JSF Competition Narrows
The Department of Defense selected two industrial teams, led by Boeing and Lockheed Martin, to develop Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) flying demonstrators. The November 16 announcement eliminated the McDonnell Douglas/Northrop Grumman/British Aerospace contractor team from the high-stakes fighter competition.
The JSF program is expected to produce a family of aircraft that will replace, at a minimum, USAF’s F-16 and A-10, the Navy’s A-6E, the Marine Corps’s AV-8B and F/A-18C/D, and the British Royal Navy’s Sea Harrier. The new aircraft might also be chosen to replace the Air Force’s F-111, F-117, and F-15E fighters.
This phase of the JSF program is valued at $2.2 billion and includes propulsion efforts. Boeing received nearly $662 million and Lockheed Martin about $719 million. Each contractor team will build two concept demonstrators, expected to fly in 2001. After that, DoD will select a winner.
The winner ultimately could reap as much as $170 billion from the next-generation fighter program. Plans now call for the contractor to build some 3,000 of the jets for the US Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps and Britain’s Royal Navy. With additional export sales, that number could go even higher.
Teams Offer “Best Value”
In the wake of the long-awaited JSF decision, DoD officials declined to provide specifics of the source selection process but did state that the Boeing and Lockheed Martin teams offered “best value.”
Best value, they said, included affordability, management, and technical approach.
Although Boeing has not built a production fighter aircraft since the 1930s, a senior Air Force official cited the Washington aerospace giant’s expertise in building the wings and rear fuselage for USAF’s F-22 and the company’s significant contribution to Lockheed Martin’s win of the F-22 contract.
“We saw . . . a lot of confidence [that Boeing] could, indeed, provide all of the services with the products we need to meet our operational requirements,” the USAF official said.
However, defense officials also encouraged possible collaboration by McDonnell Douglas or other US and UK firms who might want to work with the two winners on what they termed an “extremely challenging” JSF program.
Not Your Father’s Joint Aircraft
The Joint Strike Fighter will trim normal aircraft development costs by about $18 billion and 20-year life-cycle costs by about $60 billion, estimated DoD’s top acquisition official, Dr. Paul G. Kaminski. He compared the cost savings on the triservice program to separate-service stand-alone aircraft efforts.
The savings will come from a flexible manufacturing approach and the use of common subsystems to gain economies of scale, as well as procurement of commercial high-end parts. Dr. Kaminski declared this to be a truly new way of doing business, emphasizing that the Pentagon would not stage a repeat of its last “common” aircraft program. The Tactical Fighter, Experimental, led to the Air Force F-111 but failed to produce an aircraft acceptable to the Navy.
“It’s nothing like the approach that we took on the old TFX program way back in the 1960s,” he said. “We will be building three different designs here, not a single design.”
Produced in common will be the key high-cost components—engines, avionics, and many high-cost structural components. Advances in the requirements process—using modeling and simulation to conduct trade studies—and advances in design tools and manufacturing have facilitated considerable progress in the way that the Pentagon now designs and builds aircraft.
“Rather than force-fitting a common aircraft designed to different requirements, the JSF concept . . . is to build three highly common aircraft variants on the same production line using flexible manufacturing technology,” Dr. Kaminski told reporters on November 16.
Boeing Team Nets Laser Craft
The Air Force awarded a $1.1 billion contract on November 12 to Boeing, which is teamed with Lockheed Martin and TRW to produce a prototype Airborne Laser (ABL) attack aircraft, now designated the YAL-1A.
The ABL system, installed on a commercial 747-400F airframe, will employ a high-energy laser to destroy theater ballistic missiles while they are in their boost phase, still over enemy territory. The Boeing team has until the fall of 2002 to deliver the ABL prototype and prove its capability by destroying a boosting theater ballistic missile.
This award culminates a two-year concept-definition phase, which included the Boeing team and a team led by Rockwell International. Despite earlier skepticism, DoD now classifies the revolutionary laser weapon system as a major defense acquisition program.
TRW, which built the world’s first high-energy chemical laser in 1973 for DoD, will develop the chemical oxygen-iodine laser. Lockheed Martin is in charge of target acquisition and laser-beam adaptive optics. Boeing will manage systems integration, aircraft modifications, and the development of battle-management systems.
Following successful completion of this phase, USAF plans to award a follow-on contract for about $4.5 billion for a fleet of seven ABL aircraft. The first three would be due by 2006.
During a conflict, two ABL aircraft would circle at about 40,000 feet over friendly territory around the clock. They would detect, acquire, then shoot any enemy-launched theater ballistic missiles while the missiles are still over enemy territory.
Col. Richard D. Tebay, system program director at Phillips Laboratory, Kirtland AFB, N. M., said that each ABL would be capable of firing about 30 “shots” at a cost of about $1,000 per shot. He said the range will be several hundred kilometers, depending on weather conditions. The ABL needs only five seconds to “kill” its target and has a 40- to 100-second window of opportunity.
In praising the ABL program, the head of the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization, Lt. Gen. Lester L. Lyles, called it the “missing link in the joint architecture” for theater missile defense.
HARM Shots Validated
Air Force F-16s patrolling the airspace over southern Iraq on November 2 and November 4 launched AGM-88C High-Speed Antiradiation Missiles at Iraqi radar sites, the Pentagon said.
According to a statement issued by the Pentagon on November 8, DoD’s review of the two November HARM launches confirmed that both F-16CJ aircraft had been illuminated by the Iraqi radars.
“The [Joint Staff] assessment team also found the performance of the pilots to be highly professional and that they operated properly under the rules of engagement,” stated the Pentagon.
Pilots flying missions under Operation Southern Watch’s ROE may attack any radar site illuminating their aircraft in a threatening way. Both aircraft, assigned to the 4404th Composite Wing (Provisional) at Prince Sultan AB, Saudi Arabia, returned to base safely following the incidents.
Pentagon officials stated on November 3 that early analysis of the first incident “did not support initial indications of radar activity.”
The next day, Defense Secretary William J. Perry ordered the Joint Staff to investigate both incidents to find out if Iraqi radar did, in fact, target the USAF aircraft or if the F-16 on-board instruments gave a faulty reading.
Sexual Harassment Stopping
On November 14, the Air Force training commander at Lackland AFB, Tex., told reporters that the service had disciplined eight male instructors during the past three years in sexual harassment cases involving new recruits.
The announcement came a day after Defense Secretary Perry asked each service secretary to report on their programs for preventing sexual harassment in light of allegations made by the Army against several of its trainers at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.
Brig. Gen. Robert J. Courter, Jr., 37th Training Wing commander, said the offenses at Lackland had ranged from making unwanted sexual advances to having consensual sex with trainees. He stated that all the instructors had been removed from training posts. Two were removed from the service—one after serving time in prison. The other six were given Article 15s and reduced in rank.
General Courter said such incidents will occur, despite USAF prevention programs, but added that the service takes immediate action whenever they take place.
Secretary Perry asked for reports by the middle of this month on “how each service communicates the department’s resolve not to tolerate sexual harassment or unprofessional relationships,” according to a Pentagon spokesman.
The Air Force issued a statement on November 14 reminding military and civilian members that it has established a toll-free number for reporting sexual harassment or other improper behavior: (800) 558-1404. This Air Force Personnel Center line at Randolph AFB, Tex., is manned during normal duty hours in the Central Standard Time zone.
The service stressed its “zero tolerance” standard for sexual harassment and discrimination. The statement also suggested using local chains of command and social action offices to report misconduct.
USAF Sets Up in Africa
Even in the midst of daily planning changes for multinational relief efforts to Rwanda and Zaire, Air Mobility Command forces were among the first on the scene. Two C-17s, one C-5, one C-141, and one KC-10 headed to Europe on November 14 prior to heading for Africa.
The aircraft carried Tanker Airlift Control Elements (TALCEs) to set up self-supporting airlift operations in Africa, as well as additional aircrews to sustain around-the-clock operations.
In response to questions on November 19, Secretary Perry stated that current thinking put the US contribution for the effort at fewer than 1,000 troops, mainly support and logistics, rather than combat personnel. Initial planning had estimated the need for about 4,000 US troops.
Secretary Perry said that while deliberations with other participants continued, a small US force of fewer than 100—a survey group—would remain in Kigali, Rwanda. He added that the US had also deployed three TALCEs at airfields in Kigali; Mombasa, Kenya (since redeployed); and Entebbe, Uganda. “These actions also provide the basis for a larger mission, should that become necessary,” he added, emphasizing that the situation was fluid.
Gulf War Illness Probed
Continuing to take heat on its handling of the Persian Gulf War illness controversy, the Pentagon announced at a press briefing November 12 that it would initiate additional measures to “leave no stone unturned” in looking for the causes of the reported illnesses.
Deputy Defense Secretary John P. White announced that the team would work under a new office, the Special Assistant for Gulf War Illnesses, headed by Dr. Bernard D. Rostker, assistant secretary of the Navy (Manpower and Reserve Affairs).
Dr. Rostker also led the action team created September 25 to reassess the Pentagon’s efforts in dealing with Gulf War illnesses amid revelations of possible chemical weapons exposure to US troops. [See “Hot Seat: Gulf War Illness,” December 1996 “Aerospace World,” p. 11.] The department’s investigative team will be expanded from 12 to 110 and the budget increased from about $2 million to $12 million, Dr. Rostker said.
Secretary White also pledged to “continue to monitor our efforts and the resources that we have committed, and if they are not sufficient, we will increase them.”
He said that the department continues to “aggressively” investigate the March 1991 chemical weapons destruction at Khamisiyah, Iraq, and other, lesser incidents. Earlier, the Pentagon had focused on the illnesses themselves, treating patients rather than operational details from the Gulf War.
Secretary Rostker noted that the new members of the investigative staff will be “mainly people with backgrounds in operations, intelligence”—contractors with experience in the Persian Gulf area and the necessary security clearances.
Currently, the Army Inspector General is investigating events surrounding Khamisiyah. Secretary White also stated that he had asked the assistant to the secretary of defense (Intelligence Oversight) to investigate why intelligence information about the chemical weapons destruction provided to the department in 1991 did not resurface until 1995. It eventually led to the revelations about Khamisiyah.
That “dropped ball” created renewed calls for an independent investigation. However, the Pentagon maintains that it is the only agency that can effectively investigate the “millions of pages of documents” related to the Gulf War. Secretary White affirmed that DoD welcomes public oversight in this matter.
No Unexpected Hospitalizations
According to new research studies comparing hospitalizations and mortality rates of 1.1 million veterans, those veterans who served in the Gulf War are not being hospitalized or dying any more frequently than veterans of the same era who did not deploy.
The New England Journal of Medicine published two papers covering the research on November 14.
For the studies, scientists from DoD, the University of California, San Diego, and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) screened 487,549 hospitalizations, according to a Pentagon statement. They found that the 547,076 Gulf War veterans did not have any unexpected increase in hospitalizations compared to their 618,333 nondeployed peers from the same period.
This research provides some of the first large-scale studies to compare health outcomes among Gulf War veterans with appropriate comparison groups of other active-duty personnel, stated Navy Capt. Greg Gray, an epidemiologist at the Naval Health Research Center in San Diego, Calif.
However, in an interview with the New York Times, Captain Gray revealed that his study only looked at military hospitals and covered just the 25 months following the Gulf War. He told the Times that scientific advisors for the study felt that that time period would capture the most important illnesses. Many veterans have said that their illnesses did not show up until after 1993, at least two years after the war.
Additionally, the Baltimore Sun revealed that the VA study only included veterans treated at VA hospitals. A VA official told the Sun that the VA is working to include veterans treated by private doctors or clinics in its computer database but maintained that the comparative research for the mortality study was sound.
Captain Gray’s group and others are performing numerous studies. In particular, Captain Gray noted that his team will compare hospitalizations among veterans who may have been exposed to chemical weapons at Khamisiyah.
F-15 Mechanic Discharged
TSgt. William T. Campbell, an aircraft maintenance technician charged with dereliction of duty and negligent homicide, requested an administrative separation rather than face a court-martial.
The convening authority, Maj. Gen. Tad J. Oelstrom, 3d Air Force commander, accepted the Sergeant’s request on November 13.
Sergeant Campbell had been charged following the death of Maj. Donald G. Lowry, Jr., whose F-15C crashed May 30, 1995. The subsequent accident investigation found that maintenance personnel had improperly installed two flight-control rods on the aircraft.
TSgt. Thomas P. Mueller—who died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on October 3—was also charged and would have stood trial with Sergeant Campbell. Both were members of the 52d Equipment Maintenance Squadron, Spangdahlem AB, Germany.
According to a USAF statement, General Oelstrom concluded that justice and the interests of the Air Force would best be served by accepting the request for administrative discharge and bringing the case to a conclusion.
The Air Force initially charged the mechanics on October 10, 1995, then conducted an Article 32 investigation to determine whether to proceed with a trial. [See “F-15 Mechanics Stand Trial,” May 1996 “Aerospace World,” p. 30.]
Lockheed Martin Wins SBIR System
The Air Force selected the Lockheed Martin team on November 8 to complete the $1.6 billion “high” segment of its Spacebased Infrared (SBIR) system satellite program. The program consists of high and low satellite segments designed to replace the Defense Support Program satellites used for missile warning.
Lockheed Martin and team members Aerojet, Honeywell, and Northrop Grumman will develop and deliver seven SBIR system high satellites and a ground system. USAF expects the contract to be completed by September 2006.
Lockheed Martin is also teamed with Rockwell International, who announced its selection for a $179 million demonstration contract for SBIR system low satellites. Rockwell will build the satellite sensors and Lockheed Martin the spacecraft body and launch vehicle.
Recruiting Hangs Tough
DoD reported that during the past five years, armed forces recruiting efforts produced “the right quantity and quality of new recruits.” In Fiscal 1996, the services recruited 180,192 first-time enlistees and 5,795 individuals with previous service.
Frederick F. Y. Pang, assistant secretary of defense for Force Management Policy, noted that the services had successfully overcome the stigma of the drawdown years, during which many young people believed the military was not hiring. “Fortunately, Congress provided the necessary resources for increased advertising, and we were able to counter those negative perceptions and improve youth awareness about the opportunities and benefits of military service.”
The number of recruits who scored above average on the Armed Forces Qualification Test dropped by two points from last fiscal year. Only 69 percent of Fiscal 1996 recruits scored above average on the AFQT, compared to 71 percent in Fiscal 1995.
However, Pentagon officials pointed out that 69 percent still surpasses the quality benchmark of 60 percent.
Recruits surpassed the other quality benchmark—the number of first-time enlistees with high school diplomas—at 96 percent for Fiscal 1996. The benchmark is set at 90 percent.
F-22 Iron Bird “Flies”
It is not set to fly before May, but many of the systems for USAF’s new air-superiority fighter, the F-22, will already have faced simulated flight conditions via the “Iron Bird,” or Vehicle System Simulator.
The VSS, a unique test facility located at Lockheed Martin Tactical Aircraft Systems in Fort Worth, Tex., provides the ability to test flight-critical systems before the first aircraft actually flies. The F-22’s hydraulic and electrical systems and all of their associated hardware and control software will be tested via the VSS.
The Iron Bird does not look like a real F-22 but matches hardware to be found in the actual fighter. “The locations of actuators, pumps, [and] electrical systems are relative to the real aircraft within inches,” said Gil Potter, who runs the VSS lab. “The layout of the plumbing accurately matches all the twists and bends associated with the routing of hydraulic tubes in an actual F-22.” He added that such fidelity is critical to valid testing.
The facility helps cut the cost of the flight-test program for the developmental aircraft. It can also handle tests considered “too dangerous to attempt on a flying airplane, such as dual engine flameouts and flight-control actuator failures,” stated company officials.
Most Potent ICBM Reaches 10
America’s most accurate and powerful intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM)—the LGM-118A Peacekeeper—passed the 10-year mark of alert duty on October 10. Still known to many as MX, its development label, the Peacekeeper’s future is uncertain.
Under terms of the still-unratified Strategic Arms Reduction Talks II Treaty, the United States would eliminate all 50 of the 10-warhead ICBMs over a period of years. The US Senate has ratified START II, but Russia’s lower house, the Duma, has not.
The US Air Force has already made plans to dismantle its Peacekeeper force, located near F. E. Warren AFB, Wyo. START II would eliminate all multiple warhead ICBMs.
Despite its relatively short history, many see the Peacekeeper as a central player in the end of the Cold War. “I think the Peacekeeper was incredibly important in our efforts to get our former adversary to agree with us in the need for reducing reliance upon nuclear weapons,” said Brig. Gen. Gerald F. Perryman, Jr., Air Force Space Command director of Operations and former commander of the first Peacekeeper squadron, the 400th Missile Squadron.
“It showed the Soviets we would match their modernization efforts and that they could not gain an advantage on the United States,” he added.
The current 400th MS commander, Lt. Col. Barry D. Kistler, emphasized that a threat remains. “The mission has actually changed very little,” he said. “As the ultimate evolution of the ICBM, the Peacekeeper is still ideally suited to the task of holding hardened, strategic targets at risk. This is still our job.”
Colonel Kistler added that everyone hopes the Russians do ratify START II and “put us out of a job.” That would prove the Peacekeeper and its missileers “had been successful in keeping us out of nuclear war.”
B-2 Pilots Test Endurance
The Air Force began preparing its B-2 crews at Whiteman AFB, Mo., for flights of 24 hours or more by testing their endurance in simulators. The first endurance test, conducted in October, lasted 34 hours. The second, in November, ran for 38 hours.
During the tests, the crew members had electrodes and wires attached to their heads and chests. “Equipment measured sleep-wake patterns to learn if the pilot and mission commander were performing at peak performance during critical parts of the mission,” said Capt. Steve Armstrong, a B-2 human factors test team engineer at Whiteman.
Experts from Armstrong Laboratory, at Brooks AFB, Tex., and Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, monitored the tests. They checked for eye movement and work-load activities, as well as pilot performance, reactions to unexpected events, vigilance, and sleep patterns.
Captain Armstrong noted that the first endurance mission is most difficult because pilots need to learn coping skills. He said the pilots completed the missions successfully.
One of the first crew members to be tested, Capt. Tony Monetti, who flew B-52s in the Persian Gulf War, thought it would be no “big deal” initially. “I learned the importance of listening to the experts,” he said. He added that he followed their recommended sleep schedules and diets. “It worked. I was surprisingly refreshed after each ‘power’ nap.”
Two E-8C Joint Surveillance and Target Attack Radar System aircraft from the 93d Air Control Wing, Robins AFB, Ga., deployed to Rhein-Main AB, Germany, in November to monitor the withdrawal of Operation Joint Endeavor forces from Bosnia-Hercegovina. This is the first operational deployment for Joint STARS aircraft, although they flew more than 150 operational missions during Operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm, and Joint Endeavor as part of their operational test and evaluation.
The 488th Intelligence Squadron and 95th Reconnaissance Squadron, RAF Mildenhall, UK, completed their 1,000th Rivet Joint mission on October 17. To accomplish that feat over a four-year period, the units flew 9,140 hours in 1,588 days—averaging 9.2 hours per sortie. Working with the Mildenhall units on the missions were the pilots of the 38th RS and electronic warfare officers of the 343d RS from Offutt AFB, Neb.
Since the first US C-130 landed at Tuzla, Bosnia, in December 1995, members of the 4100th Air Base Group (Provisional) have “controlled, marshaled, unloaded, and loaded” more than 2,000 C-130s for Operation Joint Endeavor. A USAF release reported that the 2,000th C-130 arrived on October 21.
Air Education and Training Command and the Air Force Reserve have created two associate flights of instructor pilots. The first-of-their-kind reserve flights, to be located at Columbus AFB, Miss., and Vance AFB, Okla., will each have 25 fighter pilots and one enlisted administrator. AETC has set up a similar program with the Air National Guard, in which ANG has agreed to provide 44 fighter pilots to serve as IPs.
McDonnell Douglas delivered the twenty-seventh production C-17 airlifter to the Air Force on November 5.
Living legend John L. Levitow visited Lackland AFB, Tex., on November 8 to speak at a ceremony dedicating the 737th Training Group headquarters building in his name. During the Vietnam War as an airman first class loadmaster on an AC-47, he became the lowest-ranking airman in history to earn the Medal of Honor.
The Department of Veterans Affairs is now answering questions electronically on its customer service page on the Internet. To ask a question, scroll down to the bottom of the VA home page (http://www.va.gov/) and click on the button labeled “Putting Customers First.” Below a set of “Frequently Asked Questions” are e-mail and information links for everything from home loans to medical matters, including a separate link for Persian Gulf War illness.
The Defense Prisoner of War/Missing in Action (POW/MIA) Office has changed its name to Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office. The change, according to a DPMO statement, reflects increased responsibilities—the addition of personnel recovery to its previous mission of missing personnel accounting—under Fiscal 1996 legislation.
Air Force officials activated the 394th Combat Training Squadron at Whiteman AFB, Mo., on November 6 to provide B-2-qualified pilots for Whiteman’s 393d Bomb Squadron. The new unit’s B-2 instructor pilots will not only train other B-2 pilots but also fill in with the 393d BS if needed during contingencies.
Defense Secretary Perry recognized Schneider National, a transportation company based in Green Bay, Wis., for its outstanding support as an employer of National Guard and Reserve members with the first Employer Support Freedom Award on November 4. Regional awards went to McDonnell Douglas, Saint Louis, Mo.; National Life, Montpelier, Vt.; Tektronix, Inc., Wilsonville, Ore.; and United Parcel Service, Orlando, Fla.
USAF selected 621 of 3,198 eligible senior master sergeants for promotion to chief master sergeant for an overall rate of 19.42 percent—the highest chief master sergeant promotion rate in the 1990s.
The American Medical Association selected Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Edgar R. Anderson, Jr., USAF (Ret.), former USAF surgeon general, as the 1996 recipient of the Dr. Nathan Davis Award in the category of Executive Branch Member in Career Public Service. The Air Force Association nominated the General for the award, which recognizes outstanding public service to advance the public health.
Five airmen were among the first to earn Russian Federation Ministry of Defense Medals for their efforts in “strengthening military cooperation between nations.” Lt. Cols. Phil Bray and Ronald Parkhouse and TSgt. Scott Tompkins, all from the Alaska ANG; Lt. Col. David Bernacki, Alaskan Command, Elmendorf AFB, Alaska; and SrA. Vito Gurevich, Massachusetts ANG, received the medals in September during Arctic Sarex, a combined search-and-rescue exercise with Russia and Canada.
Navy and Air Force cooks are combining training. The first members of the Navy’s Mess Management Specialist School began training at Lackland AFB, Tex., on October 28. Under base closure actions, the Navy school transferred from San Diego, Calif., to Lackland, where within two years it will combine with Air Force food service training. Once its new facilities are completed, the combined school expects to train 1,300 mess specialists annually.
Freddie Beason, USAF’s top consultant on facility energy conservation, received a 1996 Federal Energy and Water Management Award. He is the Air Force Facility Energy Program manager at the Civil Engineer Support Agency at Tyndall AFB, Fla.
By coordinating US Coast Guard and Navy aircraft on October 16, the 24th Wing’s Joint Rescue Coordination Center at Howard AFB, Panama, helped save four people who had been drifting for six days in the Caribbean Sea.
Another joint Navy and Air Force mission on October 24, flown by USAF’s 56th Rescue Squadron and Navy Patrol Squadron 26, both in Iceland, airlifted a Japanese seaman, who was suffering from internal bleeding and gastric ulcers, from the Shinmei Maru, which was drifting hundreds of miles south of Iceland.
Wilford Hall USAF Medical Center, Lackland AFB, Tex., sent 25 medical personnel and the 24th Medical Group, at Howard AFB, Panama, sent six aeromedical technicians as part of a US burn trauma assistance mission to Ecuador following the October 22 crash of a US-based Million Air 707 commercial aircraft.