Roadside Bomb Kills AirmanAir Force SSgt. John T. Self, a member of the 314th Security Forces Squadron at Little Rock AFB, Ark., was killed on May 14 as he patrolled near Baghdad.
Self died from the blast of an improvised explosive device, or roadside bomb.
While deployed to Al Udeid AB, Qatar, he volunteered for Iraq duty in order to gain more experience. Self was a native of Pontotoc, Miss.
The shift is part of a broader realignment of ISR functions under the Air Force deputy chief of staff for ISR, a post held by Lt. Gen. David A. Deptula.
Maj. Gen. John C. Koziol, AFISR commander, said he expects the organization to become “the focal point” for the service’s ISR development and modernization.
Lt. Gen. Michael W. Wooley, speaking with reporters in Washington, said AFSOC needed a second base on US soil, as its multiplying equipment and personnel have outgrown Hurlburt Field, Fla. That new base is Cannon.
Wooley said Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates had tasked Army Gen. Bryan D. Brown, head of US Special Operations Command, to “flesh out” plans to bring to Cannon some assets now located at Kadena AB, Japan, and RAF Mildenhall, Britain.
Chandler would relieve Gen. Paul V. Hester, who is retiring in January. Hester has held the top PACAF job since July 2004.
Chandler, a fighter pilot, served several tours in the Pacific, most recently as head of Alaskan Command. He also in the 1980s was an aide to Adm. William J. Crowe, then commander of US Pacific Command.
An advisory group working for Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England said in May it will approve development of a Core Component Jammer—an electronic jammer that USAF would mount on the huge outer-wing pods on the B-52.
Under original plans, the B-52 jammer was to have been relatively cheap and simple. The project was later crippled by a huge load of extra requirements.
Col. Bob Schwarze, the Air Staff’s chief of electronic warfare, told Air Force Magazine that the project has been more tightly focused on standoff jamming. The CCJ concept has better-defined requirements and is more “reality based,” he said.
USAF says it could field eight sets of the CCJ by 2015.
That is the word from Lt. Gen. Michael Wooley, the AFSOC commander, who in May told reporters that the culprit is the high operating tempo for the AC-130Us, which are flown at almost three times the rate as their older stablemates, the AC-130Hs.
Besides carefully managing the loads the U models are bearing, AFSOC has decided to replace their wing boxes. This will extend the model’s service lives beyond 2018. The U models were bought as new H models and converted into gunships.
In contrast to the AC-130Us, Wooley noted, older AC-130Hs are aging more “gracefully,” although their ultimate health is harder to assess. He called the H models the “wildcard” of his fleet, in terms of potential age-related maintenance issues.
The House Armed Services Committee, completing its 2008 defense bill, added $480 million to continue work on the General Electric-Rolls Royce F136 engine.
The Pentagon has twice tried to kill the second engine, saying that competition wouldn’t save enough money to justify its start-up cost. It also says the F135 is working well, so it does not need a backup.
Romania OKs US BasesRomania in May approved a plan to allow US forces to use several bases.
The announcement came at the conclusion of Sniper Lance, a 10-day US-Romania exercise. It was the second such exercise held in Romania in nine months.
Bucharest has authorized the US to station on its soil as many as 3,000 US troops, but US Air Forces in Europe officials said there are no immediate plans to permanently station airmen there.
Lt. Col. Stephen Ritter, chief of the MK integration branch, said US forces are getting the benefit of training opportunities in Romania, and USAF is working with local officials to coordinate access to training ranges by the Air Force and NATO partners.
While conceding that some top programs continue to run over budget, Payton insisted that, on the whole, the system is working well. Of the service’s 127 major programs of record, only about 10 percent are having serious problems, she said.
Grand Forks Set for UAVsAir Force civil engineering and communications airmen arrived at Grand Forks AFB, N.D., in early May to ready that base for new Predator and Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicles.
A 10-member Langley AFB, Va., team set up camp at the base with the goal of coordinating the arrival of the UAVs with the departure of old KC-135 tankers, which will permanently vacate the premises.
The Air Force plans to install eight Predators at the base, with the first arriving in early 2009. Global Hawks are to arrive at the rate of one or two per year, starting in 2010.
New Space Office OpensThe Operationally Responsive Space Office opened on May 21 at Kirtland AFB, N.M.
Col. Kevin McLaughlin was named ORS Office director. He is also commander of Kirtland’s Space Development and Test Wing.
Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England, in an April report to Congress, voiced the need for such an office. He said that the nation needs a way to develop, acquire, and field space systems in “shortened timeframes and more affordable ways.”
Alaska Shield UnfoldsThe Air Force, between May 7 and May 18, teamed with numerous US civilian agencies to stage Alaska Shield, a homeland defense exercise focused on domestic threats.
The exercise, held annually, was a key part of US Northern Command’s Ardent Sentry-Northern Edge 2007. The event allowed participants to practice coordination of Department of Defense and federal, state, and local agencies in disaster scenarios and terrorist incidents.
Joint Task Force-Alaska is the military component of Alaska’s integrated response in such situations. The task force provides military support to civilian agencies and defends Alaska’s airspace.
Plans in both cases called for burial at Arlington National Cemetery.
In 1995, a joint US-Laotian team investigated the incident and interviewed a citizen who recalled the crash. Another team surveyed the site later, discovering wreckage and materials. In 2003, a team uncovered Eaton’s identification tag. Subsequent team visits led to positive identifications.
The buy is considered a “bridge” purchase to keep the Turkish Air Force up to speed as it awaits delivery of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters in the next decade. Turkey is one of nine partner nations on the JSF program.
The new aircraft will undergo final assembly near Ankara at the Tusas Aerospace Industries plant, which will also perform modifications to earlier aircraft. Tusas has assembled about 200 of the nation’s F-16s to date. When completed, the F-16 fleet modernization will have provided all Turkish F-16s with new radars, modular mission computers, helmet-mounted cuing systems, Link 16, capability for night vision goggles, upgraded navigation systems, color cockpit displays, and other gear.
For decades, India acquired most of its military equipment from the Soviet Union. Then, when the USSR collapsed, Russia took up the slack.
The new transports will go to India’s special operations forces. They will be equipped with missile warning systems, countermeasure dispensers, and secure voice communications gear, among other systems.
Japan Extends Iraq SupportJapan’s parliament, the Diet, voted in May to extend for another two years that country’s air support to the US-led effort in Iraq. Passage came only after spirited debate and expression of strong opposition.
Since 2004, about 200 Japan Air Self-Defense Force troops have been flying cargo and passenger flights into Iraq for the US and its allies. The Japanese support frees up US airlift for other missions.
LRS Aircraft Taking ShapeThe Air Force’s next long-range strike system, planned to arrive in 2018, will be neither supersonic nor unmanned, but it will be much stealthier than any existing aircraft. Moreover, it must have very long range and loiter time.
Those were conclusions of a panel of experts speaking May 1 at an AFA-sponsored forum, “The Future of Long-Range Strike,” held in Washington, D.C.
Technologies supporting unmanned operation and supersonic speed are not yet mature enough for a 2018 bomber, he said.
The approach of using cruise missiles traveling at high speeds to perform the long-range strike mission was discarded due to high cost per target and the challenges of constantly updating target information.
Storm Hunters Start EarlyAir Force Reserve Command’s 403rd Wing flew its first storm-hunting mission of the 2007 season on May 9, when the “Hurricane Hunters” tracked Subtropical Storm Andrea off the coast of Georgia.
The Atlantic Ocean hurricane season officially started June 1. Data collected by the Hurricane Hunters resulted in the National Hurricane Center declaring Andrea the first named storm of the season.
Two Hurricane Hunter aircraft are equipped with the radiometers, and another will be fitted each month until all 10 of the wing’s aircraft are outfitted with the pod.
The Iraqi Air Force is growing and adding personnel, aircraft, and operating locations and expanding its repertoire of missions, according to Lt. Gen. Gary L. North, commander of US Central Command Air Forces and 9th Air Force.
The Iraqi Air Force currently has seven squadrons—one of which flies three C-130s that operate on the daily air tasking order put out by CENTAF. Pilots and crews have been trained in the US and work side by side with airmen, moving the Iraqi Army and senior national leadership around the country.
The Iraqi Air Force currently has two bases. Their main location is Al Muthana, situated next to Baghdad Airport, where C-130s and former Warsaw Pact helicopters fly alongside US-built helicopters that are part of their fleet.
“They have an ISR capacity where they can perform real-time data link” and electro-optical and infrared functions, North reported. American and coalition trainers are working with these pilots toward a goal of using the Iraqi aircraft to monitor electrical and oil lines as well as areas of high interest in the greater Kirkuk region.
—Marc V. Schanz in the Persian Gulf region
Operation Iraqi Freedom—Iraq
CasualtiesBy June 14, a total of 3,508 Americans had died in Operation Iraqi Freedom. The total includes 3,501 troops and seven Department of Defense civilians. Of these deaths, 2,881 were killed in action with the enemy while 627 died in noncombat incidents.
There have been 25,950 troops wounded in action during OIF. This number includes 14,283 who returned to duty within 72 hours and 11,667 who were unable to return to duty quickly.
Intelligence reports indicated the cell had ties to a kidnapping network that conducted attacks within Iraq.
Operation Enduring Freedom—Afghanistan
CasualtiesBy June 9, a total of 397 Americans had died in Operation Enduring Freedom. The total includes 396 troops and one Department of Defense civilian. Of these deaths, 217 were killed in action with the enemy while 180 died in noncombat incidents.
There have been 1,319 troops wounded in action during OEF. This number includes 524 who were wounded and returned to duty within 72 hours and 795 who were unable to return to duty quickly.
Air Strikes Kill Taliban, CiviliansAn estimated 11—and possibly many more—Taliban fighters were killed by US air strikes on May 15 when their compounds were struck in coordinated attacks, the Afghan Defense Ministry reported.
The insurgents were killed in the Zhari district of Kandahar Province.
The police chief of the province claimed that more than 60 died, including three regional commanders—Mullah Abdul Hakim, Mullah Abdul Manan, and Mullah Zarif.
The enemy fighters and commanders were killed in a raid during a joint NATO-Afghan operation, according to the Defense Ministry.
According to the US Central Command Air Forces daily airpower summary, Air Force F-15Es dropped 500-pound Joint Direct Attack Munitions on insurgent positions and covered troops who came under small-arms fire.
An Air Force B-1 also dropped 2,000-pound JDAMs on a building occupied by insurgent fighters in Gereshk on the same day.
The Taliban’s top military commander, Mullah Dadullah, was killed in the Sangin area of Helmand Province earlier in May.
The F-22A Raptor, the Air Force’s new air superiority fighter, made its air show flying debut at Andrews AFB, Md., on May 18—nearly a year ahead of the schedule put forward by Air Combat Command.
The 2007 season originally called for a simple series of flybys as Moga developed the final routine, but ACC decided to allow a “version 1.0” performance.
Moga noted that all the maneuvers are part of the normal F-22 pilot training syllabus and are “nothing crazy,” even though the aircraft at times seems to defy gravity, momentum, and aerodynamics. The tail slide—in which the aircraft stops ascending and begins to fall backward under total control—is something rookie F-22 pilots do on their third training sortie, Moga said.
As the season progresses, Moga said ACC will likely clear more maneuvers for the demo routine.
—John A. Tirpak
Six years ago, the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing was an empty shell—800 airmen without any aircraft, acting as a placeholder for potential future action in US Central Command’s area of responsibility.
Col. Jeff Fraser, the unit’s vice commander, said the 379th is the largest and most diverse organization in CENTCOM’s AOR.
Coalition personnel and assets from Australia, Britain, Singapore, and other nations are on the flight line next to US airmen, soldiers, marines, and naval aviators.
The wing has doubled the fuel storage capacity at its base. It is now capable of storing about 14 million gallons of fuel, up from nearly six million a year ago.
The increase in capacity has made the wing’s combat, airlift, and surveillance aircraft more flexible and adaptable to missions over Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Horn of Africa. From January to mid-April this year, more than 2,000 intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance aircraft hours had been flown. Additionally, the wing had answered about 1,500 requests for air support and moved 93 million pounds of cargo.
“We’re trying to keep our maintenance footprint as small as possible,” he said.
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