Carter Moves up
Ashton B. Carter will succeed William J. Lynn III as deputy defense secretary this fall. Carter has been undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology, and logistics throughout the Obama Administration, serving as point man for the KC-X recompetition, in restructuring the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, and terminating the F-22 and F135 second engine for the F-35. He has spearheaded a number of streamlining initiatives at the Pentagon, notably the "should cost" effort and increasing use of fixed-price contracts.
Carter also served in the Pentagon during the Clinton Administration, where he was heavily involved in policy regarding North Korea.
New Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said Lynn has provided "outstanding advice and counsel to this department and to the nation over the course of his long career," and made his mark by creating the Pentagon’s first-ever energy strategy, a new space policy, and most recently, the Department of Defense’s own cyber strategy.
Lynn agreed to stay on until Carter was confirmed in the job.
Joint Chiefs Leaders Confirmed
The Senate approved Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey and Adm. James A. Winnefeld Jr. as Chairman and vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, respectively.
Dempsey succeeds Adm. Michael G. Mullen, who has served as Chairman since October 2007 and is retiring. Winnefeld on Aug. 4 replaced Marine Corps Gen. James E. Cartwright, who retired. Cartwright had served as vice chairman since August 2007.
Following the confirmations, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said the two men bring "immense intellect, proven leadership, and far reaching strategic vision" to their new roles.
Dempsey comes to the Chairman’s job having served as Chief of Staff of the Army for only four months. He previously served as head of Army Training and Doctrine Command, and before that, as deputy commander of US Central Command.
Winnefeld is a naval aviator who last served as head of US Northern Command and NORAD. Before that, he served as director of strategic plans and policy for the Joint Staff.
Defense on the Debt Ceiling
Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said $350 billion can be cut from defense spending over the next decade without affecting military operations or readiness. He was commenting on the Budget Control Act of 2011, the nation’s new debt ceiling legislation.
Further reductions, however, would indeed "undermine" the military’s ability to function, if executed in a "hasty" or "ill-conceived way," Panetta said in an Aug. 3 letter to military personnel. The debt ceiling agreement contains a mechanism to automatically cut military spending if Congress fails to enact prescribed deficit reduction.
If the "sequester" measure is triggered, it would unleash "dangerous across-the-board defense cuts that would do real damage to our security, our troops, and their families, and our ability to protect the nation," wrote Panetta.
Fraser To Lead TRANSCOM
The Senate confirmed the nomination of Gen. William M. Fraser III as next commander of US Transportation Command at Scott AFB, Ill.
He replaces Gen. Duncan J. McNabb who led TRANSCOM since September 2008 and is due to formally retire Nov. 30, after more than 37 years in uniform.
Fraser previously led Air Combat Command, taking the reins at JB Langley-Eustis, Va., in September 2009. Confirmed by the Senate for the TRANSCOM job Aug. 2, Fraser has spent most of his career in bombers and tankers.
In a series of related command moves, Lt. Gen. Gilmary Michael Hostage III passed command of US Air Forces Central to Lt. Gen. David L. Goldfein Aug. 3. Hostage has been confirmed by the Senate to receive a fourth star and succeed Fraser as commander of ACC.
Goldfein heads to Southwest Asia after a two-year stint as Air Combat Command’s director of operations at Langley.
F-22 Oxygen System Reviewed ...
The Air Force Scientific Advisory Board is studying the F-22’s onboard oxygen-generation system—and those of other aircraft—in an attempt to solve pilot breathing problems that have grounded the Raptor fleet since May.
Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley directed the study, which will be led by retired Gen. Gregory S. Martin, former head of Air Force Materiel Command.
A senior team of scientific and technical experts will gather information to recommend corrective actions for the F-22 OBOGS and any that may be needed on the A-10, F-15E, F-16, F-35, B-1, B-2, CV-22, T-6, or other aircraft.
The advisory board planned a series of in-flight tests to examine breathing subsystems, including the pressurization system, mask, and cockpit oxygen levels.
"The safety of our aircrews is paramount," said Maj. Gen. Gregory A. Feest, Air Force chief of safety. "This review is a prudent step to ensure that."
Air Force fleets other than the F-22’s will continue to operate normally during the study and the service plans no further groundings due to OBOGS anomalies, officials said.
… As Raptor Deliveries Are Delayed
F-22 Raptors completed for delivery since the fleet was grounded in May have piled up on the flight line at Lockheed Martin’s production facility in Marietta, Ga., unable to fly.
By mid-July, four F-22s had rolled off the assembly line since the grounding. All of them are barred from flying to their home bases, according to a Lockheed spokeswoman.
Air Combat Command indefinitely revoked the F-22’s flight status as officials investigate potential malfunctions with the aircraft’s onboard oxygen-generation system providing pilots with breathable air.
Before July, delivery and production timetables were undisturbed, but as the grounding dragged on, disruptions eventually became inevitable.
"We expect to roll out the final jet at the end of the year, so the last one is already coming down the line," said the spokeswoman. "We know we are going to have to make some adjustments. [Serial numbers] 4182 and 4183 were scheduled to be delivered this month, but because of the stand-down, we won’t be in a position to deliver them until August," she added in July.
F-35s Also Grounded
All F-35 ground and flight operations were suspended in August as a precautionary measure, after an incident with F-35A test aircraft AF-4, at Edwards AFB, Calif.
The integrated power package, which provides power for engine start and cooling of the aircraft, failed during a standard engine run during ground maintenance Aug. 2, said F-35 spokesman Joe DellaVedova.
Testers immediately shut down the engine and secured the aircraft. Neither the pilot nor the ground crew was injured in the incident. The stand-down affects all 20 F-35s currently in flying status, including both test aircraft and production airframes.
The same aircraft, AF-4, suffered an in-flight anomaly over Edwards earlier this year, resulting in a fleet grounding back in March.
Ground operations resumed in mid-August, but the fleet had not resumed flying at press time.
Allen New ISAF Commander
Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen relieved Army Gen. David H. Petraeus as commander of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force and of US Forces-Afghanistan. The change of command came just as the United States and NATO were beginning gradual handover of security to Afghan forces, July 18.
"We will keep our eyes on the horizon—the future of Afghanistan—a nation of free people at peace, governed under its constitution, pursuing economic enterprise and development, in a secure and stable environment free from the extremism and terrorism that has plagued this wonderful country and its people," said Allen taking command at a ceremony in Kabul. "In the end, together, we will prevail," he added.
Before commanding ISAF and US Forces-Afghanistan, Allen served as deputy commander of US Central Command beginning in July 2008. The Senate confirmed Petraeus as the next head of the CIA in late June. He will lead the agency after retiring from the Army.
Military Ready To End DADT
President Obama certified to Congress that the Defense Department has met all requirements for repeal of the 1993 "Don’t Ask-Don’t Tell" policy. His signature started a 60-day countdown to allowing homosexuals to serve openly in the ranks of the US military.
Beginning Sept. 20, service members will no longer be subject to separation for admitting homosexuality, under the measure passed by Congress last December.
"I have always been confident that our dedicated men and women in uniform would transition to a new policy in an orderly manner that preserves unit cohesion, recruitment, retention, and military effectiveness," Obama said in a July 22 statement accompanying the certification.
In a joint statement, Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, and CMSAF James A. Roy said USAF "stands ready to implement this change with the same unparalleled professionalism we have demonstrated with every transformation that we have undertaken in peace and war."
Cyber Strategy Complete
The Pentagon unveiled its first strategy for defense of US cyberspace in July. The document outlines the five basic pillars of DOD’s approach: Treat cyberspace as an operational domain; employ new concepts to protect DOD networks; partner with other US agencies; build relationships with allies; and leverage the country’s exceptional cyber workforce and rapid technological innovation.
"The cyber environment we face is dynamic. As such, our strategy must be dynamic as well," Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III said in unveiling the strategy during an address to National Defense University in Washington, D.C. "While today is an important milestone, it is only one part of the department’s efforts to learn and adjust through time," he said.
Although it’s not yet clear exactly what role cyber will play in 21st century warfare, he said it’s certain that "bits and bytes can be as threatening as bullets and bombs."
DOD’s cyberspace strategy comes on the heels of a White House policy confronting similar threats, issued in May.
Spartans To the Fray
The Ohio Air National Guard’s 179th Airlift Wing made the first overseas deployment of the C-27J in August, providing direct airlift support to Army ground units.
Air Guardsmen of the 179th deployed to Afghanistan alongside National Guard soldiers from Georgia and Oklahoma, to support the 159th Combat Aviation Brigade from Fort Campbell, Ky. "I could not be more proud of the folks around the country and the agencies and organizations that assisted with getting these planes out the door," said Col. Gary McCue, 179th Airlift Wing commander.
Based at Mansfield Lahm Airport, the Air Guard unit was also the first unit to convert to the C-27J.
Capable of operating from austere airstrips, the C-27Js will remain in theater for nine months, according to Mansfield officials.
Second GPS Block IIF Satellite in Space
The second Global Positioning System Block IIF satellite achieved orbit in July, transmitting its first signals back to Earth.
The GPS IIF-2 was "functioning normally and ready to begin on-orbit maneuvers and operational testing," prime contractor Boeing announced after the July 16 launch aboard a Delta IV rocket. The launch took place at Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla.
The first Block IIF satellite lifted off in May 2010, becoming operational last summer. The new configuration provides greater accuracy, a more jam-resistant military signal, and a more powerful and secure civilian signal. Boeing is under contract to build 12 IIF satellites.
Whiteman Sets B-2 Nuclear Alert Record
The Air Force’s B-2 stealth bombers completed a record-setting, week-long airborne nuclear alert exercise at Whiteman AFB, Mo., in July.
Airmen of the 509th Bomb Wing and Missouri Air National Guard 131st Bomb Wing generated a record 21 sorties during the exercise’s peak day, logging 235 flight hours in 64 sorties during the event.
Crews flew two-thirds of an average month’s operations in one week, according to Whiteman officials. "We wanted to take the B-2 and the maintenance and operations communities to the limit of aircraft generation, while safely generating as many sorties and hours as possible," said Capt. Brady Poe, 509th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron operations officer.
With engines still running, ground crews hot-refueled the aircraft on the flight line to achieve optimum sortie rates during the exercise, which ended July 14.
Global Hawk Flies ASIP and MP-RTIP
An RQ-4 Global Hawk Block 30 remotely piloted aircraft recently completed its first production acceptance flight with a full sensor suite—including the Airborne Signals Intelligence Payload intended to eventually equip the entire Block 30 fleet.
Separately, a Block 40 Global Hawk completed a full system flight with the Multiplatform Radar Technology Insertion Program sensor.
Aircraft deployed to Southwest Asia currently carry the electro-optical/infrared Enhanced Integrated Sensor Suite and synthetic aperture radar supplied by Raytheon, but not the ASIP. Block 30s now providing overhead-imagery support of forces in Afghanistan will get the ASIP as an upgrade. All nine Global Hawk Block 30s currently forward deployed will rotate through Northrop’s facility in Palmdale, Calif., for the installation.
The added suite "will provide a persistent level of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance that has never before been provided by any aircraft," said George Guerra, Northrop Grumman’s vice president of high-altitude long-endurance systems.
The MP-RTIP simultaneously tracks moving ground targets and provides synthetic aperture radar imagery in all weather conditions, day or night. Northrop Grumman and Raytheon jointly produce it.
Now designated the AN/ZPY-2, the MP-RTIP radar configuration was test flown July 21 at Edwards AFB, Calif.
The Air Force plans to procure 11 of the separate Block 40 aircraft, which will operate from Grand Forks AFB, N.D.
Three Dozen F-35s for Nellis
The Air Force approved a plan to base 36 F-35 strike fighters at Nellis AFB, Nev., between 2012 and 2020.
Twelve F-35s will be assigned to test support, while the remaining 24 will be dedicated to weapons training school, according to the record of decision.
The stealth fighters’ beddown will increase the Nellis population by 412 personnel, requiring the construction of new facilities, as well as the alteration and demolition of some existing ones, according to officials.
Following Eglin AFB, Fla., Nellis is the second USAF installation to be definitively assigned F-35s.
The record of decision followed a positive environmental impact statement delivered in May, and was signed June 24 by Kathleen I. Ferguson, USAF deputy assistant secretary for installations.
Service leaders are pushing toward final decisions on additional basing for the remainder of planned F-35 units.
C-130s In the Firefight
Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Command fire bombers flew 242 sorties and dropped 609,960 gallons of fire retardant during a month-long battle against wildfires raging in Arizona and New Mexico.
The last two Modular Airborne Firefighting System-equipped C-130s and personnel of AFRC’s 302nd Airlift Wing returned home to Peterson AFB, Colo., from a temporary operating base at Kirtland AFB, N.M., July 14.
Over the course of the mission, C-130s from the North Carolina Air National Guard 145th Airlift Wing at Charlotte and California ANG 146th Airlift Wing at Channel Islands ANG Station dispatched a total of four MAFFS aircraft to Kirtland, augmenting the AFRC assets.
"The team success over the past 30 days demonstrated the professionalism and effectiveness of the citizen airmen who volunteer for this vital mission," said Lt. Col. Dave Condit, deputy commander of the 302nd Air Expeditionary Group, which oversaw the operation.
The Air Force’s Aeronautical Systems Center has begun the initial steps of upgrading the F-16 fleet with Active Electronically Scanned Array, or AESA, radars by issuing a request for information to industry.
USAF is considering upgrading between 300 and 600 late-block F-16s with the AESA, which would replace the current APG-68 system. The Air Force envisions installations beginning in 2017, according to the RFI.
Issued at the end of June, the RFI specifies the Air Force’s interest in existing AESA systems that can be retrofitted onto "the existing F-16 Block 40/42/50/52 aircraft without extensive structural, electrical, or environmental cooling system modifications."
Target Missile Launched From C-17
The Missile Defense Agency successfully fired a short-range air launched target missile in a test shot over the Pacific Ocean near California in July.
Deployed via parachute from the rear ramp of a C-17, the test validated the missile’s redesigned deployment mechanism, modified to correct problems identified in previous tests.
Pulled free of the aircraft by the parachute, the SRALT’s rocket motor then ignited, sending the missile on its planned overwater trajectory about 500 miles off the coast of southern California. It simulated a tactical ballistic missile.
Sensors based in California tracked the missile during the test, as did the MDA’s two Space Tracking Surveillance System demonstration satellites.
"This was the first demonstration of stereo acquisition and track handover of a short-range target by the STSS," stated MDA’s release.
The agency intends to use SRALT as a test body for tracking and shootdown tests of the nation’s ballistic missile defense system.
Last KC-135 GATM On Time
Rockwell Collins delivered the 419th and final C/KC-135 upgraded with the Global Air Traffic Management system during a ceremony at Kelly Field near San Antonio.
"This program set a new performance standard for Air Force procurements with 100 percent of the upgraded aircraft delivered on time and within budget," said Dave Nieuwsma, Rockwell vice president, in a company statement, July 12.
GATM enables Air Force KC-135 tankers to move safely and efficiently between military and commercial airspace, and save fuel by using the most efficient air routes.
Rockwell won the contract in 1999. KC-135s with GATM were the first Air Force aircraft certified to international communication, navigation, and surveillance-air traffic management standards.
Rockwell is also prime contractor for the KC-135 Block 45 cockpit upgrade, slated to begin delivery in 2013, and is a major avionics supplier to Boeing for the Air Force’s KC-46A tanker.
B-1 Situational Awareness Upgrade
Boeing will modify the Air Force B-1B bomber fleet with three new capabilities under $99.5 million contract announced in July.
"The Integrated Battle Station upgrades will provide B-1 bomber aircrews with a higher level of situational awareness and a faster secure digital communication link," said Rick Greenwell, Boeing’s B-1 program director.
The contract covers procuring the first lot of kits with parts for the Vertical Situation Display Unit in the forward cockpit, as well as the Fully Integrated Data Link and the Central Integrated Test Systems for the B-1B’s aft cockpit.
All three modifications fall under the Integrated Battle Station initiative and will be installed at the same time beginning in late 2012. Fleetwide modification should be completed by 2019, according to the company.
While the Air Force planned to retire six B-1Bs in Fiscal 2012—intending to use the savings to update its 60 remaining Lancers—language in the House version of the Fiscal 2012 appropriations bill would bar USAF from retiring the aircraft.
Wright-Patt Transitions to C-17s
Air Force Reserve Command’s 445th Airlift Wing at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, transitioned to the C-17 this summer. A ceremony marking the transition took place at the base July 9.
Wright-Patterson previously operated the C-5A, and the 445th is the latest Reserve unit to change over to the C-17.
The base had received five of its nine C-17s by mid-July, with the remaining four slated to arrive by the end of Fiscal 2012, according to Boeing.
Pilot Escapes QF-4 Crash
A QF-4 Phantom pilot assigned to the 82nd Aerial Target Squadron, Det. 1, ejected safely from his aircraft, which crashed July 6 near Holloman AFB, N.M.
The 49th Wing at Holloman operates the QF-4s as full-scale aerial targets over White Sands Missile Range. The aircraft’s dual control system allows it to either be flown in the manned configuration by a pilot in the cockpit, or in the drone role by remote controllers at a ground station.
According to Col. David Krumm, 49th Wing commander, the pilot survived in good condition. The accident is under investigation.
Soaring Performance at Edwards
The Air Force Academy’s new TG-16A sailplane underwent safety and performance test flights over the California desert, ahead of final evaluations at the academy in August.
Testers with the 445th Flight Test Squadron at Edwards AFB, Calif., completed aerobatic, maneuvering, stability, and high-cross-wind landing tests with the high-performance glider over the course of the flight activities in July.
"This is the first time we’ve taken it to the corners of the envelope and really put it through its paces," said squadron commander Lt. Col. Jason Schott. "The glider has been handling well with no significant areas of concern," added test pilot Maj. Andrew Martin.
With flying at Edwards complete, testers shipped the aircraft to Colorado Springs, Colo., for final evaluations at the academy. The academy is acquiring 19 German-built DG-1000 high-performance sailplanes, designated TG-16, to replace its aging TG-10B and TG-10C gliders in the aerobatic training role.
Rescuers Decorated by France
Three airmen with the 83rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, received the French National Defense Gold Medal with bronze star for their heroism during the rescue of a French helicopter crew.
Braving high winds, poor visibility, and an unsecured crash site, two HH-60 crews from the squadron located the downed French helicopter. Pararescue jumpers TSgt. Kristopher Burridge and SrA. Jackson Rogers then rescued the French crew.
HH-60 pilot Capt. John Mosier said he "set up a blocking pattern" with his helicopter to shield the ground team from potential fire from a nearby village as the rescuers found, secured, and treated the badly injured French pilot and copilot during the June 11 rescue.
The copilot later succumbed to his wounds, but the pilot is recovering from a broken back.
"Getting a medal is a huge honor, ... but getting this guy back to his family is what’s most important," said Mosier upon receiving the medal.
Mosier, Burridge, and Rogers were decorated in a ceremony July 8, at Forward Operating Base Morales-Frazier.
9/11 Memorial March
To mark the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the 4th Security Forces Squadron at Seymour Johnson AFB, N.C., has organized a 2,181-mile march from San Antonio to New York City.
The march began in San Antonio July 12, and will end Sept. 11 at "Ground Zero" in lower Manhattan.
Fifteen security forces units across the United States are participating, each to cover a distance of about 140 miles.
"We’re doing this to reflect on the changes 9/11 had on our career field and our lives," said TSgt. Kenneth Broughman, 4th SFS training noncommissioned officer in charge. Those changes include "the time we’ve been away from our loved ones due to deployments, [and] the effects those deployments have had on each person." He said the march is "ultimately to remember the defenders who lost their lives by enemy hands since the start of Operation Enduring Freedom."
Robert H. Widmer, aeronautical engineer and designer of the Convair B-58 Hustler—USAF’s first operational supersonic bomber—died in Fort Worth, Tex., on June 20 at age 95.
Widmer joined Convair at its headquarters in San Diego and later transferred to the company’s main aircraft factory in Fort Worth, establishing the company’s design and engineering department there. He worked at Fort Worth well into his 80s, as the company transitioned to become General Dynamics, then part of Lockheed, and ultimately Lockheed Martin.
Among his many aeronautical accomplishments, Widmer played instrumental roles in developing the F-111, F-16, and Tomahawk cruise missile, according to the New York Times.
F-35 Schoolhouse Preps for Class
With the arrival in mid-July of two F-35As—AF-8 and AF-9—at Eglin AFB, Fla., the joint service F-35 Integrated Training Center there is gearing up for the first regular pilot training course to begin next January, according to 33rd Fighter Wing officials.
"We see ourselves as the beginning of the future for F-35," said Marine Corps Col. Arthur Tomassetti, vice commander of the 33rd FW, which oversees the nascent schoolhouse. "This is where everything will start."
Pilots and maintainers were to begin limited ground operations with the first two F-35s this summer as the force at Eglin grows to five F-35As by fall, augmented by a single Marine Corps F-35B by December.
The training center will conduct a 12-week operational utility evaluation in October, including six weeks of flight operations with the planned training syllabus in preparation for the first regular class. "If the OUE goes as planned, those pilots who go through that will actually come out of that evaluation as fully qualified instructors," said Col. Andrew J. Toth, 33rd FW commander.
January’s inaugural class will train roughly 30 US aviators. At full strength, the Eglin joint training center will total 59 F-35A, F-35B, and F-35C variants.
Airmen Among Victims of Deadly Helicopter Crash
Three airmen were among the 30 US military personnel and eight Afghans killed in the Aug. 6 crash of an Army CH-47 Chinook helicopter in Wardak province, Afghanistan.
The airmen were TSgt. John W. Brown, 33, of Tallahassee, Fla.; TSgt. Daniel L. Zerbe, 28, of York, Pa.; and SSgt. Andrew W. Harvell, 26, of Long Beach, Calif. All were assigned to Air Force Special Operations Command’s 24th Special Tactics Squadron at Pope Field, N.C.
In addition to the airmen, 22 Navy SEALs, five Army aircrew, and eight Afghans perished, making it the single most deadly incident for US forces in Afghanistan since the beginning of the war in 2001. "Their deaths are a reminder of the extraordinary sacrifices made by the men and women of our military and their families, including all who have served in Afghanistan," said President Obama in a statement from the White House.
The Chinook was attacked by small-arms fire and likely downed by a rocket-propelled grenade, stated Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen, commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan. At press time, a more complete investigation was still ongoing.
Two days after the Chinook went down, Air Force F-16s launched a precision airstrike that killed the insurgents responsible. This operation was a "continuation of the original mission" targeting terrorist leaders in Wardak, officials said.
"This does not ease our loss, but we must, and we will, continue to relentlessly pursue the enemy," Allen said Aug. 10.
Cyber Theft Prompts Weapon Redesign
An undisclosed weapon system may have to be redesigned following a cyber attack presumably launched by "a foreign intelligence service," Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III said in July.
Perpetrated against an undisclosed defense contractor in March, the intrusion resulted in the theft of roughly 24,000 data files, said Lynn at the unveiling of the Pentagon’s first-ever cyberspace strategy in Washington, D.C.
While the data breach did not "necessarily" set DOD back in this weapon system’s development, it "compromised information relative to the design of military equipment," he said.
If a foreign intelligence service was indeed the culprit, the attack highlights the disturbing fact that "a nation-state was behind it," explained Lynn.
Lynn declined to address how the United States had responded to the attack, saying that the intrusion was just the latest in a series of intrusions that have been growing in number in recent years.
"It’s hard to quantify these [cyber attacks], but ... the number of significant intrusions is much, much smaller" than the number of scans that are done on our systems each day, he said July 14.
Lockheed Martin and Booz Allen Hamilton were both recently reported to have been targeted in cyber intrusions.
Time To Cut the Airlift Fleet?
The Air Force’s strategic airlift fleet should be reduced, according to top airlift officials, who asked Congress to lower the mandated fleet size from 316 to 301 strategic airlifters.
The Air Force wants to retire 32 C-5A Galaxys as the last new-build C-17s enter service.
"We humbly ask the committee and Congress to support the President’s vision by repealing the 316 strategic airlift floor and enabling us to manage the fleet to ensure we continue to meet [combatant command] requirements," Air Mobility Command boss Gen. Raymond E. Johns Jr. stated in written testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Basing his arguments on the most recent mobility capabilities and requirements study, Johns said a fleet of 222 C-17s, 52 C-5Ms, and 27 C-5As is fully capable of meeting the highest projected demand of hauling 32.7 million ton-miles per day.
Gen. Duncan J. McNabb, head of US Transportation Command, asserted that the cut would pose no operational risk and would avoid about $1.2 billion in maintenance costs between Fiscal 2012 and Fiscal 2016.
During his confirmation hearing to lead US Transportation Command, Gen. William M. Fraser III added his support, saying that to "take full advantage of our aircrews, maintainers, and aerial porters, the Air Force should be given the authority to retire the oldest, least capable C-5As."
The War on Terrorism
Operation Enduring Freedom—Afghanistan
By Aug. 15, a total of 1,728 Americans had died in Operation Enduring Freedom. The total includes 1,726 troops and two DOD civilians. Of these deaths, 1,368 were killed in action with the enemy, while 360 died in noncombat incidents.
There have been 13,164 troops wounded in action during OEF.
Air Force strike aircraft flew 176 hours of nonstop close air support over Afghanistan’s Pech Valley region near the Pakistan border, dropping more than 100 bombs in four days of supporting ground forces during Operation Hammer Down II.
Cooperating with joint terminal attack controllers, F-15Es of the 389th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron and F-16s of the 555th EFS from Bagram Airfield struck precisely multiple targets that were "danger close" to friendly forces, according to Bagram officials.
"There was a period where we dropped seven bombs in a span of 26 minutes, ... some within 250 meters of our forces," recounted Lt. Col. Mark O’Neil, 389th EFS assistant operations director. "It’s nerve wracking, but when that JTAC comes on the radio and says, ‘Excellent job, not a scratch on friendlies,’ it makes it all worthwhile."
Hammer Down eradicated more than 100 insurgents, including several high-value targets at the end of June.
Advisors Train for Gunmen
To teach unit members how to respond to a gunman, the 443rd Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron recently conducted its first live-fire training at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan.
NATO Training Command-Afghanistan initiated the training in response to the tragic shooting of eight US airmen and a US contractor at Kabul Airport, by an Afghan Air Force officer in April.
The three days of instruction helped improve the advisors’ reaction to such scenarios with rapid-fire weapons drills, quick-fire reaction drills, and seated reaction drills.
MSgt. Terry Gilbert of Kandahar’s 738th Air Expeditionary Advisory Group, said future plans include incorporating "some building clearing techniques, assault maneuvers, and more advanced weapons handling."
Building a Training Superbase
Airmen, soldiers, and contractors have nearly tripled the original size of the Shindand Air Base in northwest Afghanistan since last fall. It is now the country’s second largest airfield, surpassed only by Bastion Field in the south.
Construction of a new 1.3-mile NATO training runway is slated to begin early next year as part of the base’s overall $500 million transformation, and recent expansions added an eight-mile perimeter fence as well as areas for new housing and work space.
Air advisors plan to build infrastructure at Shindand to make it the premier flight-training base for the Afghan Air Force. It will have space for more than 3,000 coalition forces and government contractors.
Shindand currently hosts AAF Mi-17 helicopter pilot training and is scheduled to receive an additional 18 fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft, according to Col. Larry Bowers, 838th Air Expeditionary Advisory Group commander.
Trouble Over the Taiwan Strait
A Chinese Su-27 fighter crossed the centerline of the Taiwan Strait—the unofficial dividing line between communist China and democratic Taiwan—in pursuit of a U-2 reconnaissance aircraft in June, prompting a warning from the US.
Adm. Michael G. Mullen, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman, called on China to be careful in responding to US reconnaissance flights in international airspace. "We have to make sure that we don’t repeat what happened in 2001," he said referring to the incident when an aggressive Chinese fighter hit a Navy EP-3E surveillance aircraft over international waters near China’s southern coast.
The Washington Times reported that the U-2, flying from Kadena AB, Japan, was over the international waters on a routine recon mission on June 29, when two Chinese Su-27s were scrambled to intercept it over the strait.
One Su-27 turned away before reaching the dividing line, but the other continued until a pair of Taiwanese F-16s were scrambled, causing it to break off. Warned of the fighters, the U-2 cut its mission short to return to base, according to press accounts.
The incident occurred less than two weeks before Mullen made a previously scheduled official visit to Beijing to promote improved US-Chinese military-to-military ties.
Senior Staff Changes
CHANGES: Brig. Gen. Daniel B. Fincher, from Dep., Rule of Law, US Forces-Afghanistan, CENTCOM, Kabul, to Cmdr., AF Legal Ops. Agency, Office of the Judge Advocate General, USAF, JB Anacostia-Bolling, D.C. ... Gen. William M. Fraser III, from Cmdr., ACC, JB Langley-Eustis, Va., to Cmdr., TRANSCOM, Scott AFB, Ill. ... Brig. Gen. (sel.) Daryl J. Hauck, from AF PEO, ISR, Spec. Ops. Forces, ASC, AFMC, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio ... Lt. Gen. (sel.) Stephen L. Hoog, from Cmdr., 9th AF, ACC, Shaw AFB, S.C., to Cmdr., 11th AF, PACAF, JB Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska ... Brig. Gen. Lawrence M. Martin Jr., from Dep. Dir., Ops., AMC, Scott AFB, Ill., to Vice Cmdr., 18th AF, AMC, Scott AFB, Ill. ... Brig. Gen. Kenneth J. Moran, from Spec. Asst. to the Cmdr., AFMC, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, to Dir., Prgm. Mgmt. & Integration, SMC, AFSPC, Los Angeles AFB, Calif. ... Maj. Gen. (sel.) John F. Thompson, from AF PEO, Strat. Sys., AFMC, Kirtland AFB, N.M., to Dep. Dir., Joint Strike Fighter Prgm., Office of the USD, Acq., Tech., & Log., Arlington, Va. ... Lt. Gen. Janet C. Wolfenbarger, from Vice Cmdr., AFMC, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, to Mil. Dep., Office of the Asst. SECAF, Acq., Pentagon.
SENIOR EXECUTIVE SERVICE RETIREMENTS: Dee H. Andrews, Donald B. Paul.
SES CHANGES: James J. Brooks, to Dir., Irregular Warfare, Ops., DCS, Ops., Plans, & Rqmts., USAF, Pentagon ... Thomas A. Fitzgerald, to Dir., Engineering, SMC, AFSPC, Los Angeles AFB, Calif. ... Jer Donald Get, to Assoc. Dir., Prgms., DCS, Strat. Plans & Prgms., USAF, Pentagon ... James R. Martin, to Dir., Business Plans & Ops. Directorate, NRO, AFSPC, Chantilly, Va. ... Joseph M. McDade, to Dir., Office of Small Business Programs, Office of the SECAF, Pentagon ... Pamela C. Schwenke, to Dir., Budget Investment, Office of the Asst. SECAF, Financial Mgmt. & Comptroller, Pentagon. n
The 97th Air Mobility Wing at Altus AFB, Okla., claimed the top honor of "Best Air Mobility Wing" at Air Mobility Command’s airlift rodeo. Some 150 teams including seven international crews competed in the week-long challenge held this year at JB Lewis-McChord, Wash.
An unarmed Minuteman III ICBM making a test flight from Vandenberg AFB, Calif., was intentionally destroyed over the Pacific Ocean after an anomaly was detected, the Air Force said. The flight was terminated over the open ocean northeast of Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, July 27.
Air Force officials issued updated dress and personal appearance regulations, releasing Air Force Instruction 36-2903. The manual includes items new since the last edition in 2006, including the Airman Battle Uniform and green fleece outerwear now in use.
Maj. Jon Williams, an AWACS mission crew commander, became the first officer and one of a few airmen to log 10,000 hours on the E-3 Sentry, July 4. Assigned to the 963rd Expeditionary Airborne Air Control Squadron, Williams attained the milestone during a deployment to Southwest Asia.
Pacific Air Forces showcased USAF airpower in Brunei for the first time, during the week-long Brunei Darussalam International Defense Exhibition in July. An F-16 from Misawa AB, Japan, performed a flying demonstration, and a C-17 from JB Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, was on static display.
Capt. Cole Davenport on June 28 became USAF’s first electronic warfare officer to graduate from the Navy’s EA-18G Growler electronic attack course at NAS Whidbey Island, Wash. Embedded with the Navy, Davenport is a member of the 390th Electronics Combat Squadron.
The first of eight C-17s destined to replace New York Air National Guard C-5As arrived at Stewart ANGB in Newburgh, N.Y., July 18. The 105th Airlift Wing will slowly begin phasing out C-5s this summer as C-17s arrive and crews requalify on the new aircraft.
More than 140 Air National Guardsmen and F-16s from Alabama, California, Iowa, Massachusetts, and Washington participated in Safe Skies 2011, at Mirgorod AB, Ukraine. Sponsored by US European Command, the air defense exercises with Polish and Ukrainian aircraft in July marked one of the first USAF fighter aircraft visits to the former Soviet state.
The first Northrop Grumman-built Euro Hawk arrived in Germany from Edwards AFB, Calif., after completing flight testing July 21. A specialized electronic intelligence variant of the RQ-4, the aircraft is the first of five being outfitted with sensors by EADS for delivery to the Luftwaffe in 2012.
Air Force and Boeing officials dedicated the service’s newest C-17 (tail No. 99211) to recipients of the US military’s highest decoration, unveiling Spirit of the Medal of Honor in a ceremony during the 2011 Air Mobility Rodeo at JB Lewis-McChord, Wash., July 26.
An Alabama Air National Guard F-16C assigned to the 100th Fighter Squadron overran the runway on landing during the Experimental Aircraft Association’s annual fly-in convention at Wittman Regional Arpt., Wis., July 28. Though the pilot was unhurt, the nose undercarriage collapsed, causing extensive damage to the aircraft.
A former 1st Fighter Wing F-15C, transported by road from JB Langley-Eustis, Va., arrived at its new home at the Chico Air Museum in California, July 31. Museum officials hope to locate the final pilot of serial No. 80-0014, dubbed Freedom Eagle, for a dedication in September.
Lockheed Martin delivered the last of 12 new-build AN/AAQ-39 electro-optical/infrared targeting systems for Air Force AC-130U Gunships. Begun last July, delivery of the system enables improved crew safety by enabling identification and engagement of hostile targets from longer ranges than before.
The Air Force Research Lab wants to develop an automated off-road vehicle for special operations forces, capable of operating undetected behind enemy lines. According to the request for information issued July 20, AFRL envisions an all-terrain vehicle sized to fit inside the tilt-rotor CV-22.
The Air Force will purchase a previously leased C-37A executive transport from Gulfstream Aerospace for $26.8 million. The Air Force operates a fleet of 10 Gulfstream V-based C-37As. They augment USAF’s 757-based C-32 fleet shuttling military and government officials.
Read the day's top news on the US Air Force, airpower, and national security issues.
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