First C-17 Retires
The Air Force’s prototype C-17 transport recently retired to the National Museum of the US Air Force in Dayton, Ohio, ending 21 years of testing at Edwards AFB, Calif.
"This aircraft will serve as the representative C-17 airframe in the museum’s collection, allowing us to share with the public more of the story of the demanding airlift missions facing today’s Air Force," said museum director John L. Hudson.
McDonnell Douglas workers essentially fabricated the aircraft, designated T-1, by hand. T-1 was specifically built for the C-17’s five-year developmental test and evaluation program, but was successively rebuilt over its career, exceeding its design life by four times, according to museum officials.
Since the prototype first took to the skies in September 1991, T-1 supported a plethora of USAF, NASA, and other agency test programs above and beyond the type’s development.
The aircraft also appeared in five Hollywood films during its active career.
After landing in Dayton April 25, T-1 was decommissioned in preparation for display in the museum’s outdoor airpark, beginning later this summer.
Brit Lightning Takes Flight
Britain’s first production F-35 strike fighter flew for the first time recently on a predelivery check flight from Lockheed Martin’s facility at Fort Worth, Tex.
Lockheed test pilot Bill Gigliotti put the F-35B short takeoff and vertical landing jet through its paces, checking system functionality during the 45-minute hop April 13.
The UK ordered the F-35B, designated BK-1, before its Defense Ministry abandoned the STOVL variant in favor of the carrier-optimized F-35C in October 2010. The first flight came as the UK government was mulling whether to reverse course yet again—abandoning the F-35C for the STOVL F-35B, which the Defense Ministry ultimately did, announcing its decision May 10.
"BK-1 is the first international F-35 to fly. … It also brings us one step closer to delivery of this essential fifth generation capability for the UK," said Britain’s F-35 program representative, Group Capt. Harv Smyth.
Lockheed Martin also completed the first F-35A for the Royal Netherlands Air Force earlier in April.
Both aircraft will be based at Eglin AFB, Fla., supporting their respective country’s maintenance and pilot training at their F-35 schoolhouse.
Advanced To the End
With little fanfare, an excavator severed the fuselage of the Air Force’s last AGM-129A Advanced Cruise Missile in a simple ceremony at Hill AFB, Utah.
Destruction of this AGM-129 completed demilitarization of the cruise missile type and associated trainers, components, and engines "within budget and ahead of schedule," stated officials at Tinker AFB, Okla., April 24.
Tinker’s Missile Sustainment Division and Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center, along with Hill’s Ogden ALC, began the process of decommissioning and destroying the 460-strong AGM-129 inventory in February 2008.
The Air Force opted to eliminate the fleet as part of US efforts to draw down nuclear force levels to meet the cap of 2,200 operational nuclear warheads imposed by the 2002 Strategic Offensive Reduction Treaty with Russia.
The B-52H bomber was the only aircraft capable of deploying the low observable, subsonic cruise missiles operationally. With the Advanced Cruise Missile now gone, the AGM-86 ALCM serves as the Air Force’s sole air-launched nuclear cruise missile.
The Big 4,500
Lockheed Martin trumpeted delivery of the 4,500th F-16 Fighting Falcon—a Block 52 fighter built for the Royal Moroccan Air Force—in a celebration on the floor of the company’s plant at Fort Worth, Tex., April 3.
"The F-16 is the world standard for evolutionary fighters today, and it will continue to secure the freedom of the United States and its allies in peace and combat for decades to come," summed up company aeronautics vice president Larry Lawson.
The current F-16 production queue includes aircraft on order from Egypt, Iraq, Morocco, Oman, and Turkey, according to the company.
Since F-16 production first began in 1975, air forces from 26 countries have purchased and flown the fighter, according to Lockheed Martin.
Reaper’s Day Out
An MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft aided civilian agencies for the first time on a specifically authorized search and rescue mission in US national airspace.
Airmen launched the RPA from Holloman AFB, N.M., to help authorities look for a pair of kayakers who went missing in the nearby Gila National Forest.
The Reaper scanned the riverbed, relaying footage to mission command, and ultimately aiding in the recovery of the two missing sportsmen.
Air Combat Command quickly cleared the flight with the FAA, obtaining special permission to aid civil authorities operating outside the RPA’s designated range space April 2.
"To be able to fly in the national airspace, there is a lot of coordination that has to take place," said Maj. Dustin Pittman, assistant operations director of the base’s 29th Attack Squadron, responsible for training Reaper crews.
"This is a big step forward to ... extend ourselves outside our normal flying ranges," he stressed.
Last in Glass
Lockheed Martin finished upgrading the last C-5 Galaxy cockpit, delivering the 79th C-5 fitted with a state-of-the-art digital instrumentation to the Air Force this April.
Company officials handed over the final C-5 in a special ceremony marking the end of the C-5 Avionics Modernization Program at Travis AFB, Calif., April 27.
"This delivery continues the ever-growing legacy of the C-5 Galaxy and the critical role it plays," said Greg Ulmer, Lockheed Martin’s C-5 program vice president, in a company news release.
AMP retrofits to the C-5 include a new mission computer, digital avionics, new communication, navigation, and surveillance equipment, and an autopilot system.
The C-5s that the Air Force is planning to keep are also being fitted with new turbofan engines and an airframe reliability enhancement package to remedy key ills.
Service leaders plan to rework 52 C-5s—one C-5A, 49 C-5Bs, and two C-5Cs. USAF leadership wishes to retire 27 older C-5As to the "Boneyard" in Fiscal 2013.
Assigned to JBSA-Lackland, Tex., the C-5A will fly with Air Force Reserve Command’s 433rd Airlift Wing.
Lockheed Martin’s C-5 AMP began in 1998.
New Air Force Reserve Chief
The Senate on April 26 approved Maj. Gen. James F. Jackson as the next head of Air Force Reserve Command. Jackson would receive a third star for his new assignment.
Jackson will replace current AFRC boss Lt. Gen. Charles E. Stenner Jr., who has commanded the Reserve since June 2008. Jackson is currently AFRC deputy chief. He has advised the Chief of Staff on Reserve issues since May 2010.
A 1978 Air Force Academy graduate, Jackson had leadership positions at both squadron and wing levels, before staff assignments as mobilization assistant at USAF headquarters and US Strategic Command.
Jackson logged more than 3,600 flight hours in trainers, fighters, and tankers. At press time, the Air Force had yet to announce Stenner’s retirement date.
Raptors in the Sandbox
F-22 Raptors quietly deployed to an undisclosed air base in the US Central Command area of operations this spring.
"The purpose [of the deployment] is to strengthen military-to-military relationships with our partners in the region, to promote sovereign[ty] and regional security, improve combined tactical air operations, and enhance interoperability for forces, equipment, and procedures," a service spokesman told Air Force Magazine.
In past regional deployments, Raptors flew multilateral exercises at the Air Warfare Center hosted by the United Arab Emirates.
Iran’s Defense Minister Brig. Gen. Ahmad Vahidi, however, told Iran’s state-run Fars news agency that the deployment was a "harmful" move, warning that it risked the regional security balance, reported Bloomberg April 30.
Despite such speculation that the deployment is connected to upcoming talks with Iran on the future of its nuclear program, or is intended as a strategic message to Iran, the Air Force stressed that the deployment was actually planned more than a year ago.
The Air Force declined to specify how many aircraft deployed or to which base, due to diplomatic and security concerns.
DARPA’s Hypersonic Technology Vehicle probably burned up in midflight last August because its aerodynamic heat shield degraded more quickly than expected under the intense energy of high-Mach flight.
HTV-2’s ablative skin was designed to gradually burn away at high Mach numbers, but the agency’s independent engineering review board determined that "larger than anticipated portions of the vehicle’s skin peeled from the aerostructure."
The rapid degradation caused the vehicle to roll sharply, exceeding recovery parameters and crashing into the Pacific Ocean, the agency surmised in its investigation findings, released April 20.
Last year’s flight was DARPA’s second HTV-2 experiment, incorporating lessons drawn from the first expendable vehicle which flew in April 2010.
Despite early termination, HTV-2 "successfully demonstrated stable aerodynamically controlled flight at speeds up to Mach 20 ... for nearly three minutes," DARPA officials said.
"The result of these findings is a profound advancement in understanding the areas we need to focus on to advance aerothermal structures for future hypersonic vehicles," said DARPA program manager Maj. Chris Schulz. "Only actual flight data could have revealed this."
Three 37th Bomb Squadron B-1 Lancers departed Ellsworth AFB, S.D., on a 10-hour deep-penetration strike—dubbed Operation Chimichanga—against heavily defended practice targets on the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex, April 4.
"The objective of this operation was to validate the long-range strike capability of the B-1s as well as the F-22’s and F-16’s ability to escort them into an anti-access target area," said Lt. Col. Joseph Kunkel, 90th Fighter Squadron commander at JB Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.
Lifting off with F-16s from Eielson Air Force Base west of the target, the Raptors from the 90th FS cleared a path for the B-1s, slipping past an E-3 AWACS and "blue air" F-16s defending the target from positions at Elmendorf.
The US Strategic Command scenario was the first time F-22s flew in a major exercise using the Raptor’s new increment 3.1 software upgrades.
Strike Eagle Crashes, Crew Safe
An F-15E crashed in Southwest Asia during a routine training mission May 3, Air Forces Central officials said.
"Both crew members ejected safely," AFCENT stated in a news release. The Strike Eagle was part of an expeditionary contingent deployed to the region from the 366th Fighter Wing at Mountain Home AFB, Idaho.
The cause of the incident is under investigation. However, an AFCENT spokesman said the mishap "was not due to any hostile fire or insurgent activity."
Another of the wing’s F-15Es crashed in Southwest Asia earlier this year, killing 391st Fighter Squadron pilot Capt. Francis D. Imlay, March 28.
Reaper Crashes in Seychelles
An unarmed MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft crashed into the ocean near Seychelles Airport on the island of Mahe, April 4.
The cause of the mishap was still unknown as of press time but the incident was under investigation, according to Air Forces Africa officials.
Unarmed Reapers have flown counterpiracy missions over the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden from the Seychelles for several years. Another Reaper crashed at Seychelles Airport last December.
No injuries were reported on the ground, and USAF personnel worked closely with Seychelles civil aviation officials to retrieve the aircraft and debris for analysis.
Tactical air control party airmen directed 33 allied strike aircraft in NATO exercise Serpentex 2012 on the isle of Corsica, closely simulating coalition operations in Afghanistan.
"Participants are going to Afghanistan all the time," said Capt. Michael Hogan of the 4th Air Support Operations Group at Ramstein AB, Germany. "The training is important because it gives our multinational counterparts the training needed for deployments in a life-like, controlled environment."
Hosted by France at Ventiseri-Solenzara Air Base—a former USAAF airfield—the mountainous island setting gave TACPs a chance to "train in all geographic terrains, which has been extremely productive," explained Hogan.
During the two-week exercise, the TACPs worked side by side with allied controllers and more than 550 military personnel from countries including Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Spain, from March 26 to April 6.
Rocket’s Red Glaring Error
North American Aerospace Defense Command monitored North Korea’s long-range ballistic missile test, confirming that the missile failed in midcourse April 12.
North Korea launched the Taepo Dong-2 missile, fulfilling part of the communist regime’s well-publicized boast, but the missile’s second stage failed, NORAD officials said in a release the same day.
US systems "detected and tracked" the missile blasting off at 6:39 p.m. on a southerly trajectory over the Yellow Sea, stated NORAD.
"Initial indications are that the first stage of the missile fell into the sea [102.5 miles] west of Seoul, South Korea," stated the release. As the missile transitioned to second-stage boost "the remaining stages were assessed to have failed and no debris fell on land."
NORAD officials said that neither the missile nor the debris from its breakup posed a threat at any time to the US or allies in the region.
Despite the missile’s failure, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney stressed that the launch constituted "provocative action" that directly "threatens regional security, violates international law, and contravenes [North Korea’s] own recent commitments."
Warthogs to Korea
Nine A-10C ground-attack aircraft of the 75th Fighter Squadron arrived April 30 for a six-month regional stability stint at Osan AB, South Korea, from their home at Moody AFB, Ga.
The A-10’s presence "will enhance our combat capabilities and provide a strong deterrent, ensuring peace and stability" for South Korea, said Lt. Gen. Jan-Marc Jouas, 7th Air Force commander.
Dubbed the 75th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, the 250 airmen from Moody constitute a theater security package, regularly rotated to bolster combat assets available on the Korean peninsula.
The Moody A-10s relieved F-16s dispatched to provide rotational fighter cover to USAF’s other peninsular base from Hill AFB, Utah. The 421st Fighter Squadron F-16s returned from Kunsan AB, Korea, in mid-April.
Lightning May Strike Twice
The Air Force picked Hill AFB, Utah, and Burlington Arpt., Vt., as the preferred operational Active Duty and Air National Guard F-35 bases, respectively, based on first-round environmental impact studies.
"The Air Force is analyzing the impacts of basing three squadrons of 24 aircraft each at the Active Duty location and one squadron of 24 aircraft at the Air National Guard location," said Kathleen I. Ferguson, USAF’s installations chief. Ferguson unveiled the environmental impact study results April 13.
The Air Force also is considering Jacksonville Arpt., Fla.; McEntire JNGB, S.C.; Mountain Home AFB, Idaho; and Shaw AFB, S.C., as potential contenders.
Service officials are now conducting a series of 17 public hearings to give citizens in communities surrounding the proposed sites the opportunity for feedback.
Leaders expect to make a final decision on the Active Duty and ANG basing location this fall, bedding aircraft down as early as 2015, according to the draft EIS.
Questions Up North
House Armed Services Committee members oppose cutting several Air National Guard fighter units guarding US airspace, a move requested in the President’s Fiscal 2013 budget.
Plans to eliminate two aerospace control alert sites, including one at Duluth, Minn., means "there will be virtually no US armed force protection for our country’s northern border between Madison, Wisconsin, and Portland, Oregon," stressed Rep. Chip Cravaack (R-Minn.)
"Narrowing the mission of a unit nationally recognized for its high performance leaves our nation more vulnerable to attack," asserted Cravaack.
Rep. Tom Latham (R-Iowa) derided the decision to reduce continental US air defense saying it "was made using nonstrategic criteria." He added that "the greater cost-effectiveness of relying on Air Guard units" rather than Active Duty fighter squadrons was "completely ignored" in the decision process.
Latham further asserted that the Air Force refused to justify its decision to cut the Iowa Air Guard’s 132nd Fighter Wing, an F-16 unit based at Des Moines. USAF termed the cuts "a judgment call" based on unknown criteria, said Latham.
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems unveiled retrofit kits that can be used to extend the range and endurance of the company’s MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft.
Adding a pair of fuel pods and heavier landing gear, one option increases the aircraft’s surveillance mission endurance from 27 hours to 37 hours, according to a company news release April 18.
A second option optimizes the aircraft for multipurpose missions, replacing the MQ-9’s 66-foot wings with an 88-foot span, in addition to the new undercarriage and fuel tanks. The full-up package increases Reaper endurance from 27 hours to 42 hours, according to General Atomics.
The field-installable kits wouldn’t require the aircraft to be modified at the depot and could quickly be delivered to the Air Force, said the company.
New MQ-9 configurations are the result of a recent company-funded endurance-enhancement study, said Frank W. Pace, president of the company’s Aircraft Systems Group.
Earlier this year, General Atomics also unveiled a new undercarriage strut design to increase the Reaper’s gross takeoff weight.
Mud Raptors Unleashed
F-22s dropped Joint Direct Attack Munitions using self-generated coordinates for the first time outside of testing, on a training sortie from JB Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.
"The ability to drop weapons on self-generated coordinates is significant because it gives commanders the ability to task us against dynamic targets," said Lt. Col. Robert Davis, 90th Fighter Squadron director of operations at Elmendorf.
Before installation of the Increment 3.1 upgrades, Raptors pilots were forced to rely on surrogate aircraft and systems to locate targets and generate strike coordinates for attack.
This slowed detection-to-strike response time and limited the F-22 to ground targets within airspace that the targeting aircraft could safely operate.
With Increment 3.1 software and equipment, "the F-22 now has significantly more lethality, flexibility, and survivability in an anti-access, area-denial scenario," said Davis.
Squadron F-22s dropped 20 JDAMs—eight live and 12 inert—over the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex during a week’s worth of training, base officials revealed April 19.
Promoting Enlisted History
Air Force officials approved construction of a new 50,000-square-foot Airman Heritage Museum to better showcase enlisted history at JBSA-Lackland, Tex., at USAF’s basic training site.
The current 6,778-square-foot museum "is limited in exhibit space and accessibility," explained Jaime Vazquez, Lackland Gateway Heritage Foundation president. "Building the new facility adjacent to the parade ground will provide easy access for the approximately 3,000 family members and friends of trainees who attend the basic military training graduation parade each week," he said.
The planned two-story museum and learning center will highlight the history of basic and enlisted technical training and is scheduled to open in September 2017.
Air Force Global Strike Command is contemplating stretching the service life of its 1970s-era UH-1N Huey helicopters an extra 30 years through a combination of upgrades and modifications to the existing airframe.
AFGSC hopes to sustain the fleet’s enviable mission capable rate as a stopgap until the type is eventually replaced, according to a request for information issued April 17. The Hueys are used to guard the nation’s ICBM fields.
The command is soliciting industry interest in bidding to increase the aircraft’s endurance, range, speed, all-weather capability, and survivability. In addition, AFGSC would like to fit modernized communication and navigation systems on the venerable helos in the near future, according to the RFI.
AFGSC officials want to begin upgrades between Fiscal 2014 and Fiscal 2018, according to solicitation details.
Every Man a Tester
The first class of 12 enlisted airmen graduated from the Air Force Test Pilot School’s new Enlisted Flight Test Course at Edwards AFB, Calif. The school is training personnel for upcoming programs such as the KC-46A. The next generation tanker will require more aircrew than just test pilots, school officials said in April.
Making efficient use of every crew member aboard, "we are empowering the students through knowledge to go out there and be effective testers," explained MSgt. Thomas Ireland, 445th Flight Test Squadron superintendent.
EFTC students learned the essentials of aerodynamics, experiment design, and aircraft systems in a condensed course including instructional test flights on a C-12 Huron, KC-135 Stratotanker, and a sailplane.
"The students now know test conduct, how the test will proceed, what the objectives of the test are. ... They now speak the same language," said Col. Noel Zamot, TPS commandant.
The EFTC course is specifically designed to complement the school’s 48-week test pilot program. The inaugural batch of enlisted airmen graduated EFTC April 18.
More Than a Lot of F-35s
The Pentagon ordered two more F-35 Lightning IIs in Lot 5, awarding Lockheed Martin $259 million to modify the contract in April.
The modification adds a single Air Force F-35A and a Navy F-35C to the production batch, meaning the company will build a total of 32 jets in Lot 5.
According to the Defense Department announcement April 13, Lockheed Martin is expected to complete Lot 5 in February 2014, producing 22 F-35As, three short-takeoff F-35Bs for the Marine Corps, and seven F-35Cs.
DOD and Lockheed Martin agreed to an undefinitized Lot 5 contract last December, allowing work to begin on the fifth batch of aircraft late last year.
Lead or Quit
The Air Force needs to either "step up" and lead airborne strategic intelligence or "step back" and let other services take over for USAF’s large intelligence gathering fleets, said retired Gen. Ronald R. Fogleman, former Air Force Chief of Staff.
USAF hasn’t done "the square root of squat" to modernize its RC-135s and other 707-based intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance platforms, Fogleman alleged, speaking at the Air Force Association’s Mitchell Institute for Airpower Studies in Arlington, Va., April 11.
At the same time, "the Navy has figured out a way to modernize" its comparable platforms, rolling out the brand-new and capable P-8 Poseidon maritime intelligence aircraft, he noted.
The ISR mission is "not an Air Force birthright," he stressed, and USAF should decide if it wants to be the key player in the field or simply a figurant among the services.
Continuing to lead the US military’s airborne ISR requires significantly more investment and commitment than the Air Force has given the mission, he said.
"Somebody needs to do this for the nation," charged Fogleman, and if the Air Force does not pay attention to the mission, "it will go to somebody else."
Behold, Your Champions
Swordsman Capt. Weston S. Kelsey, an Air Force Reservist, and biathlete A1C Emily J. Shertzer, from the Pennsylvania Air National Guard, were crowned Air Force 2011 athletes of the year.
Kelsey is the nation’s top men’s épée fencer and is currently ranked 14th in the world, according to Air Force personnel officials. He will represent the United States at the summer Olympic Games in London later this year.
Shertzer won the women’s overall title at the 2011 Summer Biathlon Championship in Jericho, Vt., organized by US and international biathlon associations. Last year she also set an All-Guard Marathon Team female speed record, finishing with a time of 2:54:20 at the National Guard Marathon in Lincoln, Neb., according to USAF.
Kelsey is a support officer assigned to the 310th Mission Support Squadron at Buckley AFB, Colo. Shertzer is musician with the 553rd Air Force Band at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa.
Parole for Global Hawk?
Members of the House Armed Services Committee are moving to block the Air Force from retiring its RQ-4 Global Hawk Block 30 remotely piloted aircraft next fiscal year.
The committee’s tactical air and land forces panel inserted language barring USAF from using any Fiscal 2013 funds "to retire, prepare to retire, or place in storage" any Block 30 aircraft, in the committee chairman’s 2013 budget markup.
In addition, the panel included a stipulation that the service "maintain the operational capability of each" of the Block 30 airframes at least through the end of 2014.
The mandate would cover the entire operational fleet, as well as any Block 30s slated for delivery between now and the 2014 date.
The HASC personnel panel’s chairman buttressed the measure by retaining 560 Active Duty billets to sustain the aircraft.
The Block 30 variant was designed to replace the U-2 for high-altitude surveillance. However, the Air Force says it is proving to be too expensive to operate and is not close to being ready to take over the mission from the manned Dragon Lady spyplane.
The HASC modifications of the Pentagon’s Fiscal 2013 budget request were released before the budget went to mark-up hearings, April 26.
Air Forces Africa Shuttered
Seventeenth Air Force, also known as Air Forces Africa, officially inactivated in April, standing down as a designated air component to US Africa Command.
US Air Forces in Europe took over as AFRICOM’s new air component, in an inactivation ceremony at Ramstein AB, Germany, April 20. USAFE’s 3rd Air Force at Ramstein is now responsible for day-to-day air support of AFRICOM in addition to US European Command obligations.
"The inactivation for 17th Air Force is one of the first visible steps in the Secretary of Defense-directed command restructuring," USAFE officials stated in a release announcing the change.
Members of 17th Air Force, USAFE, and 3rd Air Force began integrating last October, with 3rd Air Force’s 603rd Air and Space Operations Center assuming command and control of US air operations in both Europe and Africa.
Since taking the mantle as AFRICOM’s air component in October 2008, "we have actively engaged our African partners by offering them our respect, trust, and the desire to build and strengthen enduring friendships," said Maj. Gen. Margaret H. Woodward, 17th Air Force’s commander at the time of its disestablishment. When AFAFRICA folded, Woodward was reassigned as acting director of operational planning, policy, and strategy on the Air Staff.
The numbered air force engaged 36 African countries in more than 200 outreach efforts during its tenure, Ramstein officials said. AFAFRICA’s most prominent role was managing the short-notice air campaign over Libya last year.
Air Mobility Command is packing US military airlifters with excess war material on return flights to the US from Southwest Asia, in an effort to avoid a postwar logjam when coalition operations wind down.
"We are saving time and money by using aircraft that are already positioned and would otherwise return empty," said Brian Trout, deputy plans chief with the 618th Air and Space Operations Center at Scott AFB, Ill.
AMC is cooperating closely with US Central Command and US Transportation Command to identify "retrograde" equipment not assigned to any specific unit. CENTCOM and TRANSCOM then sort it for repatriation either by air or sealift.
"The operation is in its infancy at the moment," explained Lt. Col. Chris Fuller, 618th AOC planning chief. "With constant collaboration, we can maximize operations to efficiently move this mountain of cargo."
The command began the concerted effort early this year and AMC officials believe they are still "ahead of the game." The challenge, however, "will last the next couple of years," admitted Fuller.
Meanwhile, military leaders are increasingly concerned the US will not be able to meet the 2014 target date to withdraw the vast majority of its combat troops if Pakistan continues to bar overland movement of material to its seaport at Karachi.
"If they want us out, … Pakistan’s going to have to open up their lines or we just can’t get out of there by then," asserted Marine Corps Maj. Gen. John A. Toolan Jr., former commander of Afghanistan’s Regional Command-Southwest, speaking in April.
The War on Terror
Operation Enduring Freedom
By May 16, a total of 1,965 Americans had died in Operation Enduring Freedom. The total includes 1,962 troops and three Department of Defense civilians. Of these deaths, 1,547 were killed in action with the enemy while 418 died in noncombat incidents.
There have been 15,950 troops wounded in action during OEF.
The Air Force has temporarily halted increasing the number of Predator and Reaper combat air patrols flying in support of operations in Afghanistan, in order to ease strain on the force and rebuild the training pipeline, said Lt. Gen. Larry D. James, deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance.
The goal of reaching 65 CAPs—with a surge capacity of 85 CAPs—remains in place, and the service is flying 57 orbits today. It will maintain this level until November, when it adds the 58th CAP, said James during an Air Force Association-sponsored Air Force Breakfast Program address in Arlington, Va., April 26.
"That will give us time to reconstitute our training pipeline and allow us to start building capacity back in to the system, because we really are people-limited in terms of operating the Predator and Reaper," he explained.
James said he doesn’t expect the Predator and Reaper crew ratio to balance out until 2016 or 2017.
Trial by Fire, Trial by Budget
The C-27J Spartan airlifter may be on the Air Force’s chopping block, but the tiny airlifters are earning high praise from airlift units and ground forces alike.
While USAF’s "standard mission tasking process requires 96 hours of notice, the C-27J has been ‘time on target’ in less than 24 hours," under Army tactical control in Afghanistan, said Capt. Steffen Landrum, USAF’s liaison to the Army’s 25th Combat Aviation Brigade.
"For the troops out in the field, that is the ultimate flexibility," said Landrum, according to in an Army news release April 23.
Assigned to the 25th CAB, 702nd Expeditionary Airlift Squadron Spartans have flown from Kandahar Airfield since deploying to Afghanistan last August. Landrum calculates that the Army has saved $30 million during this span by fulfilling some missions with C-27Js instead of CH-47 Chinook helicopters. Likewise, he figures USAF has saved "more than $3.8 million" by operating the C-27J instead of the C-130 in the direct support role.
Though USAF plans to supplant the Spartans with C-130s, the C-27J is "by far the better choice for the last tactical mile," said Lt. Col. Jeffrey Charette, 702nd EAS director of operations.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond T. Odierno has said the Army is interested in snapping up the more than two dozen C-27s already in the fleet, and the Coast Guard is reportedly eyeing the aircraft for the maritime surveillance and rescue role as well.
The C-27J’s fate is ultimately in the hands of Congress. Air Force leaders are seeking to divest the C-27 fleet in Fiscal 2013, arguing that it cannot afford to keep the aircraft under current budget constraints.
Last of the Best
The 187th and final F-22 Raptor production aircraft entered Air Force service in a handover ceremony at Lockheed Martin’s assembly plant in Marietta, Ga., May 2. Raptor tail No. 4195 completed USAF’s total order for the fifth generation fighter.
"The very existence of this airplane—your airplane—has altered the strategic landscape forever," said Robert J. Stevens, Lockheed Martin chairman and CEO, addressing production workers at the plant.
Speaking to the audience gathered for the hand-off, Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, Air Force Chief of Staff, said advanced weapon systems such as the F-22 will "help shape the future security environment and not just respond to it."
Air superiority is the F-22’s primary mission, but "it clearly will play a starring role" in the nation’s new defense strategy that emphasizes deterring and defeating aggressors and projecting power into contested areas, Schwartz said.
Schwartz noted an F-22’s retargeting of a submarine-launched Tomahawk cruise missile in flight as just one example of the aircraft’s growing interoperability with other systems and services as the platform matures. "Your remarkable efforts will make very important contributions to our national security ... for many, many years to come," he told the crowd.
Raptor 4195 was completed in December and undertook several months of testing before being transferred to the Air Force and flown to its operational home with the 3rd Wing at JB Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.
Senior Staff Changes
NOMINATION: To be AFRC Lieutenant General: James F. Jackson.
CHANGES: Lt. Gen. (sel.) Salvatore A. Angelella, from Vice Dir., Strat. Plans & Policy, Jt. Staff, Pentagon, to Cmdr., 5th AF, PACAF, Yokota AB, Japan ... Maj. Gen. (sel.) Howard B. Baker, from Cmdr., AF Global Log. Spt. Ctr., AFMC, Scott AFB, Ill., to Cmdr., Ogden Air Log. Complex, AFMC, Hill AFB, Utah ... Maj. Gen. (sel.) Thomas W. Bergeson, from Defense Attaché, DIA, UK, to Dir., Operational Capability Rqmts., DCS, Ops., Plans, & Rqmts., USAF, Pentagon ... Lt. Gen. (sel.) Andrew E. Busch, from Cmdr., Ogden Air Log. Complex, AFMC, Hill AFB, Utah, to Vice Cmdr., AFMC, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio ... Maj. Gen. Michael J. Carey, from Dep. Dir., Command & Control and Nuclear Ops., Jt. Staff, Pentagon, to Cmdr., 20th AF, AFGSC, F. E. Warren AFB, Wyo. ... Lt. Gen. Charles R. Davis, from Cmdr., ESC, AFMC, Hanscom AFB, Mass., to Mil. Dep., Office of the Asst. SECAF, Acq., Pentagon ... Brig. Gen. Steven J. Depalmer, from Dep. Cmdr., Jt. Warfare Ctr., Supreme Allied Command for Transformation, NATO, Stavanger, Norway, to Dep. Cmdr., Jt. Interagency Task Force-South, SOUTHCOM, Miami ... Brig. Gen. John W. Doucette, from Cmdr., 36th Wg., PACAF, Andersen AFB, Guam, to Dep. Cmdr., Jt. Warfare Ctr., Supreme Allied Command for Transformation, NATO, Stavanger, Norway ... Maj. Gen. Barbara J. Faulkenberry, from Dir., Log., AFRICOM, Stuttgart, Germany, to Vice Cmdr., 18th AF, AMC, Scott AFB, Ill. ... Lt. Gen. Burton M. Field, from Cmdr., 5th AF, PACAF, Yokota AB, Japan, to DCS, Ops., Plans, & Rqmts., USAF, Pentagon ... Brig. Gen. Donald S. George, from Dir., Intel., STRATCOM, Offutt AFB, Neb., to Spec. Asst. to DCS, ISR, USAF, Pentagon ... Brig. Gen. Scott P. Goodwin, from Commandant, AF Expeditionary Ctr., AMC, JB McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., to Dir., Ops., AMC, Scott AFB, Ill. ... Brig. Gen. David A. Harris, from Vice Cmdr., Air Armament Ctr., AFMC, Eglin AFB, Fla., to Cmdr., 96th Test Wg., AFMC, Eglin AFB, Fla. ... Maj. Gen. James W. Hyatt, from Cmdr., USAF Warfare Ctr., ACC, Nellis AFB, Nev., to Dir., Air & Space Ops., USAFE, Ramstein AB, Germany ... Brig. Gen. Gregory J. Lengyel, from Exec. Asst. to Supreme Allied Cmdr. Europe, SHAPE, NATO, Mons, Belgium, to Commandant of Cadets, USAF Academy, Colorado Springs, Colo. ... Lt. Gen. (sel.) Bruce A. Litchfield, from Cmdr., Oklahoma City ALC, AFMC, Tinker AFB, Okla., to Cmdr., AF Sustainment Ctr., AFMC, Tinker AFB, Okla. ... Maj. Gen. (sel.) Jeffrey G. Lofgren, from Cmdr., 380th AEW, ACC, Southwest Asia, to Cmdr., USAF Warfare Ctr., ACC, Nellis AFB, Nev. ... Maj. Gen. Frederick H. Martin, from Dir., Ops., AMC, Scott AFB, Ill., to Dep. Dir., Ops., Office of Security Cooperation-Iraq, CENTCOM, Baghdad, Iraq ... Brig. Gen. Lawrence M. Martin Jr., from Vice Cmdr., 18th AF, AMC, Scott AFB, Ill., to Vice Cmdr., 618th Air & Space Ops. Ctr., AMC, Scott AFB, Ill. ... Brig. Gen. Paul H. McGillicuddy, from Cmdr., 9th Recon Wg., ACC, Beale AFB, Calif., to Cmdr., 380th AEW, ACC, Southwest Asia ... Brig. Gen. Jon A. Norman, from Vice Cmdr., 12th AF, ACC, Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., to Dir., USAFE-UK, USAFE, RAF Mildenhall, UK ... Brig. Gen. Mark C. Nowland, from Dir., Plans, Prgms., Rqmts., & Assessments, AETC, JB San Antonio, Tex., to Dir., Strategy, Policy, & Plans, SOUTHCOM, Miami ... Brig. Gen. Timothy M. Ray, from Cmdr., 438th AEW, ACC, Kabul, Afghanistan, to Dir., Ops., DCS, Ops., Plans, & Rqmts., USAF, Pentagon ... Maj. Gen. Anthony J. Rock, from Spec. Asst. to DCS, Ops., Plans, & Rqmts., USAF, Pentagon, to Vice Dir., Jt. Staff, Pentagon ... Brig. Gen. Steven M. Shepro, from Dir., Strategy, Policy, & Plans, SOUTHCOM, Miami, to Cmdr., 438th AEW, ACC, Kabul, Afghanistan ... Brig. Gen. Giovanni K. Tuck, from Cmdr., 379th AEW, ACC, Southwest Asia, to Cmdr., Defense Log. Agency-Energy, Fort Belvoir, Va. ... Brig. Gen. Scott A. Vander Hamm, from Cmdr., 509th Bomb Wg., AFGSC, Whiteman AFB, Mo., to Dir., Plans, Prgms., Rqmts., & Assessments, AETC, JB San Antonio, Tex. ... Brig. Gen. Mark W. Westergren, from Dir., ISR & Recon Strategy, Plans, Doctrine, & Force Dev., DCS, ISR, USAF, Pentagon, to Dir., Intel., STRATCOM, Offutt AFB, Neb. ... Maj. Gen. Brett T. Williams, from Dir., Ops., DCS, Ops., Plans, & Rqmts., USAF, Pentagon, to Dir., Ops., CYBERCOM, Fort Meade, Md.
SENIOR EXECUTIVE SERVICE RETIREMENT: John T. Manclark.
SES CHANGES: Devin L. Cate, to Dep. Dir., Test & Eval., USAF, Pentagon ... Michael M. Hale, to Prgm. Dir., Activity-Based Intel. Sys. Prgm. Office, Natl. Recon Office, Chantilly, Va. ... Valerie L. Muck, to Asst. Auditor General, Acq. & Log. Audits, AF Audit Agency, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio ... Dominic F. Pohl, to Exec. Dir., AF ISR Agency, JB San Antonio, Tex. ... David K. Robertson, to Exec. Dir., AFOTEC, Kirtland AFB, N.M. ... Joseph D. Rouge, to Tech. Advisor for ISR Space & Cyberspace Capabilities, DCS, ISR, USAF, Pentagon ... Jeffery R. Shelton, to Dir., Resource Integration, DCS, Log., Instl., & Mission Spt., USAF, Pentagon ...Todd I. Stewart, to Dir. & Chancellor, AFIT, AU, AETC, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio ... Susan J. Thornton, to Dir., Engineering & Tech. Mgmt., AFMC, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio.
COMMAND CHIEF MASTER SERGEANT RETIREMENT: Eric R. Jaren.
COMMAND CMSGT CHANGE: Michael J. Warner, to Command Chief Master Sergeant, AFMC, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio.
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