Buys Russian SAMs
Russia and Iran on Dec. 2 signed a new $1 billion arms agreement, one in which Moscow pledges to supply anti-aircraft missiles and upgrades to Iran’s Russian-made Sukhoi and MiG fighters.
Senior Air Force officials have argued that only a fast and stealthy aircraft such as the Raptor will be able to survive in a battlespace dominated by Russian “double-digit” SAMs and front-line aircraft.
The SAMs are SA-15 Gauntlets, which are deployed on tracked vehicles and can bring down aircraft or cruise missiles flying at altitudes of up to 20,000 feet at a range of seven miles. The weapons may be deployed to protect Iran’s Bushehr nuclear power plant.
Russian and Western news reports estimated Russia would sell 29 missile systems to Iran at a value of more than $700 million.
The sale coincided with a visit to Moscow by R. Nicholas Burns, US undersecretary of state for political affairs, who charged that Iran has engaged in terrorism against the US for 25 years. “You can understand why we wouldn’t favor any country selling arms to a country like that,” he added, in an interview on Ekho Moskvy Radio.
Pentagon To Restructure SBIRS Program
The Pentagon will again restructure the $11 billion Lockheed Martin Space Based Infrared System program. The move came after the program experienced another program cost increase of more than 25 percent, triggering a fourth Nunn-McCurdy breach.
The SBIRS program, whose satellites will be positioned in geosynchronous orbit to detect enemy ICBMs, will receive funds for two satellites, instead of the four originally planned.
Pentagon acquisition, technology, and logistics chief Kenneth J. Krieg, in a December letter to Congress obtained by Dow Jones Newswires, said he wants to develop a new satellite program to compete with the troubled SBIRS program, hoping to generate competition and exploit new technologies. Krieg proposed a satellite he dubbed the Overhead Nonimaging Infrared system as a competitor to SBIRS. Krieg hopes competition will lower costs.
Krieg was required to certify to Congress that SBIRS remains an indispensable program after the program cost breach. Without the AT&L chief’s certification that the program is vital to national security and, in the words of the Nunn-McCurdy amendment, “there are no alternatives ... which will provide equal or greater military capability at less cost,” SBIRS would, under the law, be canceled.
Air Force Magazine Launches “Airpower Classics”
Only rarely does Air Force Magazine change its “back page” feature. The popular Bob Stevens cartoon, “There I Was... ,” first appeared in December 1965 and occupied the back page for 335 straight issues. Photographer Paul Kennedy’s “Pieces of History” began in January 1994 and held the spot for 145 consecutive issues—until last month, when it was honorably retired.
In this issue, we mark only the second such change in 40 years with the inauguration of “Airpower Classics.” Each month, this page will spotlight an important military aircraft, such as the B-17 bomber that leads off the series on p. 96. In most cases, the subject will be an Air Force aircraft, though we’ll also present some that served in other US and foreign armed services.
The centerpiece of each page will be original artwork, produced by our staff’s Zaur Eylanbekov. These remarkable illustrations are created entirely on a computer with painting programs. They are not computer-generated, but are created in the same way as traditional art, starting with an empty “canvas.” It’s just that, in Eylanbekov’s case, the “canvas” is a computer screen. Each piece of art gives an exact portrait of a specific airplane at a specific point in time, reconstructed with the aid of crew members, old photos, documents, and so forth.
Over the years, our readers became fervently loyal to “There I Was” and “Pieces of History.” We believe “Airpower Classics” will prove to be equally popular. There have been lots of warplanes, and everyone seems to have his or her favorite. You may see yours turn up on our back page.
—Robert S. Dudney, Editor in Chief
Note to Readers: Orlando Symposium Goes Online
The Air Force Association’s acclaimed Air Warfare Symposium has a new feature this year—hour-by-hour news coverage by the staff of Air Force Magazine, available online through our new Web-based “Daily Report.”
Plans call for regular posting of important news from the Feb. 2-3 event in Orlando, Fla., one of the premier events in the world of airpower and national defense.
Updates of speeches and events appear on the Daily Report, accessible at AFA’s Web site. Go to our home page at www.afa.org and click on “Daily Report” at the top of the page.
Air Force Magazine wants to make it as easy for you, our readers, to obtain up-to-the-minute news and information about the Air Force. With the Daily Report, you have this kind of information at your fingertips every working day.
The 22nd annual Orlando symposium will feature presentations by the Air Force’s most senior leaders. Scheduled to speak are: Michael W. Wynne, Secretary of the Air Force; Gen. T. Michael Moseley, Chief of Staff; Gen. Ronald E. Keys, Air Combat Command; Gen. William T. Hobbins, US Air Forces in Europe; Gen. Paul V. Hester, Pacific Air Forces; and Gen. Lance W. Lord, Air Force Space Command.
Daily Report: Read the day's top news on the US Air Force, airpower, and national security issues.
Daily Report: Read the top news on the US Air Force, airpower, and national security issues.
An F-35A Lightning II assigned to Hill AFB, Utah,
conducts a training flight with F-16 Fighting Falcons assigned to Kunsan
AB, Republic of Korea, over the city of Gunsan, on Dec. 1, 2017,
in preparation for Vigilant Ace 18.
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