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  • Airstrikes Begin Against ISIS in Syria

    9/23/2014

    US bombers, fighters, and ship-launched cruise missiles, along with partner-nation airplanes, began strikes on ISIS targets in Syria on Sept. 22, 2014. Here, a B-1 bomber, like the ones the United States has used to attack ISIS in Iraq. Air Force photo by SSgt. Richard Ebensberger

    US aircraft—reportedly including Air Force F-22s in their combat debut—and cruise missiles, along with partner-nation airplanes, commenced strikes on ISIS targets in Syria on Monday. "I can confirm that US military and partner-nation forces are undertaking military action against [ISIS] terrorists in Syria using a mix of fighter, bomber, and Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles," said Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby in a statement. This marks the first airstrikes against ISIS forces inside of Syria since President Obama earlier this month announced the US strategy to destroy the terrorist army. "The decision to conduct theses strikes was made earlier today by the US Central Command commander under authorization granted him by [Obama]. We will provide more details later as operationally appropriate," added Kirby. Associated Press reported that aircraft from Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates took part in the strikes with the US assets. ABC News reported that F-22s were part of the air armada. If accurate, this would be the stealth aircraft's first use in combat. US aircraft have been bombing ISIS inside of Iraq since August. (Kirby's Twitter feed)

  • Blending In

    9/23/2014

    Blended learning will deliver the highest quality education to airmen, wrote CMSAF James Cody in the September 2014 Roll Call. Here, Cody (left) addresses airmen at Andersen AFB, Guam, Aug. 25, 2014. Air Force photo SSgt. Robert Hicks

    Adopting a blended learning approach—combining distance learning and in-residence instruction—will allow the Air Force to deliver the highest quality education to airmen, stated CMSAF James Cody in the September 2014 Roll Call released on Monday. "The model is used at top universities around the world because it's recognized as the most effective way to educate. We, too, recognize its value and are taking that next step," he wrote. The Air Force has already instituted blended learning at its Senior Noncommissioned Officer Academy and will soon implement it in every NCO academy, said Cody. "The distance portion is about the information. Students can take up to a year, moving at their own pace, to learn theories and concepts that expand their understanding of the institutional competencies we need to win the fight," he wrote. Then comes the in-residence portion. "It builds on the roots planted in the distance component by combining scenarios, exercises, and interaction with fellow airmen," wrote Cody. "There is dialogue, leadership reflection, and opportunities to seek and receive feedback—everything students need to become more self-aware, deliberate and influential leaders ready and able to strengthen the team," he added. (See also Restoring Emphasis on the Learner.)

  • Up-armored Ospreys

    9/23/2014

    Air Force Special Operations Command boss Lt. Gen. Bradley Heithold meets with reporters at AFA's Air & Space Conference in National Harbor, Md., Sept. 15, 2014. Staff photo by Michael C. Sirak

    Air Force Special Operations Command is fielding lightweight armor for its fleet of CV-22s tiltrotor aircraft to provide better protection for crewmembers and passengers in the airplane's aft section, said Lt. Gen. Bradley Heithold, AFSOC commander. "It comes in certain-sized sheets, if you will, and you kind of build an armored tub in the back of the airplane," he told reporters last week at AFA's Air & Space Conference in National Harbor, Md. The armor package is configurable to the needs of the mission, he said. Installing the complete set of sheets adds some 800 pounds to the aircraft that crews balance by carrying less fuel at takeoff or fewer people. AFSOC is also looking for "simple solutions" for a forward-firing gun, he said. "There is still a demand for something that shoots forward when we go into a hot [landing zone]," said Heithold during the Sept. 15 press roundtable. The Osprey carries an aft gun today. Back in December 2013, three CV-22s took hostile fire and sustained moderate damage during what was supposed to be an uneventful evacuation of US noncombatants from South Sudan. (See also Attrition-Reserve Ospreys.)

  • Line of Demarcation

    9/23/2014

    The Air Force expects to define in Fiscal 2015 which components of its ICBM infrastructure will fall under the Minuteman III weapon system under a new sustainment model, said Maj. Gen. Sandra Finan on Sept. 16. Staff photo by Kristina L. Parrill

    The Air Force expects next fiscal year to finish determining which components of its ICBM infrastructure will fall under the Minuteman III weapon system under a new sustainment model, said Maj. Gen. Sandra Finan, Air Force Nuclear Warfare Center commander. "That might sound like an easy task, but it is absolutely not," she said on Sept. 16 during the nuclear panel discussion at AFA's Air & Space Conference outside of Washington, D.C. Sustaining the Minuteman III as a unified weapon system with a central funding pool—as opposed to multiple, disjointed funding accounts—will save money and increase the efficiency of keeping the decades-old MMIIIs viable for their remaining service life, she said. As part of the demarcation process, service officials must decide myriad issues like whether the blast doors at the top of the MMIII silos will be part of the weapon system or end up maintained under a separate funding stream, she told Air Force Magazine. Maintaining the MMIII fleet requires innovation, said Finan. Take, for example, the fuse on the MMIII's Mk-21 reentry vehicle. "It was never designed for refurbishment, but we, in fact, saved $2 billion by creating a refurbishment process to keep that Mk-21 fuse viable," she said. (See also Normalizing ICBM Sustainment.)

  • Globemasters

    9/23/2014

    Air Frame: SMSgt. Phillip Johnson, a loadmaster with Air Force Reserve Command’s 300th Airlift Squadron, looks out the back of his C-17 Globemaster III prior to a training flight from JB Charleston, S.C., Sept. 8, 2014. (Air Force photo by TSgt. Barry Loo) (Click on image above to reach wallpaper version.)

  • Branching Out

    9/23/2014

    Air advisors from the 435th Air Ground Operations Wing at Ramstein AB, Germany, conducted five outreach missions in one week earlier this month, setting a unit mark for simultaneous engagement, according to a release on Monday. "We have never executed this many at once during a single week," said Maj. John Sherinian, air advisor branch chief with the 435th Contingency Response Group. "These [missions] represent months' worth of diligent work, for which there are no set checklists for our airmen to follow. Every mission is a little different and has its own nuances," he said. From Sept. 15 to Sept. 19, advisors in communications, fuel, medical, operations, and safety fields met with airmen in Bulgaria, Latvia, and Poland to practice techniques and exchange knowhow, states the Sept. 22 release. "Each of these missions helps build partnership capacities," said Sherinian. Previously, the air advisor branch was averaging two outreach missions a week.

  • Portland Gets Aircraft Shelters

    9/23/2014

    An F-15 rests under one of the new aircraft shelters at Portland ANGB, Ore., Aug. 28, 2014. Air National Guard photo by TSgt. John Hughel

    The Oregon Air National Guard's 142nd Fighter Wing at Portland ANG Base recently added nine aircraft shelters to protect the unit's F-15 fighters from weather, according to a release. "They definitely are going to make our jobs easier and safer," said MSgt. Dustin Brice, a crew chief assigned to the 142nd Aircraft Maintenance Group. Workers constructed the shelters on the base's west ramp in about seven months, finishing the task in late August, states the release. "No flying time was affected, and we did not miss one sortie during the whole construction period," said SMSgt. Brian Kohl, fabrication flight chief. In addition to helping mitigate corrosion on the jets, the shelters will make it less demanding on maintainers to tend to the fighters during the early morning hours or at night, states the mid September release. They will also shield tools and expensive support equipment from the rain or harsh summer sun.

  • Australia Deploys Air Assets to Fight ISIS

    9/23/2014

    The Royal Australian Air Force dispatched aircraft and personnel to the Middle East to support the US-led international effort against ISIS terrorists in Iraq, announced the Australian defense ministry. The main contingent of personnel and aircraft departed on Sept. 21 from bases in Amberley and Williamtown. It included F/A-18Fs, a KC-30A tanker, and an E-7A airborne early warning aircraft, according to the defense ministry's release on that same day. RAAF Air Marshal Geoff Brown said the air force completed the deployment in a very short window of time after the Australian government recently decided to contribute to international efforts to disrupt and degrade ISIS, which controls sizable swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria. The Australian Defense Force said it is sending some 600 personnel in total to the Middle East, to contribute to the effort.