Aerospace World

Jan. 1, 2006

Wynne Is New SECAF

Michael W. Wynne was sworn in as Secretary of the Air Force on Nov. 3 at an Air Force Academy ceremony attended by 4,200 cadets. He had been confirmed by the Senate on Oct. 28.

Wynne took over from acting Secretary Pete Geren. The Air Force had been without a Senate-confirmed Secretary for nearly a year. James G. Roche left the post in January 2005.

Wynne has worked in the Defense Department since 2001, having served as principal deputy undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology, and logistics and as acting undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology, and logistics. In those roles, he worked as an advisor to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld for Base Realignment and Closure matters.

Wynne wanted to take the oath at the academy because his brother, a 1963 graduate who was killed in Vietnam, is buried there. Wynne himself is a West Point graduate, but accepted a commission in the Air Force and served seven years. His last military assignment was at the academy, where he taught astronautics.

Subsequently, he served in the aerospace industry, working primarily on launch vehicles and the F-16 program. He retired in 1999 from General Dynamics as a vice president. After that, he worked with a venture capital group.

Cope India Wraps Up

Cope India 2006, an exercise staged by USAF and the Indian Air Force, ended on Nov. 20. The two-week event pitted USAF F-16s against various Indian fighters, including its new Su-30MKI aircraft—a derivative of the Russian-designed Su-27 Flanker.

The two aircraft flew against each other in a mock air-combat engagement, the first between the two fighters. The results weren’t announced.

In another scenario, the Indian fighters were vectored by Air Force E-3 AWACS aircraft to engage the F-16s, playing the role of an aggressor force. The exercises were meant to build military-to-military relationships with India as well as enhance interoperability between the two air arms. (See “Full-Contact Training,” October 2004, p. 40.)

Approximately 250 airmen from Misawa, Kadena, and Yokota ABs, Japan; Hickam AFB, Hawaii; and Andersen AFB, Guam, deployed to Kalaikunda Air Station in West Bengal, India, for the exercise.

Minot Bombers Set Record

Air Combat Command’s bombers at Minot AFB, N.D., broke the record for B-52 reliability in October. The bombers logged a 90.8 percent mission capable rate for the month, meaning that more than 90 percent of the B-52s were ready to perform their primary missions at any given time.

The records for the 40-year old aircraft are proving short lived. September had also been a record, when the BUFFs set a new standard with an 89.4 percent MC rate. The wing’s bombers were on pace to set another record with 93.4 percent mission capability for the first half of November.

The bombers, which belong to the 5th Bomb Wing, flew 800 sorties in 2005, racking up a total of 7,955 flying hours. Because of deployments, Minot maintainers worked to keep the venerable aircraft flying at three different operating locations during the year. Base maintainers were awarded two ACC maintenance effectiveness awards for their efforts.

Senate Passes Defense Bill

The Senate unanimously passed a $491.6 billion defense authorization bill on Nov. 15.

Provisions in the bill included a 3.1 percent pay raise for uniformed personnel, as well as an increase in benefits for families of troops killed in the line of duty.

The Republican-led Senate passed a nonbinding resolution calling for Iraq to take control of its own security to ensure a phased withdrawal of US troops beginning next year. The Bush Administration adamantly opposes a timetable for US troop withdrawal.

Lawmakers approved a second continuing resolution to keep DOD and other agencies running until they could complete work on 2006 budget bills.

Titan Fades to Black

The last Titan IVB rocket was launched from Vandenberg AFB, Calif., on Oct. 19, carrying a classified National Reconnaissance Office payload into orbit. It marked the end of the Titan program, started in 1955.

The Titan began life as one of the early Air Force ICBMs. More than 100 were placed on alert throughout the nation in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. When the last operational Titan was withdrawn in 1987, the missiles in the inventory were either retired or used to launch satellites into orbit.

Titans provided the ride into space for all of the Gemini astronauts.

The venerable rocket is being replaced by the space boosters developed by the Air Force’s evolved expendable launch vehicle program.

Titan IV was developed in the late 1980s as an alternative to the space shuttle and was essential in maintaining access to space after the Challenger accident grounded the shuttle for more than two years.

$2.9 Billion Goes to the F-22

The Air Force awarded Lockheed Martin a $2.9 billion contract in November for production of 24 new F-22 Raptors. The contract covers Lot 5, authorized in the Fiscal 2005 budget.

The award raises the total number of Raptors under contract to 107. As of mid-November, Lockheed had completed assembly of 66 F-22s. The Air Force had taken delivery of 53.

Lockheed Martin pledged to continue reducing the aircraft’s cost, which came down more than 10 percent in Lot 4.

“We understand our nation’s and the Air Force’s need for the F-22 and have worked diligently to reduce production costs without sacrificing any capabilities of this airplane,” said Larry Lawson, F-22 program manager.

The Raptor on Dec. 15 achieved initial operational capability at Langley AFB, Va.

Hobbins In at USAFE

Gen. William T. Hobbins replaced Gen. Robert H. Foglesong as commander of US Air Forces in Europe in a Dec. 6 change of command. Foglesong will officially retire Feb. 1, the service announced in November.

Hobbins, who was serving as deputy chief of staff for warfighting integration, was confirmed by the Senate on Oct. 28.

The USAFE commander is also commander of NATO’s Allied Air Component Command Ramstein, Germany; air component commander of US European Command (also at Ramstein Air Base); and director of the Multinational Joint Air Power Competence Center in Kalkar, Germany.

Foglesong took command of USAFE in August 2003.

Rumsfeld Goes to China

Donald H. Rumsfeld made his first visit to China as Defense Secretary in October. There he urged his hosts to be more open about their rapidly growing military spending and arms buildup.

The Pentagon estimates that China’s military spending adds up to about $90 billion a year, about three times the amount China claims. Rumsfeld questioned such a high level of spending in a speech at one of China’s top military schools.

“To the extent that defense expenditures are considerably higher than what is published, neighbors understandably wonder what the reason might be for the disparity between reality and public statement,” Rumsfeld remarked, according to the Washington Times.

The trip marked an effort to warm military relations that chilled in April 2001 when a Chinese fighter collided with a US Navy EP-3 reconnaissance aircraft. The Chinese pilot died, and the EP-3 crew—forced down on Hainan Island—was detained for 11 days. The damaged EP-3 was eventually returned in crates. (See “Aerospace World: China Got Classified Info From EP-3,” November 2003, p. 17.)

Air Force Meets Recruiting Goals

The Air Force beat its Fiscal 2005 enlisted recruiting goal and met its Officer Training School enrollment goal, the service announced in October.

A total of 19,222 men and women were enlisted in USAF, versus a target of 18,900.

However, the service fell short in medical field recruiting, finding only 753 health professionals out of its 1,123-person requirement.

The fiscal year began with an overall goal of bringing on 24,465, toward meeting an end strength goal of 359,700 airmen, as mandated by the Congress. That was down from the previous year. The recruiting goal was once again reduced in January 2005 to 18,900 recruits.

The Air Force also beat by seven its goal of recruiting 720 people for Officer Training School and got four more chaplains to join up than the 31 it wanted.

Goals for Fiscal 2006 are 30,750 new enlisted recruits and a reduced goal of 485 OTS candidates.

$1.9 Billion Medical Deal Awarded

Responding in part to the difficulty in recruiting medical professionals, the Air Force awarded a contract of up to $10 billion to American Hospital Service Group, Exton, Pa.; Godwin Corp., Langley Park, Md.; The Healing Staff, San Antonio; RLM Services, Miami; and TerraHealth, San Antonio, to recruit, qualify, and retain civilian health care workers at Air Force medical treatment facilities.

The contract runs through November 2010 and will provide for health care professionals at 63 treatment facilities in 58 locations. They include physicians, dentists, nurses, and pharmacists.

General Smith Commands JFCOM

USAF Gen. Lance L. Smith on Nov. 10 became commander of US Joint Forces Command and NATO’s Allied Command Transformation. Both are based in Norfolk, Va.

Smith succeeds Adm. Edmund P. Giambastiani Jr., who left the job to become vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

US Joint Forces Command, one of the largest in the US military establishment, oversees transformation, experimentation, joint training, interoperability, and force provision for the unified commands.

The NATO organization oversees the upgrade of the alliance’s military capabilities and operations.

Since October 2003, Smith had been serving as deputy commander of US Central Command at MacDill AFB, Fla., with responsibility for combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He previously served as deputy commander, United Nations Command; deputy commander, US Forces Korea; commander, Air Component Command, Republic of Korea and US Combined Forces Command; and commander, 7th Air Force, Pacific Air Forces, Osan AB, South Korea.

Services Get J-UCAS

The Joint Unmanned Combat Air System program, intended to develop large unmanned aircraft for attack and reconnaissance missions, is under new management. Previously run by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, J-UCAS was transferred formally to joint Air Force-Navy leadership effective Nov. 1.

The new joint program is headed by Navy Capt. Ralph N. Alderson, previously DARPA’s program manager for the X-45 aircraft. Alderson will report to an Air Force program executive officer who had not been named by late November. The program is now headquartered at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio.

Program leadership will mimic that of the Joint Strike Fighter, swapping management authority on a rotating basis. When the program manager is a Navy officer, his deputy will be a USAF officer, and vice versa.

The change resulted from Congressional concerns that DARPA hadn’t effectively coordinated the program with the Air Force and Navy, and the lawmakers were worried that the program was not sufficiently focused on producing a platform that met combat requirements.

Funding shifted from DARPA to the joint program in December.

MDA Cut by $1 Billion

In response to an Oct. 19 directive from Gordon R. England, the acting deputy secretary of defense, the Missile Defense Agency will cut $1 billion from its five-year budget plan, MDA announced in October.

England’s memo directed agencies to cut $32.1 billion from Fiscal Years 2007-11 and signaled that more cuts could be on the way.

The MDA plans to cut $290 million for 2007 by delaying the construction of a European ground-based site and delaying development of the Space Tracking and Surveillance System (STSS), according to DefenseNews.com.

The STSS program, consisting of satellites that track ballistic missiles, will again be trimmed in 2008, saving the MDA $130 million.

Plans for reductions in 2010-11 include delaying plans to construct a space-based test bed intended to shoot down enemy missiles. The delay would save the agency $312 million.

Pakistan Suspends F-16 Buy

Pakistan’s President, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, announced he would suspend the purchase of new Lockheed Martin F-16s to save funds for earthquake relief. (See “Aerospace World: US To Ship F-16s to Pakistan,” October 2005, p. 24.)

The 7.6-magnitude earthquake that hit Muzaffarabad in October killed nearly 80,000 Pakistanis and prompted an international relief effort.

Musharraf postponed the order for some 77 F-16 fighters, but made no move to cancel the program outright. Pakistani officials estimated the cost of earthquake recovery at $5 billion, roughly that of the F-16 purchase.

The Nov. 4 announcement was a blow to Lockheed Martin; it had been counting on the order to keep its Fort Worth, Tex., F-16 plant running.

Lockheed hoped that a 40-airplane order from Greece would sustain the plant, which employs a total of 15,100 workers, 4,000 of them solely on the F-16 line. However, Greek officials in November were balking at confirming the deal. The Greek buy was estimated at $3.1 billion; it would go to the production of one of the most advanced versions of the F-16.

First TH-1H Delivered

The first TH-1H training helicopter was delivered to the Air Force on Nov. 5. The aircraft was the first of 24 to be delivered over the next four years to support USAF helicopter training at Ft. Rucker, Ala.

The TH-1H is a modification of the venerable Bell UH-1H “Huey.” The aircraft have been upgraded with a more powerful engine, new nose and tailboom, digital cockpit, crashworthy seats, and total rewiring.

Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor for the helicopter, and US Helicopter, as subcontractor, is performing the modifications, refurbishment, and test of the aircraft at its Ozark, Ala., facility.

IED Czar Appointed

Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld on Dec. 5 appointed retired Army Gen. Montgomery C. Meigs as the Pentagon’s manager for projects aimed at countering roadside bombs and other improvised explosive devices.

Such devices were used in a growing number of attacks in Iraq last year, claiming many US casualties.

Meigs commanded US Army forces in Europe and NATO’s peacekeeping force in Bosnia.

Top level officials in Iraq, including US Central Command chief Army Gen. John P. Abizaid, had signaled the need for a more effective effort to counter the threat.

The previous Pentagon IED task force, headed by Army Brig. Gen. Joseph Votel and charged with combating roadside bombings since 2004, had been unable to find a solution to the growing problem, despite a $1.5 billion budget.

In a related measure, Eglin AFB, Fla., stood up the Advanced Improvised Explosive Device Training Facility on Nov. 3, as part of the school that trains bomb disposal experts. Students will receive instruction on IEDs and will train in realistic scenarios to prepare them for what they will see in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Israel Is Back in JSF Game

The US will again permit Israel to participate in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program.

The two nations had been at odds over Israel’s sale of military technology to China, but they have worked out their differences, said Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz in November.

In April, the Pentagon suspended Israel’s participation in the program because of concerns that Israel would provide sensitive US military technology to China in a sale of Harpy killer drones.

“All the controversial questions have been answered,” Mofaz told an Israeli news service after a meeting in Washington with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. Israel wants to buy about 100 F-35s.

Israel agreed to consult with Washington on future arms transfers that might be of concern.

The Harpy deal was the third Israel arms sale to China in five years that Washington vetoed after the fact. In 2000, Israel had to pay China $350 million after reneging on a deal to supply Phalcon airborne radar systems aircraft to Beijing.

Last fall, the US halted a $100 million Israeli project to upgrade F-16s operated by Venezuela, with which the US has had a falling out.

$10 Billion for USAF Support

The Air Force on Nov. 8 awarded a 10-year contract for up to $10 billion for natural disaster relief, logistics support, and engineering services.

The recipients were: Bechtel National, Frederick, Md.; CH2M Hill Global Services, Englewood, Colo.; DynCorp International, Fort Worth, Tex.; Readiness Management Support, Panama City, Fla.; URS Berger/JV, Washington, D.C.; and Washington Group International, Denver.

The contract was awarded under the Air Force Contract Augmentation Program III which provides a global response to meet a wide range of support activities, including contingency skills, deployment support, and military force sustainment, according to the Air Force.

The companies can be called on quickly to design and build bases, provide logistics support, and assist the service with natural disasters such as hurricane recovery.

Each company will receive its share of the mammoth contract as determined by the amount and scope of work they perform over the 10-year period.

The Pentagon’s Unseen Unconventional Arms Race

The Department of Defense, with one of the largest computer networks in the world, has been facing an arms race with an elusive adversary­—computer hackers, according to Army Col. Carl W. Hunt.

In a press briefing on cyber-security in Washington in November, three panelists discussed the complexities of “cyber-terrorism,” a new form of warfare that in recent years has threatened the security of the Defense Department cyber-world.

The Air Force, in June, was targeted in a cyber-attack that apparently exposed the identities of 33,000 airmen, mostly officers. No identity theft has been reported, although the incident remains under investigation.

Tom Kellermann, chief knowledge officer of Cybrinth, an e-security and data consulting firm, asserted that 56 million Americans have lost their identities to hackers. Americans’ heavy reliance on technology has left them vulnerable to foreign hackers, who represent 80 percent of hack attacks, according to Kellermann.

Both Hunt and Kellermann stressed the importance of developing self-healing or self-maintaining computers to monitor all foreign and domestic activities, a technology currently being researched by Microsoft, SunSystems, and Hewlett Packard, among others.

Transformation Czar Cebrowski Dies

Retired Vice Adm. Arthur K. Cebrowski, the first head of the Pentagon’s Office of Force Transformation, died Nov. 12 at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., at the age of 63.

Cebrowski was picked by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to head the new in-house think tank tasked with aiding the military with more effectively confronting terrorists and speeding the development and embedding of information technologies in US military systems. Cebrowski’s concept of “network-centric warfare,” intended to quickly unite ships, aircraft, satellites, and ground forces in combat, became a driver of Pentagon thinking.

Previously, Cebrowski was president of the Naval War College from 1998 to 2001. A highly decorated Naval aviator, he flew 154 combat missions during the Vietnam War and commanded the aircraft carrier Midway during the first Gulf War.

World War II Airmen Identified

The remains of three World War II Army Air Forces airmen missing in action since 1941 have been identified, DOD announced in October.

The airmen are 2nd Lt. Augustus J. Allen of Myrtle Springs, Tex.; SSgt. James D. Cartwright of Los Angeles; and Cpl. Paul R. Stubbs of Haverhill, Mass.

Allen, Cartwright, and Stubbs were flying in an O-47A observation aircraft from France Field, Panama, to Rio Hato, Panama, on June 8, 1941. When they didn’t arrive, a search was begun. No wreckage was found and the men were listed as missing in action.

In April 1999, a Panamanian hunter discovered aircraft wreckage and notified his government. Panama contacted the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) at Hickam AFB, Hawaii. The crash site was excavated in February 2002; crew remains, artifacts, and aircraft wreckage were recovered.

The Armed Forces DNA Identification Lab and JPAC used the mitochondrial DNA method to identify the three airmen.

The remains of all three servicemen were returned to their families for burial with full military honors.

The War on Terrorism

Operation Iraqi Freedom—Iraq

Casualties

By Dec. 1, a total of 2,114 Americans had died in Operation Iraqi Freedom. This total includes 2,109 troops and five Defense Department civilians. Of those fatalities, 1,657 were killed in action by enemy attack, and 457 died in noncombat incidents.

There have been 15,881 troops wounded in action during OIF. This includes 8,468 who returned to duty within 72 hours and 7,413 who were unable to quickly return to action.

USAF Strikes Insurgents in Steel Curtain

Air Force F-15s, F-16s, unmanned Predator aircraft, and British Royal Air Force GR-4s carried out a major offensive against anti-regime Iraqi forces on Nov. 14 in support of Operation Steel Curtain.

The operation was aimed at stopping border crossings by foreign insurgents from Syria into Iraq and destroying insurgent facilities in and around the Al Qaim region.

The F-15s dropped precision guided munitions, and Predators fired Hellfire missiles in the vicinity of Karabilah, Iraq. Air Force F-16s released at least one PGM near Balad AB, Iraq, on the same day.

The air strikes killed approximately 30 terrorists, bringing the total to nearly 80 killed on Nov. 14 and 15. Steel Curtain began Nov. 5.

Nearly 40 weapons caches were discovered and destroyed during the operation, and 107 IEDs and mines were found. Approximately 150 terrorists were detained in the course of the offensive.

Steel Curtain was part of the larger Operation Sayaid (Hunter), designed to prevent al Qaeda from operating in the Euphrates River Valley and the Al Anbar province, according to the Air Force. US forces also sought to develop a permanent Iraqi Army presence in the Al Qaim region.

Operation Enduring Freedom—Afghanistan

Casualties

By Dec. 1, a total of 250 Americans had died in Operation Enduring Freedom, primarily in and around Afghanistan. The total includes one DOD civilian. Killed in action were 126 troops, and 123 died in nonhostile incidents such as accidents.

A total of 654 troops have been wounded in Enduring Freedom. They include 258 who were able to return to duty in three days and 396 who were not.

Bagram Airfield Gets New Passenger Terminal

Twenty-four engineers from the 1st Expeditionary RED HORSE Group, deployed from Nellis AFB, Nev., are building a new passenger terminal at Bagram AB, Afghanistan.

The new 7,750-square-foot facility will accommodate expanded operations at the base. It will be “better designed for the potential flow of more than 300 people traveling through Afghanistan’s busiest hub at any one time,” said 1st Lt. Megan Leitch, construction project officer.

The new terminal will offer a secure waiting area and will allow administrators to better coordinate flights in and out of the country.

Once the terminal is complete, engineers will begin building a cargo ramp this summer, according to Leitch.

Construction of the $932,000 terminal is scheduled to be completed early this year.

News Notes

  • Retired Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Bush on Nov. 9. Myers received the award—the highest civilian decoration given by the US—for his role in transforming the American military to deal with new threats. Myers became Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff less than a month after the Sept. 11 attacks and headed the armed forces through the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He retired on Oct. 1, 2005.
  • The C-130J, the newest version of the Air Force’s venerable tactical airlifter, did well in combat testing at Little Rock AFB, Ark., last fall. Testers said the aircraft was “outstanding” in the second phase of operational test and evaluation, including combat airdrops.Yet to be completed are 24-hour surge operations and interoperability testing with Army personnel and equipment, then cold weather testing at Eielson AFB, Alaska.
  • Service personnel returning from deployments will get an extra health screening—physical and mental—between three and four months after they get back, according the Defense Department. The Pentagon is recognizing that some health problems resulting from deployment may not be immediately obvious. The screening program starts this month.
  • About 750 pilots and air battle managers have an extra incentive to stay with USAF when their obligations are fulfilled. Eligible pilots can get a $25,000 pretax aviator continuation pay bonus, while air battle managers can qualify for $15,000. The bonuses are not available to navigators this year. Pilots must have at least nine years in the cockpit and meet other eligibility requirements. Air battle managers need to have six years’ experience in the field.
  • Russia will have access to bases in Uzbekistan—and vice versa—under an agreement reached in November. The agreement calls for mutual defense in the event either country is attacked. Uzbekistan recently expelled the US from bases that had been used since 2001 to support operations in Afghanistan. Uzbekistan was unhappy with payments it received from Washington and US criticism of its human rights abuses. (See “Aerospace World: US Out of Uzbekistan,” September 2005, p. 30.)
  • The Air Force is testing a new program that aims to reduce personnel action paperwork by 85 percent. Called Personnel Services Delivery, it allows USAF service members to complete basic personnel actions online. The new system is being tested at McConnell AFB, Kan., through April. Personnel shops also will be reorganizing to streamline the process of career management actions.
  • The 2004 Cheney Award, recognizing an airman for an act of valor or self-sacrifice, has been given to Maj. John M. Groves. An MH-53 Pave Low pilot, Groves circled through enemy fire in April 2004 to retrieve the crew of another MH-53 that had been shot down. Groves, his crew, and two Special Forces soldiers on board his helicopter are credited with saving the lives of the nine troops, in the downed Pave Low, who were under constant enemy fire.
  • The lights went out at the equipment room of Satellite Operations Center-52, Onizuka AFS, Calif., for the last time on Nov. 4. SOC-52 had operated for 36 years, supporting all types of USAF and civil space operations. Its functions transferred to Schriever AFB, Colo., in 2004, to be collocated with similar functions performed by Air Force Space Command. The “blue cube” building, nicknamed for its color and shape, has housed much of the space control effort. It is a landmark on the installation. The station was named for Lt. Col. Ellison Onizuka, an Air Force astronaut who died in the Challenger space shuttle accident in 1986.
  • The Air Force has won a 2005 Green Power Leadership Award. The awards are given to organizations that make a dedicated effort to use renewable sources of energy. The Oct. 24 award cited the fact that both Dyess AFB, Tex., and Fairchild AFB, Wash., receive 100 percent of their electric power from wind or other alternative energy sources. The prize is sponsored by the US Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Energy, and the Center for Resource Solutions.
  • Lockheed Martin received a $98 million contract Nov. 10 for work on the C-5 Avionics Modification Program. The program updates the electronics of the C-5 Galaxy, the largest transport in USAF service. The contract runs through November 2010.
  • Instant Messenger services now allow USAF personnel deployed overseas to have online real-time chats with friends and family back home through the Air Force portal, according to Electronic Systems Center. Originally, the instant messaging function was available only for official business, but has been expanded to boost morale at forward operating locations.
  • A partnership of the Defense Commissary Agency and the Fisher House Foundation will offer at least one $1,500 college scholarship at each of the agency’s 268 commissaries worldwide. Unmarried children under 21 years old—or up to 23 years old if they are enrolled in school—of active duty, Guard, Reserve, or retired military members are eligible. The application process ends Feb. 22. The application can be found on the Internet at www.commissaries.com or www.militaryscholar.org.
  • Oracle Corp. has received an $89 million USAF contract for software that will replace more than 500 Air Force logistics systems now in use. The new software will automate the gathering of logistics data in real-time, simplifying and improving decisions made by commanders at all levels in the logistics chain. The new system is to be in place by December 2011.
  • A Defense Department Web site answering questions about a potential influenza pandemic and avian flu was inaugurated Nov. 7. The site, http://www.deploymentlink.osd.mil, has information on the risk for service members overseas, the military role in dealing with avian flu, and preventive measures.
  • Northrop Grumman received a $60 million Air Force contract on Nov. 7 to start construction on the next five RQ-4B Global Hawk unmanned reconnaissance and surveillance systems. The contract covers long-lead parts and the integrated sensor suites that would be carried on the vehicles. The contract also buys one mission-control and one launch-and-recovery element.Global Hawk can take off, fly, and land autonomously and dwell over an area of interest for up to 24 hours.
  • The Air Force has begun testing a truck powered by a hybrid engine, to save fuel. The vehicle is designated R-11 and has a diesel engine, electric motor, and battery pack to enhance its fuel efficiency. The $1.2 million prototype uses the regenerative braking system to capture kinetic energy—highly effective in stop-and-go operations. The testing is being done at Robins AFB, Ga., and is expected to reduce truck fuel consumption by 20 percent.
  • MITRE Corp. on Nov. 3 received a USAF contract worth $355 million for in house engineering services at Electronic Systems Center, Mass. The contract also supports foreign military sales with Saudi Arabia, France, the UK, and Japan. The work would be completed in October.