USAF, Navy Face Rated Problems
USAF Chief of Staff Gen. Ronald R. Fogleman told the Senate Armed Services Committee on February 25 that the Air Force and Navy see growing problems over the next several years with rated retention.
Both services, he said, are beginning to experience problems within their fighter forces and the Air Force within its big-airplane forces. Fogleman emphasized that the situation has been brought on by a number of factors and, for the Air Force, has been compounded by deep reductions in pilot training during the drawdown.
The General stated that the problem stems not only from the ongoing high operations tempo and the devaluation (by inflation) of the pilot bonus but also because the airlines are avidly hiring pilots—nearly 4,000 last year, with a forecast of 3,000 to 4,000 per year over the next several years. Fogleman noted that of the 100 pilots hired by Delta Air Lines within a four-month period, 80 were former military personnel.
According to Fogleman, two measures highlight the growing problem. First, two years ago, about 76 percent of the eligible pilots signed up for the pilot bonus. Last year only 54 percent signed up, and this year it’s about 43 percent. The second measure is that this year the number of applications for separation from the rated force is running ahead of last year’s applications.
Retention Initiatives Launched
The Air Force is working on several initiatives to bolster its rated force over the next few years. One will allow active-duty officers to apply for undergraduate pilot and navigator training slots. Another will open fighter cockpits to nonfighter pilots.
During the drawdown USAF reduced the number of slots for UPT and UNT, forcing many qualified candidates to go into nonrated career fields when they received their commissions. Many of those individuals will now get a second chance as the Air Force tries to beef up its rated force.
USAF plans to offer 463 new slots reserved for active-duty officers, broadening the opportunity to compete for pilot or navigator positions over the next four years. The service will hold two undergraduate flying training boards each year. The first met in April, and the second will be in September.
The Air Force also expects to run into a shortage of fighter pilots. To help alleviate that problem over the next three years, it will open 150 fighter cockpits to pilots of other aircraft. [See “Fighter Cockpits Open,” February 1997 “Aerospace World,” p. 11.] The first of six boards met in January to select 25 pilots for fighter crossflow.
Additionally, Fogleman said the service would work with the Senate committee on the pilot bonus, which he said had been devalued about 30 to 35 percent by inflation. The pilot bonus program currently costs the Air Force more than $30 million per year, he told the committee.
However, the General pointed out, the whole program will be paid for if the service can retain just six pilots, because it costs about $6 million to produce a mature pilot.
SFW Achieves IOC
Air Combat Command declared that the Sensor-Fuzed Weapon had reached initial operational capability in February.
According to ACC officials, the SFW is the first and only Air Force weapon that can hit more than one target per pass per weapon delivered—saving sorties and lowering risk to pilots during combat. It is designed for use with all current fighter and bomber aircraft.
The SFW includes 10 BLU-108 submunitions, which each have four sensor-fuzed “skeet” warheads in a Tactical Munition Dispenser. The skeet uses a passive infrared sensor to detect and fire an explosively formed penetrator munition against a land combat vehicle. The SFW will exist in two versions: CBU-97, which does not have an inertial navigation system or GPS capability, and CBU-105, the Wind-Corrected Munition Dispenser [see “Lockheed Martin Wins WCMD,” April 1997 “Aerospace World,” p. 14].
USAF Rethinks Composite Wings
Evolving tactics and procedures led Air Force leadership to make changes in its composite wing structure, created during the last major force-structure reorganization in the early 1990s.
“The debate is over,” Chief of Staff General Fogleman told the Senate Armed Services Committee on February 25.
Based on a “major discussion” at the Corona conference in Colorado Springs, Colo., in October, close air support composite wings, such as the ones created at Pope AFB, N. C., and Moody AFB, Ga., are out, leaving only the composite wing at Mountain Home AFB, Idaho—slated to be a key element in the development and operation of USAF air expeditionary forces.
“That’s about the only composite wing that makes sense,” stated Fogleman during the Air Force budget hearing.
He explained that the Air Force started constructing its latest composite wings a few years ago, based on the way the leadership thought joint warfighting would develop. “As tactics, techniques, and procedures have unfolded since the time we set those up, those [close air support composite] wings have just not proven to have their value,” he stated.
“On the other hand, we have seen evolve over the last couple [of] years this idea of an air expeditionary force, which is a force-projection composite wing.” The Air Force has “been building up the wing at Mountain Home and getting it into the configuration we want.”
Meanwhile, the General said, the Air Force has had to build air expeditionary forces out of pieces from different units. To do that, those forces “had to go through an extensive pretraining workup to get ready to go and build a cohesive team.”
Instead, Fogleman said, “it would be my hope that in the future we would be able to take that composite wing at Mountain Home—and it’s not quite configured right yet in terms of the number of spares and aircraft and things like that—[and] get the whole wing out of town quickly.” It would be ready to operate as an AEF “day in and day out.”
The Air Force plans to continue to refine its AEF concept, whether using the one wing at Mountain Home or a combination of units as it has done with the four AEF packages to date. One aspect that the service’s AEF Battle Lab at Mountain Home will focus on is reducing the size of its AEF package. So far, deployments have required 10 to 12 C-5-equivalent loads. USAF leaders would like to reduce that to six.
F-22 Components Readied
Lockheed Martin announced February 12 that it had electronically transmitted the first complete operational flight program (OFP) software package for the F-22, USAF’s newest air-superiority fighter.
The Air Force had scheduled the F-22’s first flight for this month.
The OFP traveled via secure communications link from Lockheed Martin Tactical Aircraft Systems in Fort Worth, Tex., to Lockheed Martin Aeronautical Systems in Marietta, Ga., where the new fighter is undergoing final assembly.
The 275,000 lines of software code contain the computing power needed to control the major subsystems, including the hydraulics and electrical power systems, flight controls, cockpit displays, and engine controls for the F-22’s first flight.
The OFP assembly and load processes, demonstrated in this initial release, provided a significant advancement in software supportability that will be used throughout the F-22 program, stated Charla K. Wise, Tactical Aircraft Systems F-22 vice president and program director. “The concept improves software reliability and maintainability, simplifies the software update process,” she said, “and will reduce life-cycle costs for the customer.”
Additionally, Pratt & Whitney announced February 17 that it had successfully completed an accelerated mission test (AMT) and altitude performance and operability clearance test for the F119, the F-22’s powerplant. Passing these tests was the final requirement for engine flight clearance.
During the AMT, the F119 engine completed 919 total accumulated cycles, simulating more than 300 combat missions, according to company officials. It also included more than 13 hours in augmentation and more than 40 hours of hot time—at intermediate thrust or above. Altitude testing verified engine performance and operability at all extremes of the flight envelope.
Lackland Tackles Privatized Housing
The Air Force took its first step to solicit the private sector to build and operate new rental housing for military families, in a request for proposal for enlisted housing at Lackland AFB, Tex., issued February 11 by Air Education and Training Command.
For the Lackland project, AETC has requested proposals from developers to design, construct, finance, own, operate, maintain, and manage 420 units to be built on two tracts of government property. A 66-acre undeveloped tract and another 30-acre tract—now containing 272 units that must be demolished—will be leased to the successful bidder at a nominal fee, according a USAF release.
Following construction, the developer would lease the housing units to enlisted members at Lackland. The monthly rent would equal a member’s monthly housing allowance.
“Air Force investment in private-sector housing construction has the potential to add to the few construction dollars we do receive, by a factor of three or better,” stated AETC Civil Engineer Col. Dave Cannan.
Lackland is one of the Defense Department sites selected to test the Pentagon’s housing privatization initiative approved by Congress in the Fiscal 1997 defense authorization bill. Defense officials hope to use private-sector construction and enterprise to help speed revitalization of its aging family housing, as well as to reduce the cost.
Congress Focuses on Tacair
At several of their defense budget hearings, House and Senate military committees questioned DoD’s tactical aircraft modernization efforts. The questions stemmed largely from a Congressional Budget Office report, released in late January, asserting that the Pentagon’s plan to modernize its tactical aircraft by purchasing the F-22, F/A-18F, and Joint Strike Fighter may be unaffordable and unnecessary.
The CBO estimated the total program cost over more than 20 years for the three aircraft at $350 billion.
At budget hearings on Air Force programs in February, USAF’s two top leaders stated the Air Force could afford and needed both the F-22 and the JSF. [See “Washington Watch,” April 1997, p. 9.] Moreover, Gen. Joseph W. Ralston, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, continued the push for the three fighters during March 5 House and Senate subcommittee hearings on the single subject of tactical aircraft modernization.
Ralston emphasized to each committee that the Joint Chiefs had agreed that a real threat exists from both missiles and aircraft. He said, “There is a whole group of fighters from foreign countries that are at least equal to, or superior to, any maneuvering fighter we have today.”
He also pointed out that six years ago, the Pentagon had a development and procurement program to replace each of its eight tactical aircraft, all developed in the 1970s.
“In light of the changing situation in the world, we no longer have a development and procurement program for each of these,” he said. “So instead of having eight different replacements, we have three—the F/A-18E/F, the F-22, and the Joint Strike Fighter.”
Ralston further argued that using approximately 10 percent of the Pentagon’s investment budget over a six-year period “is not unreasonable when you consider the fact that we have not been modernizing” during the 1980s and 1990s.
C-17 Still Targeted
Some Congressmen continue to take aim at the C-17, the Air Force’s newest airlifter, despite last year’s approval for 120 aircraft and rave reviews from the field. They are bolstered by a February General Accounting Office report claiming that the Pentagon could meet its needs with only 100 C-17s.
In its response to the report, the Defense Department said that it “disagrees strongly,” pointing out that the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mobility Requirements Study and Bottom-Up Review Update, specified 120 C-17s as the minimum airlift required. “Decreasing that amount results in increasing risk to a higher, unacceptable level.”
The DoD response also emphasized that the savings figure cited by the GAO is based on a cost analysis that projects 34 years into the future. “In reality, because the last 20 C-17s are to be fielded in 2004–05, almost no savings would be seen in the Future Years Defense Plan.” The Pentagon maintains that only half or less of the GAO’s advertised savings would come during the 2004–05 time period, with the remainder coming from unspent operating costs over 25 years.
DoD rejected outright the GAO notion that C-5As could augment C-17s in the Strategic Brigade Airdrop role, since the Pentagon has determined that it needs all 120 C-17s, plus 50 C-5Bs, to accomplish the SBA mission. The Pentagon response also stated that only 11 C-5As, which are limited to large airfields, would be available to replace the 20 C-17s, and they would not meet SBA requirements.
“Operator” Takes On New Meaning
The term “operator” no longer refers solely to a rated person, USAF Chief of Staff General Fogleman said in a February 21 news release, explaining creation of the service’s new operations staff officer career field.
Now, he said, the term refers to individuals “experienced in the employment and doctrine of air- and spacepower.”
The Air Force plans to take 20 percent of its current pilot and navigator positions at wing or higher level to create 1,000 nonrated positions for the new Air Force Specialty Code 16G. Officers from any career field will have an opportunity to fill the new positions, which entail developing future plans, programs, and policies for the Air Force and joint services. However, it may take some time for nonrated officers to become fully competitive for the new positions.
In fact, Fogleman said that he expects the “lion’s share of the positions to go to current pilots or navigators or to those serving in nonrated operations billets, such as space and missile officers.” Once the service fully implements its new air and space course, he said, there should be “a gradual shift where more traditional nonrated officers fill these positions.”
The Air Force plans to use the new course to give all new officers an understanding of air and space operations.
THAAD Fails Fourth Test
A Theater High-Altitude Area Defense missile failed to intercept a target ballistic missile in a March 6 test at White Sands Missile Range, N. M. The THAAD has failed four test flights in a row, which may prompt the Pentagon to consider restructuring the program.
DoD spokesman Capt. Mike Doubleday, USN, told reporters it is too early to tell if the test flight for June will be affected by this latest failure. However, Pentagon acquisition chief Paul G. Kaminski declared in February that another test failure in the near future would result in restructuring.
At a Defense Writers Group meeting February 28, Lt. Gen. Edward G. Anderson III, commander of US Army Space and Strategic Defense Command, said the upcoming March 6 test was “a very, very important shot.” However, he cautioned, “I don’t mean that if we miss, then we’re going to cancel the program—we are not going to do that. The THAAD program is too important to the Army in particular and to our forces in general,” in terms of potential missile defense.
Instead, Anderson emphasized, it is the 2004 fielding date that was at risk. He said that the THAAD program is a major engineering and technological undertaking. “We are trying to shoot a bullet with a bullet very, very rapidly.”
First Titan IVB Lifts Off
The nation’s newest heavy-lift expendable launch vehicle, the Titan IVB, blasted into space for the first time February 23 from Cape Canaveral AS, Fla., boosting a Defense Support Program missile-warning satellite into orbit.
The Lockheed Martin ELV features two strap-on Solid Rocket Motor Upgrade boosters designed and manufactured by Alliant Techsystems—providing a 25 percent increase in lift capacity. With the new SRMU motors, the Titan can put 12,700-pound payloads into geosynchronous Earth orbit and 49,000-pound payloads into low-Earth orbit.
Each booster is 112 feet long, 126 inches in diameter, weighs about 770,000 pounds, and provides 1.7 million pounds of thrust. Although larger and carrying more solid propellant than previous steel-cased boosters could, the SRMUs feature graphite epoxy composite cases, which reduce the inert weight. The upgrade program took nine years.
Lockheed Martin has contracted with Alliant for 15 SRMU flight sets of two motors each by 1999, according to Alliant officials. The second Titan IVB launch is set for October to boost NASA’s Cassini probe to Saturn.
Second Civil GPS Frequency On Tap
The Department of Defense and Department of Transportation announced February 27 that they had reached agreement on the availability of a second frequency for civilian users of the satellite-based Global Positioning System.
DoD has agreed to provide civilian users uninterrupted access to a portion of its military satellite signal, known as the L2 carrier phase.
With that assurance, the Federal Aviation Administration can accelerate implementation of its Wide-Area Augmentation System, according to a DoD statement. The WAAS is a central element in the FAA’s transition to a satellite-based air traffic control system, part of its Free Flight initiative. With WAAS-enhanced GPS signals, civilian pilots will be able to use the satellite system as the primary means of navigation.
DoT and DoD also agreed to plan for a second civil-use frequency with course acquisition code and navigation message capabilities. DoD officials said that this would enhance worldwide GPS capability and enable both departments to “most effectively” carry out the Clinton Administration’s 1996 GPS policy.
To add the second civil frequency, called L5, DoD plans to upgrade the next generation of GPS satellites, Block IIF. The Pentagon will announce its “detailed plan” to provide the coded, second civil frequency within one year.
Survey: Tricare Prime Is OK
According to a 1996 survey of Tricare Prime enrollees, the majority of active-duty and retired military personnel and their families are “happy with their health care” under DoD’s managed health-care program.
Nearly 8,000 enrollees responded to the telephone survey, which took place from October through December 1996 in regions where Tricare had been in place for at least one year. The survey measured both understanding of the health program and satisfaction with administration, medical care, access and convenience, coverage, and information about coverage and costs.
Eighty-nine percent of nonactive-duty personnel said they were likely to reenroll, as compared to seven percent who said they might not. DoD officials also noted that 75 percent of nonactive-duty enrollees and 62 percent of active-duty enrollees reported that they have a solid comprehension of Tricare Prime.
Survey results showed that 67 percent of all respondents expressed overall satisfaction with Tricare Prime, while another 22 percent said they are “very satisfied.” An average of 79 percent rated satisfaction with all services “good to excellent,” with 44 percent rating all services in the “very good to excellent” range. Only an average of five percent rated service “poor.”
DoD commissioned a professional research organization to conduct the survey. In all, they conducted 7,728 interviews (1,935 active duty, 1,934 adult active-duty dependents, 1,922 military retirees, and 1,937 adult retiree dependents). The margin of error was plus or minus two percent.
MTFs To Extend Hours
Pentagon health-affairs officials are moving to extend the hours of operation at military treatment facilities to “ensure access to health care is convenient for our beneficiary population.” According to one survey on hours of operation, only 71 out of 205 MTFs offered extended hours.
Dr. Stephen C. Joseph, assistant secretary of defense for Health Affairs, sent a February 7 memo to the services’ Surgeons General requesting implementation plans by March 10 for “appropriate phasing” in of additional hours. Joseph had first broached the initiative at a Tricare conference held in the Washington, D. C., area in January.
He told conference participants that the Tricare access goal, which applies to enrollees in Tricare Prime, DoD’s managed health-care option, should be to provide clinical services four nights a week and, if needed, on Saturday mornings, the current civilian benchmark.
Current Tricare policy guidelines outline the responsibility of the lead agents for each region to ensure timely access. However, Joseph noted in his memo that “extended clinic hours remain the exception rather than the norm.”
Depot Privatization Studies Under Way
The Air Force has issued requests for proposal and contracts to study its aircraft maintenance operations at the San Antonio Air Logistics Center, Kelly AFB, Tex., and the Sacramento ALC, McClellan AFB, Calif., according to Secretary of the Air Force Sheila E. Widnall.
In keeping with USAF’s revised depot strategy, Widnall told the Senate Armed Services Committee on February 25 that the Air Force had packaged three work loads out of the San Antonio ALC and the Sacramento ALC for public-private competitions.
She said the service expected to get a couple of bids from private industry and one from Warner Robins ALC, Robins AFB, Ga., on the first RFP, involving C-5 depot maintenance at San Antonio. USAF plans to announce a winner by mid-1997.
Because of the complexity of maintenance work conducted at the Sacramento ALC on A-10 and KC-135 aircraft, the Air Force issued three study contracts in February. Contracts went to Boeing North American, AAI Corp., and the Ogden ALC, at Hill AFB, Utah. Each organization will study the current operations, then submit bids for the work by September 1997. USAF expects to select a winner by January 1998.
The Air Force will issue an RFP on a third work load, engine repair at the San Antonio ALC, sometime this summer, according to Widnall, then award a contract next year.
AFRC Airlifters, Tankers Realign
Air Force Reserve Command, officially established as a major command in February, realigned its C-130 tactical airlift and KC-135 air refueling aircraft last month. Under the new structure, C-130s will operate under AFRC’s 22d Air Force at Dobbins ARB, Ga., and KC-135s under the command’s 4th Air Force at McClellan AFB, Calif.
AFRC HC-130 rescue aircraft and MC-130 special operations aircraft remain with 10th Air Force at NAS Fort Worth JRB, Carswell Field, Tex.
According to AFRC officials, the reorganization stems from last month’s transfer of active-duty C-130s from Air Combat Command to Air Mobility Command. The Reserve realignment now places all AFRC transport aircraft under AMC control in case of war or other national emergency.
Seeking Low-Cost Cruise Missile Defense
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency announced February 18 that it had contracted with three companies for 12-month studies to develop cruise missile defense technologies at “substantially reduced cost.”
Boeing North American, Texas Instruments, and Toyon Research Corp. will each provide a concept development study for DARPA’s Low-Cost Cruise Missile Defense Program.
Boeing North American will develop a gun-launched, high-speed projectile concept and precision targeting approaches using unmanned aerial vehicle–based fire-control sensors.
TI will work on a low-cost interceptor concept, which can be surface- or air-launched and has a range of more than 150 miles.
Toyon Research of Goleta, Calif., will develop a reusable UAV weapon system concept employing low-cost airframe, sensor, and kill mechanism technologies.
The National Aeronautic Association presented the 1996 Collier Trophy, recognizing the top US aeronautical achievement, to Cessna and the Citation X design team for “designing, testing, certifying, and placing into service the Citation X, the first commercial aircraft in US aviation history to achieve a cruising speed of Mach .92.”
Lt. Gen. George T. Babbitt, Jr., formerly director of the Defense Logistics Agency, was slated for a fourth star and to take command of Air Force Materiel Command upon retirement of Gen. Henry Viccellio, Jr., on May 1.
A DoD-owned Predator unmanned aerial vehicle, or Tier II medium-altitude endurance UAV, crashed February 25 while taking off from General Atomic’s flight facility at El Mirage, Calif., for a flight check. No injuries to personnel or property were reported.
The 11th Reconnaissance Squadron, Nellis AFB, Nev., conducted the first official launch of a Predator UAV from Indian Springs Air Force Auxiliary Field, Nev., on January 31. The ACC unit received its first two Predators in November 1996 and expects to receive 43 more of the $3 million UAVs.
An Electronic Systems Center, Hanscom AFB, Mass., joint-service integrated product team is studying all-weather, precision landing system capabilities and expects to present results of its concept exploration in September. DoD wants the team, with FAA and industry representatives, to produce an architecture for the new system, which it plans to develop, acquire, and integrate within 10 to 15 years.
Missile launch costs and air freight fees may soon decrease due to a cooperative research agreement signed January 28 between USAF’s Phillips Laboratory, Kirtland AFB, N. M., and Aerospace Consulting Corp., Albuquerque, N. M. Phillips’s automated design and tooling processes, combined with Aerospace Consulting’s specialized manufacturing methods, can rapidly produce cheap, lightweight, extremely strong carbonfiber composite structural panels to replace existing expensive metal components in interstage missile bodies and air cargo shipping containers.
USAF Celebrates 50
¦ The 1997 Jack B. Poage Airshow, a USAF anniversary event set for June 21–22 at the Carroll County Regional Airport, about 30 miles northwest of Baltimore, Md., will feature more than 50 vintage and present-day military aircraft, including flybys of a B-2 stealth bomber and F-117 stealth fighter.
¦ Chicago’s Air and Water show will highlight USAF’s fiftieth anniversary on August 24.
¦ An anniversary event includes the Gathering of Space and Missile Pioneers in Colorado Springs, Colo., August 25–30.
¦ The 16th Special Operations Wing, Hurlburt Field, Fla., has begun painting “battle markings” on its special operations aircraft as a “virtual living museum of AFSOC history” to commemorate USAF’s anniversary. The two-inch-high labels denote operation code names and dates. For example, the MC-130E tail number 0562 has five: Desert One 1980, Grenada 1983, Panama 1989, Desert Storm 1991, and Haiti 1994.
¦ Two DoD World War II Commemorative Communities, Farmington and Farmington Hills, Mich., have extended their participation to include honoring USAF’s fiftieth anniversary. They will recognize USAF veterans within their communities through November 11, salute the Air Force on May 26 during their Memorial Day parade, and fly a special USAF fiftieth flag during the year.
¦ Residents of Dayton, Ohio, will remember the Air Force anniversary every time they use their telephone books throughout 1997. The Aeronautical Systems Center, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, arranged to have the both the white pages and yellow pages covers feature an Air Force photo and message.
¦ Patrons at the Mall of Abilene, Tex., now have a year-long invitation—in the form of a mural along the mall’s main concourse—from Dyess AFB to celebrate USAF’s fiftieth. SrA. Sammy Latham, a graphic designer, designed the mural, which was painted over a period of six days, after the mall closed, by seven members of the base’s 7th Communications Squadron. The mall donated the space, and Dyess’s Chiefs Group contributed the paint.
¦ Wright-Patterson will host the Air Force’s first marathon on September 20. The 26.2-mile run, which is open to all levels of marathoners, including those in wheelchairs, will start at Air Force Materiel Command headquarters and end at the Air Force Museum, passing historic Wright brothers sites along the way. Registration forms will appear in runners’ magazines and other publications and at the Air Force Marathon web site (http://afmarathon.wpafb.af.mil/).