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  • Air Force Touts Increase in Ground Safety


    There were three on-duty and 42 off-duty ground fatalities in Fiscal 2014—the lowest ground fatality rate in a decade, the Air Force announced last week. That’s down significantly from the 10-year average of 5.9 on-duty and 50.6 off-duty fatalities last year, states the release. “When every airman stays focused and uses the risk management tools available, lives are saved as evidenced by the significant decrease in fatalities, the lowest in 10 years,” said Bill Parsons, the Air Force chief of ground safety. “But we must redouble our efforts: one life lost is one too many.” The leading cause of off-duty fatalities is motor vehicle accidents—including four-wheeled and motorcycle accident deaths—which declined 18 percent from 34 in Fiscal 2013 to 28 in Fiscal 2014. In an effort to reduce that risk, more than 3,300 riders graduated from a total of 458 motorcycle safety classes offered Air Force-wide. Officials attributed the reduction in casualties to increased commander involvement, risk management, job safety training, fall protection emphasis programs, motorcycle training, an interactive mishap prevention program known as “Street Smart,” and seasonal campaigns. “Risk management and safe operations are part of our ethos, and when our airmen apply them to every activity, both on duty and off duty, they mitigate hazards and prevent mishaps,” said Maj. Gen. Kurt Neubauer, the Air Force chief of safety and the commander of the Air Force Safety Center.

  • Scaparrotti: Kim Jong Un is “In Control” of North

    North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un is “clearly in control” of his country, and US assessments suggest there have been no strong signs of leadership instability since his extended public absence from Sept. 3 to Oct. 13, the top US military officer in South Korea told Pentagon reporters Friday. US Forces Korea Commander Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti said US and Republic of Korea officials believe he was recovering from surgery or a health issue, and despite reporting and speculation on leadership instability, in the last two weeks the North Korean leader has publicly visited construction sites and military units. His reappearance coincides with efforts by North Korean diplomats to reach out to the South and other countries in Northeast Asia, Scaparrotti said, but also several “aggressive” military provocations near the North’s maritime border and the demilitarized zone where fire was exchanged between North Korean and South Korean forces. So far, the ROK has responded appropriately and has not escalated these incidents, he added. “I think [North Korea is] being provocative to increase tensions, because they have had some high level talks [with the South] and this is part of their cycle of dialogue and provocation,” Scaparrotti said. (Scaparrotti transcript)

  • North Korea Investing in Missile Capabilities, Training

    The commander of US Forces Korea said the communist regime of Kim Jong Un is focusing on building up “asymmetric capabilities” in its armed forces, including one of the world’s largest special operations forces and improving the capability, mobility, and effectiveness of its ballistic missiles. Speaking to reporters at the Pentagon on Friday, Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti said there have been 10 missile launches or events detected in the North since he took command of USFK in August 2013. Many of these tests are of close-range and near-range missiles. While some of these launches are done for testing and development purposes, Scaparrotti noted that more are done for messaging purposes for the South and its allies to show North Korea’s capability with mobile launch systems. “One of the things we’ve seen this year is more realistic training of rocket forces, and it has resulted in more of these launches,” he added. Asked about the development of a road-mobile KN-08 intercontinental ballistic missile and the advancement of the North’s nuclear program, Scaparrotti said he believed this missile is a capable launcher and vehicle but he did not know if the capability was mature yet, due to lack of testing. He added the US does not believe the North has tested any miniaturized nuclear warhead device. (See also South Korea to Launch Air, Missile Defense System.)

  • Jurassic Raptors


    Air Frame: F-22 Raptors fly in formation near Hickam AFB, Hawaii, Oct. 21, 2014. (Lockheed Martin photo by Liz Kaszynski) (Click on image above to reach wallpaper version.)

  • Meet Saul, the Ebola-Zapping Robot


    ​Geri Genant, Xenex Healthcare Services implementation manager, demonstrates the capabilities of “Saul”, a germ-zapping robot to airmen at JB Langley-Eustis, Va., Oct. 20, 2014. Air Force photo by SSgt. Antoinette Gibson.

    USAF Hospital Langley recently received a germ-zapping robot capable of killing off diseases, including Ebola. The 5 foot, 2 inch tall robot, nicknamed Saul, was delivered to the 633rd Medical Group, which returned this week from a mission in West Africa, by Xenex Healthcare as part of a response plan to ensure the unit is equipped to handle dangerous viruses like Ebola, according to a release. After patient and operation rooms are cleaned, Saul “uses pulses of high-intensity, high-energy ultraviolet rays 25,000 times brighter than fluorescent lights to split open bacterial cell walls and kill dangerous pathogens commonly found in hospital.” The robot has been tested on 22 microorganisms, and a Xenex representative told staff during a demonstration at Langley that the robot can kill a single strand of ribonucleic acid (a virus similar to Ebola) within five minutes with an efficiency rate of 99.9 percent. She said hospitals using the technology have slashed infection rates by up to 60 percent. The unit’s surgical team has already been tested on the technology and plans to begin using it to ward off infections immediately.

  • GPS IIF-8 Preparing for Launch

    The next launch of a GPS IIF satellite is scheduled to take place Oct. 29, Air Force Space Command officials said. The satellite will leave Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla., on an Atlas V rocket, marking the 50th Atlas rocket launch and the fourth GPS IIF launch this year. Once completed, the Air Force will “achieve the highest GPS launch tempo in over 20 years,” said Col. Bill Cooley, AFSPC’s director of the Global Positioning Systems Directorate, during an Oct. 24 teleconference. Cooley said if everything checks out, the newest satellite should be secure in the constellation “by mid-December.” This is the first GPS IIF launch to use the GPS metric tracking, rather than radar tracking, which ULA officials said will save on costs.

  • Vance Goes High Def


    Vance AFB, Okla., is the first base to receive the Virtual Image Takeoff and Landing XI, a new high definition flight simulation program for joint specialized undergraduate pilot training students, according to an Oct. 23 release. Students at Vance will begin using the new simulators on Oct. 27. The new system isn’t full motion but does “give students a more realistic feeling of motion due to [the] domed screens,” states the release. “T-6 students will receive much better training with this upgrade,” said Lt. Col. Joseph Roche, a 5th Flying Training Squadron instructor pilot and simulator instructor. The upgrade is “a giant step into the 21st century,” added Roche. The new simulators provide “much improved capabilities like undated terrain elevation cuts, which allow more realistic and peripheral visual cues,” Roche said, and more accurate airport cues, like beacon lights, approach lights, and taxiway configurations. Realistic conflicts, like multiple aircraft, adverse weather, and environmental conditions, also are more easily incorporated into training scenarios with the new technology, states the release.

  • Head of DOD Rapid Acquisition Shop Leaves Pentagon


    ​The head of the Pentagon's Joint Rapid Acquisition Cell announced Oct. 23 he is leaving government, but he vows the office's mission to improve joint service acquisition efforts for critical tools, such as ISR, will continue. Over the last decade, the office has served as a waypoint for needed capabilities to speed through an often cumbersome acquisition bureaucracy, and have led to successes such as the fielding of new airborne sensors, air-to-ground data links, and the adaption of older chemical neutralization technology fielded aboard the MVS Cape Ray, the ship used to eliminate Syria's chemical weapons stockpile at sea. "We started looking at the mission long before there was any kind of agreement to destroy the precursors," said Andrew Hunter, the director of the JRAC. He added that he is pleased rapid acquisition is now part of DOD instructions, and is more accessible across the services. Hiring and training persons through the Defense Acquisition Workforce Development Fund will lead to real improvements in the workforce in the coming years, he said, and has made a real difference over the last five years. But DOD must invest in its future and make sure it is not losing "acquisition workforce capability" in the long run, especially as so many older workers are now retiring.