Airman Dies in Afghanistan
SrA. Andrew S. Bubacz, 23, of Dalzell, S.C., died Nov. 12 from head injuries sustained while maintaining a communications tower at a forward operating base in Nuristan, Afghanistan. Assigned to the 97th Communications Squadron at Altus AFB, Okla., Bubacz was deployed as a member of a provincial reconstruction team.
He had been selected for promotion to the rank of staff sergeant before his death.
Elmendorf Pilot Dies in F-22 Crash
Capt. Jeffrey A. Haney, a pilot with the 525th Fighter Squadron at JB Elmendorf, Alaska, died in the crash of an F-22 during nighttime training Nov.16. Haney was flying as part of a two-ship F-22 mission when contact was lost about 100 miles north of Anchorage.
Air Force units mounted a search operation including HH-60 rescue helicopters, an HC-130 rescue tanker, and Global Hawk remotely piloted surveillance aircraft. The crash site was located Nov. 17, but due to the remoteness of the location, rough terrain, and deep snow, rescuers were unable to reach the site and recover Haney’s remains until the following day.
The crash marks the second time an F-22 pilot has died in a crash since the type reached initial operational capability in 2005. The previous incident involved an F-22 at Edwards AFB, Calif., in March 2009. Another Raptor was destroyed in December 2004, when it crashed on takeoff from Nellis AFB, Nev., but its pilot ejected safely.
Initial evidence suggested Haney did not eject from the aircraft, and USAF has launched a safety investigation board to determine the cause of the mishap.
Mystery Spaceplane Lands
The X-37B, USAF’s first unmanned reusable space vehicle, landed at Vandenberg AFB, Calif., on Dec. 3, after more than 224 days conducting secretive experiments on orbit.
The Orbital Test Vehicle 1 (OTV-1) fired its engines in low Earth orbit to perform an autonomous re-entry and landing, according to officials at Vandenberg.
On its maiden voyage, the spacecraft was tasked to perform risk-reduction, experimentation, and concept development for reusable space vehicle technology, the service said, without divulging details of the mission.
All on-orbit objectives for the X-37’s initial flight were met, said Lt. Col. Troy Giese, X-37B program manager for the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office.
In the spring, USAF plans to launch another X-37, OTV-2, also aboard an Atlas V booster.
JSTARS Sent to Korea
The Air Force dispatched an E-8C JSTARS ground-surveillance aircraft to monitor North Korean military movement amid rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula in late November.
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates approved the Republic of Korea’s request for the E-8C surveillance aircraft following an unprovoked North Korean artillery barrage on Nov. 23 against a South Korean island, known as Yeonpyeong, in the Yellow Sea.
The indiscriminate attack, which killed both South Korean civilians and military personnel, elicited harsh condemnation from South Korea. South Korean President Lee Myung-bak vowed to confront "any provocations by the North from now on, ... without fail, ... with strong responses."
The incident also prompted US deployment of the USS George Washington carrier battle group to participate in a joint exercise with the South Korean naval forces in the Yellow Sea.
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton A. Schwartz told reporters in Washington that both South Korea and its allies have considerable airpower in the northern Pacific, a fact North Korea would do well to respect.
T-38s Headed to Tyndall
The Air Force plans to base a detachment of 10 T-38 trainer aircraft at Tyndall AFB, Fla., Sen. George LeMieux (R-Fla.) announced Nov. 30.
The T-38s will serve there in a "dedicated adversary" role in support of Tyndall’s F-22s, he said. Tyndall is currently home to F-22 training but is also slated to receive a squadron of combat-ready F-22s under the Air Force’s Raptor consolidation plan.
LeMieux said the first T-38s would arrive by the end of September, with all 10 expected to be in place by March 2012.
Old Law May Aid Huey Replacement
The Air Force is considering a law known as the Economy Act of 1932 to speed procurement of helicopters needed to replace its Vietnam-era UH-1s. The Hueys are currently used primarily to secure US ICBM fields.
The rarely used law would allow the Air Force to procure up to 93 new-build Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawks, worth at least $1 billion, without competitive bidding.
Under the statute, federal agencies are permitted to acquire equipment from one another. In this case, the Army would buy Black Hawks from Sikorsky as part of a larger, longstanding contract, and the Air Force would then buy them from the Army.
Air Force officials say the UH-1 has served well, but no longer meets service needs. The Air Force’s plan calls for the first Black Hawk to be available for use in 2015.
F-15 AESAs Arrive at Kadena
The 18th Wing at Kadena AB, Japan, recently received its first four F-15Cs upgraded with Raytheon’s APG-63(V)3 active electronically scanned array radar system.
The aircraft will be assigned to the 44th and 67th Fighter Squadrons, which already operate several F-15s fitted with the APG-63(V)1 and (V)2 AESA.
In a release from F-15 primecontractor Boeing, Brig. Gen. Kenneth S. Wilsbach, 18th Wing commander, stated that the (V)3 "improves our capabilities and lethality" as a combat force, equipped with "the world’s most powerful air-to-air radar."
The (V)3 is reportedly 50 times more reliable than legacy mechanically scanned antenna arrangements.
Boeing is under contract to upgrade 27 active duty and 18 Air National Guard F-15C/Ds with the (V)3 system. Kadena is slated to receive 54 AESA-equipped F-15s by September 2013.
Rice Takes Over at AETC
Gen. Edward A. Rice Jr. is the new head of Air Education and Training Command, taking over from Gen. Stephen R. Lorenz, who retires this month. The change of command took place at Randolph AFB, Tex., on Nov. 17. It was presided over by Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton A. Schwartz.
Rice, a distinguished graduate of the US Air Force Academy, previously commanded US Forces Japan and 5th Air Force at Yokota AB, Japan, where he served since February of 2008. He has logged over 3,900 hours in bomber, tanker, transport, AWACS, and training aircraft.
Lorenz led AETC from July 2008, serving more than 37 years of commissioned service. His retirement took effect Jan. 1.
New START Inspections "Intrusive"
Inspection and verification of nuclear delivery platforms, particularly strategic bombers, would become "more intrusive in some ways" under the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with Russia than under the old one, Rose Gottemoeller, assistant secretary of state for arms control said Nov. 8.
Under New START, "the verification regime for bombers is very intrusive and allows for objects inside the bomb bays to be checked with radiation detection equipment," stated Gottemoeller, previously the chief negotiator for New START. She spoke at an Arms Control Association event in Washington, D.C.
The new regime would bring the rigor of bomber inspections much closer to that of missile re-entry vehicles. Gottemoeller added that it would allow inspectors to confirm that "Russian bombers are not carrying nuclear objects," while offering Russians inspectors similar assurance regarding the US fleet.
Lightnings Over Japan?
Japan’s Defense Ministry announced it will consider procurement of the F-35 strike fighter as part of its Fiscal 2012 budget request.
The F-35 would provide the Japan Air Self Defense Force with a fifth generation fighter in lieu of the F-22, which Japan wished to buy but which, by law, the US is prohibited from exporting.
Japan is reportedly seeking to acquire 40 aircraft, choosing from among the F/A-18 Super Hornet, F-15FX, and Eurofighter Typhoon.
Although Japan decided against additional procurement of the indigenously developed Mitsubishi F-2 (based on the F-16) as a stopgap to F-35 delays, the Defense Ministry has not ruled out upgrading JASDF’s fleet of F-15Js in the interim, according to Japanese press reports.
JSTARS Unit Now an Associate
The unique E-8C JSTARS ground-surveillance unit at Robins AFB, Ga., has become an active associate organization.
The blended 116th Air Control Wing, combining active duty and Air National Guard personnel under a unified chain of command unique within the Air Force, has been replaced with an associate unit structure to make it more standard.
Under the new arrangement, the ANG 116th ACW becomes host unit, with active duty airmen of the newly established 461st ACW working side by side with Guardsmen to operate the E-8C.
In 2002, the Air Force designated the 116th ACW a blended unit, the first of its type. Since then, integration of active duty and reserve component units within USAF has been standardized under the association construct.
Despite the administrative changes, personnel distribution remains unchanged, according to USAF.
F-35 Lot Four Contract Let
The Defense Department awarded Lockheed Martin a $3.5 billion contract for 31 F-35 strike fighters and associated equipment Nov. 19. The contract was for Lot Four low rate initial production, and marks the first fixed-price-incentive fee arrangement for F-35 production, which requires the company to share the burden of any cost overruns.
The Pentagon and the company both have said the cost of Lot Four came in below expectations.
Lockheed Martin is slated to produce 10 Air Force F-35As, 16 Marine Corps F-35Bs, four Navy F-35Cs, and one British F-35B in Lot Four. Although the UK has recently decided to buy only the F-35C carrier-capable version and terminate its plans to buy the F-35B short takeoff and vertical landing model, it will take delivery of the STOVL model in Lot Four. The aircraft can still be used for operational test and evaluation because of the similarities between the two types, a company spokesman asserted.
The Netherlands also has an option to procure a single F-35A in Lot Four, for possible delivery in March 2013. The total contract value for LRIP four is $3.9 billion, including previously awarded funds for long-lead-time materials.
World War II Airman Buried
The remains of AAF Capt. George W. Grismore, an airman missing in action since 1945, were identified and returned to his family.
Grismore was buried at sea with full military honors off the coast of Newport Beach, Calif., Nov. 17, following a memorial service in Salt Lake City, his hometown.
Grismore was one of six crewmen of a C-47 Skytrain lost on a mission to resupply guerilla troops in the Philippines on March 12, 1945.
Philippine National Police notified the US government in 1989 that the aircraft parts and human remains at the crash site were discovered. Forensic DNA testing of recovered remains in 2009 led to the identification of Grismore, who was 30 years old at the time of his death.
Prop Evaluated for Arctic C-130
The Air Force is evaluating a new eight-bladed propeller on a C-130H3 aircraft at Edwards AFB, Calif. The program is aimed at adding some power to C-130s that operate in and out of bases in Antarctica.
On a test aircraft, the new props have flown maximum-power takeoff, landing, and minimum-velocity handling tests with promising results.
The upgrade is specifically targeted at the New York Air National Guard’s ski-equipped LC-130s, tasked with supporting US scientific research in Antarctica.
The propeller blades’ scimitar shape simultaneously reduces drag while increasing performance, notably during takeoff and climb-out, potentially eliminating the need for the Jet-Assisted Takeoff system currently used on Arctic support missions.
The NP 2000 propeller is already fitted to the US Navy’s carrier-based E-2 Hawkeye and C-2 Greyhound fleet, representing the next iteration beyond the C-130J’s six-bladed design.
JTACs Use New Simulator
The 6th Combat Training Squadron at Nellis AFB, Nev., has opened a state-of-the-art facility to train joint terminal attack controllers through simulated combat scenarios.
The facility provides JTAC trainees the opportunity to practice skills in a realistic environment, without the danger of live-fire exercises. This allows the JTACs to "demonstrate an ability to operate [with] live aircraft before they actually do it," according to 6th CTS training instructor TSgt. James Spreter.
Simulation ensures the JTACs will react instinctively in combat by preparing them "before they go in the field and have to deal with fatigue and weather," he said.
USAF Fills New Energy Post
Kevin T. Geiss has been named the deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for energy, a new position meant to reinforce the service’s commitment to energy efficiency.
Geiss will oversee the 11 staff members currently responsible for all Air Force energy matters at the Air Force’s Energy Office, supporting Undersecretary Erin C. Conaton, the service’s senior energy official.
He spent two years as the Army’s program director for energy security and served as assistant director for national defense in the Office of the President. He has been a senior researcher at the Air Force Research Laboratory, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio.
USAF Takes Over Satellite
The Missile Defense Agency announced Nov. 8 the transfer of operational control of a small experimental satellite known as Space Tracking and Surveillance System Advanced Technology Risk Reduction to Air Force Space Command.
MDA placed the satellite into orbit in May 2009 to evaluate prototype missile tracking technology, and reported it a success. AFSPC will now use the satellite for space surveillance.
MDA also launched two larger STSS satellites in 2009. They will continue to track ballistic missiles tests in order to refine space-based missile tracking concepts.
C-12 Tests Missiles
The Air Force has been testing missiles carried by the C-12 aircraft.
Members of the 586th Flight Test Squadron at Holloman AFB, N.M., recently completed a series of missile tests using a C-12J regional airliner transport modified with a ventral pylon for carriage of external weapons. "This is a … unique test capability ... because you usually don’t find missiles underneath a transport aircraft," said Capt. Reid Larson, the squadron’s chief flight test engineer.
A Raytheon AGM-65E2/L Laser Maverick was recently carried on the platform. The aircraft doesn’t launch weapons, but carries systems aloft for test purposes.
Squadron officials said the aircraft helps fill the Air Force’s need for an affordable means of risk-reduction flight testing of the missiles before they are used by fighter aircraft. The total certification process clearing the unit’s stretched C-12J for flight with under-fuselage strakes required three years.
F-35C Arrives at Pax River
The first F-35C version of the Joint Strike Fighter, configured for carrier operations, arrived at NAS Patuxent River, Md., for flight testing on Nov. 6, Lockheed Martin announced.
The C model has larger wings and tail surfaces than the Air Force version, with strengthened landing gear for catapult launch and recovery from large-deck aircraft carriers, as well as a Navy-style refueling probe.
While at Pax River, the aircraft designated CF-01 will undergo air-to-air refueling tests with the probe-and-drogue system and complete overall performance testing.
The aircraft joins several F-35B short takeoff and vertical landing test aircraft already at Pax. It flew to the facility directly from NAS JRB Fort Worth, Tex., adjacent to Lockheed Martin’s F-35 production facility.
JASSM-ER Racks Up Successes
The Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile-Extended Range performed well on recent test flights at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., according to Lockheed Martin.
The missiles were launched by B-1B bombers at different altitudes during the tests; each missile effectively navigated to and destroyed its intended target, the company said. The tests demonstrated JASSM-ER’s ability to adjust its flight time to strike time-critical targets.
Lockheed Martin claimed that JASSM-ER was successful in 10 of 11 developmental flight tests.
The Defense Acquisition Board was scheduled to review the JASSM-ER program in early December, deciding whether to advance to low-rate production.
While the Government Accountability Office in October called on the Defense Department to defer making a decision, Col. Steve Demers, the Air Force’s JASSM program manager, stated in the company’s release that he was "confident JASSM-ER is ready for production."
AWACS Upgrading Begins
The first Air Force E-3 Sentry slated for upgrade to the Block 40/45 standard entered Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center at Tinker AFB, Okla., in mid-November.
"This modification replaces a mission computer system originally installed in the 1970s," said Maj. Brett Johnson, Block 40/45 production chief. Technicians at Tinker will install new equipment during the aircraft’s programmed depot maintenance, with full modifications of the aircraft scheduled for completion in September.
The aircraft is the first of six AWACS due for the upgrade by 2014 under low rate initial production. USAF plans to upgrade the entire 33-aircraft E-3 fleet, returning them to full operational capability by 2020.
New computer equipment will improve information sharing, target tracking and identification, and integration of sensory inputs both on and off the aircraft.
Boeing is the Block 40/45 prime contractor.
USAF Debuts in Brazilian Exercise
More than 150 airmen, six F-16s, and one KC-135 tanker deployed to Brazil for Exercise CRUZEX V, Oct. 28 to Nov. 19, marking the first time USAF has participated in the multinational air exercise.
US airmen joined counterparts from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, France, and Uruguay, totaling 82 aircraft and nearly 3,000 personnel operating from Natal Air Base and Recife AB, Brazil.
The exercise is built around a simulated coalition air campaign, and US forces conducted "training as coalition members in a peacekeeping air campaign exercise" practicing "air-to-air, refueling, and planning operations," according to Col. Edward Kostelnik, director of operations for 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz.
Air Traffic Control Upgraded
RAF Lakenheath, England, has become the first US Air Force installation in US Air Forces in Europe to receive the new Digital Airport Surveillance Radar system for air traffic control.
Lakenheath also pioneered installation of Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System ATC consoles. Both systems became operational Nov. 18.
"This improvement is about safety and will make our ability to go to war safer and more reliable," said Col. John Quintas, commander of Lakenheath’s 48th Fighter Wing.
DASR replaces the Generalized Proportional Navigation system previously used to track aircraft and weather conditions.
The STARS consoles supplant the Automated Radar Terminal Systems in Lakenheath’s radar approach control facility. MSgt. Klane Pierce, 48th Operations Squadron assistant chief controller, said the new equipment allows the controllers to see "smaller aircraft and gliders that in the past may have not been detected."
B-2 Tops Global Strike Challenge
The 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman AFB, Mo., took the Fairchild Trophy for top bomb wing in Global Strike Challenge, a competitive exercise that concluded Nov. 17 at Barksdale AFB, La. The 509th also won the Charlie Fire Team Trophy for best security forces in the competition.
The 90th Missile Wing at F. E. Warren AFB, Wyo., took the Blanchard Trophy for best ICBM wing.
Air Force Global Strike Command hosted the competition, reminiscent of the Strategic Air Command competitions held throughout the Cold War. Participating were its own six wings, as well as units from Air Combat Command, the Air National Guard, and Air Force Reserve Command.
The competition consisted of three parts: bombing and weapon loading; ICBM operations and maintenance; and security forces tactical operations. The competition stretched over seven months.
Kodiak Launches First Minotaur IV
The Air Force and industry partners successfully launched a series of scientific payloads into space from Kodiak Island, Alaska, aboard a Minotaur IV booster on Nov. 19.
The rocket carried seven small satellites with 16 total science experiments for the Air Force, NASA, several universities—including the US Air Force Academy—and other organizations.
Mission firsts included the inaugural Minotaur IV launch from Kodiak and the first use of a special propulsion system to deliver payloads onto two different orbits.
Among the satellites carried aloft was the Air Force Academy’s FalconSAT-5, designed, built, and tested by Class of 2010 cadets.
FalconSAT-5 carries experiments to study Earth’s ionosphere and its effect on radio frequency communications.
Exercise Notes 50th Anniversary
Exercise Keen Sword, a simulated defense of Japan, was held between US and Japanese forces Dec. 3-10, with USAF units from air bases in Japan and Andersen AFB, Guam, deploying to Japan Air Self Defense Force base Komatsu.
Combined training included scenarios in air and missile defense, ground support, maritime interdiction, search and rescue, and force protection.
Keen Sword’s goal was to provide a realistic training environment. Enhancing bilateral interoperability allows the Japan Self Defense Force and US forces "to respond to a wide range of situations," according to Maj. William Vause, exercise planning chief.
Keen Sword has taken place since 1986. Nearly 10,500 US service personnel from the Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and Army joined 34,000 Japanese personnel, under Japanese coordination.
This year’s week-long exercise marks the 50th year since the US and Japan signed the joint Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security.
USAF Considers RPA Shift
Air Combat Command is considering shifting some remotely piloted aircraft operations away from Creech AFB, Nev., where controllers currently operate the lion’s share of RPA missions over Afghanistan and Iraq.
Creech is "getting saturated, so we need to break out the capacity," stated ACC Commander Gen. William M. Fraser III at an Air Force Association-sponsored Breakfast Series in Arlington, Va., Nov. 9.
Creech is the Air Force’s major hub for operating RPAs such as the MQ-1 Predators and MQ-9 Reapers on combat air patrol, via satellite linkages, to provide invaluable intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance and attack capability in theater.
Fraser said the Air Force was well on the way to standing up the required 50 remotely piloted combat air patrols by this year, with an eventual goal of 65 orbits, though he did not reveal which sites are under consideration to absorb some of the load from Creech.
Marine Corps F-35 Comes Under Fire
The Pentagon last fall contemplated terminating production of the F-35B short takeoff and vertical landing version of the Lightning II, currently on order for the Marine Corps.
The idea was driven in part by Britain’s decision to switch from the F-35B to the carrier-capable F-35C. Reduced quantities of F-35Bs were expected to drive up unit costs.
Marine Corps briefing slides made available to the press noted that the F-35B can operate from that service’s amphibious aircraft carriers, increasing from 11 to 22 the number of carriers on which the US can deploy "fifth generation fighters." The Marine slides also noted that the STOVL model makes thousands more airfields available to the US than would be available with strictly an F-35A and C inventory.
Separately, in its draft report released Nov. 10, the Presidentially chartered National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform recommended that the Pentagon cancel the F-35B "because of its technical problems, cost overruns, schedule delays, and the adoption by the services of joint combat support in current wartime operations."
Canceling the F-35B could accelerate delivery of the F-35A and F-35C versions, the panel said. DOD has planned to buy 311 F-35Bs at a cost of $41 billion, according to the commission, which would also reduce the F-35A and F-35C buys.
The increasing accuracy of tactical ballistic missiles in the hands of potential adversaries could make it increasingly risky for the Marines to use the F-35B as originally envisioned, either from amphibious ships offshore or directly behind battle lines to provide quick close air support.
Britain’s defection from the variant leaves the Marines and Italy as the only currently planned F-35B operators. In a tradeoff for operational flexibility, the F-35B has less range and payload than the Air Force A and Navy C variants due to the internal volume consumed by the aircraft’s lift fan.
The Marine Corps’ top requirements officer declined to say whether the service has developed an alternative plan to fill any fighter shortfall that would arise if the Pentagon axes the F-35 STOVL variant.
NATO Nuclear Deterrence and Missile Defense Roles
NATO has renewed its commitment to maintaining a "nuclear alliance," agreeing as well to develop a defensive shield to protect Europe from ballistic missile attack.
Following a Nov. 19 member summit, NATO issued a statement that as long as nuclear weapons remain in the arsenal of potential adversaries, "deterrence, based on an appropriate mix of nuclear and conventional capabilities, remains a core element of our overall strategy."
The 28 NATO members said, "NATO seeks its security at the lowest possible level of forces," stipulating that the alliance will continue to pursue arms control, "promoting disarmament." The agreement also committed European allies to "the broadest possible participation" in nuclear planning and "peacetime basing" of nuclear forces.
Faced with "real and growing" missile proliferation, identified as threatening the "Euro-Atlantic area," the allies committed for the first time to developing "capability to defend [their] populations and territories" from missile attack.
To that end, members will expand NATO’s existing missile defense command, control, and communications capabilities beyond just protecting the alliances’ deployed forces. They also will "actively seek cooperation" with Russia, according to the document, welcoming the US phased adaptive approach as a valuable national contribution to the alliance’s architecture.
The concept document, adopted in Lisbon, Portugal, explicitly states that NATO regards no country as an adversary, but calls on Russia to discuss relocating tactical nuclear weapons "away from the territory of NATO members." It also highlights the threat posed by proliferation in "volatile regions." Members overcame Turkish objections by avoiding specific mention of the threat posed by Iran.
NORAD’s Importance Is Growing
With Arctic sea-lanes becoming increasingly navigable to commercial and military traffic, US and Canadian cooperation through NORAD is growing in importance, said Canada’s Chief of Air Staff Lt. Gen. Andre Deschamps.
"Awareness of sovereignty in the Arctic is certainly high in our government and they have great faith in NORAD," he said in an interview.
Formally established by the US and Canada in 1958, NORAD remains "the primary tool for that binational defense," said Deschamps.
"As we see things trending right now, I see that growing and not diminishing," he said. For example, he highlighted the recent addition of "maritime awareness" to NORAD’s continuing mandate.
"The next horizon for NORAD," he said, "is to look at DEW line replacement in the next decade," given that today’s Distant Early Warning network of radars—now dubbed the North Warning System—dates to the 1980s.
"There are different options," including any combination of satellites and high-altitude aerostats, combined with the current ground-based radar chain, explained Deschamps. He warned that although the notional timeline for fielding the replacement may "seem like a far horizon ... for this kind of change in technology, it’s almost tomorrow."
Operation Enduring Freedom—Afghanistan
By Dec. 15, a total of 1,425 Americans had died in Operation Enduring Freedom. The total includes 1,423 troops and two Department of Defense civilians. Of these deaths, 1,105 were killed in action with the enemy while 320 died in noncombat incidents.
There have been 9,771 troops wounded in action during OEF.
Afghan Aircrew Trained in Rescue Signaling
Afghan aircrew received training for the first time Nov. 3 on how to use ground-to-air signaling equipment to alert help if their aircraft go down. It was part of broader survival skills being taught by NATO Air Training Command-Afghanistan advisors.
During the training, which took place at the Blackwater Training Range in Afghanistan, Afghans fired several types of signaling flares, learned how to effectively employ handheld mirrors, and fluorescent panels to attract the attention of aircraft, alerting rescuers as to the aircrew’s position.
Though NATO has advised some of the crews for four to five years, airmen only received equipment such as survival vests, kits, and expendables "within the past seven months," said MSgt. Jeremy Raymond, advisor with the NATC-A’s 438th Air Expeditionary Advisory Group.
Afghan aircrews currently receive no training in survival, evasion, resistance, and escape, heightening the importance of basic rescue enablement and crash preparedness.
Afghan Air Force Receives New Helos
Shindand AB, Afghanistan, has officially received its first two aircraft, a pair of Mi-17 helicopters.
From this humble beginning, the burgeoning Afghan Air Force plans to grow the Soviet-era base into the "crown jewel" of Afghan operations for helicopter and close air support training, with plans for 40 aircraft and more than 900 personnel by 2015.
To support this growth, $184 million is earmarked for infrastructure improvements through 2015.
"NATO will not be here forever, so everything we build, we are building to make sure Afghanistan has the best air force possible," explained Brig. Gen. David W. Allvin, commanding general of NATO Air Training Command-Afghanistan.
Initially, Afghan flight instructors will train at Shindand, so the AAF may move away from dependence on NATO to train aircrews.
Senior Staff Changes
NOMINATIONS: To be ANG Major General: James M. Holmes, Michelle D. Johnson, Brett T. Williams. To be ANG Brigadier General: Wayne E. Lee.
CHANGES: Maj. Gen. Susan Y. Desjardins, from Dir., Strat. P&R & Prgms., AMC, Scott AFB, Ill., to Dir., Plans & Policy, STRATCOM, Offutt AFB, Neb. ... Brig. Gen. Sandra E. Finan, from IG, AFGSC, Barksdale AFB, La., to Principal Asst. Dep. Administrator for Mil. Application, Office of Defense Prgms., Natl. Nuclear Security Administration, Dept. of Energy, Washington, D.C. ... Maj. Gen. Craig A. Franklin, from Cmdr., 332nd AEW, ACC, JB Balad, Iraq, to Vice Dir., Jt. Staff, Pentagon ... Brig. Gen. Garrett Harencak, from Principal Asst. Dep. Administrator for Mil. Application, Office of Defense Prgms., Natl. Nuclear Security Administration, Dept. of Energy, Washington, D.C., to Cmdr., AF Nuclear Weapons Ctr., AFMC, Kirtland AFB, N.M. ... Brig. Gen. John W. Raymond, from Dir., P&P & Analyses, AFSPC, Peterson AFB, Colo., to Vice Cmdr., 5th AF, PACAF, Yokota AB, Japan ... Brig. Gen. Rowayne A. Schatz Jr., from Dep. Dir., Global Ops., Jt. Staff, Pentagon, to Dir., Strat. P&R & Prgms., AMC, Scott AFB, Ill. ... Brig. Gen. John N. T. Shanahan, from Cmdr., 55th Wg., ACC, Offutt AFB, Neb., to Dep. Dir., Global Ops., Jt. Staff, Pentagon ... Brig. Gen. Everett H. Thomas, from Cmdr., AF Nuclear Weapons Ctr., AFMC, Kirtland AFB, N.M., to Vice Cmdr., AFGSC, Barksdale AFB, La. ... Maj. Gen. Suzanne M. Vautrinot, from Spec. Asst. to the Vice C/S, USAF, Pentagon, to Cmdr., 24th AF, AFSPC, Lackland AFB, Tex. ... Maj. Gen. (sel.) Brett T. Williams, from Dir., C4 Sys., PACOM, Camp H. M. Smith, Hawaii, to Dir., Ops., DCS, Ops., P&R, USAF, Pentagon.
COMMAND CHIEF MASTER SERGEANT CHANGE: William W. Turner, to Command Chief Master Sergeant, AFSOC, Hurlburt Field, Fla.
SENIOR EXECUTIVE CHANGES: George R. Gagnon, to Dir., Intl. Tng. & Eduation, AETC, Randolph AFB, Tex. ... John L. Hudson, to Dir., Natl. Museum of the USAF, AFMC, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio ... Maureen A. Quinlan, to Exec. Dir., AF Global Log. Supt. Ctr., AFMC, Scott AFB, Ill. ... Jeffrey R. Shelton, to Dep. Dir., Resource Integration, DCS, Log., Instl., & Mission Spt., USAF, Pentagon.
Call Field Aviation Museum opened at Kickapoo Airport in Wichita Falls, Tex., chronicling military aviation training that took place at the field during World War I. Among highlights is a Curtiss JN4-D Jenny, one of only five remaining airworthy examples.
Fisher House for Families of the Fallen opened at Dover AFB, Del., Nov. 10. Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley and Chief of Staff Gen. Norton A. Schwartz were on hand to dedicate the 8,462 square-foot facility, which is the first to provide short-term lodging and comfort to families awaiting arrival at Dover of loved ones fallen in combat.
The Air Force’s first two F-35A low rate production aircraft, initially slated to join F-35 training at Eglin AFB, Fla., will instead join the test fleet at Edwards AFB, Calif. They will likely undertake Block 1 mission avionics tests next summer. Following testing, the aircraft may yet join the training fleet slated for Eglin.
Airmen at Little Rock AFB, Ark., have completed restoration of a C-47 Skytrain, repainted in its original D-Day colors. The aircraft was dedicated for display at the base’s Heritage Park on Nov. 10. Seven squadrons now at Little Rock flew C-47s.
B-52s from the 69th Bomb Squadron at Minot AFB, N.D., the Air Force’s newest operational B-52 squadron, deployed for the first time mid-November, replacing the 23rd BS at Andersen AFB, Guam. The unit was reactivated in 2009.
The Air Force launched its newest enlisted cyber career field, Air Force Specialty Code 1B4X1 on Nov. 1, to retrain airmen for network-based operations. The first class will begin at Keesler AFB, Miss., this month, drawing competitively from intelligence and cyberspace backgrounds.
Stewart Air National Guard Base in upstate New York is the Air Force’s preferred Air Guard basing location for eight C-17 transports, pending environmental studies, officials announced Nov.16. If plans move ahead, Stewart’s C-5s would be retired under Air Force plans to divest 22 older C-5As.
Britain’s Royal Air Force took delivery of its seventh and final C-17 transport from Boeing Nov. 16. at Long Beach, Calif. The aircraft will be based at RAF Brize Norton, England. RAF Globemasters have logged 60,000 hours to date. The C-17 is Boeing’s 224th delivered worldwide.
The Ugandan Air Force Chief, Maj. Gen. Jim Owoyesigire, visited 17th Air Force (Air Forces Africa) at Ramstein AB, Germany, becoming the first African Air Chief to do so. AFAFRICA is actively assisting Uganda in developing airlift capacity to contribute to peacekeeping activities such as the African Union Mission to Somalia.
C-130s from the 36th Wing at Andersen AFB, Guam, air-dropped 60 palletized containers to roughly 50 remote Pacific islands and atolls Dec. 13-17, during Operation Christmas Drop. The airdrop is the only connection many inhabitants have to the wider world, depending on the annual operation for essential supplies and provisions.
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