Aerospace World

July 8, 2008

JSF Contractors Seek All-or-Nothing Contest

Boeing and Lockheed Martin are urging the Pentagon to let them battle to the end, winner take all, for a Joint Strike Fighter contract valued at around $200 billion for 3,000 aircraft.

Worried that the losing firm might exit the fighter aircraft field, some Pentagon officials want JSF work to be split between the two competitors. Competition in the nation’s fighter industrial base might thus be preserved for the next round

of design and purchase, decades hence.

A special Defense Department committee is weighing the consequences of splitting the contract. The Pentagon’s top acquisition official, Undersecretary of Defense Jacques S. Gansler, was expected to make a decision on the issue this spring.

Neither Boeing nor Lockheed Martin want part of a settlement.

At least one contractor feels somewhat differently. Northrop Grumman, currently on board as a subcontractor for the Lockheed Martin JSF, wants the government to allot it 20 percent of JSF work, no matter who wins. Northrop is set to provide airframe parts, mission and avionics systems, and other services.

Such a move could be part of another option, in which a winning contractor would take the lead. The firm with the winning design would be in charge of a newly created team that would include the loser and other suppliers.

However, some members of Congress are worried that at this point any change in the JSF competition could endanger the entire program. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John W. Warner (R­Va.) has said that a major JSF readjustment would make him “concerned about its survival.”

CINCPAC: Invasion of Taiwan Would Be Bloody Failure

China does not have enough military capability to successfully invade Taiwan, said Adm. Dennis C. Blair, the commander in chief of US Pacific Command. Still, he said, it could do “a lot of damage,” primarily with ballistic missile attacks.

China has been steadily increasing its arsenal of short-range missiles opposite the Taiwanese coast, said Blair at a March 7 Pentagon briefing for reporters.

“The Chinese are adding about 50 missiles every year to their force that can target Taiwan,” he said.

The Defense Intelligence Agency estimates that China has enough M-9 and M-11 missiles stockpiled to knock out all military bases on Taiwan with little or no warning, according to a report in The Washington Times. The DIA has stated that Beijing is building two new short-range missile bases, at Yongan and Xianyou, to supplement an existing installation at Leping, reported the Times.

China issued numerous blunt threats against Taiwan in the run-up to Taiwan’s March 18 presidential election. Among other things, Chinese officials threatened invasion if Taiwan declares independence or even if it continues to spurn reunification talks.

If anything, the rhetoric backfired on Taiwanese voters. They elected Chen Shui-bian, whose Democratic Progressive Party has favored independence and who is one of China’s least favorite Taiwanese politicians.

US Defense Secretary William S. Cohen, traveling in the region, told reporters at the Japan National Press Club on March 17, “We do not see any evidence of preparations for an imminent attack.”

Cohen also reiterated that the US will not be intimidated by Chinese leaders. “The best way to resolve this is for both sides to back away from this confrontational pose and get back to the business of trying to peacefully reconcile the differences.”

USAF Scores Gains in Enlisted Retention

The Air Force announced March 15 that the most recent figures for retention indicate a positive trend in the enlisted force.

First- and second-term retention rates for January and February 2000 exceeded those at the same time in 1999, said Lt. Col. Jan Middleton, chief of retention policy, personnel.

First-term rate: 59 percent, up from 46 percent.

Second-term rate: 74 percent, up from 73 percent.

Career: 91 percent, same as last year.

In Fiscal Years 1998 and 1999, Air Force re-enlistment rates in all three categories fell below their target levels.

The USAF goals are 55 percent of first-termers, 75 percent of second-termers, and 95 percent of career airmen.

Officials said the upward trend may be credited to the pay and compensation initiatives passed this fiscal year as well as the service’s continued emphasis on stabilizing operating tempo and improving quality of life for its people and their families.

USAF to Congress: Let Us Close Bases

The Air Force “badly” needs another round of base closings, Chief of Staff Gen. Michael E. Ryan told the Senate Armed Services Committee on March 1.

The need to free up funds for further modernization is only one reason why the service wants to trim its infrastructure. Officials also want to change an environment in which communities near Air Force installations are resisting all efforts to move or consolidate forces, because they fear that base closure will be next.

The Air Force is in “gridlock” because of this situation, said Ryan.

Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen echoed the Air Force plea, saying that the two rounds of base closings proposed in the Clinton defense budget-one in 2003, and another in 2005-could produce savings of $3 billion a year.

Leaders of the other services, however, did not sound as enthusiastic. Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James L. Jones said he knew of no Marine installation he would recommend for closure. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jay L. Johnson said his view was “not far” from that of Jones. He added that the Navy does need to trim infrastructure, but he is concerned about permanently losing training ranges, airspace, and access to the sea. Army chief Gen. Eric K. Shinseki said he would support some closures but added a cautionary footnote that the Army needs to decide its future force level before it can judge base consolidation with certainty.

The Clinton Administration and Congress last agreed on a round of base closings in 1995.

USAF Expects Rise in B-2 Mission Capability

The Air Force can expect to see a slight increase in the B-2 bomber’s Mission Capable rate in coming months, Chief of Staff Gen. Michael E. Ryan told reporters during the Air Force Association annual Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Fla., in late February.

The reason: Maintainers will keep learning more about how to handle the Low Observable technologies on the bat-wing stealth aircraft.

The Air Force goal for the B-2 is a 60 percent MC rate. As of last July, the actual MC rate was 43 percent-and that included the push to keep the bombers ready for use in Operation Allied Force last year.

He emphasized that the MC rate is as low as it is because of the necessity to maintain the LO characteristics of the airplane. The slightest defect gets fixed. That artificially depresses the MC rate.

Other systems on the B-2 have been very reliable, said Ryan. Hydraulics, avionics, and the airframe are not a problem.

Use of new tools to determine whether an LO problem is simply a small glitch is one way the service should improve the B-2’s mission record. Delivery of deployable aircraft shelters, which are scheduled to begin the first quarter of Fiscal 2001, should help the airplane meet its deployability requirements.

This spring may see a turnaround for the MC rate for all Air Force aircraft, which has declined steadily over the last decade to about 71 percent. That is because a surge in spares funding that began in 1998 should finally be producing a surge in parts in the bins.

A turnaround in readiness or Mission Capable rates hasn’t yet been seen, according to Ryan.

F-16 Pilot Killed During Air Show

Maj. Brison Phillips, an F-16 pilot with the 78th Fighter Squadron, Shaw AFB, S.C., was killed March 19 when his F-16 crashed in a field near Kingsville, Texas.

Phillips, who was a member of the F-16 East Coast Demonstration Team, was performing as part of an air show at Naval Air Station Kingsville. His aircraft went down about six miles north of the naval facility.

He was an instructor pilot and mission commander with more than 2,600 flying hours, including more than 2,300 in the F-16. He had been in the Air Force for 13 years.

A board of Air Force officers is investigating the accident.

Missile Defense Decision Still on Track

President Clinton currently has no intention of handing off to his successor a decision about whether or not to deploy a National Missile Defense, according to a top Administration official.

“There is every reason why he should make this decision. … There is enough time for [him] to have the kind of information he says he needs,” Leon Fuerth, national security advisor to Vice President Al Gore, told defense reporters March 22.

Clinton will weigh the technical results of the third major NMD evaluation experiment, currently set for late June. It was originally scheduled for April. The test will involve the first demonstration flight of the developing NMD booster.

Clinton will also take into consideration the effects of a deployment on relations with other countries and on arms control in general-as well as the nature of the ballistic missile threat.

Russia has remained adamant that a US NMD deployment would violate the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. So far, the Russians have proved resistant to US entreaties for treaty modification.

“We have a fighting chance to persuade the Russians of this,” insisted Fuerth.

Key lawmakers from both sides of the political spectrum have increasingly called on Clinton to delay an NMD decision and hand the issue off to the next President.

In early March, Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.), ranking minority member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told an audience of scientists that he did not believe the North Korean missile threat is dire enough to justify deployment of an expensive, unproven NMD system.

“This has cost $30 billion, and there has been no national debate,” Biden told The New York Times after his speech.

USAF Attacks Post-Kosovo Spares Problem

A flurry of “bridge contracts” let to private firms and an infusion of money to bolster spares inventories are helping the Air Force overcome a parts problem that it faced after Operation Allied Force.

Last year, service maintainers were hit by a quick one-two punch: first the operational demands of war in the Balkans and then the scheduled closing of Sacramento Air Logistics Center, Calif., and San Antonio ALC, Texas, and the transition of their work to remaining Air Force depots.

“The Kosovo crisis put heavy demands on our depots just as we made final preparations to move workload,” Secretary of the Air Force F. Whitten Peters told a Senate Armed Services Committee subcommittee in March.

The result was an increase in airplanes that were not capable of fulfilling their missions due to supply shortages. By December, more than 90 F-16s were grounded due to lack of generators. A shortage of inlet fans led to a backup of 80 F100 engines on the repair line.

Problems with rudder actuators grounded more than 35 F-15s in the same time period.

Under law, the Air Force can only use 50 percent of depot funds for work in the private sector. That requirement can be waived for reasons of national security, however-an escape clause the Air Force invoked for Fiscal 2000. (See “Aerospace World: Depot Debate Rages,” April, p. 16.) This provided officials with the fiscal flexibility to let bridge contracts to ramp up maintenance work while the remaining depots were adjusting to their new workload.

At the same time, an infusion of $500 million into the Air Force spare parts working capital fund should boost Air Force Materiel Command’s ability to support operational units.

USAF officials say they are not likely to waive the 50­50 private­public depot requirement for 2001. Public depots such as Ogden should have their new production lines up to full speed.

Still, members of Congress-many of whom are adamant about maintaining big in-service depots-say they will keep a close eye on the issue.

“There has been far too much animosity to the preservation of a core maintenance capability from this Administration for me to believe that there are not those in the department who would like to make a practice of issuing such waivers in order to circumvent the law,” said Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the SASC readiness and management support subcommittee, in a statement.

Officer Resigns Over Anthrax Vaccine

The Air Force announced March 22 that it had accepted the resignation of Maj. Sonnie Bates. He received a discharge under honorable conditions, called a general discharge.

Bates was reportedly the highest-ranking US military officer to be punished for refusing to take the Pentagon’s mandatory anthrax vaccinations. (See “Aerospace World: Major Faces Charges Over Anthrax Shots,” March, p. 14.)

On Feb. 15, he withdrew his request for a court-martial and requested, instead, nonjudicial punishment consideration under Article 15 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. In early March, the Air Force announced his punishment: a fine of $3,200 and an official reprimand. The service then began discharge actions and Bates asked to resign.

Bates, a 13-year veteran who was serving with the 436th Airlift Wing, Dover AFB, Del., had been grounded since refusing the shots last year. He contends there are 60 cases of unexplained illness at Dover attributable to the vaccine.

A court-martial could have resulted in five years in prison and a dishonorable discharge.

Not Enough E-3 AWACS To Go Around

US surveillance flights over the major coca-producing regions of Latin America have declined by two-thirds over the past year-threatening a key aspect of America’s strategy for fighting illegal drugs.

Diplomatic problems, fights between the White House and Congress, and competing demands from other military operations are among the reasons behind the decline, according to a Washington Post report.

Marine Gen. Charles E. Wilhelm, commander in chief of US Southern Command, emphasized to Congress that the command needs intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance aircraft.

The Air Force’s E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft are the assets that Wilhelm covets most. Yet since the air campaign over Kosovo last year, continued needs in the Balkans, Iraq, and North Korea have kept the crown jewels of Air Force surveillance busy elsewhere.

At the same time, the US has vacated its best forward base for counterdrug surveillance flights by AWACs and other eyes-in-the-sky. The US military turned Howard AFB, Panama, back to the Panamanian government last May. Early indications were that Panama would continue to allow the US to use Howard, but in the end the host nation asked US forces to leave entirely.

US officials want to use an airfield in Manta, Ecuador, in place of Howard AFB. But the field needs improvements before it can be used by sophisticated jets-and funding for those improvements has been withheld by GOP Congressional leaders, in part because they believe that the Clinton Administration mishandled Howard negotiations.

“From Manta and only from Manta can we reach down and cover the deep southern portion of the [coca] source zone,” Wilhelm told Congress.

Newest Raptor Arrives at Edwards

Raptor 4003, the newest addition to the F-22 test program, landed March 15 at Edwards AFB, Calif., completing a five-hour, cross-country flight from Dobbins ARB, Ga. It is the third F-22 test vehicle to enter the program.

“This plane will take us to the edge of a Raptor’s flight envelope in max speed, max attitude, and max maneuverability,” said Col. C.D. Moore, the F-22 Combined Test Force director. It “will carry a huge burden” for the next couple of years.

The F-22 CTF will be receiving more test aircraft this year, the Air Force reported. These will include Raptor 4004, the first F-22 equipped with advanced avionics.

The avionics capability with its sensor-fusion technology will allow a pilot to become “a tactician, rather than a housekeeper,” stated Lt. Col. Steve Rainey, 411th Flight Test Squadron commander and an F-22 test pilot. “Fighter pilots become very busy in the F-15 or F-16 just trying to keep up with sensor management and interpretation of data … transmitted between each other in flight,” he said. “The F-22 does it all by itself. It has [an] intraflight data link that allows pilots to communicate without saying a word.”

The Air Force wants to buy a total of 339 F-22s to replace its aging fleet of F-15s.

Pentagon Initially Denies Rise in Abuse of Gays

Defense Department officials said in mid-March that they were skeptical of a new report that anti-homosexual abuse in the military more than doubled last year. The report, by the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, cited 968 incidents of harassment of gays in the armed services in 1999, including a murder, assaults, and verbal gay bashing.

Officials vowed to investigate specific findings of the study. But Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. Craig Quigley said that in the past the organization has “been somewhat anecdotal in [its] findings.” He added, “If there are specifics, enough for us to actually do something with, we will.”

He said that DoD discharged 10 percent fewer people in 1999 for being homosexual.

However, on March 24, the Pentagon released its own data showing a high level of homosexual harassment does occur. Immediately following the report’s release, Defense Secretary William S. Cohen appointed a working group to address the situation. (See “DoD Moves to Combat Anti-Gay Harassment,” p. 30.)

The worst act of anti-homosexual violence in the military last year was the July murder of Pfc. Barry Winchell at Ft. Campbell, Ky. Pvt. Calvin N. Glover was sentenced to life in prison last December for bludgeoning Winchell to death in his bed.

The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network noted a particular increase in anti-gay graffiti, verbal harangues, and harassment of lesbians. Some 31 percent of those discharged from the military last year for being gay were women, even though women make up only 14 percent of service ranks.

Gulf State Gets Advanced F-16s

The United Arab Emirates has contracted for 80 Lockheed Martin F-16s in the most advanced version, the Block 60. The contract is valued at $6.4 billion and calls for delivery between 2004 and 2007.

The UAE’s new batch of F-16s will feature Northrop Grumman’s new Agile Beam Radar, which tracks multiple targets, and an advanced electronic warfare package.

USAF is buying 10 Block 50 F-16s in Fiscal 2000 but deferred a planned buy of 20 more Block 50s until Fiscal 2002 and 2003. With the UAE now committed to underwrite a large portion of development costs on the Block 60, Lockheed Martin may be able to interest the Air Force in this latest version.

USAF Prepares New GPS Satellites

Air Force officials have decided to forge ahead with a whole new generation of Global Positioning System satellites-Block III-that will include additional military and civilian signals and better anti-jamming capability. The move kills a 1997 Boeing deal to build 33 Block IIF satellites.

The Air Force decided not to exercise its existing option with Boeing but will allow the company to build up to 12 of the satellites. The service will compete the remainder.

Likely competitors include Lockheed Martin and Loral, as well as Boeing.

Navy Leader Reaches for NMD Role

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jay L. Johnson is arguing that missile-laden cruisers could add an extra layer of mobile protection to any US National Missile Defense system.

In a Feb. 18 memo to Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen, Johnson said the Navy should “be included in both the policy and architectural frameworks” of an NMD. (The memo was obtained by and initially reported on in The Washington Post.)

In the memo, Johnson emphasized that he was not talking so much about a near-term system as about a later NMD expansion. Sea-based assets should be “complementary” to an initial land-based defense, he wrote.

Supporters of Johnson’s position say the Navy’s fleet of Aegis cruisers and destroyers provide a ready-made foundation for NMD progress. Navy planners suggest that six to 12 cruisers, each with 15 to 20 interceptors, could go a long way toward protecting the continental US from an accidental or rogue nation missile attack.

Opponents point out that the Navy’s development of a high-altitude interceptor has lagged behind the Army’s work and that adding sea-based assets to NMD plans would make it that much harder to get the Russians to go along with NMD deployment.

Pentagon officials have said adding a sea-based component in the National Missile Defense system would raise significant arms control complications.

Starlight and the Attack Laser

Air Force specialists working on the Airborne Laser program are looking at the twinkling of starlight to help them make the prospective weapon more effective.

Flying a modified C-135E, specialists from the Air Force Research Laboratory, Kirtland AFB, N.M., and the 452nd Flight Test Squadron, Edwards AFB, Calif., measured high-altitude atmospheric turbulence at overseas locations in February. They used a special instrument called a star scintillometer to lock on to specific stars while airborne and then gauge the amount of turbulence between them and the star.

Such distortion can be readily seen on Earth by watching stars twinkle, said Lt. Col. Richard Bagnell, chief of AFRL’s Airborne Laser Technologies Branch, Directed Energy Directorate.

“Turbulence produces a variation in the refractive index, which affects how light behaves–bending it,” he said.

The data are important because the beam of the ABL will encounter the same turbulence while traveling to its target. Uncorrected, the beam could be distorted and made less effective.

The measurement crew worked from air bases in South Korea and Qatar. Their findings were similar to those from a fall 1999 mission.

“The turbulence values we found … support the contention that the airborne laser, as designed, can perform its mission very effectively,” said Bagnell.

Obituaries

Retired Col. Thomas W. Ferebee, the B-29 Enola Gay bombardier who dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima in World War II, died March 16 in Florida. He was 81. Ferebee also participated in the first US bombing raid on Nazi­occupied France and was the lead bombardier for the Allies’ first 100-airplane daylight raid in Europe. He flew aboard B-47s and, as an observer, on B-52s during the Vietnam War. He retired from the Air Force in 1970.

Ed “Baldy” Baldwin, a noted aircraft designer who worked on aircraft such as the F-117, SR-71, and U-2, died in early March from complications following a stroke. He joined Lockheed in 1940 and moved to the Skunk Works in 1944, initially to work on the YP-80. He retired from Lockheed in 1982.

Cohen Takes Historic Tour of Vietnam

Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen paid a three-day visit to Vietnam in mid-March in a bid to increase military-to-military interchange between the United States and its former Southeast Asian foe.

Cohen spoke at Vietnam’s National Defense Academy in Hanoi. He visited a Vietnamese air base and toured an aviation museum. He checked on an excavation site near Dong Phu where some 250 Vietnamese laborers are methodically sifting soil, searching for traces of an F-4 Phantom that crashed there more than 30 years ago.

His basic message was that with time and patience on both sides, US-Vietnamese ties could be every bit as strong as those that now connect the US and the Philippines, Thailand, and many other Asian nations.

Cohen said upon his departure that he had not met anyone during his entire trip who had said anything about looking back into the past. He added that the Vietnamese were looking to the United States in a very positive way.

The substance of Cohen’s meetings was modest. He called for cooperation in such areas as flood control, medicine, and research into the long-term effects of the defoliant Agent Orange.

Three principles will continue to guide the US in developing its security relationship with the Vietnamese, said Cohen. Security will develop in tandem with overall diplomatic and trade relations. Military relations will remain “transparent” so that neither country mistakes the other’s intentions. And accounting for Americans still missing in action after all these years will remain the highest priority of US officials.

Joint recovery efforts have already had a beneficial effect on the relationship between the former bitter enemies, Cohen noted.

“By helping the families of the missing, we have helped to establish our working ties,” he said.

His Dong Phu visit was a case in point. The crash site-a muddy rice paddy 20 miles southwest of Hanoi-was a beehive of joint US-Vietnamese activity at the time of Cohen’s visit.

Weeks of effort had produced several bags of metal scraps and two fragments of bone that might be from Navy Cmdr. Richard Rich, who US authorities believe crashed in the area after his aircraft was struck by two surface-to-air missiles May 19, 1967.

Contemporary witnesses say a US aircraft came spiraling into the area from the south before it smashed into the paddy with a violent explosion that hurled chunks of metal for hundreds of yards. One villager was killed by a piece of engine-which was later turned into a sort of shrine where incense is burned.

To this day, Rich remains one of about 2,000 US servicemen from the Vietnam War still missing in action.

“We are making every conceivable effort to find the remains and bring them home,” said Cohen.

Reporters asked Cohen whether he felt the timing of his visit was awkward, coming as it did at the beginning of a seven-week official celebration of Vietnam’s victory in the war. The Defense Secretary said he preferred to dwell on another milestone: the upcoming five-year anniversary of the restoration of US-Vietnamese political relations.

In China, an “Emerging Empire”

Following are excerpts from “Returning to a Principled Foreign Policy,” a March 16 speech by Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas), House majority whip, at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.:

“I believe how we handle the emerging empire ruled from Beijing is the leading national security issue of our time. … I would recommend that a new approach to this growing conflict include the following three specific steps:

“First, we must rethink our view of ‘engagement’ and trade as tools for managing the US­Sino relationship. Once a process, engagement has been perverted into a comprehensive policy that is its own objective. … Should the day arrive when our trade with the People’s Republic of China serves more to fuel Communist expansion than nurture democracy, more to support oppression than to export American values, we will be compelled to subordinate our desire to access markets to the cold, hard realities of national defense. We should never be fooled into cheering higher profits, while Communist China harnesses that prosperity to construct an arsenal of tyranny.

“Second, we must enhance America’s military posture in Asia and support our friends in the area. At this moment, the United States doesn’t have the ability to deal decisively with a regional crisis. We must provide a short-term solution by moving additional assets to the theater. And we have to pursue a long-term answer by developing and deploying a missile defense system with our key allies, including, at their request, Taiwan. The Congress, I believe, has a clear vision. We know who shares our democratic value system and who is an enemy of democracy. …

“Third and finally, we must discard old policies that no longer have credibility because they are no longer true. In my view, whatever utility the “One China” diplomatic fiction might have had 25 years ago has been erased by the new reality. There are, in fact, two Chinese states. One, the Republic of China on Taiwan, is free, democratic, and a welcome member of the family of nations. The other, the People’s Republic of China, is not free, not democratic, and a threat to the security of us all.

“The people of China and the people of Taiwan will make their own decisions, and as they do, they will no doubt carefully account for the views of their friends and their foes. The United States cannot, however, under any circumstances allow the People’s Republic of China to impose a Communist future on Taiwan. And, yes, this means America must make clear that threats to a free, democratic people will be met with the force required to deter and, if necessary, confront aggression.”

“Overtaxing” the Air Guard and Reserve?

Charles L. Cragin, principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs, raised the following concerns about USAF’s Aerospace Expeditionary Forces in “Milestones on the Road to Integration,” an article posted on the Department of Defense Web site:

“The AEFs will take full advantage of the vital contributions being made by the Total Air Force-active, Guard, and Reserve-by integrating all the air components into cohesive and tightly bound and deployable force packages. … These forces can be tailored to meet [commander in chief] requirements, and part of that tailoring involves the employment of associated Guard and Reserve units and personnel. …

“We must ensure that new concepts like the AEF do not translate into a lower optempo for the active force at the expense of the [Guard and Reserve] components. In short, we cannot address readiness concerns by overtaxing our reserve components. We need Total Force solutions. We need to closely monitor reserve component optempo and perstempo. …

“This debate is about more than tempo. It’s also about compatibility. If Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard units are going to be integrated into the AEFs–and they will be–then those units need to be fully compatible with their active duty counterparts. They need the latest equipment, airframes, avionics, sensors, and precision munitions.”

F-22 Testing: Things Are Going OK, but Slow.

Stay Tuned.

From a March 22 statement by Philip E. Coyle III, Pentagon director of operational test and evaluation, to the Senate Armed Services Committee’s airland forces subcommittee:

“The F-22 test results thus far are quite positive. The flight test envelope now extends above 50,000 feet, in excess of Mach 1.5, and with excursions from minus 40 degrees to greater than 60 degrees angle of attack and without any major impediments except for a thin buffeting in the vertical tails.

“Two key performance parameters, supercruise and internal missiles payload, have been demonstrated this year. Performance of the F119 engine has been outstanding throughout the allowable flight envelope. Several problems have been identified in testing to date, but they are being addressed and corrected.

“In support of last December’s Defense Acquisition Executive review, the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center conducted an early operational assessment. Although only limited flight data were available, aircraft component design problems, maintainability concerns, and programmatic issues were identified, and these are described in my complete statement. The F-22 program office is taking action to resolve these issues.

“The principal issue I have with the test program is that it is proceeding much more slowly than in previous aircraft development programs, and even these lagging schedules continue to slip over time. Continuing slips in flight test aircraft deliveries reduce the aircraft months available for testing. …

“Over the past three years, we’ve lost 49 flight test months that could have been available for flight testing. To accommodate lost test time and reduce test costs, the total flight test hours have been reduced from 4,337 to 3,757 hours. This is a 13 percent reduction due mostly to the deferral of the requirement for external combat configuration testing and hoped-for avionics test efficiencies.

“To squeeze these hours into the available flight time will require test flying at an increased rate. Increasingly optimistic proposed development test schedules, schedules that have not been met to date, threaten the start of dedicated [initial operational test and evaluation] in August 2002.

“Nevertheless, flight test program progress should improve significantly this year with additional test aircraft. Four new flight test aircraft are to be delivered this year.”

For Chairman Lewis, It’s F-22 All Over Again

Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.), the chairman of the House Appropriations defense subcommittee, shocked USAF in 1999 with a near-fatal attack on the F-22, the service’s top modernization priority. The fighter survived, and some thought Lewis may have softened his views somewhat. At a March 8 hearing with Air Force leaders, however, he gave fair warning of more trouble ahead:

“This year, the Air Force is requesting another $4 billion for the F-22, which includes purchase of 10 aircraft. By anyone’s standards, the F-22 is a very, very expensive program.

“To justify this kind of investment, we have to convince ourselves that our potential adversaries will be extraordinarily formidable. Unfortunately, this is difficult, given the economic conditions of most of our potential adversaries.

“In an age in which our NATO allies-representing some of the richest nations in the world-can’t keep up with the US in military technology, it is difficult to see how Iraq, Iran, or North Korea will muster such a potent arsenal of advanced aircraft to justify the F-22.

“And while the Air Force would have us spend $4 billion this year on the F-22, what opportunities are we missing elsewhere to exploit new force-multiplying capabilities or to alleviate pressing deficiencies

“Shouldn’t we be buying C-17s as fast as we can instead of cutting them? Shouldn’t we be linking our sensors and shooters now rather than later? Shouldn’t we be investing more in the ‘low density’ platforms that are in such high demand? Shouldn’t we be doing more to protect ourselves from hackers? Shouldn’t we be investing more in science and technology?”

DoD Moves to Combat Anti-Gay Harassment

Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen has appointed a working group of top defense leaders–chaired by Air Force Undersecretary Carol A. DiBattiste–to draw up plans to fight anti-gay harassment in the military.

Formation of the panel follows the Pentagon’s March 24 release of Inspector General data detailing a high level of anti-homosexual activity.

Said Cohen: “The Inspector General’s report convinces me that additional actions are necessary to address the problem of harassment of service members who are alleged or perceived to be homosexual.”

According to the IG study, more than 80 percent of service members surveyed said they had heard offensive speech, derogatory names, or other verbal assaults regarding homosexuality within the past year. Eighty-five percent of those surveyed said they believed that other service personnel and leaders tolerated such remarks.

Some 37 percent of respondents said they had witnessed or experienced an actual event of harassment aimed at someone perceived to be homosexual.

“This behavior is not acceptable and can’t be tolerated in the military,” said Pentagon spokesman Kenneth H. Bacon at a briefing for reporters.

For the study, the IG’s office canvassed 71,000 service members at 38 installations and on a total of 11 naval ships and submarines.

While not condoning acts of harassments, defense officials tried to place the study’s results in a larger context. They pointed out that members of the military are recruited out of a civilian culture which itself is steeped in an anti-gay ethos.

“There is nothing out there that we have seen that says how often would you hear [anti-homosexual] jokes or names, or other types of offensive speech, in the broader civilian society,” said Francis M. Rush Jr., then deputy undersecretary of defense for planning (personnel and readiness).

Most of the acts of harassment aimed at specific persons entailed verbal abuse or offensive or hostile gestures. About 15 percent of respondents said they had seen harassing graffiti. Nine percent said they had seen an anti-homosexual assault, and 8.9 percent said they had seen perceived homosexuals denied training or career opportunities.

People in the same unit were the guilty parties, in most cases.

However, 11 percent of respondents said they had seen immediate supervisors harass someone who stood below them in the military hierarchy.

There were some differences in attitude among the services. “You will find more offensive speech in the Marine Corps than you do in the Air Force,” said Rush.

Some actions designed to combat anti-gay attitudes are already in motion. Last year, all services adopted new training programs designed to teach everyone in the military about the “don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t harass” policy, said spokesman Bacon.

In addition, last December the chief and civilian secretary of each service issued statements that anti-homosexual harassment will not be tolerated.

The IG’s research was already under way at that point, said Bacon. He added, “One of the jobs of the new committee that’s being set up by Secretary Cohen will be to make sure that the new policies … put out at the end of last year are fully implemented, [and] fully understood, and then to recommend any other actions that are necessary to deal with this issue.”

Bacon, when asked a direct question, said it is his assumption that the panel “will focus on making the current policy work better,” rather than suggesting a fundamental change in policy. “In particular,” he said, “they will focus on ways to get the message across, from the top commanders down to the newest recruits, that harassment based on perceived sexual orientation is not appropriate and won’t be tolerated in the military. And they’ll be looking for new ways to drive that message home.”

St. Louis Blues

Sen. Christopher S. “Kit” Bond (R-Mo.) accused the Air Force of stalling on a deal to buy more F-15 fighters, endangering the St. Louis production line and a thousand jobs in Missouri.

According to the March 21 St. Louis Post Dispatch, Bond complained, “We are very much concerned there’s foot-dragging. We intend to continue to push the Air Force to make sure they sign that contract.”

He added, “The F-15 is too important to our national security, and the skilled jobs too important to St. Louis and our tactical aircraft manufacturing base, to wait around much longer.”

USAF has not asked for the new fighters. The service would like to have them, were the budget larger, but they are viewed as unaffordable in light of higher priority needs.

Even so, Bond and Rep. Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.) last year succeeded in getting Congress to appropriate $300 million to buy five F-15s in 2000 and start the purchase of materials for another five next year. It is that contract which has been held up by cost disputes between the Air Force and the contractor, Boeing.

Evidently, the F-15 line will close this summer unless the company receives new domestic or foreign orders.

The Wonderful, but Outdated, $60 Billion Procurement Goal

The Defense Department budget request for 2001 finally reaches a goal long sought by Pentagon officials: $60 billion earmarked for procurement. But it already has been overtaken by events.

The goal is not high enough, Deputy Secretary of Defense John J. Hamre told a Senate Appropriations Committee defense subcommittee March 6.

“There’s nothing magic about $60 billion,” said Hamre, who left the Pentagon to become head of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in March. He added that $60 billion does not provide enough money to actually recapitalize the force.

The goal is not $100 billion, but it is at least $70 billion or $75 billion, suggested Hamre.

Pentagon documents indicate that shipbuilding is the only aspect of military procurement that includes enough money to keep the force from shrinking. Tactical aircraft, armored vehicles, and helicopters are not funded at a replacement level.

News Notes

  • The seventh Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System aircraft has been delivered to the Air Force nearly a month ahead of schedule. The 93rd Air Control Wing at Robins AFB, Ga., received the aircraft from Northrop Grumman on March 6.
  • A B-1B Lancer bomber landed safely March 8 at Dyess AFB, Texas, after an engine failed on takeoff. The incident sparked grass fires near the base-one of which necessitated the evacuation of the nearby Dyess Elementary School.
  • The first production T-6A Texan II was delivered to Air Education and Training Command at Randolph AFB, Texas, in early March. Acquisition of the new primary training aircraft “truly is a milestone for the Air Force and our sister service, the Navy,” said Col. Charles R. Davis, director, Flight Training System Program Office. The T-6A will eventually replace the Air Force’s T-37B and the Navy’s T-34C primary training aircraft, which are 38 and 23 years old, respectively.
  • An Air Force pilot in upgrade training lost his situational awareness and caused a midair collision between two F-16C aircraft near Springfield, Ill., on Nov. 17, 1999, according to an accident report released in February. One of the F-16s crashed 45 miles northwest of Springfield. The other landed safely at a nearby airport. Neither Maj. Ricky G. Yoder, 170th Fighter Squadron, who ejected, nor 1st Lt. Thomas J. Hildrebrand, also of the 170th FS and who landed his airplane, were seriously hurt.
  • An F-16D assigned to the 347th Wing’s 69th Fighter Squadron, Moody AFB, Ga., crashed Feb. 16 near Donalsonville, Ga. Both pilots, Maj. Charles B. Kearney and 1st Lt. Christopher Hutchins, ejected safely. At the time of the accident they were performing upgrade training using night vision goggles.
  • In another F-16 mishap, an F-16C from the 63rd Fighter Squadron at Luke AFB, Ariz., crashed Feb. 16 on the Barry M. Goldwater Range. The pilot, Maj. Anthony Barrell, who safely ejected, was flying on an air-to-air training mission with three other F-16s. He is an experienced F-16 pilot but was going through a transition course to requalify.
  • About 13,500 families of armed forces enlisted personnel received food stamps last year, and 8,290 received state child-care assistance, according to a new General Accounting Office report.
  • The National Defense University has established a new Center for the Study of Chinese Military Affairs at Ft. McNair, Washington, D.C. The center will provide a forum for multidisciplinary research and analytic exchanges on the national goals and strategic posture of China.
  • The Air Force and Navy are producing combat pilots of “degraded skill and quality” due to aging aircraft and a shortage of flying hours, according to a new report compiled by a senior Senate defense staffer. Among the report’s findings: Key training bases do not have enough aggressor aircraft to mimic enemy tactics.
  • Col. Rick Odegard, deputy commander of the 366th Operations Group, Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, has become the first Air Force fighter pilot to receive an unrestricted ejection-seat waiver for a bilateral hip replacement. An F-15C pilot, Odegard received the waiver Jan. 13, after more than three months of recovery from operations performed in the fall of 1999.
  • Civil Air Patrol pilots posted their safest flying record in five years in 1999. Their accident rate of 2.34 per 100,000 flying hours was substantially lower than the 4.76 rate posted in 1998.
  • The F-15 Project Team, Wright­Patterson AFB, Ohio, was recently awarded the Program Executive Office Team of the Year Award for 1999. The team won the honor for its efforts in managing and executing a highly aggressive $350 million F-15 active electronically scanned array radar upgrade program.
  • MSgt. Dave C. Anderson of the 369th Recruiting Squadron’s Aiea, Hawaii, office reeled in 102 new Air Force members in Fiscal 1999. That made him the first Air Force recruiter in a decade to bring more than 100 applicants onto active duty and earned him the badge as the service’s top recruiter for Fiscal 1999.
  • Israel declared its Arrow 2 missile battery operational March 14, according to The Jerusalem Post. That makes Israel the first country to stand up a missile defense capable of intercepting incoming ballistic missiles.
  • The 301st Fighter Wing of Air Force Reserve Command accepted delivery of the first four Litening II targeting pods in late February. The delivery of the precision strike pods makes the Fort Worth, Texas-based unit the first in the service to own this new state-of-the-art technology.
  • Sloppy communications may have alerted Serbs that some airstrikes were coming in the opening days of Operation Allied Force last year. Pentagon spokesman Kenneth H. Bacon admitted March 10 that some NATO officials believe a spy provided the foreknowledge, which enabled the Serbs to hide some assets. But after a change in communications procedures the problem largely went away, Bacon said.
  • On March 13, the former commander of the 18th Flight Test Squadron at Hurlburt Field, Fla., Col. James Sills, was found guilty of repeatedly molesting two girls, each under age 16, and was sentenced to eight years of confinement and dismissal from the service. In 1994, Sills won the Mackay Trophy for the year’s most meritorious Air Force flight, after leading a daring helicopter rescue of six seamen in stormy weather off the coast of Iceland.
  • The Pentagon announced March 2 the appointment of Deidre A. Lee as the new director of defense procurement, replacing Eleanor Spector, who retired in February. Lee had been the head of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy since July 1998.