Two airmen and one soldier were killed when an Air Force MC-130H Combat Talon II crashed upon takeoff in southeast Afghanistan June 12.
The airmen were TSgt. Sean M. Corlew, 37, of Thousands Oaks, Calif., and SSgt. Anissa A. Shero, 31, of Grafton, W.Va. They were both assigned to the 16th Special Operations Wing at Hurlburt Field, Fla.
Seven other US military members on board survived and were taken to a medical facility for treatment.
Officials said there was no indication the crash was caused by enemy fire. An investigation is under way.
The Air Force Chief of Staff, Gen. John P. Jumper, selected CMSgt. Gerald R. Murray as the 14th Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force. Plans called for Murray to assume the highest enlisted post in the service July 1.
Jumper said the decision was “difficult because the candidates were all so exceptionally qualified.”
Murray, who was serving as command chief master sergeant for Pacific Air Forces, replaces CMSAF Jim Finch, who retired after 28 years of service. Finch had been USAF’s top enlisted man since Aug. 2, 1999.
The new CMSAF joined the Air Force in October 1977. He served in aircraft maintenance as a crew chief, instructor, and superintendent of production and maintenance. He became a wing senior enlisted advisor and from there became command chief master sergeant for US Forces-Japan and 5th Air Force. He advanced to the PACAF position in August 2001.
“The Air Force is fortunate to have someone of Chief Murray’s caliber leading our enlisted force,” said Jumper.
The Air Force plans to extend basing for the service’s newest airlift aircraft, the C-17, to Hawaii and Alaska perhaps as early as Fiscal 2006.
Officials briefed Congress on the proposal as part of the service’s latest mobility roadmap. If approved and funded, the plan calls for buying or modernizing more than 700 aircraft over the next 15 years.
USAF has already contracted for 180 C-17s through 2008, but officials have stated that the service needs a minimum of 222 of the Boeing airlifters. (See “Mobility Boom,” June, p. 26.)
The Air Force has yet to conduct site surveys for basing C-17s in Hawaii and Alaska, but officials project the service would need about $425 million for construction.
The plan: Convert the active duty 517th Airlift Squadron at Elmendorf AFB, Alaska, from C-130 transports to C-17s; convert the Hawaii Air National Guard’s 204th Airlift Squadron to a C-17 associate unit with both ANG and active duty crews assigned. Each base would receive eight C-17s.
Sen. Ted Stevens, ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced in April that USAF would create a new associate Air Force Reserve Command squadron to fly C-17s out of Elmendorf. (See “Aerospace World: Alaska Gains Airlifter Missions,” June, p. 22.)
Maj. Gen. Daniel James III of Texas was confirmed in May by the Senate as the new director of the Air National Guard.
When he assumes the ANG’s top leadership position, James will also be promoted to lieutenant general. He will be the first ANG leader to be a three-star general while serving as ANG director. (ANG Lt. Gen. Russell Davis is chief of the National Guard Bureau.)
James succeeds Maj. Gen. Paul A. Weaver Jr., who retired last fall. Brig. Gen. David A. Brubaker, deputy director, has been serving as acting director.
James, who has served as Texas adjutant general since November 1995, is the son of Air Force Gen. Daniel “Chappie” James Jr., a pioneer Tuskegee Airman and USAF’s first African-American four-star general.
USAF’s F-22 program director confirmed what officials have been hinting for several months: The F-22 is unlikely to make the scheduled start date of April 2003 for the program’s Dedicated Initial Operational Test and Evaluation.
However, the F-22 could still meet its Initial Operational Capability date of December 2005, even with a six-month slip in the DIOT&E schedule, said Brig. Gen. William J. Jabour.
“It’s a complex development program,” Jabour told reporters May 30.
Part of the problem is the tail buffet issue. (See “War and Transformation,” p. 76.) Other issues range from items such as software integration to technical order verificaton.
Officials have stated the service has funds in reserve to cover a slip in the DIOT&E schedule.
The Air Force has dumped its acquisition review in favor of a process that will focus on the service’s new task force approach. (See “Seven Pillars of Airpower,” June, p. 42.)
The old Quarterly Acquisition Review Program gave way to the Capabilities Review and Risk Assessment. The CRRA, said Gen. John P. Jumper, Chief of Staff, will shift the service’s focus from program review to a review of the health and risk of task force capabilities needed to achieve warfighting effects.
“The bottom-line goal for the CRRA is to give senior USAF leadership an operational, capabilities-based focus for acquisition program decision-making,” said Jumper.
The first task force to undergo CRRA scrutiny is the Global Strike Task Force. Others will follow, said officials, as each task force concept of operations is defined.
Jumper said the new process will take the Air Force “in the right direction–toward using operational warfighting effects as the origin for every piece of hardware and software we buy.”
USAF A-10s bombed about 10 al Qaeda and Taliban fighters who were attempting to set up mortars aimed at a coalition temporary base near Khost in eastern Afghanistan on May 21.
“We have neutralized the area,” said a Central Command spokesman.
The A-10s deployed to Bagram air base, near the Afghan capital of Kabul, earlier this year. They have been flown by both active duty and Air Force Reserve Command aircrews. They are supporting coalition ground forces continuing the search for isolated al Qaeda and Taliban militants.
USAF and NASA To Pursue RLV
Air Force and NASA officials agreed in principle to combine forces to build a joint Reusable Launch Vehicle demonstrator, according to a USAF release in late May.
“We believe there is significant potential [in] a combined Air Force-NASA RLV effort,” said Air Force Undersecretary Peter B. Teets.
At least one lawmaker has said that NASA should consider getting out of the RLV development business. Rep. Curt Weldon (R-Fla.) criticized NASA’s leadership role in pursuing new RLV technology.
“The Air Force has a much better track record on X vehicles,” Weldon said late last year.
Both NASA and Air Force officials say combining forces will enable them to eliminate duplication and, ultimately, save money.
Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Command fire fighting C-130s joined civilian aircraft to help control wildfires raging in California and Colorado last month. USAF has three ANG and one AFRC C-130 units that fly Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System missions.
The Guard activated its 146th Airlift Wing at Channel Islands, Calif., on June 5 to fight fires in southern California.
Two ANG C-130s from the 145th AW at Charlotte, N.C., and two AFRC C-130s from the 302nd AW, at Peterson AFB, Colo., on June 14 joined civilian aircraft fighting wildfires in Colorado.
The MAFFS is a self-contained, reusable 3,000-gallon fluid dispersal system that can be quickly installed inside a C-130, which can release its entire load of fire retardant in fewer than five seconds.
The other unit that flies MAFFS missions is ANG’s 146th AW at Cheyenne, Wyo.
The Missile Defense Agency announced that Boeing moved the first Airborne Laser aircraft from the modification facility to the flight ramp at Wichita, Kans., ready for ground and flight tests this summer.
Modifications to convert a Boeing 747-400 freighter to the initial ABL platform–Aircraft 00-0001–began in January 2000 and required approximately 1.6 million employee hours, according to Boeing officials.
The aircraft’s 11,500-pound two-axis nose turret, built by Lockheed Martin, was the largest piece of added structure. Another significant element was the “largest single piece of hot-formed titanium ever manufactured,” now attached to its aft underside. The superstrong structure is needed for 36 exhaust ports drilled through the skin. The ports will allow laser ejector tubes to exhaust chemical gases out of the aircraft.
MDA officials said a critical challenge for the mod team was installation of a floating pressure bulkhead to protect crew members from the laser equipment. The massive structure “floats” to conform to flexing of the aircraft structure during flight.
Once USAF officials are satisfied the aircraft can still fly, handle aerial refueling, and land after its structural changes, it will be flown to Everett, Wash., for painting, then to Edwards AFB, Calif., where the laser system will be installed.
The ABL is scheduled for a missile-shootdown test in late 2004.
Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he plans to tear down new walls of secrecy the Bush Administration has instituted for future National Missile Defense tests.
Under the new rule, the Missile Defense Agency will classify as secret the details about targets and countermeasures used in each test. The next ground-based NMD system flight test is scheduled for this summer.
Levin told reporters June 10 that although Congress will be able to get the information it needs, some information should also be made public to allow open scrutiny.
“I am going to try to do what I can to tear down the walls where the walls are not appropriate,” said Levin.
Philip E. Coyle III, who was the Pentagon’s top system tester from 1994 until last year, also expressed concern. Writing in the Washington Post June 11, Coyle said the ground-based NMD system is not at the point where revealing the kinds of targets and decoys used in tests would give an enemy an advantage.
“The current test program is not giving away any secrets; nor is there any danger of that for years to come,” said Coyle, who is now a senior advisor with the Center for Defense Information, an ever-reliable defense critic.
He said that MDA has another new policy that withholds information from the Pentagon’s own independent review offices, such as Coyle’s old domain, the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation.
MDA officials maintain that Congress and key decision-makers at the Pentagon will have the data they need and that MDA needs the new classification policy as the tests become more sophisticated.
Twelve House Republicans and two Democrats declared faith in the current MDA head, USAF Lt. Gen. Ronald T. Kadish. In a letter to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, they asked him to keep the general on for three more years. Kadish has already agreed to stay one year past a normal three-year tour, according to the Post.
In the letter, initiated by House Armed Services Committee member James V. Hansen (R-Utah), the Congressmen said Kadish is the right man for the job, which they suggested be boosted to four-star level.
The Air Force has chosen several acquisition programs, including the Space Based Radar and Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle, to pave the way for a procurement overhaul that would place weapons in the hands of warfighters more swiftly than in the past.
Calling the programs “pathfinders,” Gen. Lester L. Lyles, head of Air Force Materiel Command, said the goal is to cut the acquisition cycle time by 25 percent.
That would get a system to the warfighter in two years instead of eight, he said at the National Aeronautical Systems and Technology conference in Dayton, Ohio, in mid-May.
The service plans to change the acquisition strategies for the pathfinder programs using a rapid spiral development process. It would then institutionalize the changes and apply them to other programs.
In addition to the SBR and UCAV programs, pathfinders would include:
- Global Hawk Unmanned Aerial Vehicle.
- Multimission Command-and-Control Aircraft.
- C-5 avionics replacement.
- Global Traffic Network.
- Several classified programs.
Air Education and Training Command on June 4 announced a realignment of several technical training courses involving units in Arkansas, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Texas.
The goal, said officials, is to align the technical expertise associated with a training discipline at one location.
Lackland AFB, Tex., will pick up undergraduate enlisted aircrew training. Sheppard AFB, Tex., becomes the center for all avionics maintenance training. Keesler AFB, Miss., will be the training center for electronic principles, education and training, and finance.
Altus AFB, Okla., and Little Rock AFB, Ark., will each have basic loadmaster training for their aircraft.
The changes will be made beginning this summer and will be completed late next year.
Air Force investigators could not determine a clear and convincing cause for the midair collision of two A-10 aircraft Jan. 17 near Douglas, Ariz., the service announced May 24.
They did determine that loss of situational awareness was a contributing factor.
They also found that the pilot who died, Lt. Col. Lance A. Donnelly, did not have his parachute harness leg straps connected. He fell from his harness when the chute opened.
Another pilot, Capt. Patrick Boland, was injured in the accident.
Both men were assigned to the 354th Fighter Squadron at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz.
The Pentagon announced June 3 that it had identified the remains of two Air Force members killed in action during the Vietnam War. They were MSgt. Thomas E. Heideman and Capt. Craig B. Schiele.
On Oct. 24, 1970, they were crew members of a CH-3E helicopter that crashed in a dense jungle shortly after takeoff. Rescuers found only one body at the site, that of Schiele.
In 1994, a Joint Task Force-Full Accounting team discovered aircraft debris and personal artifacts but no human remains at the crash site. In 1995, another team excavated the site and recovered human remains and additional personal artifacts.
Forensic scientists at the Army Central Identification Lab in Hawaii were able to identify the remains.
Veterans Affairs announced June 6 the start of a major review of its regional medical structure. The review, expected to be complete within two years, could lead to reductions in the number of VA medical facilities.
The VA concluded a pilot study in its Chicago, Wisconsin, and Upper Michigan region last February.
The new review will look at the other 20 regions in the VA medical system. It is part of the VA process called Capital Asset Realignment for Enhanced Services.
Veterans have already begun expressing concerns that VA intends to shut down or scale back a host of facilities.
According to the VA, once the review is complete and a draft plan formed, an independent commission will review it. As it does this, the commission will hold hearings with veterans in areas affected by the proposed restructuring.
The commission will forward its recommendations to the VA “only after careful evaluation of these [veterans’] comments,” said officials.
Air Force investigators reviewing the crash of a T-37B training aircraft near Laughlin AFB, Tex., Jan. 31 found that the Instructor Pilot caused the accident. Both the IP and student pilot were killed.
The board determined that the instructor, 1st Lt. Chad B. Carlson, was flying the trainer as it made a final turn for a touch-and-go landing. Asked by the runway supervisor if he could see an aircraft performing a straight-in approach, Carlson said no and that he would go around to try the approach again. As he maneuvered at low altitude, the T-37 went into a descending right turn with the bank increasing steadily beyond the 45-degree maximum allowable in a final turn.
The excessive bank angle combined with a final turn airspeed of 110 knots caused the aircraft to stall. It began a rapid descending roll to the right and crashed.
Officials said neither Carlson nor the student pilot, 2nd Lt. Nicholas J. Jabara, attempted to eject. Jabara was the grandson of the late Col. James Jabara, the first ace of the Korean War.
The National Imagery and Mapping Agency is in the market for a new name and, possibly, consolidation of some functions at a new location, according to the agency’s director.
Retired USAF Lt. Gen. James R. Clapper Jr. told reporters June 4 one possible name would be the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency.
Clapper, who took charge of NIMA just days after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, said the current name perpetuates a division between the “endeavors of mapping, charting, geodesy on the one hand and imagery and imagery analysis on another.”
NIMA’s leadership has embraced the term “geospatial intelligence,” Clapper said, to better describe the functional convergence of those endeavors.
The agency is also studying an initiative to consolidate East Coast operations at a single complex. He envisions a designed-for-the-purpose facility that meets force protection standards.
“Right now, we are a force protection challenge,” Clapper said.
NIMA was created in 1996 as an amalgam of all or parts of eight predecessor organizations, he said.
“We are in two locations in the St. Louis area [and in] several locations around the Washington, D.C., beltway, which in my mind, is probably the biggest single obstacle to actually converging the cultures.”
When asked where he might locate a new campus, he said the East Coast. East Coast consolidation would not affect NIMA’s St. Louis operations, said Clapper.
NIMA’s workload increased dramatically after Sept. 11. In fact, he said, the agency no longer has “the luxury of focusing on a single area at one time.” NIMA did initially concentrate on Afghanistan but that quickly expanded to include other areas, including work for homeland security.
Clapper said that since Sept. 11 his agency has turned out about 37 million map products, a number that is more than four times NIMA’s normal annual production.
Air Force officials said Stephen W. Fortune of Nesbit, Miss., died May 24 after collapsing on the obstacle course at Lackland AFB, Tex.
He was pronounced dead at 10:10 a.m. at Wilford Hall Medical Center at Lackland.
Fortune was in his fifth week of the service’s 6.5-week basic military training program. The obstacle course is 1.4 miles long with 17 obstacles.
Two other recruits have died within the past four years during the last stages of training known as Warrior Week. One had concealed a history of hypertension during his military physical. The other died from heatstroke complicated by water intoxication, a finding that prompted the Air Force to change some procedures.
Officials said a safety board would convene to investigate the most recent death.
Officials at Charleston AFB, S.C., said 12 C-17s took off from the base May 14 to fly in the largest formation to date for the service’s newest airlifter.
The 12 airlifters flew in an instrument-condition formation eight miles long, said Lt. Col. William Changose, 14th Airlift Squadron commander.
C-17s are tasked with providing strategic brigade airdrop capability–the ability to go anywhere in the world and air-drop paratroopers on short notice, he said. Not since Operation Enduring Freedom began have so many C-17s been available at one time.
|Rumsfeld: Iraq Is Lying
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld says Iraq’s June 9 claim that it has no weapons of mass destruction and is not developing them is a blatant falsehood.
“They’re lying,” he said. “It’s just false, not true, inaccurate, and typical.”
Rumsfeld spoke with reporters June 10 as he was leaving Kuwait. He said Iraq has such weapons and continues to develop nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons.
When asked about Iraq’s recent pledge of nonaggression toward Kuwait and its recognition of Kuwaiti sovereignty, the US defense leader said, “It’d be like a lion inviting a chicken into an embrace.”
He asked what good past Iraqi representations of goodwill have been to its neighbors. “Should hope spring eternal?”
|NATO Unveils New Relationship With Russia
NATO on May 28 formally entered a partnership with Russia, giving its former foe a voice in certain alliance issues, namely the war on terrorism.
Leaders from the 19 NATO member countries and Russia signed the Rome Declaration, establishing the NATO-Russia Council, which replaces the NATO-Russia Joint Permanent Council negotiated during the Clinton Administration. The agreement for the original council only permitted Russian participation after the NATO 19 had reached a common decision.
NATO officials said creation of the new council was prompted by the need to work with Russia in combating terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. It will be “a mechanism for consultation, consensus-building, cooperation, joint decision, and joint action for the member states of NATO and Russia on a wide spectrum of security issues in the Euro-Atlantic region,” said an official statement.
Russia will not have a veto over NATO decisions or a vote in its efforts to expand membership to nations once part of the Soviet bloc.
There are nine countries currently seeking admission to NATO: Albania, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia. In 1999, during its first round of enlargement since the end of the Cold War, NATO accepted the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland into the alliance. A decision on the second round is expected in November.
The new NATO-Russia Council, analysts say, makes NATO expansion less threatening to Russia.
The 20-member council does not replace the North Atlantic Council, the body through which NATO usually reaches decisions. If the new council cannot reach a consensus, officials said, then NATO’s 19 members may limit or restrict discussion on any given topic.
Russian President Vladimir Putin told a news conference, “We accept that the views of NATO and Russia on certain security issues may not always coincide, but what unites us is far more serious than what divides us.”
Initially, the council agreed to pursue cooperative efforts in these areas:
|Bush Plans Homeland Security Department
President Bush wants to create a new federal department that he said would require the most extensive government reorganization since the 1940s.
In an address to the nation June 6, Bush urged Congress to establish a permanent Department of Homeland Security to envelope many of the agencies tasked with homeland defense responsibilities and to provide an organization that has “final accountability.”
The plan would merge some or all of 22 federal agencies, such as the Border Patrol, Coast Guard, Customs Service, Immigration and Naturalization Service, and Secret Service–drawing in some 170,000 employees currently employed in those agencies. Its annual combined budget would be $37.4 billion.
Bush said the new department would have four primary tasks:
If Congress approves the new department, it would also have to decide if and how to reorganize the committee structure in both houses. There are 80 or so committees and subcommittees that oversee the agencies involved. Some lawmakers are already envisioning huge turf battles.
Although Homeland Security Advisor Tom Ridge predicted June 9 on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that the plan will pass Congress this year, he said, “There’s still a lot of heavy lifting.”
The plan is by no means a shoo-in, if comments emanating from key committees, such as intelligence and appropriations, are any indication. Republicans as well as Democrats have criticized the plan for not addressing intelligence failures. Others have said simply it will require careful consideration.
Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.) introduced a bill several months ago to create a homeland security department, though on a smaller scale. He said June 9 on “Fox News Sunday” that the White House should have a separate counterterrorism coordinator to reign in intelligence activities.
Still other Congressional leaders from both parties have endorsed the plan, saying only that it should have come sooner.
|The Washington Tanker Wars
Congress, the White House, and the Pentagon are locked in a furious debate about how the Air Force ought to modernize its aerial refueling fleet of aging KC-135s. The oldest 126 Stratotankers–the KC-135Es–average 43 years of age, have never been re-engined, and are spending an inordinate amount of time in the shop, mostly due to corrosion.
The issue flared last year when James G. Roche, Secretary of the Air Force, suggested the service move up by five years its plans to replace the KC-135Es. He noted that orders for a number of Boeing 767s already on the production line had been canceled due to the post-Sept. 11 downturn in the airline industry and proposed the Air Force lease the 767s as tanker platforms.
Leasing, Roche said, would spare the service an enormous up-front procurement bill and spread payments out over a more manageable period. It would allow USAF to get the airplanes sooner. It would also help out the US aerospace industry.
Boeing has successfully marketed a “militarized” version of the 767 overseas to Italy and Japan. The United Kingdom is also considering buying 767 tankers.
The lease idea was spurred by the fact that the tanker fleet was being heavily used in Operations Noble Eagle and Enduring Freedom, while between one-quarter and one-third of the KC-135 force was perpetually laid up in depot maintenance, the average duration of which had risen to about 400 days.
Roche also noted that, under similar circumstances, USAF had purchased KC-10 Extenders in the 1980s. That move had proved a lifesaver for the conflicts of the 1990s.
The Preferred Option
Roche has maintained that an outright buy is preferable to a lease. While a lease, nominally stated as 10 years long, might be better in terms of cash flow, it does not address how USAF would fill its aerial tanking needs beyond the lease period.
Congress agreed to explore the idea of leasing and gave the Air Force a green light to begin negotiations.
The Air Force talked to Boeing about the 767s and to European Aeronautic Defense and Space about its A-300 series of transports. It then ruled out an EADS aircraft because of the company’s limited knowledge of tankers, but the firm was encouraged to develop capabilities it could offer for future tanker competitions.
Complicating the lease idea are legislative inputs and apples-to-oranges cost comparisons.
Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), ranking member on the Senate Appropriations Committee, inserted language into the Fiscal 2002 defense spending bill that required the Air Force to negotiate a deal that would start and end with commercial-standard airliners. That meant USAF would have to pay to convert leased commercial airliners into military tankers and then, at the end of the lease, pay to have them demilitarized by removing the refueling gear and restoring the aircraft to airliner configuration. Stevens’s amendment would have the airplanes paid for from operations and maintenance funds, rather than procurement accounts.
The move was booed by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) as a make-work provision for the aerospace industry. He also said it imperiled the whole lease concept because the provision added tremendous cost. McCain plans to introduce legislation requiring any lease of more than one year to be funded through procurement accounts.
The CBO Numbers
The Congressional Budget Office, in response to a request from McCain, compared the cost of buying and leasing tankers. It said purchasing 100 767s between 2005 and 2011 would entail $18 billion in procurement and another $7 billion in operating costs through the year 2020–or $25 billion overall. In today’s dollars, CBO said, the 100-tanker buy would cost $20 billion, including operating expenses.
By contrast, CBO said, leasing and operating 100 767s over roughly the same period–including the tanker conversion and deconversion costs–would be about $24 billion in today’s dollars.
However, CBO pointed out, at the end of the lease, “the Air Force would not possess any aircraft,” whereas purchased airplanes would be available for perhaps 20 to 30 more years of service. At the end of 2015, USAF would have to start over–buying or leasing more aircraft. If the Air Force simply bought the aircraft at the end of the lease, it could avoid the deconversion costs, but CBO estimated the residual value of the 767s would still be about $6 billion. Overall, CBO said the lease-to-buy arrangement would cost $26 billion in today’s dollars.
If Stevens’s provision were amended to permit a leasing-purchase of airplanes already configured as tankers, CBO said, the overall cost for operations through 2020 would be $28 billion in today’s dollars.
The CBO also estimated the cost of operating the KC-135E fleet from 2005 to 2011 at $2 billion.
The Pentagon’s Cost Analysis Improvement Group pegged the cost of a lease arrangement 15 percent higher than an outright buy.
Then, the White House’s Office of Management and Budget jumped into the fray, suggesting the Air Force could re-engine 126 KC-135Es (which are re-engined KC-135As), bringing them up to KC-135R status, and add other improvements for about $3.2 billion. The move would increase the carrying capacity of the tanker fleet sooner than other alternatives. OMB acknowledged that the Air Force expects KC-135 maintenance costs to increase by $23 million a year but said the service could still fly the KC-135s another 40 years.
OMB said a tanker lease would cost $26 billion over 10 years and require about $1 billion in infrastructure changes to accommodate the larger airplanes. It also warned that replacing 126 KC-135Es with only 100 767s would result in a net loss of fuel capacity of about two percent. The agency also said an outright buy of 100 767s would cost about $18 billion, including the cost of the refueling conversion.
The Air Force responded that an upgrade of the engines would do nothing to fix the essentially unfixable problems of corrosion on the 43-year-old airplanes.
In the wake of dueling numbers, Roche has said the lease is something “we will not do … unless it makes good business sense.” Boeing has said it expects to offer an attractive deal, at less than what the government agencies are estimating. Details of the prospective lease arrangement are expected later this summer.
–John A. Tirpak
|AFA Names New Executive Director
The Air Force Association Board of Directors approved Donald L. Peterson to be the next AFA executive director. Peterson on Aug. 1 will succeed John A. Shaud, who served in the post for seven years.
“We are very pleased to have someone of Don Peterson’s caliber as the next executive director of our association,” said AFA National Chairman of the Board Thomas J. McKee. “Don is committed to helping AFA promote public understanding of aerospace power and the pivotal role it plays in the security of the nation. We look forward to his advocacy on behalf of our members, the United States Air Force, and the Air Force family.”
As top staff executive, Peterson will direct AFA’s professional staff in all functional areas and be responsible for the management and operations of the association and its educational affiliate, the Aerospace Education Foundation. He will hold the position of publisher of Air Force Magazine, the official journal of the 146,000-member association.
A retired lieutenant general, Peterson served as director of plans and assistant deputy chief of staff for air and space operations and later as deputy chief of staff for personnel at Headquarters US Air Force at the Pentagon.
Peterson completed pilot training in 1967 and began his career as a KC-135 pilot and later flew EC-135, F-4, F-111, and F-15 aircraft. He is a command pilot with more than 4,000 flying hours, including 597 in combat. His assignments included tours as commander of a tactical fighter squadron, tactical fighter wing, and flying training wing. He also commanded the Cheyenne Mountain Operations Center for NORAD and US Space Command.
He graduated from Texas A&M University in 1966 with a bachelor of business administration degree in finance. Peterson holds a master’s degree in management from Auburn University. He attended the Executive Development Program at Carnegie Mellon University and Program for Senior Executives in National and International Security at Harvard University.
|Roche: USAF Could Have Saved $18 Billion on C-17
Secretary of the Air Force James G. Roche said the Air Force was forced to spend $18 billion more than necessary to field the C-17 airlifter.
He said when the program began in 1997, it had a 210-airplane target. That target dropped to as few as 40 over time, then rose to its present level of 180.
“The bouncing around … cost us $18 billion we probably did not have to spend over that period of time,” Roche said during a DFI International seminar on Capitol Hill in late May.
“Had we, as an Air Force, managed the C-17 program from the beginning in a steady, consistent manner, we would have saved close to $18 billion.”
He urged his own service’s acquisition personnel and defense contractors to be both innovative and steady and business-like in future endeavors.
|This Is the Way the ABM Treaty Ends,
Not With a Bang but a Whimper
Six months after President Bush announced the US plan to withdraw from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, the 30-year-old Cold War centerpiece formally expired June 13.
Unlike the elaborate ceremony at which Richard Nixon and Leonid Brezhnev signed the ABM treaty, the event raised barely an official nod from either the US or Russia.
The White House issued a four-paragraph statement. The Kremlin, which had opposed abandoning the agreement, said nothing.
“We no longer live in the Cold War world for which the ABM treaty was designed,” the Presidential statement said. Russia and the US are building a new relationship, it said, that will look for ways to cooperate on missile defenses, including sharing early warning data and exploring potential joint research and development of missile defense technologies. “Over the past year, our countries have worked hard to overcome the legacy of the Cold War and to dismantle its structures.”
Critics of Bush’s decision to abandon the ABM treaty said the move would set off a new arms race. Instead, just two weeks earlier the US and Russia signed a new treaty, reducing the number of warheads each country has deployed. (See “Bush, Putin Sign Pledge to Reduce Nuclear Arsenals,” below.)
Bush maintained that the ABM treaty hindered the US plan to proceed with a missile defense system.
A group of Democrats tried to block the treaty withdrawal, but the House voted down their legislation. On June 11, 31 members of Congress filed a lawsuit in federal court to prohibit the move.
White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said the lawsuit would probably be dismissed.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon moved June 15 to break ground at Ft. Greeley, Alaska, for facilities to house the Ground-based Midcourse Defense System test bed, including six underground silos for missile interceptors.
|Bush, Putin Sign Pledge To Reduce Nuclear Arsenals
The heads of state of the United States and Russia signed the Treaty of Moscow May 24, pledging to reduce their respective nuclear warhead arsenals by nearly two-thirds.
The treaty requires each country to go down to between 1,700 and 2,200 warheads by Dec. 13, 2012. This will be the lowest level in decades.
At the signing, President Bush said the treaty “liquidates the Cold War legacy of nuclear hostility between our two countries.” He went on to describe a new strategic relationship that will project the US and Russia on “a course toward greater security, political, and economic cooperation.”
Bush also signaled continued cooperation in the war on terror. “I understand full well that the people of Russia have suffered at the hands of terrorists. And so have we. And I want to thank President Putin for his understanding of the nature of the new war we face together and his willingness to be determined and steadfast and patient as we pursue this war together.”
Putin, in his remarks, talked about the strengthening of relations between the two countries, including the struggle against international terrorism.
Each side gets to determine the composition of its strategic nuclear force under the new treaty. The US plans to retire all 50 of its 10-warhead Peacekeeper ICBMs and convert four Trident submarines from strategic to conventional service. Officials said additional steps to reduce the US arsenal to the levels required are yet to be decided.
They also said that some of the warheads removed from deployment will become spares, some will be stored, and others will be destroyed.
Before any actions are taken, the treaty must be ratified by the Senate in the US and the two chambers of the Federal Assembly in Russia. Once this is done, the treaty can enter into force.
The treaty is not expected to reach the Senate floor until fall at the earliest.
|CSAF Survey Indicates Improvement
More than 65 percent of the Air Force’s active duty personnel and civilians participated in the 2002 Chief of Staff organization climate survey. That is the highest response rate so far.
Air Force officials said respondents to this survey also rated almost all areas higher than in the previous survey, conducted in 1999.
One reason for the high response rate, they said, was that anonymity of respondents was protected.
In the survey, personnel rated issues affecting their day-to-day work by responding to questions with answers ranging from strongly agree to strongly disagree.
Some of the areas covered revealed that:
Officials noted that the issue of whether there are adequate resources historically receives a low rating. They said that although some 28 percent felt they did not have enough resources to do their jobs, when looking specifically at time as a resource, the rating was higher than in past surveys. That provides an indication, they said, that work processes are improving.
There was no noticeable difference in responses from those at their home stations and those at deployed locations.
|House Prohibits Abaya Rule
By unanimous voice vote, the House approved a bill that would prohibit US servicewomen from being formally or informally forced to wear the head-to-toe covering, called an abaya. The bill would also prohibit DOD from purchasing such attire.
US Central Command had required female military members to wear the Muslim religious garment whenever they left military bases in Saudi Arabia. That rule and other restrictions, such as prohibiting military women from driving vehicles, had been in force since 1990.
The rule was relaxed somewhat in January when CENTCOM said women were strongly encouraged, but not required, to wear the abaya.
Air Force Lt. Col. Martha McSally, who last year publicly denounced the original policy, had tried unsuccessfully for six years to go through official channels to get the rule changed. She filed a lawsuit in December against DOD.
CENTCOM said the McSally lawsuit had no bearing on the January change.
Rep. John N. Hostettler (R-Ind.), sponsor of the House bill, said the CENTCOM change did not go far enough.
“I am puzzled by the fact that our female military personnel are treated like second-class citizens while stationed on soil they’re defending from Iraqi aggression,” said Hostettler.
The rule is not standard for all US government female personnel. For instance, the State Department does not require its female personnel working in Saudi Arabia to wear an abaya. Hostettler also noted that Lynne Cheney wore a business suit when she accompanied her husband, Vice President Dick Cheney, on a visit there recently.
A co-sponsor of the bill, Rep. Heather A. Wilson (R-N.M.), said the policy should never have been put in place.
“The sad thing is that this bill is needed at all,” said Wilson, a seven-year Air Force veteran. When senior commanders learned about it, she added, it should have been dropped immediately “as transparently unconstitutional.”
The bill was referred to the Senate for action.
|Congress To See Pentagon’s Strategic Personnel Plan Next Year
The Defense Department needs to take a strategic view of its human resources–both civil and military, said David S.C. Chu, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness.
The first outlines of a plan to do just that should go to Congress next year, he told reporters May 30.
Chu said DOD is in the process of creating a set of strategic human resource plans–“one for the military, a different one for the civilians.”
However, he emphasized that on the civil side, “quite candidly, we are starting at a much lower level of knowledge.” Civilian personnel management in the federal government, as a whole, he said, has been very reactive in character and largely decentralized.
Where the Pentagon has conducted numerous studies of military personnel issues for 30 years, Chu said, no similar material exists for the civilian workforce. DOD officials can estimate the impact on military pay policy if they do X rather than Y. They cannot do the same for civilians.
The situation is not satisfactory, he said, especially since within five years half the DOD workforce is eligible to retire. “We have a very imbalanced age structure in our civil workforce, so we need to get our arms around that problem.”
|Helicopter Crew Garners Mackay Trophy
The National Aeronautic Association announced June 5 award of the 2001 Mackay Trophy to an MH-53M Pave Low helicopter crew for actions last November during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. The crew, flying under the code name Knife 04, is from the 20th Special Operations Squadron at Hurlburt Field, Fla.
“This is an incredible story of courage, dedication, skill, and teamwork that demonstrates the difficult circumstances faced by our military personnel in Afghanistan,” said Don Koranda, NAA president.
Knife 04 was flying on a rescue mission with another MH-53M, when weather conditions began rapidly to deteriorate. The two helicopters were barely visible to each other as heavy snow closed in and were forced to fly at about 200 feet above the ground to navigate through mountain passes. They lost visual contact after a few miles. Knife 04 circled, trying to regain sight of the second helicopter, Knife 03, which had a malfunctioning radar.
Knife 03 managed a brief radio transmission, then nothing. It had crashed in the mountains at an altitude of about 10,000 feet. The crew escaped but were in danger from the cold and injuries.
An airborne command post located the crash site, but Knife 04, which was running low on fuel, could not get through the severe weather. It had to leave the area for aerial refueling, The weather was clearing as Knife 04 returned to the crash site. Then the Knife 04 crew realized they would have to dump most of the fuel they had just taken on to be able to fly out at that high altitude with the crew from Knife 03. They calculated they would have just a few minutes to rescue the other crew.
After Knife 04 picked up the other crew, new problems arose. Even at full power, Knife 04 could barely clear the ground with the extra weight. Rotor speed dropped and the aircraft began to shake. Inching the helicopter forward, the pilot found a break in the terrain to take the MH-53 to a lower altitude where the air was denser. Trading altitude for airspeed, he took the Pave Low up for another in-flight refueling only to realize he could not maintain altitude if he continued to take on fuel. The helicopter flew in formation with the C-130 tanker aircraft to a lower altitude to complete the refueling.
After dropping the Knife 03 crew at medical facilities, Knife 04 air refueled once again and flew back to its staging base, arriving at daybreak some 10 hours after starting the mission. The actual landing at the facility, shrouded in fog and smoke and susceptible to small-arms fire, took another half-hour while Knife 04 climbed above the weather to assess the situation.
The Air Force has withheld last names of the Knife 04 crew for security reasons.
- On June 17 DOD announced the Netherlands had become the fourth country to sign on for the Joint Strike Fighter development and demonstration phase. It will invest $800 million. Denmark was third on May 28 and will invest $125 million.
- The Marine Corps V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft had a successful return to flight test May 29 after being grounded for 17 months following two fatal crashes in 2000.
- The X-45A Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle technology demonstration aircraft flew for the first time May 22. The 14-minute flight took the UCAV to 7,500 feet at an airspeed of 195 knots. A second vehicle will begin flight tests later this year. (See “Heavyweight Contender,” p. 32.)
- Boeing selected the General Electric F404 engine to power its X-45B UCAV, currently under development. It is scheduled to fly in 2005.
- USAF officials announced May 12 that pilot error caused the Jan. 10 crash of an MH-53 helicopter in Colorado. The accident was a combination of fatigue and the pilot focusing too narrowly on the approach, ignoring the surrounding area. The aircraft’s speed and altitude made it impossible for the pilot to recover when confronted with a barrier of trees. No one was injured.
- The Air Force said June 10 it had selected a site near the Ft. Belknap Indian Reservation in Montana for a new air-to-ground combat training range. The Air National Guard’s 120th Fighter Wing, located in Great Falls, Mont., will now have to fly only about 15 minutes instead of the 55 minutes each way it took to reach the nearest training range. Construction will start next spring.
- US and North Korean negotiators agreed June 9 on a new schedule of operations to recover remains of US military personnel missing in action from the Korean War. The three operations, lasting about 30 days each, will begin this month and continue into the fall.
- Boeing demonstrated its 737 airliner to the Navy as a possible replacement for the aging P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft and the EP-3C intelligence-gathering airplane. The Navy was expected to select several contractors for an 18-month initial concept development program last month.
- The Advanced Extremely High Frequency system could violate the Nunn-McCurdy rule for controlling program costs if the Pentagon doesn’t buy five of the satellites as it initially planned, Peter B. Teets, undersecretary of the Air Force and director of the National Reconnaissance Office, said in mid-May. A decision on the program is expected this month following a new study of military communications.
- A Saudi Arabian official reportedly said Riyadh had sentenced some of the people arrested for the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing, in which 19 US service members were killed and hundreds wounded. He told al-Jazirah newspaper the verdicts would be announced later.
- Army Lt. Gen. Dan K. McNeill took command of the base in Bagram, Afghanistan, and US-led forces in the country May 31 to oversee combat operations there and to coordinate training of Afghan national forces. Previously all operations there had been controlled by Army Gen. Tommy R. Franks from Central Command headquarters in Tampa, Fla. Franks told reporters the long-distance control had worked fine; it was just time for him to deal with a joint task force headquarters.
- Israel launched a spy satellite May 28 to extend its ability to monitor military developments in the region. It launched its first spy satellite in 1988, followed by a second in 1990, and a third in 1995. A fourth in the series was to have been launched in 1998 but its booster rocket failed.
- Iran confirmed in late May it had conducted a successful test flight of a ballistic missile, the Shahab-3, capable of reaching Israel and US troops stationed in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and eastern Turkey.
- An Oregon television station was on hand May 30 when a rescue operation turned upside down. Injured hikers were to be picked up by an Air Force Reserve Command HH-60 helicopter from the 939th Rescue Wing in Portland. Instead, the TV crew filmed the crash of the HH-60 as it occurred. All six crew members survived.
- The European Union plans in 2006 to launch 30 European satellites under its $3.2 billion Gallileo program–designed to emulate the US Global Positioning System–according to the Washington Post. US officials call the system a waste of funds that could be better spent to modernize Europe’s armed forces.
- The Pentagon could be close to a settlement to end an 11-year legal battle over the cancellation of the Navy’s A-12 fighter aircraft. Boeing and General Dynamics offered to reimburse the Navy with $2.6 billion in goods and services over 10 years.
- An F-16 from the 56th Fighter Wing at Luke AFB, Ariz., crashed May 29 at the Sells Military Operating Area in southwest Arizona. The pilot, Maj. David Walker, ejected safely.
- USAF’s military personnel customer help line now has finance experts on site for quicker resolution of military pay concerns. The number: DSN 665-2949 or 1-800-558-1404.
- Boeing won a $1 billion order from Turkey to provide four radar-equipped 737s for the Turkish military.
- The Navy cleared some F-14s last month after it prohibited its fleet from flying off aircraft carriers while it checked out a possible problem with the nose wheel assembly. About 31 of its 156 Tomcats will have the assembly replaced.
- USAF’s Office of Special Investigations is on the trail of a shipment of aircraft communications parts that sat in a commercial storage facility for 12 years, then wound up on eBay, an Internet auction site. Newsweek magazine said it notified the Air Force about the items.
- Air Force Space Command has opened the ICBM Center of Excellence at F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo. The $1.6 million project will consolidate training and evaluation methods for the Air Force’s three ICBM wings. AFSPC officials said the center should have about 546 students each year.
- Col. (sel.) Dennis M. Layendecker will take command of the United States Air Force Band in Washington, D.C., this month. He began his USAF career with “America’s Band” nearly 20 years ago.
- The VA said its hospitals scored slightly higher than their non-VA counterparts in surveys conducted by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. About one-third of VA’s 163 hospitals are surveyed each year.
- Northrop Grumman received additional contracts from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to continue work on the Quiet Supersonic Platform, a program designed to lay the foundation for an efficient long-range supersonic aircraft that will operate with a less intense sonic boom.
- The first production standard Eurofighter completed five further flights in May following its maiden flight, said BAE Systems. On the last flight, RAF test pilots flew the aircraft and reported it was a joy to fly.
- Lockheed Martin’s Atlas V expendable launch vehicle successfully completed in mid-May the second practice countdown for actual launch. The Atlas V is slated for its debut launch this summer.
- The Navy’s prototype Fire Scout Vertical Takeoff and Landing Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, developed by Northrop Grumman, began its flight test program May 19 at the Navy’s Western Test Range Complex in California.
- Air Force Maj. Gen. Michael P. Wiedemer was named director of the Defense Commissary Agency, headquartered at Ft. Lee, Va., to replace USAF Maj. Gen. Robert J. Courter Jr., scheduled to retire Aug. 1.
- The Air Force Academy women’s rugby team earned the national champions title, defeating Pennsylvania State University May 5.
- An MC-130P Combat Shadow crew from the 67th Special Operations Squadron at RAF Mildenhall, UK, and an HH-60 helicopter crew of the 56th Rescue Squadron stationed in Iceland helped rescue an injured crewman aboard a Spanish fishing boat in the north Atlantic. The distance was so great for the helicopter that it needed four aerial refuelings from the MC-130P.
- The Air Force women’s soccer team beat Army 4-1 in May at Ft. Eustis, Va., to win its second straight Armed Forces Women’s Soccer championship.
- South Korea agreed in late May to buy 40 F-15K fighters from Boeing, which will supply the aircraft by 2008.
- MSgt. Rob Wright, the base historian at Malmstrom AFB, Mont., took the title for the 165-pound class at the 11th Annual Rocky Mountain States Powerlifting Championships in Pocatello, Idaho.
- The F-22 flight test program reached the 2,000-hour mark June 7 as Raptor 4006 and 4003 flew test missions above Edwards AFB, Calif. Col. Chris Seat, F-22 Combined Test Force director, said the hours “are a real indicator of just how well the Raptor is performing and maturing.”