Airmen Killed in Afghanistan
SrA. Mark A. Forester, a combat controller assigned to Air Force Special Operations Command’s 21st Special Tactics Squadron, Pope AFB, N.C., died Sept. 29 during combat operations in Uruzgan province, Afghanistan. Forester, from Tuscaloosa, Ala., was 29 years old.
SrA. Daniel Johnson, 23, an explosive ordnance disposal technician, was killed in action west of Kandahar, Oct. 5. An IED detonated near him as he performed his EOD duties. He was transported to a hospital at Kandahar Airfield but died soon thereafter. Johnson was assigned to the 30th Civil Engineer Squadron’s EOD flight at Vandenberg AFB, Calif.
SrA. Michael J. Buras, an explosive ordnance disposal specialist assigned to the 99th Civil Engineer Squadron at Nellis AFB, Nev., died Sept. 21 of wounds from an improvised explosive device that struck his vehicle in a convoy near Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. Buras, from Fitzgerald, Ga., was 23 years old.
Guardsman Awarded for Valor
SSgt. Kenneth I. Walker, assigned to the Washington Air National Guard’s 116th Air Support Operations Squadron, received the Bronze Star Medal with Valor Device for actions during a firefight on May 24, 2009, while deployed as a tactical air control party member with the 817th Expeditionary ASOS and the Army’s Task Force Spader in Afghanistan.
After directing airstrikes repelling an initial attack, Walker provided covering fire to ground forces, exposing himself repeatedly to fire. He then re-established communications with air assets and called in additional strikes that blunted a second attack and brought an end to the seven-hour engagement.
Chief of Staff Gen. Norton A. Schwartz presented the medal to Walker at the Air Force Association’s Air & Space Conference near Washington, D.C. Walker was attending the conference as one of USAF’s 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year.
F-35 Lot 4 Deal Reached
The Defense Department and Lockheed Martin agreed in September to terms for the fourth low-rate production lot of F-35 Lightning II strike fighters, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said. The parties settled on "a fixed-price incentive fee contract" for the purchase of 30 F-35s. The deal implements changes DOD is instituting to get more efficiency and effectiveness out of new contracts. Gates emphasized that the per-unit F-35 price in Lot 4 is 15 to 20 percent less than the cost DOD’s own independent cost estimators projected earlier this year. DOD and Lockheed Martin will share in the cost of any overrun up to a "fixed ceiling." The company will share in any savings should the program come in under cost.
Last F-15s Depart Langley
After 34 years of continuous front-line service, the last two F-15s assigned to the 71st Fighter Squadron at JB Langley, Va., departed the base Sept. 1.
The F-15 arrived at Langley as the world’s top fighter in 1976. Most of the F-15s are destined for service with the Air National Guard. The 71st was inactivated in September. The move is part of an Air Force-wide drawdown of the fighter force by 250 aircraft for Fiscal 2010. F-15s began departing Langley in June.
Langley will continue to operate its 40 F-22s with its remaining two fighter squadrons. A recent realignment of resources gave Langley an additional six F-22s, which are also used by the Air National Guard at that base.
One of Langley’s last F-15s will be displayed at the Virginia Air and Space Center in nearby Hampton, Va.
Senate Confirms New Vice Chief
The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Lt. Gen. Philip M. Breedlove to be promoted to four-star general and serve as USAF vice chief of staff. The Senate action on Sept. 29 allows Breedlove to succeed Gen. Carrol H. Chandler, who has been vice chief since August 2009 and is retiring after 36 years of uniformed service. Breedlove has been deputy chief of staff for operations, plans, and requirements since August 2009. Commissioned in 1977, he is a command pilot with more than 3,500 flying hours.
The Senate also approved the nomination of Lt. Gen. Herbert J. Carlisle to take over Breedlove’s post on the Air Staff. Carlisle was commander, 13th Air Force, JB Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii.
Maj. Gen. Stanley T. Kresge received the Senate’s blessing for promotion to three stars, backfilling Carlisle at 13th Air Force. Kresge is commander of the Air Force Warfare Center at Nellis AFB, Nev.
Shelton To Lead AFSPC
The Senate confirmed Lt. Gen. William L. Shelton for a fourth star and leadership of Air Force Space Command at Peterson AFB, Colo. Shelton will replace Gen. C. Robert Kehler, who is tapped to head US Strategic Command at Offutt AFB, Neb.
Shelton is assistant vice chief of staff, and was nominated to head AFPSC in September. Shelton has extensive background in space missions, including leadership of 14th Air Force at Vandenberg AFB, Calif.
The Senate also confirmed the nomination of Lt. Gen. Richard Y. Newton III to replace Shelton as assistant vice chief. Newton has served on the Air Staff as DCS for manpower and personnel since January 2008.
Taking Newton’s place will be Maj. Gen. Darrell D. Jones, confirmed for three stars, who shifts from command of the Air Force District of Washington, JB Andrews, Md.
USAF Receives Final Liberty Aircraft
The last of 37 MC-12 Liberty Project Aircraft, developed and produced to meet an urgent operational requirement, was delivered in August, prime contractor L-3 Communications announced. The delivery completes the Liberty Project Aircraft program.
On Aug. 31, the airplane was flown from the L-3 Mission Integration facility in Greenville, Tex., to the Air National Guard training facility at Key Field, Miss.
The first MC-12 intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance aircraft was acquired in March 2009, and since June 2009 they have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. "The Air Force and L-3 completed an amazing feat," said Mark Von Schwarz, president of L-3 Mission Integration. All 37 ISR aircraft were delivered in less than 24 months, each one on or before contract deadlines, the company said.
Last T-43 Retires
The last T-43A combat systems officer training aircraft was retired in September during a ceremony at Randolph AFB, Tex. A version of Boeing’s ubiquitous 737 airliner, the T-43, nicknamed "Gator," has flown as an airborne classroom since 1973, training Air Force navigators, now known as combat systems officers.
"We have put more than 20,000 aviators through the training," said Lt. Col. Peter J. Deitschel, commander of Randolph’s 562nd Flying Training Squadron.
Marine Corps, Navy, and partner-nation student navigators have also trained in these flying classrooms during the past 37 years.
The Air Force is moving its CSO training from Randolph to NAS Pensacola, Fla., where the student navigators will train in T-1 Jayhawks and T-6 Texan IIs. A T-43 will be placed on static display at Randolph.
AFRL Studies Microwaves
The Air Force Research Laboratory’s Directed Energy Directorate at Kirtland AFB, N.M., is establishing a High-Power Microwave Institute to help scientists there develop an emerging class of weapons. "High-power microwave technology can selectively degrade, disrupt, or destroy electronic systems, disperse aggressive crowds, and defeat improvised explosive devices at the speed of light, with little or no collateral effects," AFRL said in a news release.
The institute is essentially a high-performance computing center, enabling AFRL researchers to design HPM weapons virtually, significantly reducing developmental timelines and saving money in the process. Such computing tools will allow "the scientist to provide the inspiration, while the computer provides the perspiration," the news release stated.
The institute is the Air Force’s third high-performance computing center, and is funded through the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
US Aerospace KC-X: Late Is Late
The Government Accountability Office ruled in October that US Aerospace, a company offering Ukrainian aircraft for the Air Force KC-X tanker competition, has only itself to blame for its proposal being rejected as late, and the service acted properly in rejecting the bid. The Air Force will now choose solely between Boeing and EADS North America to build the new tanker.
US Aerospace complained that its courier arrived at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, in time to submit its bid, but GAO said that the courier failed to go to the proper gate for nonmilitary visitors, didn’t call ahead for approval to enter, and didn’t obtain directions to the building where the bid was supposed to be submitted.
Although the courier was at the base before the deadline, when he reached the correct office, the bid was properly stamped as being submitted after the deadline, GAO said. The GAO had earlier ruled that the Air Force wasn’t showing any Cold War bias against US Aerospace in rejecting its bid, as the company had alleged.
USAF Joins Valiant Shield
US Pacific Command held its annual 10-day exercise Valiant Shield near Guam in September. More than 150 US combat aircraft joined Marine and Navy at-sea elements to practice joint counterair and countersea concepts.
"It is a rare opportunity to bring together platforms that normally do not regularly exercise together, such as B-52 bombers and carrier strike groups," said Brig. Gen. John W. Doucette, 36th Wing commander at Andersen AFB, Guam, from which land-based aircraft operated.
The training derived from such an exercise ensures US Pacific forces are "capable of an overwhelming and decisive response" in a future regional contingency, he added.
Participating aircraft included B-52s, E-3 AWACS, F-15s, F-15Es, F-22s, HH-60 helicopters, KC-10 and KC-135 tankers, Marine Corps AV-8s, and Navy E-2s, F/A-18s, and P-3s.
Iraq Takes Over Airspace Sector
Iraqi air controllers now control all airspace above 15,000 feet in the Kirkuk sector, which represents the northern third of Iraq. Airmen in the Air Component Coordination Element-Iraq turned over the responsibility on Sept. 1.
Previously, the controllers with Iraq’s Civil Aviation Authority at Baghdad Airport only controlled airspace above 24,000 feet. USAF air controllers had administered all traffic below 24,000 feet from their facility at Kirkuk Air Base.
USAF airmen and contractors have been instructing Iraqi controllers on how to manage Iraqi airspace. This month, airspace above 15,000 feet in Iraq’s two other air sectors is expected to pass to Iraqi control. The ICAA should assume control of all Iraqi airspace in 2011, following successful completion of training by Iraqi controllers.
MC-130W Modification Awarded
The Air Force has awarded L-3 Communications a $61 million contract to add a weapons package to eight MC-130W Combat Spear special-mission aircraft. The company will add a gunship-like attack capability to the aircraft, which will be designated MC-130W Dragon Spear. Air Force Special Operations Command is arming these aircraft to relieve the relentless operational demands on its AC-130 gunships until new AC-130J models enter the fleet. Under the terms of the deal, L-3 will provide the weapons kits, called "precision strike packages," for aircraft installation undertaken at Warner Robins ALC, Ga.
ANG Unit Activated
Officials at Tyndall AFB, Fla., marked the activation of the Florida Air National Guard’s 101st Air and Space Operations Group in an August ceremony. Guardsmen of the 101st—which officially stood up in July 2009—will staff the 601st Air and Space Operation Center, tasked with threat identification and supporting air defense across the continental United States. The state-of-the-art hub monitors air traffic, identifying threats to populations and infrastructure, enabling intercept, elimination, or dissuasion of those threats.
The 101st has long supported the air defense mission, beginning as the Montgomery Air Defense Sector in 1957 and later becoming the Southeast Air Defense sector. "We have a proud heritage with the state of Florida, and a noble past with the Southeast Air Defense Sector," 101st Commander Col. Scott Barberides noted. Florida ANG Commander Brig. Gen. Joseph G. Balskus oversaw the changing of the flags marking the unit’s transition from the Southeast Air Defense Sector to the 101st AOG.
USAF Seeks Low-Level Airspace
The Air Force is considering establishing a low-altitude tactical navigation (LATN) area in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado to provide the 27th Special Operations Wing, Cannon AFB, N.M., with more training options.
The LATN, pending final approval and an environmental impact assessment, would provide airspace for C-130s and CV-22s to conduct low-altitude tactics training. If approved, USAF would begin flying an average of three sorties per flying day, totaling about 688 throughout the year.
"The proposed LATN area in Colorado and New Mexico was selected due to the varied topography and weather, proximity to Cannon Air Force Base, and lack of large civilian populations," allowing aircraft to fly over mountainous terrain and as low as 200 feet, at up to 280 mph, according to a Cannon press release.
Officials are also considering an alternative proposal, involving smaller tracts of airspace.
ISR Group Activated at Fort Meade
The Air Force has activated the 659th Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Group at Fort Meade, Md., supporting USAF’s cyber operations under the command of the Air Force ISR Agency’s 70th ISR Wing, also at Fort Meade.
The group’s more than 400 members perform digital network exploitation analysis and provide digital network intelligence, supporting 24th Air Force as well as the National Security Agency.
The 659th’s 7th Intelligence Squadron will operate from Fort Meade, home of US Cyber Command, while the 35th IS will be located at Lackland AFB, Tex, where the Air Force ISR Agency is based.
ICBM Test Is Successful
Air Force Global Strike Command crews successfully launched an unarmed Minuteman III ICBM in September. The missile flew some 5,300 miles from Vandenberg AFB, Calif., to a predetermined aim point in the Pacific Ocean about 200 miles southwest of Guam. It was the third and final operational test launch conducted by AFGSC this year.
"The data gained from these launches allow us to maintain a high readiness capability and ensure operational effectiveness of the most powerful weapons in the nation’s arsenal," said Col. David Bliesner, 576th Flight Test Squadron commander. The 576th FLTS directed and conducted the missile launch, with support from the 91st Missile Wing at Minot AFB, N.D., and the 625th Strategic Operations Squadron at Offutt AFB, Neb.
Utilities Vulnerable To Cyber Attack
Critical infrastructure such as water, electricity, and sewage systems on most Air Force bases is highly vulnerable to cyber attack, Maj. Gen. Richard E. Webber, USAF’s top uniformed cyber officer, said in congressional testimony in September.
"Right now, those systems are very much wide open," Webber said. "We haven’t even taken the ‘low-hanging-fruit’ steps" to address this issue, he added. In most cases, off-site, private entities provide these utilities, said Webber.
The Air Force is, however, working with the National Laboratory to identify vulnerabilities in order to better understand infrastructure networks, he said.
The Navy faces the same issue. "A lot of this [infrastructure] is single source into a base," explained Vice Adm. Bernard J. McCullough III, US Fleet Cyber Command chief. "If you take that capacity away, you have some capability on backup power generation, but very little in other resources."
Allies Re-enact Market Garden
Nineteen airmen from the 37th Airlift Squadron at Ramstein AB, Germany, joined more than 1,000 allied service members in commemorating 1944’s Operation Market Garden, the largest airborne assault in history.
Three of the unit’s C-130Js teamed with British, Dutch, and German aircraft dropping 700 US, British, Dutch, Polish, and, notably, German paratroopers near the city of Eindhoven in the Netherlands.
Allied troops in World War II originally landed in Holland as part of the failed attempt to punch through to Berlin, hoping to hasten an Allied victory in Europe. Nearly 40,000 spectators witnessed the re-enactment.
"It was neat to be part of something that big and remembering those people who sacrificed so much," said Capt. Brent Gaylord, 37th AS commander. In Market Garden, the 37th Troop Carrier Squadron, his unit’s predecessor, and British allies flew the C-47. Sixty-six years later, both are flying the C-130.
Reservists Train Uruguayans
Airmen with Air Force Reserve Command’s 920th Rescue Wing at Patrick AFB, Fla., hosted 10 members of the Uruguayan armed forces in September, providing hands-on training in water rescue. Uruguayan forces participating included pilots, a loadmaster, and pararescuemen. They flew with the 920th Rescue Wing’s HC-130s for extended-range jump training over the Banana River, outside of Patrick.
The five-day exchange was part of an ongoing program between Uruguay and US Southern Command. Airmen of the 920th will train with in Uruguay next year.
Colors Cased, Not the Mission
Joint Task Force-Global Network Operations has been inactivated, its functions and mission now to be carried out by US Cyber Command, which will keep the organization’s personnel.
The Pentagon established JTF-GNO in 2004 under US Strategic Command. The task force’s mission was to direct the operations and defense of the Global Information Grid, the US military’s computer network. Now that mission belongs to CYBERCOM, which stood up in May at Fort Meade, Md., as a subunified command under STRATCOM.
"Today, we are rolling the flag at JTF-GNO, but we’re not rolling the mission," said Gen. Kevin P. Chilton, STRATCOM boss, during the task force’s inactivation ceremony in Arlington, Va. Protecting the network will be "as essential tomorrow as it is today," he said.
Pakistan Flood Aid Successful
US military aircraft transporting humanitarian aid and supplies to Pakistan had surpassed the 14 million-pound mark by the time air operations ended in October. Aircraft including Air Force C-130 and C-17 airlifters operating as part of a US interagency task force had supported flood relief efforts in the country since August. Fixed wing and helicopter aircrews rescued more than 21,000 Pakistanis from flood- and disease-ravaged regions of the country, according to US Central Command.
USAF’s response included a 36-member team of the 621st Contingency Response Wing at JB McGuire, N.J. Operating from Pakistan Air Force Base Chaklala, wing members quickly doubled the air base’s daily capacity, managing the inflow of relief supplies, and operating as the airlift hub for distribution throughout the country.
US relief efforts were operating under the coordination of the US Embassy, in cooperation with the Pakistani military to operate fixed and rotary wing assets from three bases in Pakistan. At the Pakistani government’s request, C-17 and C-30 flood relief support ended Oct. 3.
Surveillance System Launched
The first Space Based Space Surveillance satellite completed final testing in September and launched Sept. 25 from Vandenberg AFB, Calif., Air Force Space Command announced. It was originally intended to go into orbit in July, but the Air Force delayed launch after a software glitch was uncovered with the Minotaur IV launch vehicle meant to loft the system to orbit.
As the Air Force’s only space-based sensor capable of monitoring orbital debris and satellites, SBSS will become a critical asset. "Every day, threats to our nation’s valuable satellites and space platforms are growing," said Col. J. R. Jordan, vice commander of the Space and Superiority Systems Wing, Los Angeles AFB, Calif. "SBSS will revolutionize our ability to find and monitor objects that could harm the space assets we depend on," he added.
Talons Need Replacement
USAF must start considering a replacement for its elderly T-38 trainer that is not only economical but will successfully bridge the gap between fourth and fifth generation aircraft, Gen. Stephen R. Lorenz, commander of Air Education and Training Command, said at AFA’s Air & Space Conference. "It’s a solid, great trainer; however, there are issues with a 43-year-old airplane," Lorenz asserted. Of the T-38 Talon, he said, "We’ve updated it. We’ve worked on it, but sometime in the future we need to make a decision as a nation, as the Air Force, on when we need a new trainer." Lorenz noted that simply to bridge the vast technological gap, pilots currently training on the T-38 for aircraft such as the F-22 and F-35 are required to first transition through the F-16.
Studies seeking an alternative to the T-38 aim to look at everything from modernization of existing trainers to a potentially new "T-X" aircraft.
DOD Export Controls Streamlined
The White House has revamped controls on export of military and high-technology items, streamlining oversight. The aim is to more effectively control the most sensitive technologies, while enhancing US competitiveness in manufacturing and technology.
The Commerce and State Departments had redundant and sometimes contradictory export rules in place. Those rules will be replaced by a new system based on a three-tiered approach. The highest tier will protect items providing vital strategic advantage to the United States, including weapons of mass destruction, while the middle tier covers items of "substantial military or intelligence advantage" exclusively shared with close allies. The lowest tier will govern less sensitive technologies.
Retired Maj. Gen. William E. Eubank Jr., influential in introducing the B-52 into the Air Force’s fleet, died Sept. 3 at the age of 98.
Eubank accepted the first operational B-52 in June 1955 as head of Strategic Air Command’s 93rd Bomb Wing at Castle AFB, Calif. This same unit, under his leadership, won the MacKay Trophy for 1957 for the world’s first nonstop around-the-world jet aircraft flight. In 1958, Eubank set speed and distance records in a KC-135 tanker.
Eubank was born in Welch, W.Va., in 1912. He entered the Army Air Corps in 1936 and survived the Bataan and Corregidor battles of World War II.
Intermodal Mobility Brings Efficiency to Deliveries
"I have to get people what they need, when they need it, at the right place, at the right time. Lives depend on it," said Gen. Raymond E. Johns Jr., commander of Air Mobility Command, at AFA’s Air & Space Conference in September. "But along the way, can I do it more efficiently?"
When AMC first moved armored all-terrain vehicles (M-ATVs) to Afghanistan, C-17s took off from Charleston AFB, S.C., with three of the vehicles in the hold and would arrive in-theater some 20 hours later. "That was important, because they were saving lives," Johns said.
Once the initial vehicles were on the ground, commanders tinkered with intermodal processes to deliver more vehicles, more efficiently. One obvious assist came from sealift, which can inexpensively deliver vast quantities of materiel, albeit more slowly than airlift.
However, by shipping M-ATVs to the Persian Gulf region, the Air Force can then shuttle a C-17 to forward bases "not with three M-ATVs, but with five," Johns noted. After setting up a port operation in Bahrain, an estimated 2,439 M-ATVs moved through to Afghanistan as of Sept. 10, according to US Transportation Command figures.
Utilizing multiple transit modes, the government saved about $116 million per 1,000 vehicles and increased airlift efficiency by 40 percent.
Global Hawk Roosts in Guam
An RQ-4 remotely piloted aircraft has arrived at Andersen AFB, Guam, to support the standup of Global Hawk operations in the Pacific. Airmen with the 12th Reconnaissance Squadron at Beale AFB, Calif., controlled the aircraft during its 18-hour flight from Beale to Andersen.
Following completion of initial operational test and evaluation, including taxi and pattern tests on the Global Hawk Block 30 configuration, Guam will become home to three Global Hawks assigned to the 9th Operations Group’s Det. 3 at Andersen.
The Global Hawk’s presence on Guam will give Pacific Air Forces "a high-altitude, long-range persistent [intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance] platform" that complements the U-2s and other ISR aircraft that operate in the region, said PACAF Commander Gen. Gary L. North.
The timeline for delivery of the final two aircraft depends on the completion of operational test and evaluation and RQ-4 production rates.
For the time being, Global Hawk’s physical presence allows airmen to develop tactics, techniques, and procedures for future employment within the theater, including envisaged roles such as disaster-relief support. Complementing deployment to Guam, Global Hawks are also now operating from NAS Sigonella, Italy, meaning the aircraft "will now be covering nearly every part of the globe," according to an official with Northrop Grumman, which makes the aircraft.
Operation Enduring Freedom—Afghanistan
By Oct. 18, a total of 1,333 Americans had died in Operation Enduring Freedom. The total includes 1,331 troops and two Department of Defense civilians. Of these deaths, 1,023 were killed in action with the enemy while 310 died in noncombat incidents.
There have been 8,706 troops wounded in action during OEF. This number includes 4,176 who were wounded and returned to duty within 72 hours and 4,530 who were unable to return to duty quickly.
USAF Breaks Airdrop Record, Again
Air Force transport aircraft dropped 3,800 container delivery system supply bundles to troops at remote forward operating bases in Southwest Asia in August, surpassing the record set earlier this year. The airdrops topped July’s mark of 3,600 bundles delivered, the previous record. Mobility airmen averaged more than 99 tons delivered per day in August, equating to about six million pounds of food, water, equipment, and supplies for the month.
"These airdrops are critical to sustaining ground forces at austere locations where other means of resupply aren’t feasible," said Col. David Almand, director of the Combined Air and Space Operations Center’s air mobility division. The division coordinates, tasks, and executes in-theater air mobility missions for the CAOC.
Afghan Air Training Mission Rebranded
The Combined Airpower Transition Force training the fledgling Afghan Air Force since 2007 has been renamed the NATO Air Training Command-Afghanistan, or NATC-A. The new title recognizes the increasing involvement of partner countries in these activities. Britain, Croatia, the Czech Republic, and Hungary have helped the US develop the Afghan air arm over the past several years, and the number of nations stepping up to participate is increasing. The list includes Canada, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Portugal, and Ukraine. "While we’re all interoperable, we each have a slightly different way of operating and different levels of experience," said Lt. Col. Wayne McCaskill, director of operations for the 438th Air Expeditionary Wing that oversees NATC-A. He added, "This provides the Afghan Air Force with the best opportunity to find a method that is right for them."
No Rest For Small USAFE Fighter Fleet
US Air Forces in Europe fighter aircraft on Sept. 6 assumed responsibility for the Icelandic air policing mission, a mere five days after USAFE took over the Baltic air policing mission in Lithuania, at the opposite end of continent. F-15s from RAF Lakenheath, UK, were performing both air superiority missions, part of regular NATO rotations.
To achieve NATO certification for the Iceland mission, airmen with the 493rd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron had to execute four "quick reaction alert intercepts," which require an aircraft aloft within 15 minutes of an alarm. The QRA(I)s were accomplished in an average of seven minutes, USAFE officials said.
These air superiority missions show that although USAFE’s fighter fleet is newly reduced, its operating tempo is not letting up. As part of this year’s Combat Air Forces reduction plan, 21 F-16s were pulled from Spangdahlem AB, Germany, and reassigned to the Minnesota Air National Guard. The base was left with two fighter squadrons, one operating F-16s and one flying A-10s.
Despite the drawdown, Spangdahlem has a future as a fighter base, asserted Gen. Roger A. Brady, USAFE commander, in a September interview. Spangdahlem now houses the only squadron of F-16CJs in Europe, optimized for the suppression of enemy air defenses mission.
However, Pentagon planners should take care not to "peanut butter spread" the force in Europe and make it too thin, cautioned Brady. USAFE’s fighter force is old and small by historical standards, but future F-35 allocations could go along way in revitalizing its capabilities. The general said he would like to think that as many as seven squadrons of F-35s could eventually be based on the continent.
NATO Reaffirms Continued Presence on US Soil
US Joint Forces Command is likely to fall victim to the Pentagon’s belt-tightening, but its inactivation won’t affect the US relationship with NATO. The Alliance’s Allied Command Transformation (ACT) is currently the only NATO body on US soil and is co-located with JFCOM in Norfolk, Va. Dispelling concerns that DOD closures will damage US cooperation with NATO Allies, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen stated, "We have no plans to move ACT. … It makes sense to have a NATO headquarters also in the United States."
Maj. Gen. Jaap Willemse, of the Royal Netherlands Air Force and a senior officer at ACT headquarters, underscored the importance of the Alliance’s presence in the United States, adding that "it is important to understand that NATO is a trans-Atlantic organization. ... When we talk about NATO transformation, it has been key for ACT to be in the US, because no matter how you turn it, a lot is depending on the developments in the United States."
Willemse noted that many ACT elements already operate independently of their US host, somewhat smoothing the transition.
Changing Deployment Tempo
The Air Force has revised the standard rotational schedule of the air and space expeditionary force (AEF), changing it from 120 to 179 days for active duty airmen. In May 2008, the Air Force introduced five rotational bands for the AEF—A through E—with each band defining how long an airman would remain at home station and train following an overseas deployment.
"Since airmen in tempo band A expected to deploy for 120 days, but were frequently tasked for 179-day deployments, I saw no reason to maintain a 120-day baseline," Chief of Staff Gen. Norton A. Schwartz said in explaining the changes.
As a result, airmen formerly in tempo band A are moved to tempo band B. They will still have a one-to-four deploy-to-dwell time, but will now notionally spend six months on call for deployment, followed by 24 months at home, as opposed to the previous four-month/16-month cycle.
Tweaking the baseline will provide a single battle rhythm for all airmen, regardless of functional area, according to Air Force Personnel Center officials. The only difference now between the tempo bands is the deploy-to-dwell time, ranging from one-to-four to one-to-one. Combat Air Force units began to transition to the new baseline in September, while expeditionary combat support airmen begin the transition in January. All deployments will shift to six-month rotations by October 2012.
Senior Staff Changes
NOMINATION: To be Lieutenant General: Charles R. Davis.
CHANGES: Maj. Gen. Salvatore A. Angelella, from Vice Cmdr., 5th AF, PACAF, Yokota AB, Japan, to Vice Dir., Strat. Plans & Policy, Jt. Staff, Pentagon ... Brig. Gen. Scott A. Bethel, from Dir., ISR Strategy, Integration, & Doctrine, DCS, ISR, USAF, Pentagon, to Vice Cmdr., AF ISR Agency, Ft. Meade, Md. ... Maj. Gen. Gregory A. Biscone, from C/S, SECDEF Comprehensive Review Working Group, OSD, Pentagon, to Dir., Global Ops., STRATCOM, Offutt AFB, Neb. ... Gen. (sel.) Philip M. Breedlove, from DCS, Ops., P&R, USAF, Pentagon, to Vice C/S, USAF, Pentagon ... Lt. Gen. Herbert J. Carlisle, from Cmdr., 13th AF, PACAF, JB Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, to DCS, Ops., P&R, USAF, Pentagon ... Lt. Gen. (sel.) Charles R. Davis, from PEO, Weapons, AFMC, Eglin AFB, Fla., to Cmdr., ESC, AFMC, Hanscom AFB, Mass. ... Brig. Gen. Daniel B. Fincher, from Cmdr., AF Legal Ops. Agency, JB Bolling, D.C., to Rule of Law Dep., US Forces-Afghanistan, CENTCOM, Kabul, Afghanistan ... Brig. Gen. Scott P. Goodwin, from Dep. Dir., Ops., Natl. Mil. Command Ctr., Jt. Staff, Pentagon, to Cmdr., 21st Expeditionary Mobility Task Force, AMC, JB McGuire, N.J. ... Lt. Gen. (sel.) Susan J. Helms, from Dir., P&P, STRATCOM, Offutt AFB, Neb., to Cmdr., 14th AF, Vandenberg AFB, Calif. ... Maj. Gen. (sel.) Byron C. Hepburn, from Dep. Surgeon General, Office of the Surgeon General, USAF, JB Bolling, D.C., to Cmdr., 59th Medical Wg., Wilford Hall Med. Ctr., AETC, Lackland AFB, Tex. ... Lt. Gen. Larry D. James, from Cmdr., 14th AF, AFSPC, Vandenberg AFB, Calif., to DCS, ISR, USAF, Pentagon ... Maj. Gen. (sel.) Bruce A. Litchfield, from Cmdr., 76th Maintenance Wg., Oklahoma City ALC, AFMC, Tinker AFB, Okla., to Dir., Log., AMC, Scott AFB, Ill. ... Maj. Gen. Darren W. McDew, from Vice Dir., Strat. Plans & Policy, Jt. Staff, Pentagon, to Cmdr., AF District of Washington, JB Andrews, Md. ... Maj. Gen. Kenneth D. Merchant, from Dir., Log., AMC, Scott AFB, Ill., to Cmdr., Air Armament Ctr., AFMC, Eglin AFB, Fla. ... Lt. Gen. Richard Y. Newton III, from DCS, Manpower & Personnel, USAF, Pentagon, to Asst. Vice C/S, USAF, Pentagon ... Gen. (sel.) William L. Shelton, from Asst. Vice C/S, USAF, Pentagon, to Cmdr., AFSPC, Peterson AFB, Colo. ... Maj. Gen. Thomas W. Travis, from Cmdr., 59th Medical Wg., Wilford Hall Med. Ctr., AETC, Lackland AFB, Tex., to Dep. Surgeon General, Office of the Surgeon General, USAF, JB Bolling, D.C.
SENIOR EXECUTIVE SERVICE RETIREMENT: Bruce S. Lemkin.
SES CHANGES: Robert K. Boyles, to Dir., Contracting, Oklahoma City ALC, AFMC, Tinker AFB, Okla. ... John A. Fedrigo, to Dep. Dir., Secy. Forces, DCS, Log., Instl., & Mission Spt., USAF, Pentagon ... Jer D. Get, to Dir., Iraq Tng. & Advising Mission, Ministry of Defense, Dep. Commanding General, Advising & Tng., US Forces-Iraq, Baghdad, Iraq ... Roberto I. Guerrero, Dep. Chief, Safety, USAF, Kirtland AFB, N.M. ... Essye B. Miller, to Dir., AF Info. Mgmt., Office of the Administrative Asst. to the SECAF, Pentagon.
Canadian Defense Minister Peter MacKay announced in September that combat-ready F-35 strike fighters will be based at Canadian Forces Base Bagotville and Canadian Forces Base Cold Lake. Each base is set to receive 24 aircraft, replacing the CF-18 Hornet. The remaining 17 Canadian F-35s have not yet been assigned.
Members of the Kansas Air National Guard assigned to 3rd Air Force in Europe assisted the Armenian military in testing its expeditionary medical capability for the first time, during a three-day exercise near Zarh, Armenia.
During a five-hour flight over the Gulf of Mexico on Sept. 7, a B-1 from the 7th Bomb Wing, Dyess AFB, Tex., demonstrated for the first time the bomber’s ability to carry a full complement of 24 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles.
The Indiana Air National Guard’s 122nd Fighter Wing flew its last F-16 sortie Sept. 11, and is transitioning to the A-10 Warthog. The unit expects to be flying the first of its new aircraft this year, completing the transition within three years.
A record 12,000 runners from all 50 states and six nations registered for the 2010 Air Force Marathon, Half-marathon, 10K, and 5K at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. Capt. Brian Dumm, 27, an Air Force Academy instructor, won the Sept. 18 marathon with a time of 2:27:49.
Boeing won an $89 million contract Sept. 14 from Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to demonstrate an unmanned airplane that can operate continuously on-station in the stratosphere for a period of five years. The contract was let under the agency’s Vulture II program.
More than 85 percent of the Air Force’s fleet is now certified to operate unconstrained with a 50-50 blend of regular JP-8 jet fuel and synthetic paraffinic kerosene, according to service officials. USAF’s goal is to have the entire fleet cleared to run on this fuel mixture in 2011.
Robins AFB, Ga., opened a new facility testing software for the C-5 transport. The C-5 Integrated Aircraft Test Environment is a 2,200-square-foot, two-story facility encompassing a salvaged C-5 cockpit, allowing tests to be run without drawing an aircraft from the operational fleet.
The South Dakota Air National Guard’s 114th Fighter Wing, Joe Foss Field, S.D., was awarded the National Guard Bureau’s 2010 Winston P. Wilson Trophy, recognizing the Air Guard’s outstanding fighter-reconnaissance unit of the year.
The Israeli Knesset approved the Israeli Air Force’s planned acquisition of 20 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, clearing the way for the estimated $2.75 billion deal to proceed with delivery slated to begin 2015. The US government has approved Israeli acquisition of as many as 75 of the advanced fighters in the future.
The first production C-5M Super Galaxy transport made its maiden flight from Lockheed Martin’s Marietta, Ga., plant on Sept. 19. The airframe is the first low-rate production airplane to be fitted with new avionics, engines, and reliability enhancements. It was delivered to Dover AFB, Del., on Sept. 30.
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 about the US Air Force, airpower, and national security issues.
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