USAF Targets 850 Officers
The Air Force plans to hold its first force-shaping board for Fiscal 2008 on March 31. In the crosshairs are some 120 lieutenants in eight specialties. The number changes almost daily as officers opt to take voluntary separation programs.
Late last year, the service identified about 850 officers in the 2005 year group who were serving in “overage” career fields, making them eligible to face the force-shaping board. Exempt from this force-shaping effort are officers in the civil engineer, intelligence, public affairs, and security forces career fields. The option to elect voluntary separation ends on March 20.
Overall, the Air Force has said it expects to cut fewer airmen in 2008, as it moves toward an end strength base of 316,000 by 2009.
C-17 Now Burns Synfuel
The Air Force flew a C-17 airlifter—burning nothing but a blend of synthetic and aviation fuels in its four engines—from Washington state to New Jersey, marking the first such transcontinental flight. Air Force Secretary Michael W. Wynne and a horde of energy and airline officials and others, including Rep. Jim Saxton (R-N.J.), met the aircraft at McGuire AFB, N.J., on Dec. 17.
The Air Force already has certified the synfuel blend for use on the B-52 bomber and expected to complete certification for the C-17 fleet early this year. As the largest military consumer of energy—80 percent of which is aviation fuel—the Air Force plans to pursue the use of a synfuel blend for all its aircraft, achieving certification for “every engine and every airframe” by early 2011 and purchasing 50 percent of its fuel requirement from domestically produced synfuel, according to William C. Anderson, assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations, environment, and logistics. Some have questioned the practicality of switching to a synfuel blend because there’s no ready source, but Anderson said that estimates from the marketplace mark 2016 as “about the time that a robust commercial synthetic fuel market may be in significant growth stage.”
USAF Shifts Mx to Flying Units
The Air Force is moving ahead with its plan to realign aircraft maintainers with the operations units they support, at least for the fighter and combat search and rescue forces. The moves will begin this summer and conclude by November, according to a directive issued in December 2007 by Gen. T. Michael Moseley, Chief of Staff.
Moseley broached the idea publicly last summer, citing the long heritage of partnership between crew chiefs and aircrews. His predecessor combined maintenance and logistics as a means to broaden career possibilities for young officers. Moseley said that he took “inputs … from crew chiefs to commanders” before deciding to reorganize the flying and maintenance squadrons, which he terms the “building block of the Air Force structure.”
Now, fighter and CSAR squadrons will include aircraft maintenance units that support them, while other maintenance units will combine with logistics readiness squadrons and aerial port squadrons to comprise new materiel groups.
Langley F-22s Ready for War
Air Combat Command has declared full operational capability for the F-22A force at Langley AFB, Va.
Gen. John D.W. Corley, ACC commander, determined that the integrated active duty 1st Fighter Wing and Air National Guard 192nd FW at Langley, have “sufficient Raptors, equipment, and trained airmen” to sustain FOC “for many years to come.”
The two units jointly fly and maintain 40 fighters, which are assigned to the 1st FW’s 27th Fighter Squadron and 94th FS. Between the active and Air Guard units, there are 80 trained Raptor pilots.
USAF Seeks New Power Sources
At the request of two senior lawmakers on the Senate Energy Committee, the Air Force has been exploring whether an Air Force base would be “an appropriate host for a nuclear [energy] facility,” according to William C. Anderson, assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations, environment, and logistics and the Air Force’s lead on energy initiatives. Talking with Pentagon reporters in late December, he said that the service is “in the very infancy stages” of considering this request.
The two lawmakers were Sen. Pete V. Domenici (R-N.M.) and Sen. Larry E. Craig (R-Idaho).
USAF officials have met with the Energy Department and talked with technology leaders—most of whom, Anderson said, are foreign “at this point.” They believe the latest technology, something called a “small-packaged nuclear facility,” has potential. This spring, the service plans to gather financiers, developers, and operators together for a discussion. Anderson added, “It’s worth continuing to look at.”
F-22s Intercept Russian Bombers
The new F-22 force at Elmendorf AFB, Alaska, chalked up an operational first when it scrambled to intercept and monitor two Russian Bear-H bombers on Nov. 22.
Officials revealed the intercept in December, noting that the Alaskan NORAD Region launched F-22s assigned to the 90th Fighter Squadron at Elmendorf and tanker and command and control aircraft to identify and monitor the two bombers. Region spokesman Maj. Allen Herritage confirmed also that the mission was the first time F-22s had been called to support a NORAD mission in Alaska since Elmendorf received its first Raptors last August.
The Alaskan NORAD Region conducts air surveillance on all aircraft entering Alaska airspace, utilizing Alaska-stationed F-15Cs, E-3s, KC-135s, and now the F-22. This past summer, Russian President Vladimir V. Putin reactivated regular bomber patrols—a practice that had been dormant since the early 1990s.
Test Proves High Mach Release
The Air Force and Boeing have demonstrated the ability to release munitions from an aircraft weapons bay while the aircraft flies at high supersonic speeds. The program is called High Frequency Excitation Active Flow Control for Supersonic Weapon Release, or HIFEX for short.
Using the High-Speed Test Track at Holloman AFB, N.M., researchers from Boeing Phantom Works and the Air Force Research Lab employed “active flow control” with a rocket sled to test the release of a Mk 82 Joint Direct Attack Munition at Mach 2. The AFRL program manager on the effort, Jim Grove, said this innovative technology “will enable safe separation of weapons from weapons bays of future high-speed aircraft.”
Privatization Oversight Pushed
Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) and Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) have taken the next step in their drive to straighten out a housing privatization mess that has stalled Air Force housing projects at bases in Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, and Massachusetts. They introduced legislation that they hope will ensure “more effective oversight of funding” and require “a more vigorous process in vetting project bidders.”
Pryor, Chambliss, and other Senators sent a letter to Air Force Secretary Michael W. Wynne, expressing their alarm and disappointment at “the level of failure at these four projects [Little Rock, Patrick, Moody, and Hanscom Air Force Bases], all of which have been under work stoppages for months, are years behind schedule, and are tens of millions of dollars over budget.”
Carabetta Enterprises, through subsidiary companies, held the development contracts at the four Air Force bases and stopped work on them in various stages of completion. At Little Rock, the contractor completed only 25 of 468 homes; at Hanscom, 17 of 784; and at Patrick, 163 of 552 homes. At Moody, the project begun in 2004 produced only two of 400 new homes, while the estimated cost of the project exceeded available funding by $25 million.
Questions About Rescue Arise
April 1 is the date set in the 2008 defense policy bill that calls for a report on the search and rescue capabilities available in the northwestern United States. Sen. Maria Cantwell and Sen. Patty Murray—Democrats from Washington—who have been trying to prevent the deactivation of the 36th Rescue Flight at Fairchild AFB, Wash., pushed the requirement through during the conference session late last year.
The primary mission of the 36th RQF is to support the USAF Survival School at Fairchild in training, but it often gets tapped to perform area rescues. In December, for instance, airmen of the 36th rescued a hiker stranded by an avalanche that killed two fellow hikers in the Snoqualmie Pass.
The Senators noted that the unit’s UH-1 helicopters are used to “train thousands of aircrews each year and provide critical search and rescue capabilities for Northwest communities and the nation.”
Is This the Month for Tankers
Sue C. Payton, the Air Force’s acquisition chief, told reporters last fall that the Air Force would delay its decision on the KC-X aerial refueling aircraft program until this month to ensure the process was as thorough as necessary. The competitors, Boeing and the Northrop Grumman/EADS North America team, are vying for a contract to produce the first 179 new tankers in an Air Force plan that would ultimately replace all of the service’s current KC-135 fleet.
The service had hoped to announce the winner earlier, but, Payton said, “There is a price to be paid for openness and transparency.”
She also clarified the KC-X evaluation factors, saying price is not the most important part of the competition. In fact, the Air Force deemed cost/price to be less important than mission capability, proposal risk, or past performance. Because the Air Force has a lot riding on its top acquisition priority, she declared that the service does not want to be bamboozled by unrealistic cost estimates.
Fixing the Re-employment Hassle
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Sen. Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii) have introduced legislation meant to protect employment rights of service members returning from duty in the War on Terror. The measure would impose deadlines on federal agencies to assist vets running into problems and implement efficiency changes recommended by the Government Accountability Office.
Despite a law that supposedly secures employment and re-employment rights, there are continued reports of problems, including reservists who say they face a “military service penalty.”
Last fall, Kennedy released data from a year-old Pentagon survey in which some 11,000 reservists returning from the War on Terror reported problems in getting their jobs back; 22,000 said they had lost seniority; and 20,000 cited pension cuts.
Kennedy, who chairs the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, said the data he pressed the Pentagon to release shows an “even more disturbing” reality: “Veterans who seek help face a Walter Reed-like nightmare … [in which] they have to negotiate a maze of bureaucracy.” Kennedy declared that “it’s no wonder that 77 percent of all veterans say they don’t even bother to seek help when they face re-employment problems.”
War Mobility Hub Moves North
The Air Force said it can save more than $40.3 million a year and shave about 24 hours off cargo movement time by shifting the US center for Southwest Asia-bound cargo shipments from the southeast to the northeast. As a result, the service decided to make Dover AFB, Del., and McGuire AFB, N.J., the primary aerial ports instead of Charleston AFB, S.C.
The action took effect Jan. 1.
DOD was transporting much of the cargo via commercial trucks from northeast supply locations to Charleston, bypassing the closer Dover and McGuire airlift facilities. Charleston, USAF’s premier C-17 base, now will focus on operations in South America and Africa, but it also will continue to ferry Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles to Southwest Asia.
F-16 Tests Boost-Phase Interceptor
The Missile Defense Agency successfully tested an AIM-9X missile modified with the Raytheon-developed Net-Centric Airborne Defense Element, firing it from an F-16 to intercept a boosting rocket used as a target boost-phase missile.
According to MDA, the Dec. 3 test over the White Sands Missile Range, N.M., included a second modified AIM-9X that observed the intercept through its NCADE seeker and “was also on a trajectory to intercept the target.”
Raytheon Missile Systems Vice President Mike Booen said, “This test provides clear evidence that the NCADE seeker is a viable solution against a [short- and medium-range] boosting missile threat.” MDA said that fighters or unmanned aerial vehicles could carry an NCADE-equipped missile where the aircraft could “penetrate to within about 100 miles of the [missile] launch site.”
ANG to Consolidate at Andrews
The Air National Guard leadership broke ground at Andrews AFB, Md., just outside Washington, D.C., on a new $52 million ANG Readiness Center. The Air Guard plans to consolidate personnel from the existing center, also at Andrews, and Air Guard offices that currently exist in Arlington, Va.
Lt. Gen. Craig R. McKinley, ANG director, said the impetus for the new four-story complex was the post 9/11 force protection issue. All nine ANG directorates that oversee operations of Air Guard personnel and units around the world will occupy the new facility, slated to open in September 2011.
B-2 Antenna Progresses
According to Northrop Grumman, the company has completed installation, integration, and initial flight testing of the developmental test units for the B-2’s new radar antenna and has let a Northrop-led team “complete the comprehensive [radar modernization program] interrupted last year by integration issues.”
The Air Force alerted Congress last year to “technical maturity” problems with the new antenna. Northrop B-2 Program Manager Dave Mazur said installation of the test units “is a major milestone” that “demonstrates not only the technical maturity of the highly complex radar itself, but also the ability of the B-2 industry team to identify and resolve technical issues in a positive, collaborative manner.”
The Air Force urgently wants the new antenna to solve the B-2’s spectrum problem. Service officials told Congress that the B-2 was getting kicked out of its spectrum. USAF tried to speed up the radar modernization program because the new equipment would incorporate the frequency change, but the new antenna needed more work.
SMC Issues Dual GPS Contracts
The Space and Missile Systems Center in Los Angeles awarded two contracts, each valued at approximately $160 million, to Northrop Grumman and Raytheon to develop trade studies, requirements definition, and engineering models for the control segment of the next generation Global Positioning System satellites.
Northrop Vice President Steve Bergjans said in a statement that the Northrop-led team would provide “a low-risk solution that will readily evolve to meet the ever-increasing operational demands placed on GPS.” Raytheon’s intelligence and information systems president, Michael Keebaugh, countered that Raytheon is uniquely qualified to deliver “the right control system.”
The potential value to the winning company is more than $1 billion.
Lawmakers expressed concern about the GPS III ground segment last year in deliberations over the 2008 defense policy bill, ultimately removing $100 million from the GPS III budget request.
Nellis Brings in the Heavies
The Air Force Weapons School has conducted its first exercise showing weapons school crews how to meld mobility forces with fighter, space, sensor, and intelligence platforms during combat airdrop operations.
C-130s and C-17s from Little Rock AFB, Ark., and McGuire AFB, N.J., respectively, participated in the Nov. 20 exercise over the Nevada Test and Training Range.
Five months of effort produced an intensive, realistic scenario, including aggressor aircraft “attacking” some 30 airlifters. WPS student and C-17 mission commander Capt. Jaron Roux said it was “the first time we have done something of this magnitude, and there were no big mistakes; I think we did a good job.”
Yokota Deploys C-12
The 459th Airlift Squadron at Yokota AB, Japan, last fall deployed, for the first time, one of its newly acquired C-12J turboprops to the Philippines under Operation Enduring Freedom. The Yokota team flew nearly 265 hours, transporting 552 passengers and more than 57,000 pounds of cargo over the two-month deployment.
Just last summer, the 459th AS traded its C-21 small transport jets for C-12J turboprops in a not quite even swap—four for three. The base had flown the C-21 for 21 years. The Air Force made the switch because the C-12s can haul more and land at some fields inaccessible to the sleek C-21.
Two Receive Airman Medals
The Air Force has awarded the Airman’s Medal to MSgt. Noel Murphy for his actions to help save other military personnel when their helicopter crashed into a lake in Iraq. Murphy is assigned to the explosive ordnance disposal flight of the 96th Civil Engineer Squadron at Eglin AFB, Fla.
During a 2006 deployment to Iraq, Murphy witnessed a Marine Corps helicopter plunge into a lake during an emergency landing attempt, putting 16 personnel in full combat gear in the 300-foot-deep water. Murphy scaled a dam to reach the bank of the lake and dove in to pull people out of the helicopter. He made repeated efforts and, with others, was able to save 12.
The Air Force also awarded an Airman’s Medal to Capt. David Burnett for his actions in June 2007 to save the lives of a mother and two small children trapped in their car after a major traffic accident. Burnett is commander of the 375th Military Personnel Flight at Scott AFB, Ill.
Throttle Cable Faulted in Crash
An accident investigation board has concluded that failure of a throttle cable led to the March 12, 2007 crash of an F-16CJ near the Tonopah Test Range Airfield in Nevada. About 46 minutes into a training flight, the engine remained stuck in full power. Repeated attempts by the pilot to disengage the afterburner failed before the engine flamed out from fuel starvation.
The F-16 was assigned to the USAF Weapons School at Nellis Air Force Base. It crashed about 8:50 p.m. near the end of the runway as it came in to land. The pilot ejected safely.
Trainers Collide, Predators Crash
Two T-6 Texan II training aircraft collided Nov. 28 around 1 p.m. over the Columbus AFB, Miss., auxiliary airfield in Shuqualak. The four airmen ejected safely; the aircraft crashed.
In Iraq, the Air Force lost two MQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicles. One crashed on Dec. 17 at about 1:30 p.m., local time, and the other on Nov. 29 at about 11 a.m., also local time.
Accident investigations were under way on each incident.
Pilot Error Caused Collision
An accident investigation board reviewing the midair collision of an F-15C with an F-16 near Eielson AFB, Alaska, on June 11, 2007 concluded the pilot of the F-15 wasn’t paying attention to his altitude. The two were taking part in a Red Flag Alaska training exercise.
The F-15 pilot from the 1st Fighter Wing at Langley AFB, Va., ejected safely, and his aircraft crashed into a rural area. The F-16 pilot from the 64th Aggressor Squadron at Nellis AFB, Nev., was able to land his fighter, but it sustained about $1 million in damage.
Air Guard To Activate CRG
The Kentucky Air National Guard plans to formally activate the 123rd Contingency Response Group in April. It will be the Air Guard’s first contingency response group.
Kentucky declared its intent in 2006 to create a CRG, a unit designed to establish bare base operations anywhere in the world. The first 56 airmen of the planned 115-strong unit went through 22 days of training at Ft. Dix, N.J., home to the Air Force Expeditionary Center, last year. They learned air base assessment, initial airfield operations, force protection, and convoy and urban operations, among other skills.
Battlefield Airmen Wing Stands Up
Air Combat Command planned to activate late last month the 93rd Air Ground Operations Wing at Moody AFB, Ga. The new wing will oversee ACC’s battlefield airmen—tactical air control party and combat weather—and specialized force protection elements.
The wing will comprise the 3rd Air Support Operations Group at Ft. Hood, Tex., the 18th ASOG at Pope AFB, N.C., and 820th Security Forces Group at Moody. Previously these units got support directly from a numbered Air Force, but ACC expects the new arrangement to make it even easier to standardize training and employment.
Progress on Assault Prevention
According to a new DOD annual report to Congress on sexual harassment and sexual violence at the service academies, all three schools have “made great progress in establishing robust and effective prevention and response programs.” A survey released earlier this year showed that cadets, in general, felt safer than in the past from sexual harassment.
The new 290-page report, which covers the last academic year (from June 2006 through May 2007), addresses reporting procedures and policies implemented since the widely reported problems at the Air Force Academy of several years ago.
|New Aircraft To Appear at Cannon
Cannon AFB, N.M., saw the last assigned Air Combat Command F-16 fly off late last year, making way for Air Force Special Operations Command aircraft. By the end of this month AFSOC plans to have the 73rd Special Operations Squadron fully manned at the base. The unit flies the MC-130W and expects to receive its last of 12 aircraft by 2010.
Col. Tim Leahy, the commander of the 27th Special Operations Wing, said the base has undergone modification and has been constructing new facilities for the AFSOC aircraft, which this summer should include Predator unmanned aerial vehicles. The command’s dedicated UAV squadron—the 3rd SOS—will be picking up and moving down from Creech AFB, Nev.
Part of the construction effort included UAV pads and ground stations for Predator operators, as well as conversion of simulation facilities and squadron operations office space.
And AFSOC plans to house a relatively new and low-profile airframe—the Pilatus PC-12—at Cannon. Leahy said the aircraft were the product of the emphasis placed on special operations forces in the last Quadrennial Defense Review. A more highly militarized version, the U-28A, is currently operated by the 319th Special Operations Squadron at Hurlburt Field, Fla.
AFSOC gained the small U-28 airlifter in August 2005, equipping it with advanced communications and navigation gear and various classified capabilities to provide specialized intratheater support to special ops forces.
—Marc V. Schanz
|Pentagon Identifies Missing Airmen From Past Wars
The DOD POW/Missing Personnel Office in December released the names of several newly identified airmen, following extensive investigations of remains from airmen missing from the wars in Korea and Vietnam.
Maj. Perry H. Jefferson of Denver was an aerial observer aboard an O-1 Bird Dog on a mission over Vietnam on April 3, 1969 when contact was lost with the aircraft. A three-day search and rescue effort failed to locate a crash site before hostile action shut down the search. Remains turned over in 1984 were identified in 2000 as those of the Bird Dog’s Army pilot, 1st Lt. Arthur G. Ecklund. Another Vietnamese individual in 2001 turned over the remains that DPMO ultimately identified as Jefferson’s.
Maj. Robert F. Woods of Salt Lake City and Capt. Johnnie C. Cornelius of Maricopa County, Ariz., were declared missing during the Vietnam War, when their O-2A aircraft crashed during a reconnaissance mission on June 26, 1968 in a remote mountainous area over Quang Binh Province. Interviews in 2006 led officials to two graves that were excavated last year. DNA and dental comparisons helped identify the remains.
Col. Douglas H. Hatfield of Shenandoah, Va., and Capt. Richard H. Simpson of Fairhaven, Mich., were two of 11 crew members on a B-29 flying from Kadena AB, Japan, on an April 12, 1951 mission over North Korea. The bomber crashed following a strike by MiG-15s. Of the 11, one died in captivity and two were repatriated. In 1993, North Korea turned over 31 boxes of remains of US servicemen. In 2000, a joint excavation recovered additional remains, including those subsequently identified as Hatfield’s and Simpson’s.
|Special Operations Command Remakes Melrose Range
Just a few months after the base transitioned to Air Force Special Operations Command, air commando officials at Cannon AFB, N.M., were prepared to ramp up training at one of the facility’s key assets—the nearby Melrose Bombing and Gunnery Range. One of the big reasons why AFSOC decided to open their western base of operations in the High Plains of eastern New Mexico is the sheer space the range has to offer—about 60,000 acres. Some 8,800 acres are dedicated impact areas for day or night gunnery and bombing practice.
AFSOC expects by April to unleash its AC-130 gunships on the range as regular patrons. Lt. Col. Toby Corey, director of operations for the 27th Special Operations Support Squadron, said Cannon planned to open two dedicated gunship impact training areas this spring. The two areas—named “Spirit” and “Jockey” in honor of two gunships lost in Gulf War I and Operation Restore Hope, respectively—will be filled with about 26 targets. During his final flight before retiring as AFSOC commander, Lt. Gen. Michael W. Wooley helped demonstrate the “proof of concept” for the two areas by flying the AC-130 that shot the first live rounds.
Since the air commandos will have priority use on the range space, Corey said that AFSOC plans to begin regular temporary duty training rotations with gunship crews and will soon include training with special tactics airmen.
Corey said Cannon also would host special tactics training from AFSOC units based at Hurlburt Field, Fla. The 27th Special Operations Wing plans to work closely with the nearby 58th Special Operations Wing at Kirtland AFB, N.M. The 58th SOW, an Air Education and Training Command unit, is the schoolhouse for AFSOC’s helicopter and MC-130 crews and has picked up the training role for the new CV-22.
—Marc V. Schanz
|The War on Terrorism
Operation Iraqi Freedom—Iraq
By Jan. 17, a total of 3,923 Americans had died in Operation Iraqi Freedom. The total includes 3,915 troops and eight Department of Defense civilians. Of these deaths, 3,191 were killed in action with the enemy while 732 died in noncombat incidents.
There have been 28,938 troops wounded in action during Operation Iraqi Freedom. This number includes 15,996 who were wounded and returned to duty within 72 hours and 12,942 who were unable to return to duty quickly.
F-16 Destroys Explosive-Wired House
Soldiers with the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division conducting a foot patrol in the area of Maderiyah, Iraq, on Nov. 25 discovered an abandoned house with copper wires coming out of the windows—indicating the building was rigged with explosives.
Citizens in the area confirmed the house was abandoned and an explosive ordnance team was called. The team saw that the copper wires were attached to blasting caps on jugs filled with homemade explosives.
The team determined that approaching the house to destroy the bombs would be too risky so the area was cleared. An F-16 dropped a GBU-38 on the house, destroying it and the explosives.
Operation Enduring Freedom—Afghanistan
By Jan. 12, a total of 476 Americans had died in Operation Enduring Freedom. The total includes 475 troops and one Department of Defense civilian. Of these deaths, 283 were killed in action with the enemy while 193 died in noncombat incidents.
There have been 1,855 troops wounded in action during OEF. This number includes 725 who were wounded and returned to duty within 72 hours and 1,130 who were unable to return to duty quickly.
Strike Eagles Take Out Taliban Weapons Smuggler
US Air Force F-15Es on Dec. 7 and 9 conducted precision strikes against Taliban leadership and weapons smugglers, who were known for equipping various enemy forces with assorted weaponry including explosives and even anti-aircraft weapons. Reports indicated one of the individuals was linked with attacks on coalition forces aircraft as well.
On Dec. 7, coalition aircraft conducted a precision strike against a Taliban commander responsible for attacks on Afghan and coalition forces in several surrounding districts of Musa Qala. Strike Eagles were called in to target a building on a compound in the district containing several militants and the Taliban commander. The F-15Es dropped a GBU-31 and GBU-38s on the compound, destroying the building and killing the militants. Multiple secondary explosions were also reported—indicating a sizable weapons cache.
On Dec. 9, coalition forces targeted a building in the Musa Qala district of Helmand Province that contained several Taliban-affiliated militants, including the smuggler who was transporting weaponry. Air Force F-15Es were called in and employed GBU-38s and cannon rounds on the compound, destroying the building and killing several militants. The on-scene joint terminal attack controller confirmed the mission a success as the enemy activity ended.
Air Force EOD Team Defuses Bombs at School
A team of Air Force explosive ordnance disposal technicians helped disarm two bombs at an Afghan girls’ school on Nov. 29, after guards discovered grenades, mortar, and recoilless rifle rounds nearby.
When the team first arrived at the Poorak Girls School in Afghanistan’s Logar Province, team leader TSgt. Michael Laskowski initially found a bomb underneath a footbridge in front of the school. The bomb comprised two 82 mm mortars, a recoilless rifle round, and a pound of explosives placed in a bag and wired with batteries. The team later discovered a hand grenade rigged to explode under the guard building at the school’s entrance.
After collecting the explosives with other munitions in the area, the team detonated them at a site about 15 miles away from the town.
- On Nov. 30, Gen. Paul V. Hester relinquished command of Pacific Air Forces to Gen. Carrol H. Chandler. Hester formally retired from the Air Force last month after some 36 years of service. Chandler, a 1974 Air Force Academy graduate, last served as USAF’s deputy chief of staff for operations, plans, and requirements.
- Air Force Gen. Lance L. Smith turned over leadership of Joint Forces Command and NATO’s Allied Command Transformation to Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mattis. Smith retired last month after 38 years of service.
- Air Force Research Lab’s Human Effectiveness Directorate plans to measure 3,000 current aircrew members for the first large-scale anthropometric survey it has conducted on USAF fliers in about 40 years. Now, though, the researchers will be employing techniques that include three-dimensional whole-body scanners instead of just tape measures.
- Air Force Space Command deactivated the Air Force Space Battlelab at Schriever AFB, Colo., after 10 years of operation. The space battlelab, as with the seven other Air Force battlelabs, fell prey to the service’s money woes.
- The Mississippi Air National Guard’s 172nd Airlift Wing has named one of its C-17s Spirit of the Purple Heart, recognizing the US military’s oldest decoration. The airlifter, which in 2006 flew the one-millionth-hour mission for the C-17 fleet, now has a Purple Heart medal painted above its passenger door.
- The government of India has decided to send elements of its air force to Nevada in August to participate in Red Flag. The US extended an invitation to the Indian Air Force in 2006.
- Boeing selected Raytheon’s active electronically scanned array radar to upgrade USAF’s F-15E Strike Eagles, beginning this year. The service already is upgrading F-15C models with Raytheon’s AESA radar.
- A United Launch Alliance Delta IV heavy lift expendable launch vehicle boosted the last Defense Support Program satellite into orbit Nov. 10.
- Maj. Bradley Downs and Maj. Daniel Roesch received the Cheney Award for their actions providing close air support to coalition ground forces in Afghanistan. Both serve as aircrew on Air Force Special Operations Command MC-130H Combat Talon II aircraft.
- The 460th Space Wing, headquartered at Buckley AFB, Colo., activated the 11th Space Warning Squadron at Schriever AFB, Colo. The new unit, which replaces Det. 1 of the 460th Space Operations Group, will operate the new Space Based Infrared System satellite payload.
- The Arnold Engineering Development Center in Tennessee has dedicated an F-4C Phantom it has on static display to two airmen who flew with the 555th Tactical Fighter Squadron during the Vietnam War. They are: Col. Lawrence Golberg and Maj. Patrick Wynne, the brother of Air Force Secretary Michael W. Wynne. Golberg and Patrick Wynne were killed on an Aug. 8, 1966 reconnaissance mission.