Air Force Magazine will not publish its next Daily Report column until Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2014, because of the Columbus Day federal holiday.
A B-52 Stratofortress, assigned to the 69th Expeditionary Bomb
Squadron at Minot AFB, N.D., lifts off from Andersen AFB, Guam, on March 14, 2011. Air Force photo by SrA. Carlin Leslie.
A perennial B-52 upgrade idea—re-engining—is being considered again, Lt. Gen. Stephen Wilson, head of Air Force Global Strike Command, said Thursday. Speaking at Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies event in Arlington, Va., Wilson said plans call for the B-52 to remain in service until 2040 "and possibly beyond." Wilson told Air Force Magazine that he's been talking to engine contractors, who say a commercial motor for the B-52 "could save us 25-30 percent on fuel," but an even bigger payback could come from ripple effects in logistics and operations. Some new engines can "stay on-wing for 20 years" producing large savings on depot maintenance, and greater fuel efficiency translates to greater range, reducing the need for tankers, he said. An engine replacement might pay for itself by "the mid-'30s" but make even more sense because Wilson thinks the B-52 will serve longer than that. "We're flying them less," and racking up hours more slowly, he said. There's no money in the coming budget for new engines, but Wilson said he's exploring whether Congress would be willing to allow the Air Force to use some money earmarked for energy-saving upgrades at installations for the project. Right now, the money can't be used for aircraft modifications.
The 51-year-old B-52H
needs a new radar, and Global Strike Command chief Lt.
Gen. Stephen Wilson said Thursday he would be quite satisfied having the AN/APG-81,
which equips the F-35 fighter, installed on the bomber. Speaking with reporters
after Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies event in Arlington, Va., Wilson said the
F-35 radar would be an “80 percent solution” to what the B-52 needs, but offers
big operating cost benefits: by buying the AN/APG-81, the Air Force could
increase the production run and further reduce unit costs on the radar. Also,
as with potential re-engining of the B-52, Wilson said the radar would sharply
reduce maintenance costs on the bomber, thus defraying the cost of the new
capability. The longer the B-52 serves, the more savings would accrue, he
said. The precedent for both upgrades is
the KC-135 re-engining and digital upgrade, which has saved money and vastly
extended the KC-135’s service life, he said.
Lt. Gen. Stephen Wilson, commander of Air Force Global Strike Command, addresses a Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies crowd in Arlington, Va., on Oct. 9, 2014. Staff photo by Lyndsey Akers.
Equipping the B-52
with new, long-range and faster—potentially hypersonic—standoff missiles would
create a capability comparable to that of a nuclear submarine, Global Strike
Command chief Lt.
Gen. Stephen Wilson said Thursday. A bomber with cruise missiles that can
reach the target in “hours or minutes” represents “a very cost-imposing
strategy” on a nuclear adversary and would be a “significant deterrent,” he
said at a Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies event in Arlington, Va. It would also
have the same striking power as a boomer sub, he said. The AGM-86 Air-Launched
Cruise Missile, which now equips the B-52 force, was “supposed to last 10
years,” but is still serving today and will be “another 10 years out.” Wilson
plugged for a long-range cruise missile replacement, which, especially if
blessed with hypersonic speed, could breathe new life into the B-52, he said.
Even without such a weapon, though, Wilson touted the B-52 as “too … versatile”
to retire, with the ability to employ more kinds of munitions than any other US
platform. Wilson also noted that AFGSC has set up a “standoff missile
application center” with the Navy to explore the synergies of various missiles
like the Tomahawk, Conventional ALCM, Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile, or
JASSM, and the Miniature Air-Launched Decoy and its jamming variant, the
MALD-J. The center seeks to “synchronize and de-conflict” the effects these
weapons bring to the joint battle, he said.
Innovations and improvements in sensors and connectivity will help
leverage Air Force Global Strike Command’s bomber force for decades to come, said
AFGSC boss Lt.
Gen. Stephen Wilson on Thursday during a Mitchell Institute for Aerospace
Studies event in Arlington, Va. Wilson said the command must leverage its
existing capabilities in new ways, by making investments, that have outsized
combat effects. For example, by studying Air Force Special Operations Command
acquisition practices, AFGSC was able to conceive, build, and field a new
AESA radar-equipped pod for the B-52 in under five months, Wilson noted. For
the B-2, Wilson said a key priority is the Defensive Management System
modernization effort, which will swap out older electronics components, such as
passive antennas and older line replaceable unit components that are running
into spare part availability issues. By completing the DMS, the B-2 fleet will
be better connected and have better situational awareness for crews and
Gen. Michael Keltz has been tapped to lead 19th Air Force, which officially
stood up on Oct. 1, after being inactivated in 2012. Keltz previously
served as director of intelligence, operations, and nuclear integration at Air
Education and Training Command Headquarters at JBSA-Randolph, Texas. In his new
position, Keltz will oversee all formal aircrew flying training missions, which
will now fall under the numbered air force. (Pentagon release.)
Armed Services Chairman Rep. Buck McKeon [R-Calif.] said the Obama Administration
has requested a $1 billion reprograming to cover the cost of the US involvement
in the international fight against Ebola. In a statement released Thursday,
McKeon said the request left him with “significant questions” on how US
personnel would be protected, what their mission is, and how the funds would be
used. Army Gen. David Rodriguez, US Africa Command boss, said Tuesday none
of the US personnel being sent to Africa will have direct contact with
Ebola patients and all will have the training and protective equipment needed
to keep them safe. McKeon’s statement came as the Air Force reported that
airmen from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Contingency Response Group
have opened an intermediate staging base at Dakar, Senegal, to help relay
supplies and equipment into areas of western Africa impacted by the deadly Ebola
outbreak. The more than 80 airmen, who moved into the Leopold Sedar Senghor
International Airport in Senegal with all their equipment, activated the cargo
hub Oct. 5, said Col. David Mounkes, the 123rd CRG commander, in a release.
The cargo hub will unload supplies from C-17s and process them for forward
movement in C-130s to where they are needed.
Air Force photo by SrA. Peter Thompson.
Two crewmen from the 7th Bomb Wing took part in the first post-operational
testing flight of a B-1B Lancer enhanced with the Sustainment Block 16 upgrade
earlier this month. A pilot and weapons system officer from the 9th Bomb
Squadron flew in the Oct. 2 mission from Dyess AFB, Texas, supported by aircrew
members from the 337th Test and Evaluation Squadron. All previous flights with
the SB-16 upgrade were made by test crews. The SB-16 changes the way tactical
and flight information is presented to the Lancer flight crew, providing significant
improvements in situational awareness, combat effectiveness, and survivability,
according to an Air Force release. “This
upgrade impacts our mission significantly,” said Maj. Brian Ranaudo, 9th BS
director of operations. “It improves our ability to integrate and communicate
more effectively with other aircraft in a strike package; by doing so it
increases the lethality of the aircraft." Aircrews from the 7th BW will
spend the next three months learning the new system and will train 9th BS crews
when they return from their current deployment. The 7th BW will continually
train aircrews with the new systems while more of its B-1s are upgraded, aiming
for operational capability by 2016.
A rapid oil leak that resulted in an engine seizure
caused the April 26 crash of an MQ-1B Predator near Jalalabad Airfield,
Afghanistan, according to a summary of an Air Combat Command accident report released
Thursday. The Predator, which was assigned to the 214th Reconnaissance Squadron
from Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., was lost during an intelligence, surveillance, and
reconnaissance mission from Jalalabad. The accident board president found by
clear and convincing evidence that the cause of the incident was a rapid loss
of oil resulting in an engine seizure that made the aircraft unable to maintain
altitude or return to base. The Predator was destroyed on ground impact for a
loss of approximately $4.61 million. There were no injuries or damage to
private property. (Click here for full report; Caution, large-sized file.)
Air Force Chief of Staff retired Gen. Ronald Fogleman was inducted into the
Airlift Tanker Hall of Fame at Scott AFB, Ill., Thursday, honoring his 34 years
of service that included heroic conduct during the Vietnam War and a
dual-hatted tour as commander of Air Mobility Command and US Transportation
Command. Service leaders, airmen, friends, and family watched the unveiling of
a bronze bust of Fogleman in the Mobility Memorial Park as he joined a long list
of Air Force pioneers, leaders, and heroes. Before Fogleman’s tour as CSAF from
1994 to 1997, he led the two commands at Scott from 1992-94. In Vietnam,
Fogleman flew 240 combat missions, most of them as a “Misty FAC,” conducting
dangerous air control missions in the F-100F Super Sabre. He was shot down on
one mission and rescued by clinging to the outside of an AH-1 Cobra attack
helicopter. He received the Silver Star, two Distinguished Flying Crosses, 18
Air Medals and a Purple Heart. Fogleman is the 23rd member of the hall of fame that
includes World War II leader Gen. Carl “Tooey” Spaatz and SSgt. William
Pitsenbarger, a pararescueman posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for valor
in Vietnam. (Scott release.)
Navy and Marine Corps aircraft are temporarily calling JB Pearl Harbor-Hickam,
Hawaii, home while the airfield at MCAS Kaneohe Bay is under construction,
according to a release.
The airframes include 12 P-3 Orion surveillance aircraft, four C-20 Gulfstream
jets, and two MK-58 Hawker Hunter “aggressor” trainer jets. Around 175 aircrew
and maintainers will accompany the aircraft, as of Oct. 1, to continue their
anti-submarine, anti-surface, and intelligence gathering missions for the next
two months as construction on the airfield progresses. This is the fourth time
Navy and Marine Corps aircraft have relocated to the base from Kaneohe Bay in
six years, due to an ongoing runway construction project, said officials with
Hickam’s 15th Wing. The units are expected to return to Hickam in 2015 and 2016
again, said Glen Bailey, the 15th Wing plans and programs support chief.
An entry in the Oct.
8 Daily Report should have said retired Lt. Gen. Susan Helms, former commander of 14th
Air Force, was the first military woman in space. The original
entry has been corrected.
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