F-15 Pilot Killed
First Lt. Ali Jivanjee, an F-15C pilot with the 58th Fighter Squadron at Eglin AFB, Fla., died due to injuries sustained in an aircraft mishap with a second F-15C during a training sortie on Feb. 20 over the Gulf of Mexico.
The pilot of the second aircraft survived, but his name was withheld pending the completion of the accident investigation, USAF officials said.
B-2 Crashes at Guam
A B-2A bomber, Spirit of Kansas, from the 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman AFB, Mo., crashed on Feb. 23 just after taking off from Andersen AFB, Guam. The two pilots ejected safely, but one of them suffered a spinal compression and required medical attention, Air Force officials said.
This was the first-ever crash of the stealth bomber, which entered USAF’s inventory in 1993. The B-2 fleet now stands at 20 aircraft.
The crash took place as Spirit of Kansas, along with three other B-2s from Whiteman, were leaving the island for home after a four-month deployment. They had been on Guam since mid-October 2007 as part of the now-standard rotation of USAF’s B-1B, B-2A, and B-52H bombers to the Pacific region to maintain a continual presence there as a means of dissuading aggression.
Moseley: F-22, F-35 Are High, Low
Despite comments from top Pentagon officials that the F-22 and F-35 are comparable—even interchangeable—they are not, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley told defense reporters Feb. 28 in Washington.
The best analogy, he said, is to think of the F-22 and F-35 as being akin to the F-15 and F-16, which pioneered the high-low mix 25 years ago.
“I believe the two airplanes are complementary,” said the Chief of Staff. “I believe the two airplanes are required.”
The F-22, he went on, “is designed for a specific task,” while the F-35 “is designed for a more general task. But together they provide the capability needed for the theater commander.”
Both stealthy fifth generation airplanes provide capability “to survive the new integrated air defense systems,” such as the Russian-built SA-20, Moseley said. Their stealth, he said, “is very important.”
Iran is reportedly taking delivery of the SA-20, which has a 100-mile radius of engagement. It represents a “quantum leap” in capability, making air operations “more lethal” for nonstealthy aircraft, Moseley said.
Navy Zaps Dead Satellite
A Standard Missile-3 fired from the Navy cruiser USS Lake Erie successfully collided with a nonfunctioning, deorbiting US intelligence satellite on Feb. 20 about 153 miles over the Pacific Ocean, Pentagon officials said. The intercept broke the satellite into small pieces, essentially removing the threat that the satellite’s tank of toxic hydrazine fuel would survive re-entry and pose a hazard if it struck near a populated area, they said.
“We have a high degree of confidence the satellite’s fuel tank was destroyed and the hydrazine has been dissipated,” Marine Corps Gen. James E. Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Feb. 25. Only small pieces of debris remained; they were expected to burn up on re-entry over a period of weeks to several months.
Gen. C. Robert Kehler, commander of Air Force Space Command, said Feb. 21 at the Air Force Association’s Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Fla., that USAF personnel and space-monitoring assets were “critical and significant players” in the operation.
USAF Seeks To Halt Troop Decline
The Air Staff’s new personnel chief, Lt. Gen. Richard Y. Newton III, essentially told the House Armed Services military personnel panel Feb. 26 that the service’s policy of self-financing weapon system recapitalization on the backs of airmen has come to an end.
The Air Force has been on a planned downslope to reach an active end strength of 316,600 in Fiscal 2009. However, service leaders have indicated that this reduction may be too big a bite given the ongoing in-lieu-of taskings in Afghanistan and Iraq and the demands of new and emerging missions, such as supporting Africa Command, a larger ground force, USAF’s own new Cyber Command, and its Quadrennial Defense Review-directed 86 combat wings, known as the Required Force.
Indeed to prevent “a critical capability gap,” USAF asks for $385 million as its fourth top priority on its Fiscal 2009 unfunded requirements list in order to add back nearly 19,000 airmen split between the active duty and reserve.
Air Force Secretary Michael W. Wynne found himself in a conundrum during a Congressional hearing Feb. 27, having officially to support the President’s Fiscal 2009 spending request that continues the reduction to 316,000, while acknowledging that he personally champions the increase included in the URL.
F-117s Prepare for Exit
The last of the Air Force’s F-117 Nighthawk stealth fighters are nearing the end of their operational lifetimes—literally. Later this month, the few remaining Nighthawks in the inventory will leave their home of Holloman AFB, N.M., for good and be retired, USAF officials said.
One of the F-117s is being turned into a static display. Shortly after the Nighthawks are gone, Holloman will receive its new tenant: the F-22 Raptor stealth fighter. The base is slated to host two squadrons of Raptors, with the first two aircraft anticipated in June.
Cyber Command Nod Delayed
The Air Force does not expect to name the permanent location of its new Cyber Command until “closer to the end of the year,” the service announced Feb. 13. The decision was supposed to come this spring, before the official stand up of the command on Oct. 1. Now USAF says it needs more time.
Maj. Gen. William T. Lord, commander of AFCYBER (Provisional) at Barksdale AFB, La., said in USAF’s statement that the review continues of the candidate sites. Lord said one of the next major steps is to whittle down the list of candidates to four finalists so that initial site surveys and environmental impact studies may commence.
After completion of the environment studies, which usually takes about six to eight months, USAF said it will announce the winning location. AFCYBER “will be assigned an interim location until the final location is announced,” the Air Force said. Full operational capability of the command “will take at least another year,” Lord said.
USAF Gets Even Greener
The Air Force is now the nation’s third largest consumer of environmentally friendly renewable sources of energy and remains No. 1 among organizations within the federal government that purchase green power, the service announced Feb. 19.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s quarterly list of the Top 25 green power purchasers, the Air Force increased the amount of energy that it purchased late last year from renewable sources such as biogas, biomass, geothermal, solar, and wind.
The Air Force said it buys more than 899 million kilowatt hours of green power annually, enough to meet approximately nine percent of its purchased electricity use. This amount is enough to power nearly 90,000 average American homes annually.
USAF Eyes C-130J Multiyear
The Air Force confirmed in mid-February that it is in discussions with Lockheed Martin about a potential new multiyear procurement contract that would start in Fiscal 2010 for combat-delivery C-130J transports and Super Hercules-based tanker derivatives for combat rescue and special operations. If analysis indicates that a new multiyear deal would result in “substantial savings” and comply with federal procurement requirements, the service would then request Congressional approval for it, USAF officials said.
USAF’s current multiyear deal with the company for both Air Force and Marine Corps aircraft concludes this year with the manufacture of the final nine airplanes that will be delivered in 2010. On top of them, the Air Force seeks about 115 new airframes to recapitalize its aged HC-130P/N combat rescue tankers and MC-130E/P special operations platforms starting in Fiscal 2009, with initial operational capability in 2012. It also wants to buy more combat-delivery C-130Js at a rate of eight per year starting in Fiscal 2010, service officials said.
Korean War Pilot Is Ace
It took 55 years, but the Air Force has recognized retired Lt. Gen. Charles G. Cleveland as an ace for downing five MiG-15s in an F-86 Sabre fighter during the Korean War.
The Air Force Board for Military Corrections confirmed to him in January that, based on MiG flight records unearthed in Russian archives in 2003 as well as eyewitness accounts from his wingman, USAF now accepted one of his probable kills as a confirmed kill, giving him five in total to qualify him as an ace.
“It’s a great feeling to have the Air Force recognize me as an ace,” Cleveland said in a USAF release dated Feb. 13. “And it’s a real honor to be included with that great group of men who make up the rest of the aces.”
Cleveland flew an F-86 as a lieutenant with the 334th Fighter Interceptor Squadron at Kimpo Air Base starting in 1952. West Point colleague Dolphin D. Overton III, a former Air Force captain and himself a Korean War ace, came across the Russian documents in his efforts to help Cleveland be acknowledged as an ace.
Air Force, Army Sign MOA
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley and Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr. signed a memorandum of agreement Jan. 23 that signals their intent to provide direct liaisons at various levels for dialogue on issues ranging from joint training to equipment interoperability.
The new memorandum also says the services “will seek opportunities to jointly develop doctrine, tactics, techniques, and procedures,” working through personnel exchanges at service schools.
First Active J Unit Deploys
The 41st Airlift Squadron from Little Rock, AFB, Ark., became the first active duty C-130J unit to deploy to Southwest Asia, the Air Force announced in February. The unit moved to Little Rock about one year ago from Pope AFB, N.C., where it flew older model Hercules aircraft.
Another C-130 first occurred in early February when the 908th Airlift Wing at Maxwell AFB, Ala., became the first Hercules unit within Air Force Reserve Command to deploy to the region under a new rotation scheme filled by volunteers who serve one-month tours.
Mullen Sees the Link
Adm. Michael G. Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, affirmed on Feb. 6 that the expansion of US ground forces will exert a direct effect on the future size of the Air Force’s strategic airlift fleet.
Mullen’s statement was made necessary by an earlier remark uttered in public by a key member of his Joint Staff.
Two days prior, Vice Adm. P. Stephen Stanley, the joint staff’s director of force structure, told reporters that the two issues are “not directly related,” and that the addition of nearly 100,000 ground forces might not have anything to do with USAF’s strategic mobility capabilities.
Mullen left no doubt that he does see the connection, telling the House Armed Services Committee that the impact of the ground-force growth on airlift “is a legitimate question that we don’t have an answer to yet.”
Meanwhile, the Air Force, too, is still crunching the numbers, said Gen. Arthur J. Lichte, commander of Air Mobility Command, in a Feb. 22 appearance at AFA’s Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando.
The current uncertainty is the reason why the Air Force favors keeping the C-17 production line open, said Lichte.
Minuteman Upgrade Complete
The Air Force announced in late February that it has completed the process of upgrading the guidance sets on the nation’s 450 Minuteman III ICBMs, thus concluding the $2.4 billion guidance replacement program “on time and on budget.”
“We are fully operational and capable,” said Maj. Gen. Roger W. Burg, 20th Air Force commander, Feb. 25 during a ceremony at F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo.
The project started in 1999 and ended in January with removal of the 1960s-era NS-20 guidance set and addition of the new NS-50 on the last missile at Minot AFB, N.D.
Missing WWII Airmen Identified
The remains of three airmen missing since the crash of their A-20J bomber in December 1944 over Germany have been identified, the Pentagon announced Feb. 15. They are 2nd Lt. John F. Lubben, Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.; Sgt. Albert A. Forgue, North Providence, R.I.; and Sgt. Charles L. Spiegel, Chicago. They left Coullomiers, France, on Dec. 12, 1944, crashing near Cologne, Germany.
The three airmen will be buried April 18 in Arlington National Cemetery, DOD said.
A Mixed Retention Bag
While the quality of USAF’s recruits is good, Lt. Gen. Richard Y. Newton III, head of personnel on the Air Staff, said Feb. 26 on Capitol Hill that enlisted retention in 2007 “fell about eight percent below the goal.”
This was offset, however, because officer retention was about 11 percent over its goal, Newton said.
Lawmakers Slam VA Budget
The Bush Administration’s $93.7 billion request in Fiscal 2009 for Veterans Affairs—$3.4 billion more than 2008 spending levels—is simply not enough when “basic factors, such as medical care inflation and other increases in VA’s operational costs, are taken into account,” said Sen. Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii), chairman of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, in February.
Akaka said the VA budget doesn’t provide for “needed increases” in areas to support veterans suffering from traumatic brain injury or posttraumatic stress disorder. His counterpart in the House, Rep. Bob Filner (D-Calif.), has similar complaints, saying in February the Administration’s planned increase in medical care “has come at the expense of other VA programs,” including construction and medical and prosthetic research.
The Department of Defense in February unveiled a project—named Blackswift—to mature technologies that would enable aircraft to cruise at many times the speed of sound.
Blackswift is an outgrowth of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Falcon initiative under which the agency is developing hypersonic technologies applicable to future Air Force long-range strike and space-access systems.
Under Blackswift, engineers are creating a reusable flight vehicle, about the size of an F-16 fighter, that is known as the Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 3X, or HTV-3X. They will use it to conduct flight tests that will “allow for the study of tactics for a hypersonic airplane that includes a runway takeoff, Mach 6 cruise, and runway landing.”
HTV-3X will be powered by a combined-cycle propulsion system comprising a high-speed turbine engine for the lower echelons of speed and a supersonic combustion ramjet to achieve the hypersonic rates.
Punaro Defends Report
During a Senate oversight hearing on Feb. 7, members of the Commission on the National Guard and Reserves adamantly disputed that their final report, issued Jan. 31, recommends converting the National Guard into a domestic-only force and cutting reserve pay in half. But they acknowledged using “probably a poor choice of words” in some passages, thereby creating confusion.
“We absolutely do not recommend converting the National Guard into [a] domestic crisis response force only,” retired Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Arnold L. Punaro, head of the commission, said in discussing the 448-page report.
Commissioner Patricia L. Lewis, a former Navy civilian and Congressional staffer, said the panel did not recommend a cut in reserve pay, but rather a streamlining of the current 29 duty status categories to just two: either on active duty or not. In fact, the commission champions changes to “put additional money in reservists’ pockets,” she said.
The release of the report caused consternation both in Pentagon and Capitol Hill circles. For example, Army Lt. Gen. H. Steven Blum, NGB chief, declared on Feb. 1 that a domestic-only reserve would “unhinge the volunteer force” and break the Total Force.
USAF Eyes Huey Replacement
The Air Force wants to do in Fiscal 2009 what it hasn’t been able to do in past budgets: include funding for the future helicopter that will replace its Vietnam War-era Huey UH-1Ns.
USAF has sought for years to retire these Hueys, which help protect the nation’s ICBM fields, shuttle VIPs, and perform civil rescue missions, with a new more capable helicopter provisionally called the Common Vertical Lift Support Platform. But it hasn’t had the money to do so, given the long list of more pressing recapitalization and modernization needs such as a new tanker, bomber, and combat rescue helicopter.
Now, however, CVLSP appears to be emerging out of the shadows, as the service seeks $3.87 million to launch the helicopter program next fiscal year and lay the groundwork for fielding the platform in Fiscal 2015.
CCAF Gains Enlisted Leader
The Community College of the Air Force, part of Air University at Maxwell AFB, Ala., in January gained its first enlisted vice commandant, CMSgt. Joseph Thornell, an Air National Guardsman from South Dakota.
Thornell, who had been serving as the CCAF’s senior enlisted manager, took the post, which had previously been reserved for an active duty lieutenant colonel, USAF said.
According to Air Education and Training Command, this is one of the initiatives by Air University to transform and enrich enlisted education and training. AU also plans to install a chief master sergeant as CCAF commandant to align all of the enlisted programs for education, militarily, with a chief master sergeant at the helm.
Space-based Sensor Nears End
The Air Force expects to stop using the Space Based Visible sensor “for operational purposes” later this year, according to Gen. C. Robert Kehler, commander of Air Force Space Command.
Kehler told reporters Feb. 21 at AFA’s Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando that the visible-band optical sensor, which was the United States’ first on-orbit space-surveillance asset, “is to the point that it has significant technical issues and it is not going to get better.” SBV is part of the Midcourse Space Experiment satellite that the Department of Defense launched in 1996. Built to operate for five years, the satellite has already lasted more than twice as long.
Replacing SBV’s on-orbit monitoring capabilities will be the Space Based Space Surveillance satellite, due for launch around 2009.
Gustav Lundquist, 1920-2008
Retired Brig. Gen. Gustav E. Lundquist, who served as a test pilot before and after World War II and ended his Air Force career in 1969 as commander of Arnold Engineering Development Center, died Feb. 5 in San Antonio. He was 88.
Lundquist entered the service as an aviation cadet in 1940 and graduated from test pilot school in 1942, flying prototypes out of Wright Field, Ohio. He flew P-51s from England but was shot down over Germany and interned as a POW for almost a year. He returned to Wright Field, where he led the fighter test section and flew the F-80, winning the Thompson Trophy air race in 1946.
He also served as one of three test pilots for the X-1 rocket airplane. Lundquist subsequently had a variety of senior staff and command positions, primarily in research, development, and engineering. He took command of AEDC in August 1967.
|Air Force Picks Northrop Grumman in KC-X Contest
The Air Force Feb. 29 crowned the Northrop Grumman-EADS North America KC-30 aircraft design the winner over Boeing’s KC-767 in the multibillion-dollar KC-X tanker recapitalization contest.
Northrop Grumman, teamed with European aircraft-maker EADS, was selected to supply up to 179 new multirole tanker aircraft to be assembled in Mobile, Ala., to replace the oldest of the service’s Eisenhower-era KC-135 tankers. USAF now designates the tanker, which is based on the Airbus A330 airframe, the KC-45A.
The company won a $1.5 billion contract for KC-X system development and demonstration. The SDD phase includes the manufacture of four test aircraft and also includes options for five production lots, together worth $10.6 billion, for 64 airplanes, the Air Force said. Overall, the KC-X program has an estimated value of $35 billion over the next 15 years or so for all 179 airplanes in 13 production lots.
“We had two very competitive offers,” Air Force acquisition executive Sue C. Payton said during the press briefing announcing the decision. “Northrop Grumman clearly provided the best value to the government.”
Air Mobility Command boss Gen. Arthur J. Lichte said he hopes to see the first aircraft in test beginning in 2010, followed by initial operational capability around 2013.
The Air Force said it could not provide additional information on the proposals until it had given Boeing a detailed debriefing, which took place March 7. Service officials said USAF did its best to run its KC-X tanker competition as openly and transparently as possible in the hopes of avoiding a long, drawn-out protest by the losing offeror.
Boeing announced on March 11 that it would protest the award. A protest was anticipated in any case: The winner may have the inside track on replacing some 500 KC-135s in the fleet under work valued at around $100 billion.
Donald S. Lopez, Pilot and Historian, 1923-2008
Donald S. Lopez, an Army Air Forces Flying Tiger of World War II, engineer, test pilot, author, historian, and a longtime leader of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, died March 3. He was 84.
Lopez caught the flying bug early, hanging around the Brooklyn, N.Y., Floyd Bennett Field and cadging free rides from friendly pilots. He learned to fly in college, just as World War II broke out, and as soon as the age limit for the Aviation Cadet Program was lowered to 18, Lopez volunteered.
After winning his wings, Lopez was sent to China to join the 23rd Fighter Group, which had been formed out of the American Volunteer Group, or Flying Tigers. Flying first the shark-mouthed P-40s, and later P-51s under the command of Gen. Claire L. Chennault, Lopez scored three kills against Japanese fighters. He later wrote of his experiences in the war in a critically acclaimed memoir, Into the Teeth of the Tiger.
After the war, Lopez stayed with the newly minted Air Force and flew as a test pilot at Eglin Field, Fla., where he put early jet fighters through their paces. He then served a short combat tour in Korea flying the F-86. Back in the US, he served in the Pentagon, then finished his postponed undergraduate degree at the Air Force Institute of Technology and earned a master’s in aeronautics from Cal Tech. He then taught at the Air Force Academy for five years, retiring from the service in 1964.
As an engineer with Bellcomm, a subsidiary of Bell Labs, Lopez worked on the Apollo and Skylab manned space programs. He left the Skylab project in 1972 to join the staff of the National Air and Space Museum. In that capacity, he was part of the team that planned and built the downtown Washington, D.C., museum.
Lopez’s official NASM biography credits him as being “instrumental in developing the exhibits that welcomed visitors at the museum’s opening on July 1, 1976 and that have made it the most visited museum in the world.”
Serving as deputy director of the museum from 1983-90, Lopez stayed on as a senior advisor until 1993, and then as senior advisor emeritus until 1996. After significant turmoil at the NASM over the exhibition of the B-29 the Enola Gay, Lopez was brought back as deputy director, a position he held until his death.
Some of Lopez’s flying gear as a Flying Tiger, including his leather jacket, is on display at the NASM’s World War II gallery. The P-40 that hangs in the museum’s annex at Dulles Airport in Virginia is painted to resemble the P-40 he flew in China, Lope’s Hope.
Lopez wrote two other books—one about flight testing early jet fighters, and one about the NASM. He had accrued a long list of honors and awards. Those included being made a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society and an Elder Statesman of Aviation by the National Aeronautic Association.
—John A. Tirpak
Bent Spear Incident Prompts Large-scale Changes
The Air Force has instituted wholesale changes to ensure the safety and security of its nuclear weapons in the aftermath of the August 2007 errant transfer of nuclear-tipped cruise missiles on a B-52 flight from Minot AFB, N.D., to Barksdale AFB, La., senior service officials said. Improvements are also being implemented to counter the declining focus on the strategic nuclear bomber mission that was identified during three in-depth reviews of the so-called Bent Spear incident, they said.
Gen. T. Michael Moseley, Chief of Staff, said Feb. 28 that the three reviews (Air Combat Command Commander-Directed Investigation, USAF Blue Ribbon Review, and Defense Science Board study) resulted in 128 recommendations, adding that he considers what transpired last year a “very serious” issue.
In January, USAF revised the procedures for how it will handle nuclear weapons. Among the more significant changes, bases are prohibited from commingling nuclear and non-nuclear weapons in the same storage structure. And there will be a single individual to perform munitions accountable systems officer and weapons custodian duties.
Moseley said the service is also close to implementing policy under which bomber units capable of both conventional and nuclear strike missions, such as B-52 squadrons, would be assigned responsibility solely for the latter during extended intervals of training and being on call for operations.
The DSB review, briefed to lawmakers Feb. 13, identified a “dramatic reduction” DOD-wide in a dedicated focus on the nuclear mission. To counter this, the panel recommended creating an assistant secretary position within the Office of the Secretary of Defense to oversee the nuclear enterprise.
The BRR, also discussed publicly that day before Congress, found that, in addition to the unit-level leadership and discipline breakdowns, the declining nuclear focus contributed to the Bent Spear incident. As a result, the Air Force plans to appoint a two-star general on the Air Staff, whose sole duty would be nuclear mission oversight, senior USAF officials said.
|Operation Iraqi Freedom—Iraq
CasualtiesBy March 12, a total of 3,975 Americans had died in Operation Iraqi Freedom. The total includes 3,967 troops and eight Department of Defense civilians. Of these deaths, 3,238 were killed in action with the enemy while 737 died in noncombat incidents.
There have been 29,395 troops wounded in action during Operation Iraqi Freedom. This number includes 16,257 who were wounded and returned to duty within 72 hours and 13,138 who were unable to return to duty quickly.
F-16s Target Explosive-Rigged Houses in Baqubah
Working with coalition ground forces, Iraqi armed forces, and local militia units, Air Force F-16s carried out several air strikes in and around Baqubah in early February to destroy house-borne improvised explosive devices and weapons caches of insurgents and al Qaeda fighters.
On Feb. 4, F-16s dropped GBU-38s and a GBU-31 on a house in Baqubah that was reportedly rigged with explosives. The Air Force joint terminal attack controller on the ground reported that the house was successfully destroyed. The same day, another F-16 air strike destroyed a weapons cache near Baqubah with GBU-38s.
On Feb. 6, F-16s used a GBU-12 and GBU-38s to successfully destroy another house-borne IED, an enemy combatant command-and-control building, and a weapons bunker in the vicinity of Baqubah.
Operation Enduring Freedom—Afghanistan
By March 8, a total of 482 Americans had died in Operation Enduring Freedom. The total includes 481 troops and one Department of Defense civilian. Of these deaths, 289 were killed in action with the enemy while 193 died in noncombat incidents.
There have been 1,894 troops wounded in action during OEF. This number includes 739 who were wounded and returned to duty within 72 hours and 1,155 who were unable to return to duty quickly.
Afghan Air Corps Building Capability With New Aircraft
The Afghan National Army Air Corps is a small but rapidly growing force that will eventually boast about 7,400 personnel and 112 aircraft under its authority, a senior official with the Combined Airpower Transition Force said in late January.
Air Force Brig. Gen. Jay H. Lindell, the CAPTF’s commander, told Pentagon reporters via teleconference from Kabul that the Afghan Air Corps has doubled its capacity since October 2007 and plans to double it again over the first half of 2008. The Afghans are in the early stages of an expansion that will raise the number of fixed-wing aircraft and rotorcraft in its inventory from 22 in late January to 61 by 2011.
The inventory will feature new Mi-17 helicopters from the Czech Republic and the United Arab Emirates, refurbished with US and NATO funding. The first three helicopters arrived in December 2007 and the last three arrived in late March. The Air Corps will also get four more Antonov An-32 transports, due later this month from the Ukraine, Lindell said. A portion of the force’s Mi-17 helicopters will also be equipped for an armed escort role—armed with forward-firing rocket pods and door guns designed for escort missions, not close air support.
One of the largest problems facing the Air Corps is the lack of tooling and the absence of an established logistics infrastructure, Lindell said. To alleviate the situation, the CAPTF contracted a $20 million agreement in September 2007 for parts for the legacy Antonovs and Mi-17s. Work is also being done with the Afghans on logistics systems for tech orders, tooling, and maintenance training. A survey team is currently working with the Afghans on logistics system development, which should take about two to three years, he added.
The 1,950-strong corps plans to take over mobility operations to support the Afghan Army soon. Most of its daily sorties are currently training, but it plans to conduct medical evacuation flights from its new joint aviation facility, inaugurated in January in Kabul. By the end of April, the Afghans plan to be flying mobility and medevac operations out of Kandahar as well, Lindell added.
|Formerly Grounded F-15s Return to Flight
The Air Force cleared the remainder of its grounded F-15A-D model fighters—nearly 150 of the fleet’s approximately 440 Eagles—to return to flight on Feb. 15, except for those nine F-15Cs found to have structural cracks.
USAF stopped flying its Eagle fleet in the wake of the Nov. 2, 2007 crash of a Missouri Air National Guard F-15C due to what investigators determined to be a cracked structural beam called a longeron near the cockpit. The airplane essentially broke apart in midair.
Gradually Eagles were returned to flight duty after safety inspections, except for this last group of airplanes found to have longerons of under-spec thickness. After additional examination, ACC gave the green light to resume flights without restriction.
As of early March, the Air Force did not say if it would fix the nine F-15Cs with cracked longerons or retire them. Nor had the service determined how many of the aircraft with too-thin longerons would get new ones. Plans are to start phasing out some F-15A and B models in Fiscal 2009, so it might not make sense to replace the beams on all of the affected airframes, USAF officials said.
There have been several F-15 mishaps since last November. In addition to the fatal accident Feb. 20 over the Gulf of Mexico (see “F-15 Pilot Killed,” p. 14), an F-15C slid off the runway after landing on Jan. 22 at Tyndall AFB, Fla. The pilot was not injured. The cause may have been brake failure, but the investigation was still under way as of early March.
Further, a Hawaii Air National Guard F-15D went down Feb. 1 during a training flight off the coast of Oahu. The pilot ejected safely. An investigation was still under way as of early March. Since the airplane did not break apart when it went down, the Air Force did not think the loss was due to the same structural issue that doomed the Missouri ANG F-15C.
Senior Staff Changes
RETIREMENTS: Lt. Gen. Bruce A. Wright, Brig. Gen. Bradley W. Butler.
PROMOTIONS: To AFRC Brigadier General: Daniel P. Gillen, Michael J. Yaszemski.
NOMINATIONS: To be AFRC Major General: Robert B. Bartlett, Thomas R. Coon, James F. Jackson, Brian P. Meenan, Charles E. Reed Jr., James T. Rubeor. To be AFRC Brigadier General: Robert S. Arthur, Gary M. Batinich, Richard S. Haddad, Robert G. Kenny, Keith D. Kries, Muriel R. McCarthy, David S. Post, Patricia A. Quisenberry, Robert D. Rego, Paul L. Sampson.
CHANGES: Maj. Gen. David M. Edgington, from Dir., Air Component Coordination Element, Multinational Force-Iraq, ACC, Baghdad, Iraq, to CS, JFCOM, Norfolk, Va. … Brig. Gen. David S. Fadok, from Dir., Warfighter Systems Integration & Deployment, Office of Warfighting Integration & Chief Information Officer, OSAF, Pentagon, to Dir. of Strategy, P&P, SOUTHCOM, Miami … Brig. Gen. James W. Hyatt, from Cmdr., 455th Air Expeditionary Wg., ACC, Bagram AB, Afghanistan, to Sr. Mil. Asst. to the Dep. SECDEF, OSD, Pentagon … Brig. Gen. Charles W. Lyon, from Cmdr., 379th Air Expeditionary Wg., ACC, Al Udeid AB, Qatar, to Dir., Jt. Integration, DCS, Ops., P&R, USAF, Pentagon … Brig. Gen. Stephen P. Mueller, from Dir., Jt. Integration, DCS, Ops., P&R, USAF, Pentagon, to Dir., Operational Capability Rqmts., DCS, Ops., P&R, USAF, Pentagon … Maj. Gen. (sel.) Cecil R. Richardson, from Dep. Chief of Chaplains, USAF, Pentagon, to Chief of Chaplains, USAF, Pentagon … Maj. Gen. Marshall K. Sabol, from Dir., Operational Capability Rqmts., DSC, Ops., P&R, USAF, Pentagon, to Dir., Strat. P&P, AFMC, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio … Brig. Gen. Lawrence L. Wells, from Cmdr., 380th Air Expeditionary Wg., ACC, Al Dhafra AB, UAE, to Dir., Warfighter Systems Integration & Deployment, Office of Warfighting Integration & Chief Information Officer, OSAF, Pentagon.
SENIOR EXECUTIVE SERVICE CHANGES: David R. Beecroft, to Dep. Dir., Security Forces, DCS, Log., Instl., & Mission Spt., USAF, Pentagon … Mark D. Johnson, to Executive Dir., Ogden ALC, AFMC, Hill AFB, Utah … Mary Christine Puckett, to Dir., Instl. & Log., AFSPC, Peterson AFB, Colo. … Maureen A. Quinlan, to Dep. Dir., Strategy, Policy, Prgms., & Log., TRANSCOM, Scott AFB, Ill.
Lt. Gen. Edward A. Rice Jr. assumed command of US Forces Japan and 5th Air Force during a ceremony Feb. 25 at Yokota AB, Japan. Rice, most recently vice commander of Pacific Air Forces, replaced Lt. Gen. Bruce A. Wright, who retired after nearly 35 years of service.