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  • Oklahoma F-16s Involved in Midair Collision

    10/22/2014

    ​Two F-16s, like the ones shown here, assigned to the Oklahoma Air National Guard's 138th Fighter Wing collided over Kansas during a training sortie on Oct. 20, 2014. Air Force photo.

    A pair of F-16Cs assigned to the Oklahoma Air National Guard's 138th Fighter Wing collided around 2:30 p.m. Monday during a training sortie near Moline, Kansas, forcing one of the pilots to eject, according to an Oct. 21 release. The pilot who ejected was taken to the hospital at McConnell AFB, Kan., for medical evaluation and has since been released. The second pilot safely recovered the other F-16 involved in the mishap and flew the fighter back to the unit's base in Tulsa. Neither aviator was seriously injured in the accident, wing officials announced. “Our airmen are our most valuable asset because they protect the United States from our adversaries," said Col. David Burgy, commander of the 138th FW. “Fortunately both pilots are going to be all right and have been reunited with their families.” Members of the 138th Maintenance Group, also based in Tulsa, Okla., "are assessing the damage to the aircraft that landed there," states the release. Two F-16Cs assigned to the District of Columbia ANG collided in a similar accident off the coast of Virginia last August. Investigators latter attributed that accident to pilot error. Air Force investigators will probe the Oct. 20 incident and publish further details after the conclusion of a formal accident investigation board.

  • Did the US Inadvertently Deliver Weapons to ISIS?

    Pentagon officials would not confirm the validity of an ISIS video posted Tuesday that apparently shows its fighters in possession of one of the supply bundles C-130s dropped to Kurdish forces in the city. “The short answer is, we don’t know,” Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said Tuesday when asked during a Pentagon press briefing if ISIS had taken possession of one of the bundles, which reportedly features small arms components and rocket propelled grenade launchers. He said analysts at US Central Command headquarters and at the Pentagon were analyzing the video to determine its veracity. Kirby confirmed small arms, ammunition, and grenades were among the items dropped in the resupply effort, but stressed DOD is confident the vast majority of the 28 bundles dropped in the operation “ended up in the right hands,” with only one going off course. CENTCOM confirmed one of its six strikes on Monday targeted “a stray resupply bundle from a US airdrop” in order to prevent the supplies from falling into ISIS control, but Kirby would not confirm whether the supplies that were destroyed were the supplies pictured in the ISIS video. “I’m not making any definitive judgments until we get an analysis,” he said.

  • Kobani Stabilized in Wake of US Airdrop

    The Pentagon revised its assessment of the security situation in the Syrian city of Kobani after USAF C-130s airdropped bundles of weapons, ammunition, and medical supplies to besieged Kurdish fighters. Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said Kurdish forces now control “the majority of the city,” but conditions remain tenuous. US and coalition aircraft flew six more airstrikes in and around the city on Monday and early Tuesday. Kirby said the US did not get involved in the inventory of the supplies dropped, but Kurdish officials in Iraq arranged the supplies and requested the airlift. Kirby would not comment on discussions with the Turkish government or whether the Turks would or would not allow the land transport of resupply through Turkey to Kobani, which sits on the Turkish border. “Air relief was determined to be the best, most efficient way to deliver supplies in this case,” he said, adding it is likely the US may determine future air resupply sorties could be used in the campaign against ISIS. The strikes and air resupply have helped degrade ISIS capabilities, such as key equipment and vehicles in addition to killing several hundred fighters. Since the group lacks maintenance capability for many vehicles, the losses degrade the group’s overall capability, Kirby noted.

  • No War on Profit

    ​Lockheed Martin reported lower quarterly earnings and margins for it aeronautics division Tuesday, reflecting a recent industry trend, but the program manager for its biggest project—the F-35—said there's no government "war" on corporate profit. Rather, "we have a war on cost," Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan said in a recent interview with Air Force Magazine. The Defense Department writ large is "not trying to reap savings of defense dollars by cutting profit," he said, but shifting contracts away from straight fee payments to cost-reduction incentive approaches. "As they reduce costs, which is what we're really after, we'll share with them the added money saved" through efficiencies, "and the fee, plus the cost savings, becomes profit for them." There's "absolutely not" an anti-profit sentiment, Bogdan said, because "that doesn't help the industrial base, that doesn't help the supply chain, because they'll pass that down to their suppliers." He said contractors generally "have to recognize that part of their profit has to be earned, and not just given to them. And that's where we are in the F-35 program, in balancing fee and cost reduction. ... They have to complete things in order to earn that money." Lockheed's aeronautics unit saw a 12 percent reduction in earnings to $362 million, and about a one-percent drop in operating margin for the last quarter. The aeronautics division also reported lower C-130 sales numbers.

  • Live Fee or Die

    ​Much of the award fees that Lockheed Martin stands to make on the F-35 program are still to come, program executive officer Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan said. In a recent interview with Air Force Magazine, Bogdan said F-35 program award fees are largely tied to achieving specific milestones that haven't happened yet. About $100 million is tied to declaring initial operational capability for the Marine Corps' F-35B in July of 2015, he explained, and "the remaining $230 million or so is tied to the final capability that they deliver in 2017," when USMC and the Air Force are operational and the 3F version of the software is fully delivered and tested. "But, they don't get it unless they meet the criteria that we set forth," he said, noting that some fee will be sacrificed if the program is late. Pratt & Whitney, maker of the fighter's F135 engine, has "in the last two years ... had an opportunity to earn about $36 million, and I think they have ... lost the opportunity to earn about $10 million" of that amount, Bogdan said. Pratt is laboring to correct an engine deficiency that led to an F-35 catching fire in June.

  • ACC Hosts Flight Equipment Testing at Seymour Johnson

    10/22/2014

    Air Combat Command held a joint aircrew flight equipment evaluation event at Seymour Johnson AFB, N.C., recently, testing current and future flight equipment for aircrews of every aircraft in USAF’s inventory, according to an Oct. 20 release. Representatives came from JB Langley-Eustis, Va.; Ellsworth AFB, S.D.; Beale AFB, Calif.; Tinker AFB, Okla.; Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz.; Nellis AFB, Nev.; and Hill AFB, Utah. Among the items tested at the Oct. 7-14 event was the joint service aircrew mask, which was evaluated for tactical aircraft as well as the F-35 for its ability to keep aircrew safe from airborne contamination. Other equipment for the F-15E Strike Eagle and F-22 Raptor was put to the test to see if improvements could be made for better integration. Each aircrew’s chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) defense flight suits were sprayed with fluorescent particles during testing, simulating exposure to biological and chemical agents. After spraying, the test participants went through an aircrew contamination area to manage contaminated equipment and to simulate disinfecting and neutralizing potential hazards. Results from testing were compiled and sent to the joint program office for CBRN defense at Edgewood, Md.

  • New Units Align Under AFMC

    10/22/2014

    Air Force Materiel Command boss Gen. Janet Wolfenbarger and Maj. Gen. Theresa Carter, commander of the provisional Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center, recently welcomed new members into the center during a town hall meeting at JBSA-Lackland, Texas. Lackland’s Air Force Civil Engineer Center, Air Force Security Forces Center, Air Force Materiel Command Services Directorate, and several local squadrons assigned to the Air Force Installation Contracting Agency, in addition to the Financial Management Center of Expertise in Denver and Air Force Financial Services Center at Ellsworth AFB, S.D., all realigned under AFMC as of Oct. 1. They are now attached to AFIMSC(P). "We determined there was merit in figuring out how we could centralize installation management functions that today are executed across all of the major commands, put those together, realize some synergies, and reduce resourcing as a result," Wolfenbarger said. "This was the biggest strategic initiative that was put on the table in response to the Secretary of Defense's mandate to reduce management headquarters by 20 percent."

  • Reaper Damages Runway in Niger

    ​An Air Force MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft suffered a "hard landing" in Niamey, Niger, following an unarmed reconnaissance and surveillance sortie in support of operations in West Africa on Monday, officials said. The impact "damaged the runway at Diori Hamani International Airport in Niamey" but caused no injury to military or civilian personnel, US Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa spokesman Capt. William-Joseph Mojica told Air Force Magazine. The RPA was reportedly supporting French military operations against Islamist militants in neighboring Mali, according to a Reuters report. "The US government is working closely with the government of Niger to secure the scene and mitigate inconveniences caused by the incident," Mojica added in an Oct. 21 statement. The service is currently investigating the incident and will provide further information pending the results, according to USAFE-AFAFRICA officials.

  • Last SLUFF Bows Out

    10/22/2014

    A Greek TA-7C Corsair II symbolically breaks away from a formation of the Hellenic Air Force's current fighter types during its retirement ceremony after 39 years of Greek service at Araxos AB, Greece, Oct. 17. Hellenic Air Force photo.

    NATO ally Greece retired the last operational A-7 Corsair IIs in service world-wide with a final fly-by at Araxos AB, Greece, Oct. 17, officials announced. The Air National Guard retired its final A-7D/K—known affectionately as the “Sluff”— in 1992. The bulk of Greece's A-7s were transferred from US Navy stocks when the service retired its fleet after Operation Desert Storm, according to an IHS Jane's report. Thailand and Portugal also operated ex-Navy A-7s into the early 2000s, leaving Greece as the last Corsair II operator in the world. The venerable A-7 clocked some 355,000 sorties, racking up approximately 440,000 flying hours during its 39 years of Greek service, according to the press report. The Hellenic Air Force's final Corsair II unit, 336 Squadron, is slated to join its sister unit flying the F-16C/D from Araxos in northwestern Greece. (USAF A-7D/K factsheet)