Gen. John W. Handy, Air Mobility Command chief, on Feb. 10 grounded 30 C-130Es. At the same time, another 60 C-130s were placed on restricted flight status “to minimize wing stress and increase the safety margin,” AMC officials said.
The aircraft were grounded “based upon a recommendation by the C-130 System Program Office at Robins AFB, Ga.,” officials explained in an Air Force news release.
Since 2001, inspections of the center wing box have found cracks that are deeper and more severe than expected, creating a safety concern.
Most of the affected aircraft, which include E, H, and HC-130N/P models, belong to Air Mobility Command, but three other major commands, Air National Guard, and Air Force Reserve Command also own transports that were put under flight restrictions.
Airman Dies During Rescue
Air Force SSgt. Ray Rangel, 29, died Feb. 13 while attempting to rescue US troops from a canal in Balad, Iraq. He was one of four US troops to die in the incident in which an Army Humvee on a combat patrol near Balad Air Base overturned into the canal.
Rangel was a firefighter deployed with the 732nd Expeditionary Civil Engineering Squadron. He was permanently assigned to the 7th Civil Engineering Squadron, Dyess AFB, Tex.
Officials said the incident is still under investigation. However, according to an account in the Washington Post, Rangel was wearing body armor when he rushed down the canal’s embankment to assist in the rescue operation and may have lost his grip and fell into the frigid water. The Post reported that two other USAF firefighters in the rescue party had been trapped in the canal but were pulled to safety.
Expeditionary Jobs Rejected
The Air Force has decided not to offer expeditionary specialties for airmen in career fields that typically do not deploy. Viewed initially as a means to increase the service’s pool of airmen eligible for the 10 air and space expeditionary forces (AEFs), there “turned out to be not a lot of water in the well,” said Lt. Gen. Ronald E. Keys, deputy chief of staff for air and space operations.
The idea, first discussed by Keys last September, was conceived as a way to get missileers, scientists, and others who wanted to deploy into the AEF system. (See box, p. 74, in “Airpower and ‘The Long War,’?” November 2004, p. 70.) New Air Force specialty codes were seen as a possibility—airmen could train for secondary skills needed in deployed locations. But the limited payback was ultimately deemed not worth the effort.
The Air Force will continue to look for ways to deploy additional personnel, even if a direct correlation to their primary AFSC doesn’t exist, Keys told Air Force Magazine. Some Air Force Academy professors have already done tours in Iraq, he noted.
USAF Extends Tours for 200 Slots
Air Force officials in February announced that about 200 USAF positions in the US Central Command area of responsibility will become 365-day extended deployments rather than continue as standard 120-day air and space expeditionary force assignments.
The longer deployments are necessary because CENTCOM’s joint task force commanders need greater continuity in positions where “the local culture requires more time to establish meaningful ties with local people and host governments,” according to a Feb. 24 announcement.
Lt. Col. James Davis, a USAF assignments official, said the change affects a mixture of enlisted and officer positions—“mainly midlevel and up”—and specialties.
USAF officials plan to make selections to fill these positions during the spring and summer assignment cycles. They expect personnel to be in place by August 2005.
The Air Force will seek volunteers first. If it doesn’t get enough, said Davis, the service will use “modified short-tour criteria” to identify individuals for the positions.
This one-year assignment will not be considered a permanent change of station move. Rather, it will be termed an “indeterminate length” temporary duty assignment, stated the news release. That will make personnel eligible for short-tour assignment entitlements such as priority for follow-on assignments and possibly returning to their former assignment. Officials said USAF will consider other benefits on a case by case basis.
Space Radar Shoots for 2008
The Air Force has changed the name of the “Space Based Radar” program to the “Space Radar” program. More importantly, USAF plans to “increase collaboration with stakeholders” in DOD and the Intelligence Community, stated an Air Force news release.
Officials also announced that Brig. Gen. John T. Sheridan is the SR program executive officer and system program director. He will lead the revitalized effort from an office in the Washington, D.C., area.
“The new program structure will improve stakeholder interaction allowing us to better meet the needs” of DOD and intelligence customers, said acting Air Force Secretary Peter B. Teets.
Plans call for a demonstration satellite to be launched in 2008 to “mature technologies which are necessary for the program,” the news release explained.
Space Radar will offer synthetic aperture radar imagery, moving target indication, and advanced geospatial intelligence capabilities. It will combine the capabilities of the Joint STARS system and legacy reconnaissance satellites, providing all-weather sight into denied areas.
A-10s To Get Precision Upgrade
Air Force officials plan to upgrade the entire 356-aircraft fleet of A-10A Warthogs to the A-10C “precision engagement” configuration. The modification is the largest avionics improvement in the A-10’s history and will add the ability to use targeting pod “smart” weapons, Wind-Corrected Munitions Dispenser, and the Joint Direct Attack Munition.
Other upgrades include a pair of multifunction color cockpit displays, a head-up display panel, and a doubling of the direct current power available to the aircraft.
The operational fleet will be modified from 2006 through 2009, Air Combat Command officials wrote in response to questions from Air Force Magazine.
In February 2004, then-ACC Commander Gen. Hal M. Hornburg announced the plan to retire a portion of the A-10 fleet to fund upgrades for the remainder. The retirements no longer appear necessary—ACC officials say the A-10C conversion is fully funded.
A primary benefit of the A-10C is that it gives the pilot better control of targeting, weapons delivery, and situational awareness through “the available cockpit controls and displays,” said Maj. Jason Childs, ACC’s A-10 system team chief. “This modification will turn the aircraft from a ‘look out the window’ aircraft to a digital platform.”
Warfare Centers May Merge
USAF is considering a possible future merger of the Air Warfare Center at Nellis AFB, Nev., and the Space Warfare Center at Schriever AFB, Colo.
The Air Force sees command, control, communications, and computers and intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance capabilities as key enablers for future combat, said Gen. T. Michael Moseley, at a February breakfast sponsored by the defense consulting firm DFI International.
Moseley, the Air Force vice chief of staff, said the service envisions a seamless linkage between space and air-breathing C4ISR systems as the service fields next generation systems such as the E-10 battle management aircraft.
To make the most of its future capabilities, the Air Force is “thinking through the notion” of combining these two centers to create “a seamless set of activities” that would concentrate on the future of both space and air-breathing systems, said Moseley.
There is already collaboration between the entities. The Air Force uses Red Flag and assorted wargames to train its airmen as they fight. This necessitates bringing air-breathing and space capabilities together. For example, the Space Warfare Center recently held the Schriever III space wargame at Nellis, home of the Air Warfare Center.
DOD IG Cites Roche
According to the DOD inspector general, former Air Force Secretary James G. Roche violated a government ethics regulation in May 2003 when he used his official e-mail channel to send a character reference, for the brother of a longtime friend, to contractor Northrop Grumman.
The IG determined that Roche violated two sections of the Joint Ethics Regulation when he sent a character reference for the brother of Robin Cleveland, who was then associate director for national security programs at the Office of Management and Budget.
The first offense was sending the e-mail with his official signature block, which “implied Air Force sanction for the employment recommendation,” according to the IG report. The second was improper use of e-mail.
In a Dec. 3, 2004, letter to the IG, Roche denied that his e-mail violated the regulation.
An Air Force news release, dated Feb. 15, stated that Roche’s handheld communications device had been preset to include his title automatically.
The IG also reviewed whether Roche’s employment recommendation had improperly influenced OMB’s evaluation of the defunct Boeing KC-767 tanker lease proposal. According to the USAF news release, the IG said in a Jan. 27 letter to Roche that it “found insufficient evidence to suggest his e-mail had influenced an assessment of the tanker lease proposal by the Office of Management and Budget.”
Predators Urgently Needed
Air Force budget officials are seeking $161 million in supplemental Fiscal 2005 funding to purchase 15 additional Predator unmanned aerial vehicles to meet urgent warfighting needs in the US Central Command region, which includes both Iraq and Afghanistan.
If lawmakers approve the reprogramming request, USAF would purchase 27 Predators in 2005. Nine MQ-1 and MQ-9 Predators were originally requested for the current fiscal year, and three more were later added by Congress.
The Air Force’s 2006 budget request, unveiled in February, seeks production funding for nine more Predators.
Missile Test Fails Again
The Defense Department’s ground-based missile defense system failed to launch an interceptor missile for a flight test in February. The system automatically shut down because of a problem with the arms that help hold the interceptor in place in the silo, Gen. Richard B. Myers told lawmakers Feb. 17.
It was the second consecutive flight-test failure for the missile defense system. (See “Aerospace World: ‘Glitch’ Foils Missile Test,” February, p. 12.) The Feb. 14 flight test was meant to replicate last December’s aborted test.
Myers said the problem is not thought to be a systemic issue but is nonetheless one that the Missile Defense Agency will “have to deal with.”
North Korea Admits Nukes
North Korea admitted in February that it has nuclear weapons. The US has long suspected North Korea had a handful of nukes, but the Feb. 10 declaration was the first official acknowledgment.
North Korea manufactured nuclear weapons “for self-defense, to cope with the Bush Administration’s ever-more undisguised policy to isolate and stifle” the communist nation, the state-run Korean Central News Agency reported.
US intelligence officials believe North Korea’s nuclear program has continued essentially unabated since well before Bush took office.
In response to the rhetoric, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said, “The North Koreans have no reason to believe that anyone wants to attack them.”
India Mulls US Fighters
The Indian Air Force is considering US-built F-16 and F/A-18 fighters as competitors for a possible aircraft order, according to news reports. India solicited information about the Lockheed Martin F-16, Boeing F/A-18, Saab Gripen, Dassault Mirage, and the MiG-29, among other competitors.
US Ambassador David C. Mulford confirmed India’s interest in buying American aircraft. However, Reuters quoted Mulford as saying that “no decision has been made” on whether the US will allow the sale. India has never purchased advanced US fighters, but its long-standing rival, Pakistan, owns F-16s—and seeks more.
India is interested in approximately 125 aircraft in a competition that could be worth up to $9 billion, Bloomberg News reported.
NSPS Standards Proposed
The Pentagon in February released proposed regulations for its controversial new National Security Personnel System. Officials expect to use NSPS to overhaul the way Defense Department civilians are paid and promoted.
Gone would be the old General Schedule system that compensates workers primarily based on their longevity and limits the ability to reward top employees.
The proposed NSPS rules for DOD’s 650,000 civilian employees were published in the Federal Register Feb. 14.
In outlining the proposal, Navy Secretary Gordon R. England, who oversees NSPS for the Pentagon, made clear that DOD seeks “pay for performance.” (See “New Day for Defense Civilians,” February, p. 75.)
Workers will know in advance what is expected in terms of performance and “there will be measures and metrics that they will agree to in terms of: Did they accomplish those objectives?” England said.
The first 60,000 positions will be converted to NSPS in July 2006. Initial pay for those employees will remain the same.
New RQ-4 Software Is a Challenge
Air Force officials said in February that training pilots to make full use of new mission planning software for the RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned surveillance aircraft is a “continuing challenge for testers.”
A large amount of developmental testing is required to “figure out how the software affects the aircraft’s existing capabilities,” stated an Air Force news release. Developing effective tactics for the new automatic contingency generation (ACG) software is critical, because ACG will cut Global Hawk mission planning time from weeks to about 12 hours.
ACG will also allow Global Hawk to autonomously react to system degradation, said Lt. Col. James Wertz, commander of the 452nd Flight Test Squadron at Edwards AFB, Calif.
The 452nd started testing ACG on Jan. 24, and testers are still “discovering how the software makes the Global Hawk think while in flight,” the release stated.
United Tech Buys Rocketdyne
United Technologies, parent company of engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney, announced in February that it would buy Boeing’s Rocketdyne booster-engine business for roughly $700 million.
Rocketdyne builds the space shuttle main engine as well as boosters for the Defense Department’s Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program.
The sale should benefit both companies, said James F. Albaugh, CEO of Boeing’s Integrated Defense Systems. Boeing will be able to streamline its operations, while Pratt & Whitney “is in the best position to build upon Rocketdyne’s proud heritage,” Albaugh said.
Predator Reaches IOC
The Air Force on March 1 said the MQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) achieved initial operational capability. The announcement was somewhat anticlimatical since the UAV had already performed well in Afghanistan and Iraq. An earlier, unarmed technology demonstrator, the RQ-1 was used even earlier, in the Balkans in the mid-1990s.
The MQ-1 version has advanced sensors and Hellfire missiles. Reaching IOC means the UAV has completed testing and met maintainability and supportability thresholds.
|USAF Releases Anaconda Review
Operation Anaconda, the 2002 US-led assault in eastern Afghanistan, ultimately was successful in clearing al Qaeda and Taliban forces out of their mountain hideouts, officials said in February, but the operation was made unnecessarily difficult by several bad planning assumptions.
The outcome was a testament to the skill and training of the forces involved, they said, despite a lack of early coordination between ground and air elements. The Air Force in mid-February released its review “Operation Anaconda: An Airpower Perspective.” (See “The Echoes of Anaconda,” p. 46.)
During Anaconda’s buildup, both the land and air component commanders were left “dissatisfied” with their insight into the planning, said Col. Dan Richards, director of the Air Force lessons learned office at the Pentagon, at an Air Force briefing on the report.
Richards told reporters that “no single commander had authority” to integrate all the force elements. The importance of unity of command was a lesson the Defense Department should have learned in Vietnam.
There was “insufficient coordination at all levels,” said Richards.
Assumptions were another problem. Planners thought most enemy fighters would turn and run at the first opportunity, while taking “potshots” at the US forces—hoping to inflict casualties. This had been the model in the earlier Tora Bora campaign.
What the planners didn’t initially appreciate, Richards said, is that al Qaeda chose the Shah-i-Kot Mountains as a “stronghold” because that is where Soviet forces had been defeated 20 years earlier. Many of the fighters were Chechen veterans willing to fight to the death.
Ultimately, Richards said, airmen adapted quickly to the challenging circumstances while performing many missions in combat for the first time. Anaconda marked the first use of Joint Direct Attack Munitions to protect troops in close contact with the enemy; the first use of bombers for close air support; and heavy use of fighters such as the F-15E Strike Eagle to strafe enemy positions.
|AFMC Goes to Wing Structure
Air Force Materiel Command on Feb. 9 formally reorganized its largest product center into wings, groups, and squadrons—a command structure which more clearly resembles the rest of the Air Force, officials wrote in a February news release.
The move, which was announced last year, is a “major step toward demystifying the acquisition structure.” (See “Operational Acquisition,” August 2004, p. 54.)
Aeronautical Systems Center at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, consolidated its Byzantine structure—consisting of more than 40 system program offices—into seven wings and groups. They are fighter-attack, long-range strike, reconnaissance, mobility, agile combat support, special operations, and training aircraft.
Officials said the new arrangement had already paid dividends. They credit a “flight test” that began last October with helping to speed delivery of new munitions to meet urgent requirements for US Central Command operations in Iraq.
Shortly after restructuring ASC, Materiel Command also reorganized its three logistics centers. The Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center at Tinker AFB, Okla., and Ogden ALC at Hill AFB, Utah, changed over to the new system in February. Warner Robins ALC at Robins AFB, Ga., activated its wing structure March 4.
Under their new systems, the centers established aircraft sustainment, air combat sustainment, and maintenance wings. The move eliminates a management structure that did not resemble “any other organizational structure in the Air Force,” officials said.
“Rather than having a more narrowly defined organization focused on individual weapon system platforms,” explained Gen. Gregory S. Martin, AFMC commander, “capability-based wings” should create synergy between complementary mission areas.
|Promotion Boards Will Not See Degree Info
The Air Force has stopped including academic degree information in most officer records sent to promotion boards. The move marks the end of “square-filling” degrees, said Gen. John P. Jumper, Chief of Staff, in a Feb. 2 paper to Air Force personnel.
The change applies to active duty line officers only, beginning this year. The Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Command will implement the new procedure in 2006. It does not apply to health profession and chaplaincy officers.
Jumper said the new policy ushers in a “significant change” in mind-set for officers. Attaining a master’s degree—of any type and in any area—has long been considered essential to officer advancement. “This must change,” he said.
“Education must be tailored to benefit airmen in doing their jobs,” explained Jumper. “Promotion is, and will continue to be, determined by your performance and demonstrated leadership potential.”
The Chief does not want officers “chasing a degree just to get promoted,” explained Lt. Col. Leslie Formolo, promotions and evaluation chief at the Pentagon. When it came to advanced degrees, many officers “took whatever” degree just to remain promotion-eligible. The result was a lot of MBAs but not enough degrees directly related to Air Force missions, Formolo said.
Professional military education, which is directed by the Air Force, will stay in promotion records, but there will no longer be an advantage—real or perceived—in attending “in-residence,” she said. The goal is simply professional development.
The Air Force will have to track the number of officers eligible to teach ROTC courses or at the Air Force Academy, Formolo said. These teaching positions require an advanced degree, and officials cannot predict how the “pool” of officers eligible for these assignments will change in future years.
Jumper noted that the Air Force would not discourage individuals from pursuing advanced degrees on their own and would continue to offer tuition assistance.
“The Air Force’s emphasis is on job performance and providing airmen the right opportunities for advanced education when it is required,” he said.
|USAF Lifts Boeing Suspension
The Air Force in early March lifted the suspension of three Boeing units that had been barred from bidding on Evolved Expendable Launch vehicle business. The suspension had been in place for 20 months.
Acting Air Force Secretary Peter B. Teets said that Boeing had taken sufficient steps to “rectify past improprieties and to develop long-lasting integrity standards.” The suspension was put in place when the Air Force determined that Boeing, in bidding on EELV work, had possessed and used thousands of pages of illegally obtained data about rocket rival Lockheed Martin’s bid proposal.
Teets, in a Pentagon press conference, said the suspension could be re-instated if Boeing is indicted or convicted of further wrongdoing on EELV contracting, or if new evidence surfaces.
Boeing had to pay the Air Force $1.9 million to cover the costs of the service’s investigation into the matter. Boeing lost approximately $1 billion in fines and lost business due to the suspension. The Air Force awarded some of the contracts Boeing won to Lockheed Martin. Boeing also agreed that all its costs pertaining to improving its internal ethics programs and to defending itself in a civil suit brought by Lockheed Martin are not allowable charges on any government contract. Boeing must also have its new ethics policy verified by an outside panel. This group will be headed by retired Air Force Gen. George T. Babbitt, former head of Air Force Materiel Command, with a support staff from Bearing Point, a management consulting firm.
In addition, Boeing must submit written assurance of compliance with ethics rules when it bids on any government contract—military or civil—valued at more than $50 million. The ethics compliance measures will be in place a minimum of three years and will be lifted after that at USAF’s discretion.
Teets said Boeing has taken adequate steps to correct its corporate culture by reorganizing management responsibility for the company’s ethical conduct, and by changing its business practices.
“We hope that everyone who does business with the Air Force takes note of this case,” Teets said, “and is reminded that we take ethical breaches very seriously and will not hesitate to impose significant sanctions when necessary to protect the procurement process.”
The affected units were Boeing’s Launch Systems, Boeing Launch Services, and Delta Program.
—John A. Tirpak
|ACC Optimizes Daily Training
Air Combat Command has launched integrated training conferences to create a single source for scheduling US and allied military training events. Previously, said ACC officials, many potential consolidated training opportunities were missed.
The conference provides a “buffet,” said Maj. Greg Kent, integrated training coordinator at ACC. Services and units can “take what they want.”
Held quarterly, the conferences bring military representatives together to create an awareness of routine unit training that may present opportunities for wider participation.
Major events like Red Flag and the Joint Expeditionary Force Experiment are very expensive, so “we are trying to do the opposite,” said Kent.
The idea is to bring forces together during daily training, whether it is for two-vs.-two air combat between Air Force and Navy pilots or to get USAF involved in a large-scale naval exercise with a carrier battle group.
Kent said this program offers a “bottom-up, unit driven” opportunity to compare and link schedules. Among the leading scenarios always open for joint participation are special operations forces integration, combat search and rescue missions, and dynamic close air support events, he said.
The most recent conference, held Feb. 16 and 17 in San Diego, highlighted several joint training opportunities. According to an event overview, these included:
Testers at Edwards AFB, Calif., had a “dire need” for an E-3 AWACS aircraft to help evaluate Link 16 interoperability with F-16s and possibly F/A-22s and B-2s.
A Royal Air Force AWACS team visiting Langley AFB, Va., in early April was “looking for weapons control activity.”
A group of seven Navy ships “expressed interest in finding some USAF assets to perform some air intercept control training.”
ACC officials said the conferences have proved successful because they can schedule realistic joint training events that might otherwise never occur.
|For Vets, Buyer Brings Different Style
Rep. Steve Buyer (R-Ind.) has moved quickly to show that his approach toward veterans’ benefits will differ from that of Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), whom fellow Republicans removed as VA chairman in January.
Buyer made clear, while chairing his first hearings and in an interview, that he wants VA resources focused on “core” beneficiary groups—veterans who are poor or who have service-connected disabilities or special needs. In contrast, Smith favored expanding VA services, including healthcare, to as many veterans as might desire to use the system.
The decision by Congress in 1996 to open VA health care to all veterans, including priority categories 7 and 8, was a mistake, Buyer suggested.
“This idea that you can just open up the system to 7s and 8s and that it will be budget-neutral and [even] revenue-enhancing turned out to be false,” said Buyer. As a result, VA has more than $3 billion in uncollected debt—money it expected to collect from veterans’ alternative health insurance plans to cover the cost of care for conditions unrelated to service.
Back then, Buyer said, Congress worried that an aging veterans population could not sustain the VA health system. The most recent experience was the first Persian Gulf War which was over quickly and resulted in relatively few US casualties. At that time, the VA system continued to care mostly for an increasingly aging population. Times are changing, Buyer explained.
“We find ourselves now in protracted wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and a war on terrorism all over the world,” said Buyer. The goal no longer is “to protect the bricks and mortar” of the VA system by caring for lower-priority veterans. The challenge to care for thousands of men and women severely wounded in body or mind is rising.
“The reality is that we have more veterans now that have to come into the system, and that while some of the veterans organizations like to create a theme that ‘a veteran is a veteran [and] there is no difference,’ I disagree.”
Limited VA resources, he said, must shift from treating veterans in priority categories 7s and 8s to the more deserving and needy.
Buyer also said he wants the new Veterans’ Disability Benefits Commission, which Congress approved in 2003 but is still being organized, to look hard at how service-connected disability ratings are set and adjusted.
“There is something bothersome in the system where you can have a soldier blow out his knee from a roadside bomb and end up with a disability that’s the same as a guy who blew out his knee sliding into home plate at church league softball on Sunday,” said Buyer.
Three more immediate priorities, he said, are providing care to that core constituency, creating a seamless transition for them in moving from military medical care to VA health services, and improving rehabilitation programs, both for the physically and emotionally disabled.
“I want this seamless transition to work and that new veteran to be able to succeed at new endeavors,” Buyer said.
|Druyun Fallout Hits Major Programs
The Air Force in February announced that it will recompete the second set of Small Diameter Bomb contracts, which will develop an SDB variant with a seeker that can destroy moving targets.
The decision follows a Government Accountability Office finding that former Air Force official Darleen A. Druyun improperly influenced the first competition. GAO found that she may have helped to steer the work to Boeing. (Druyun pleaded guilty last fall to violations of federal regulations. See “Washington Watch: Acquisition Gets a Scrub Down,” January, p. 9.)
According to a USAF statement, the new SDB phase, or Increment 2, will be worth approximately $1.7 billion. The total includes research, development, and production funds. (The first SDB increment, developing a baseline near-precision weapon, is estimated to be worth $1 billion. It will remain with Boeing.)
The Air Force “plans to award a competitively based contract … in early FY06,” officials stated. They said the new competition should not delay the program, which is developing a next generation, 250-pound guided weapon to complement the larger Joint Direct Attack Munition.
Also in February, the GAO recommended a new competition for a major portion of the $970 million C-130 Avionics Modernization Program, also won by Boeing. The Congressional watchdogs suggested the Air Force recompete C-130 AMP installations and look into new competitions for the remainder of the program.
GAO determined that Druyun influenced the way competing proposals were evaluated, again in Boeing’s favor. According to the GAO, Druyun “either expressly or implicitly … directed revisions to ratings of Boeing’s proposal” and to each of the losing competitors’ proposals.
Druyun previously had acknowledged a bias, saying in her plea agreement last year that an objective source selector “may not have selected Boeing” for C-130 AMP. The 2001 decision was considered a major upset at the time, as Lockheed Martin had designed and built the C-130s.
GAO wrote that normally it would recommend that the entire program be recompeted, but this may be impossible as work has been under way for more than three years. The Air Force statement notes that the C-130 AMP production contract has yet to be awarded and production will run from 2006 to 2016.
Acting Pentagon acquisition chief Michael W. Wynne said Feb. 14 that DOD is also taking a closer look at eight other programs that may have problems. After reviewing 407 contracts, defense contracting officials identified eight cases that will be referred to the DOD inspector general for further consideration.
The problematic contracts included: a $400 million National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System sensor won by Boeing; C-5 AMP, won by Lockheed Martin and worth $561 million; the C-40, as a C-22 replacement (two Boeing contracts worth more than $300 million); KC-135 Programmed Depot Maintenance, won by Boeing and Pemco and worth $1.5 billion; and 60K Tunner loader logistics, won by SEI and worth $158 million.
Wynne told reporters that the eight contracts were flagged because “the process was either sped up, interrupted, or unduly influenced” by Druyun. He emphasized that these are process problems, and the IG will determine if there was actual wrongdoing.
|The Iraq Story Continues
By March 1, a total of 1,490 Americans had died in Operation Iraqi Freedom. The fatalities included 1,486 troops and four DOD civilians. The number of Americans killed in action by enemy attack is 1,139, and 351 died in noncombat incidents.
A total of 11,220 troops have been injured. Of those, 5,387 returned to duty within three days, and 5,833 were unable to quickly return to duty.
Ten Dead in UK C-130 Crash
A Royal Air Force C-130 transport went down in Iraq Jan. 30, killing nine British airmen and one soldier. It was the greatest loss of life for the UK, in a single event, during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The aircraft crashed about 25 miles north of Iraq’s capital while flying a short mission from Baghdad Airport to Balad Air Base, on the night of Iraq’s election.
The cause of the crash was not immediately known, and by early March, no official findings had been released. Various Iraqi insurgent groups claimed to have shot the Hercules down with surface-to-air missiles, however.
By Tamar A. Mehuron, Associate Editor
- President Bush Feb. 17 nominated John D. Negroponte, currently US ambassador to Iraq, as the first director of national intelligence. The President also tapped USAF Lt. Gen. Michael V. Hayden, currently head of the National Security Agency, to serve as Negroponte’s deputy.
- Air Force Space Command personnel at Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla., received the first modernized Global Positioning System satellite from Lockheed Martin, company officials said Feb. 9. Known as GPS IIR-M1, the technologically advanced satellite will be readied for a May launch. Updated capabilities on the satellite include two new military signals offering greater accuracy, strengthened encryption, and anti-jamming features.
- The last Atlas III successfully boosted a National Reconnaissance Office payload into orbit Feb. 3, from Cape Canaveral. The liftoff, which was the 75th successful launch of Lockheed Martin’s Atlas II and III rockets, concludes the era of those launchers. It was also the final Atlas mission from Complex 36, which is being transferred from Lockheed to USAF control.
- Two X-45A unmanned aerial vehicles on Jan. 27 successfully executed distributed command and control simultaneously in a test flight at Edwards AFB, Calif. During the test, the primary pilot handed off control of the aircraft to a pilot “in theater,” who controlled both aircraft and commanded one to get radar images. After that, he transferred aircraft control back to the primary pilot.
- USAF awarded a contract Feb. 18 worth $414 million to Lockheed Martin for 24 more F/A-22 Raptors and equipment. Work is scheduled to be completed by October 2005.
- Air Force space operators at Vandenberg AFB, Calif., took delivery of the first Atlas V launcher, according to a Feb. 11 Lockheed Martin news release. The Atlas V will be prepared for a future inaugural launch from Vandenberg’s newly refurbished Space Launch Complex 3 East.
- The National Aeronautic Association on Feb. 8 awarded the Robert J. Collier Trophy to SpaceShipOne, recognizing its flight into space, 62 miles above the Earth. Mike Melvill piloted the privately financed spacecraft.
- Engineers at Edwards AFB, Calif., successfully test-fired a hybrid rocket motor utilizing technologies from both liquid-fueled and solid propellant-fueled launchers, the Air Force said in early February. The test was part of the Falcon program to develop and demonstrate an economical space booster able to launch a 1,000-pound payload into a circular orbit of 115 miles.
- During eight consecutive test flights over a period of five days in February, a stretch C-130J demonstrated its ability to drop about 40,000 pounds of bundled equipment without damage to the cargo. It was a critical test to determine the cargo damage rate for the stretch version, which is 15 feet longer than the standard C-130J. Tests four years ago had uncovered a change in the aircraft’s center of gravity that caused the cargo bundles to bunch up and damage one another during a drop’s gravity extraction process. The latest test showed 100 percent survivability rate, said testers at Edwards AFB, Calif.
- A new user-friendly Web-based data program to track orders issued for Air National Guard personnel will be operational Oct. 1, officials said. The new system will consolidate disparate systems used throughout the 54 states and territories. Guardsmen will be able to monitor their orders during the approval period, print them when published, and access their order history and the number of duty days. It will provide “day-to-day, real-time tracking of our travel and training funds for the first time,” said Brig. Gen. Charles Ickes, ANG deputy director.
- NATO officials said Feb. 10 that the Alliance likely would expand its missions in Afghanistan, including “some form of unity of command” merger with the US-led Operation Enduring Freedom. Such a move, they said, is still a subject of discussion, but “more synergy” should occur “as soon as possible.” NATO defense ministers met Feb. 10 and agreed that NATO had the resources to expand its operations in Afghanistan.
- USAF honored the Electronic Warfare Evaluation Simulator team from the 412th Test Wing Electronic Warfare Directorate with the 2004 Air Force Modeling and Simulation Award for Acquisition, according to a Feb. 10 USAF press release.
- Three Air Force civil engineering units garnered outstanding unit awards for 2004 from the Air Force Civil Engineer Support Agency and the Society of American Military Engineers. The units are: 341st Civil Engineer Squadron, Malmstrom AFB, Mont. (small unit category); 18th Civil Engineer Group, Kadena AB, Japan, (large unit category); and 934th Mission Support Group’s civil engineer flight, Minneapolis-St. Paul IAP/ARS, Minn. (reserve unit).
- Black Engineer of the Year awards went to two Air Force Research Laboratory engineers: Chandra Curtis and Lawrence Porter. Curtis is a digital avionics systems engineer for the munitions directorate, Eglin AFB, Fla., and was chosen for the “Most Promising Engineer in Government” award. Porter, a retired research and development executive of the materials and manufacturing directorate, was honored with the “Pioneer” award for his work in forging collaborative programs between the directorate and black colleges, universities, and other minority institutions.
- The officers’ club at Patrick AFB, Fla., sustained “extensive damage” from a fire earlier this year, said a base official. Most of the 35,000 square-foot club, which has operated since 1951, was destroyed. Lt. Col. Rick Czyzewski, 45th Mission Support Group deputy commander, said “there’s no timeline” on an investigation into the fire. Many programs and services were transferred to other base facilities, he said.
- DOD has launched the Joint Theater Trauma Registry to capture data about “life-saving measures at the point of injury,” said L. Harrison Hassell, director of the registry system, which is located at Ft. Sam Houston, Tex. The registry will provide information on new medical devices and techniques and indicate what treatments were most effective in the field. Hassell said it is providing combat trauma care information never before available, aiding medical and operational planning.
- The South Dakota Air and Space Museum finally has a B-1B Lancer display. SDASM worked with the National Museum of the Air Force and Ellsworth Air Force Base, from which the bombers have flown for 18 years, to obtain the B-1, which was last flown by Dyess AFB, Tex., but was given an Ellsworth tail code during preparation for display. Ellsworth received the bomber in 2003, and officials said the base spent nearly 18 months “on and off,” removing parts, including radar and avionics, to get the bomber ready for display.