Late Start for Defense Panel
Defense Secretary William S. Cohen on February 6 announced selection of nine members of a National Defense Panel whose tasks are to take an independent look at DoD’s Quadrennial Defense Review and to make an assessment of potential force structures through 2010.
By the time it held its first meeting last month, the NDP already was two months behind schedule. It has nine members:
Philip A. Odeen (chairman), president and chief executive officer of BDM International; Richard L. Armitage, former assistant secretary of defense for International Security Affairs; Gen. Richard D. Hearney, USMC (Ret.), former assistant commandant of the Marine Corps; Adm. David E. Jeremiah, USN (Ret.), former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Brig. Gen. Robert M. Kimmitt, USAR, managing director of the investment banking firm Lehman Brothers; Andrew F. Krepinevich, director of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments; Gen. James P. McCarthy, USAF (Ret.), former deputy commander in chief, US European Command; Janne E. Nolan, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution; and Gen. Robert W. RisCassi, USA (Ret.), former commander of US forces in Korea.
Congress mandated creation of the panel in the Fiscal 1997 defense authorization bill and expected members to be named this past December so they could consult during the QDR process. Despite the delay, Pentagon spokesman Kenneth H. Bacon emphasized that their defense backgrounds would enable them to “acclimate themselves very quickly to the questions that are being considered.”
The panel was to present an interim assessment in early spring and its final report on the QDR by May 15. The independent analysis of alternative force structures is due to Congress by December 15, 1997.
From Hospitals to Clinics
The Pentagon announced February 6 that it proposes to downsize 17 military hospitals—eliminating their inpatient-care capability—by Fiscal 2000. The move was made as part of the DoD Fiscal 1998 budget request and, if approved, would free an estimated $42 million for other health-affairs uses.
Under the proposal, the Air Force would convert 11 of its 48 remaining hospitals to clinic or superclinic status. A superclinic would be capable of providing same-day surgery.
The Air Force list includes hospitals that have 20 or fewer inpatient beds and serve an average of six patients or fewer per day. The hospitals are located at the following bases: Beale and McClellan AFBs, Calif.; Columbus AFB, Miss.; Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz.; Dover AFB, Del.; Fairchild AFB, Wash.; Little Rock AFB, Ark.; Maxwell AFB, Ala.; Patrick AFB, Fla.; Robins AFB, Ga.; and Seymour Johnson AFB, N. C.
As part of the overall defense drawdown, Pentagon health-affairs officials continue to evaluate what should constitute the “right size” for the active-duty medical service.
With the hospital downsizing, the Air Force announced that the service could reduce its active-duty medical force by another 13.6 percent between Fiscal 1998 and 2008. The new cuts would bring the USAF medical force reduction to an overall 17.9 percent since Fiscal 1989.
Global Hawk Unveiled
Teledyne Ryan Aeronautical unveiled the Defense Department’s newest unmanned aerial vehicle, Global Hawk, on February 20 at its San Diego facility.
As the companion vehicle to the low-observable, high-threat-environment DarkStar UAV, Global Hawk will cover low- to moderate-threat, long-endurance reconnaissance missions.
The Global Hawk, which flies at altitudes up to 65,000 feet, has a 116-foot wingspan, is 44 feet long, and weighs 25,600 pounds. It carries both synthetic aperture radar and electro-optical and infrared sensors.
The UAV will be able to survey, in one day, a 40,000-square-mile area, equivalent in size to the state of Kentucky, while providing imagery with a three-foot resolution. It can also provide more detailed (one-foot-resolution) images if needed.
Pentagon officials said that, for a typical mission, the Global Hawk will fly 3,000 nautical miles to a target, conduct a continuous airborne data-collection patrol for 24 hours, and then return to base.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency manages the High-Altitude Endurance UAV program for the Defense Airborne Reconnaissance Office with Air Force, Navy, and Army participation.
DARPA plans to begin Global Hawk flight tests at Edwards AFB, Calif., in late summer or early fall. Once completed in Fiscal 1998, Global Hawk and DarkStar will start operational user demonstrations with US Atlantic Command.
Khobar Report Delays Promotion
The Air Force announced January 29 that it had placed on hold the promotion of Brig. Gen. Terryl A. Schwalier to major general, which would have been effective February 1, “pending the resolution of an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the June 25, 1996, terrorist bombing of Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia.”
News reports of a not-yet-released USAF inquiry into the bombing surfaced late last year, citing its absolution of the former senior Air Force commander in Dhahran. [See “USAF Wraps Up Khobar Probe,” February 1997 “Aerospace World,” p. 11.]
According to a DoD spokesman, both the Secretary of the Air Force and the deputy secretary of Defense reviewed the Air Force report as a “work in progress” and “agreed that more work needs to be done.”
An Air Force statement attributed to senior Air Force leadership maintained that the delay in the Schwalier promotion “does not in any way reflect a decision on Schwalier’s promotion to major general. It is simply a prudent step, given that these matters are still under review.”
Incidents Change Flight Rules
Several February incidents involving active-duty and Air National Guard aircraft and civilian airliners prompted the Air Force to temporarily suspend flying training, first off the East Coast and then over the southern US.
Pentagon officials emphasized that the incidents were not actual “near-misses;” however, they have already led to new flight rules.
The Air Force has changed its procedures on how close its pilots may fly to civilian airliners to avoid setting off the traffic alert and collision avoidance system, standard on all commercial airliners. Apparently, the TCAS is more sensitive and triggered at greater distance than previously understood, according to a Pentagon spokesman.
In one of two separate incidents off the East Coast, an ANG F-16 of a two-ship formation, on entering a military warning area, broke off to investigate traffic nearby, passing about 1,000 feet from the civilian airliner and setting off its TCAS. In a second incident, three ANG F-16s flew approximately 2,000 feet above a civilian airliner and one about 2,500 feet below it.
In the first incident over the southern US, an active-duty F-16 was 3.5 horizontal miles away from a civilian airliner flying over Clovis, N. M. In the second incident, an ANG F-16 came within 4.6 horizontal miles of a civilian airliner.
ANG Director Maj. Gen. Donald W. Shepperd told reporters at the Pentagon on February 7 that the pilots were always well aware of the location of the civilian airliners and that there was no indication that anyone “was engaging in a maneuver that was improper at this point.”
He added that the military flies thousands of flights off the East Coast, one of the nation’s busiest airspaces, each day, with “relatively few incidents.”
USAF officials instructed all USAF, ANG, and Air Force Reserve pilots to review operating procedures with Federal Aviation Administration and military air traffic controllers before returning to flying in the two areas. At press time, the National Transportation Safety Board, the FAA, and the Air Force were still investigating the incidents.
Lockheed Martin Wins WCMD
USAF announced January 27 that Lockheed Martin had won the $21 million contract to complete development and begin production of the Wind-Corrected Munition Dispenser (WCMD) inertial guidance tail-kit assembly system. Follow-on production contracts for 40,000 kits could increase the contract value to nearly $500 million.
Initially, Lockheed Martin will deliver 40 WCMD tail kits, which enhance the precision of tactical munitions, for testing on F-16 and B-52 aircraft beginning next month.
The “smart” guidance kit designed by Lockheed Martin corrects the munition dispenser’s free-fall trajectory, compensating for weather and allowing accurate delivery at any altitude. The dispenser is an aerodynamic weapon container that is dropped from an aircraft, then flies to a designated position where it releases a cluster of submunitions over ground targets, such as armored columns.
The WCMD program allows the Air Force to convert older, unguided “dumb” bombs into modern “smart” weapons. WCMD can be delivered by a variety of bombers and fighters including the F-15E, F-16, F-117, B-1, and B-52.
Lockheed Martin is teamed with Simmonds Precision Motion Controls, Cedar Knolls, N. J.; Honeywell Military Avionics, Minneapolis, Minn.; Litton Guidance and Control Systems, Woodland Hills, Calif.; and PRB Associates, Hollywood, Md. The company expects foreign military sales to boost the program to more than $1 billion.
Food Stamps in Perspective
Concern about the continued need of some military families for food stamps flared at one of Defense Secretary Cohen’s first news conferences. According to a 1995 DoD study, approximately 11,900 active-duty members and their families receive food stamps.
Both the new Secretary and Gen. John M. Shalikashvili, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, declared that even that relatively small number is not acceptable.
However, Secretary Cohen explained that the number would be even smaller if housing allowances were considered. He also noted that the need for food stamps is generated by the number of members in a family.
According to the Pentagon, 59 percent of the service members receiving food stamps were living on base; food-stamp procedures ignore the value of “in-kind” quarters when computing need. Only 0.3 percent of all active-duty members receive stamps and live off base. They are primarily junior enlisted members with larger-than-average families.
Although the Air Force does not track the number of its personnel who use food stamps, officials estimated the number who are eligible at approximately 1,200.
General Shalikashvili pointed out that, although the Pentagon would like to eliminate the conditions that necessitate the use of food stamps, he did not want to “paint that in such a way that it is something demeaning” thus making a young military member reluctant to use food stamps. “It’s very important that those who are in need do, in fact, avail themselves of food stamps, so we need to keep that perspective open.”
New Nighthawk Debuts
An improved F-117A stealth fighter, complete with a new navigation system to reduce drift experienced by pilots, arrived at Holloman AFB, N. M., on January 22. The upgraded fighter was the first delivered under a program called the Ring-Laser Gyro/Global Positioning System Navigation Improvement Program.
Under the program, Lockheed Martin is replacing the current navigation suite with the ring-laser gyro inertial navigation system developed for the F-16, coupled with GPS to provide both enhanced navigation and targeting capability. USAF expects to have the entire fleet retrofitted by October 1999.
Program officials at Aeronautical Systems Center, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, said the new system is three times more reliable and requires 100 times less maintenance than the current system. Additionally, the time needed to calibrate the equipment before takeoff dropped from 43 to 15 minutes. Pilots also have the option to take off within 90 seconds and complete the navigation alignment in about five minutes while airborne using GPS.
LANTIRN Extends Reach
Lockheed Martin announced plans to develop a program called LANTIRN 2000 that will improve Low-Altitude Navigation and Targeting Infrared for Night system capabilities—not only taking it out of the low-altitude category but broadening its capabilities to include air-to-air tracking, Theater Missile Defense, and bomb-damage assessment.
From a system designed for low-altitude ground attacks at night, it will extend its targeting pod’s operational range from 25,000 feet to 40,000 feet.
With a limit of only 25,000 feet, the use of LANTIRN during the Persian Gulf War was limited because allied pilots had to fly at medium or high altitude to avoid small-arms fire and shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles.
Company officials expected to have the upgrades flying for demonstration early this year. They have told USAF commanders that LANTIRN 2000 could be ready for “full implementation before the turn of the century.”
USAF and ANG use LANTIRN on F-16 and F-15E aircraft and the Navy on F-14s. Eight foreign countries also have LANTIRN-equipped aircraft.
AFRES Becomes a Major Command
On February 17, the Air Force Reserve became the Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC), the Air Force’s ninth and newest major command. Maj. Gen. Robert A. McIntosh, the former AFRES commander, now serves as the first AFRC commander.
Congress authorized the new status as part of the Fiscal 1997 National Defense Authorization Act. It based the change on lessons learned from reserve component mobilization for Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. It is expected to enhance day-to-day support and recognizes the realities of the reserve component partnership in the Total Force, according to a USAF statement.
AFRC headquarters remains at Robins AFB, Ga. Previously, the Air Force Reserve was a field operating agency.
AFOATS for Commissions
On February 14, the Air Force combined the Air Force Reserve Officers Training Corps and Officer Training School into one organization—the Air Force Officer Accession and Training Schools (AFOATS).
Both programs have resided at Maxwell AFB, Ala., as part of Air University (AU), since 1993, when the Air Force moved OTS from Lackland AFB, Tex., to Maxwell to consolidate all its officer education and training programs.
The new AFOATS commander, Brig. Gen. Brian A. Arnold, former AFROTC commander, said the consolidation will not alter the day-to-day operation of either school. It will reduce duplication and streamline administrative and reporting procedures within AU.
Together, both schools produce 75 percent of USAF’s officers. This year, AFROTC will produce about 2,000 officers through programs at 144 college campuses nationwide. OTS will commission about 500 new line officers this year and provide military orientation and training for another 2,000 new, already-commissioned judge advocates, chaplains, and health-profession officers.
Southwest Asia Tours Lengthened
US Central Command officials announced that tour lengths for Air Force members individually selected to support contingencies in southwest Asia will increase from 90 to 120 days beginning June 1. They said the change, affecting about 2,700 support positions, was made to improve force protection.
By lengthening the tours, officials said they would reduce the number of people who spend time in the theater by 25 percent each year.
Col. Bob Baskett, chief of the Air Force Contingency and Joint Matters Division at the Pentagon, said that about 10,000 support personnel rotated through the theater each year. Under the new 120-day policy, the rotation demand drops to about 7,500 per year.
The Downing Report on the June 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers recommended increased tour lengths as one means to improve force protection. Prior to the bombing, the Air Force had already extended 10 leadership positions to one-year tours and planned to convert additional positions.
Flight crews and their maintenance personnel deploy as “operational packages” and will continue to serve 90-day tours.
First Deployment “Outstanding”
The commander of the 93d Air Control Wing—the Air Force’s newest—declared its first operational deployment to have exceeded initial expectations “by a wide margin.” Col. Ben Robinson praised his crews and aircraft as they celebrated the new wing’s first birthday on January 29 at Robins AFB, Ga.
Crews from the 93d ACW and two E-8C Joint Surveillance and Target Attack Radar System aircraft returned on January 4 from Europe, where they had supported Operation Joint Endeavor in Bosnia-Hercegovina.
Colonel Robinson said that during the operation, the wing exposed 40 percent of its personnel to deployed operations, trained more than 40 aircrew members, and reduced its deployed number of personnel by 12 percent. “There wasn’t an area that we weren’t successful in,” he said.
Additionally, the crews covered more than 90 percent of their assigned target areas and participated in eight exercises with six nations. They also developed an innovative approach, flying a banana-shaped orbit to use their radar over mountainous terrain.
“I can’t overemphasize the success of this deployment,” stated the Colonel. “For the first [operational] deployment with a brand-new airplane, for the first deployment with the newest wing in the Air Force, meeting every one of our objectives, plus more—that is just outstanding.”
Maj. Peter Woodbury, an Air National Guard pilot with the 148th Fighter Wing at Duluth IAP, Minn., was killed January 7 when his F-16 crashed in a heavily wooded area about 50 miles northeast of Duluth. He had served with the Guard for six years and previously on active duty for nine years. He had 1,199 hours in the F-16. The accident investigation is ongoing.
Two Air Force Reservists ejected safely before their F-16D crashed February 4 in an unpopulated area about 10 miles northeast of Wendover, Utah. Maj. Edward G. Goggins, pilot, and Capt. Mark C. Snyder, flight surgeon, both with the 419th Fighter Wing, Hill AFB, Utah, were rescued the same day and listed in fair condition.
Lt. Col. John Kennedy, a master weapons controller, became the first nonrated officer selected to command an operational flying squadron when he became commander of the 963d Airborne Air Control Squadron at Tinker AFB, Okla., on January 16. USAF recently changed its policy regarding command of flying organizations to permit air-battle managers to command specific units.
Major commands selected 216 officers from 296 on the candidates list to fill this year’s projected wing and group command vacancies. A first was the selection by the ANG of an active-duty officer to command a nonmobilized ANG unit—another means to integrate into a Total Force environment, according to ANG officials.
USAF aircrews flying from Aviano AB, Italy, continue to fly more than 20 sorties daily over Bosnia to support Operation Deliberate Guard. Last year, they flew some 13,000 sorties. Aviano’s 555th Fighter Squadron set an operational milestone January 28 when Capt. Matthew Dana flew the unit’s 2,000th sortie over Bosnia.
The Air Force will end operations at Pirinclik AS, Turkey, and return the installation to Turkey by September. The move will affect about 117 USAF personnel assigned to the base.
The 20th Fighter Squadron, Holloman AFB, N. M., the only USAF unit still flying F-4 Phantom II aircraft, received nine F-4Fs from Germany on January 16 to replace its older E models. They will get a total of 24 F-4Fs, used to train German aircrews under a $48 million foreign military sales program.
In early February, another air expeditionary force, with about 30 fighter aircraft, deployed to Qatar to support Operation Southern Watch in southwest Asia. The AEF included F-15Es from the 4th Wing, Seymour Johnson AFB, N. C.; and F-16s from the 169th Fighter Wing, McEntire ANGB, S. C., 27th FW, Cannon AFB, N. M., and 20th FW, Shaw AFB, S. C.
Maj. Steve Moulton and Capt. Jeff Long emerged February 1 after completing the longest B-2 simulator flight—44.4 hours—in Air Force history, according to USAF’s Armstrong Laboratory officials, who used the flight to help determine the impact of fatigue on a pilot’s ability to perform a mission and return safely. They said the tests help pilots learn to recognize and adapt to fatigue.
USAF declared two SR-71 “Blackbird” reconnaissance aircraft and their aircrews “mission ready” on January 1 for the first time since the aircraft entered retirement seven years ago. The 32-year-old SR-71 is the world’s fastest, highest-flying production aircraft. It can survey more than 100,000 square miles of the Earth’s surface in one hour.
A McDonnell Douglas Delta II booster exploded about 12 seconds into powered flight on January 17 as it lifted off from Cape Canaveral AS, Fla. It was the first Delta near-pad destruction since 1977. It was carrying the first of a new generation of Global Positioning System satellites.
710th Airlift Squadron Reservists from Travis AFB, Calif., flew nearly 20,000 pounds of blankets and clothing to Ellsworth AFB, S. D., on January 19 for residents of the Cheyenne River Sioux Indian Reservation, which was hit by frigid winter storms.
Construction of the Women in Military Service to America Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery, Va., passed the halfway point in January, right on schedule for completion this summer and opening ceremonies, now set for October 18.
Winners of the 1996 Civil Engineer Outstanding Unit Award are the 10th Civil Engineering Group, US Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colo., and the 31st Civil Engineering Squadron, Aviano AB, Italy.
Maj. Michael Leahy, Jr., Air Force Materiel Command, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, is the Air Force military engineer of the year for the National Society of Professional Engineers. James LaFrenz, Air Force Civil Engineer Support Agency, Tyndall AFB, Fla., is the Air Force civilian engineer of the year.
Luke AFB, Ariz., Radar Approach Control received the Air Traffic Communication Facility of the Year award from the Aviation Safety Advisory Group of Arizona, Inc., for its assistance to general-aviation pilots.
US Air Forces in Europe celebrated its fifty-fifth birthday on January 28. It traces its heritage to the activation of Eighth Air Force in 1942.
January 24 marked the end of 55 years of pilot training at Reese AFB, Tex. Personnel over that time at the base, once known as Lubbock Army Airfield, trained 436 classes of student pilots, graduating 25,349 men and women, including 614 from 40 allied nations.
Gen. John G. Lorber, commander of Pacific Air Forces, became the first PACAF commander to receive the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun, one of Japan’s highest honors, on January 20. Instituted in 1875, the award is seldom bestowed, and rarely presented to foreigners, according to a USAF release.
Twenty-eight cadets from the Air Force Academy traveled to Greensboro, Ala., in January to help restore the Rising Star Missionary Baptist Church, one of the churches burned in last year’s string of arsons.
In January, the Air Force commissioned as a second lieutenant its first Muslim chaplain candidate, Abdullah Hamza Al-Mubarak. On completion of his course work, designation as an imam, and endorsement from his faith group, he will be eligible for selection as an active-duty chaplain. Within USAF’s ranks, there are about 700 Muslims. The Army and the Navy also each have one Muslim chaplain candidate.
DoD officials dedicated a Hall of African-American Military Heroes and Contributors Corridor in February as part of Black History Month. The initial corridor exhibit will focus on African-American Medal of Honor heroes, now numbering 86, from the Civil War through the Vietnam War.