F/A-22s Still in Hot Box
The Senate Armed Services Committee, in its May markup of the 2005 defense authorization bill, trimmed two fighters from USAF’s F/A-22 request. It approved 22 rather than the 24 that the Air Force had sought. A key question for Air Force officials was whether that cut would stand when the full Senate in mid-June took up work on the measure.
The House in mid-May completed action on its defense legislation, authorizing purchase of all 24 Raptors. That sets up a potential clash, if the full Senate adopts the position of its defense panel.
According to the Senate committee, the Air Force needs “time to improve its production delivery schedule.”
Air Force leaders believe they have overcome development issues and that tampering with the production numbers could have a negative effect on cost and schedule.
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), a longtime supporter of the F/A-22, said it may sound “reasonable” to make a modest reduction, but it is not. Because there already has been a drastic reduction in the scale of the F/A-22 program, many have developed a “very real concern that there will not be enough aircraft to meet the operational needs of the Air Force,” said Hatch.
USAF Saves A-10 Fleet
Air Force officials may have found a way to avoid having to retire some A-10s in order to upgrade others.
Senior leaders, early this year, had announced that USAF would have to cut its fleet of operational A-10s to fund upgrades needed to ensure the Warthog’s long-term viability. (See “Battlefield Airmen,” April, p. 26.)
Air Combat Command officials initially thought they might have to retire half of the fleet. However, Air Staff programmers found that ACC could help pay for re-engining work if it delayed some A-10 maintenance work until needed, rather than when opportune, according to Inside the Air Force.
Lt. Col. Robert Silva, chief of A-10 requirements at ACC, told ITAF that this restructuring of the A-10 work should push a reassessment of the A-10 force structure out to at least Fiscal 2008.
House: More B-1Bs in 2005
The House has approved a measure that would raise by 10 the number of B-1B bombers the Air Force should reclaim from retirement. USAF had planned to restore only seven. The House defense authorization bill says 17 is better.
Congress late last year directed the service to restore 23 of the 32 B-1Bs that USAF had retired in 2001. However, Air Force officials said they did not have enough funds to reclaim all of those aircraft. (See “Washington Watch: Bringing Back the Bones,” January, p. 8.)
In February, Gen. Hal M. Hornburg, commander of Air Combat Command, said USAF had been slightly overzealous when it cut the B-1B fleet from 93 to 60 aircraft. (One B-1B was lost in a crash.)
The Air Force decided that, given available funds and current operational requirements, it should increase the B-1B fleet to 67 aircraft. However, to restore seven aircraft and upgrade them to Block E status, the service had to add $200 million to the $17 million provided by Congress, Gen. T. Michael Moseley, USAF vice chief of staff, told lawmakers in early March. Moseley also said USAF is considering other upgrades to the entire fleet of 67.
When pressed about restoring more B-1Bs, Moseley noted that some had been used to provide “major structural subassemblies” to the existing fleet, so they were no longer viable aircraft. “There are 17 that are retrievable,” said Moseley.
That means another 10 could be upgraded if USAF had the money.
Smart Rack Doubles F-16 Load
A new “smart” weapons rack allows USAF’s F-16 fighter to carry four 1,000-pound precision weapons—twice as many as it can at present.
The F-16 will be the first fighter to employ Lockheed Martin’s new BRU-57 multiple weapon rack. Each device has two stations equipped with flight and targeting data interfaces. These permit in-flight reprograming of smart weapons.
USAF recently certified the rack for use with weapons featuring the Wind-Corrected Munitions Dispenser. Officials expect later this year to certify the new rack for use with Joint Standoff Weapons.
With a software change to the F-16, a company news release said, the rack could also carry 500-pound and 1,000-pound Joint Direct Attack Munitions.
House Votes To Delay BRAC
The House in mid-May voted to delay the upcoming base realignment and closure (BRAC) round for two years, setting up a possible showdown with the Bush Administration. President Bush threatened to veto the measure if it survives the House and Senate conference on the 2005 defense authorization bill.
A similar two-year delay was defeated—narrowly—in the Senate Armed Services Committee’s markup of the defense bill. The full Senate was slated to resume work on the measure in mid-June.
Under current law, a list of proposed base closures or realignments is due next year.
Some lawmakers tried a similar delaying move last year, but they were defeated after President Bush declared he would veto the measure to ensure BRAC went through on schedule. The Administration maintains that defense infrastructure cuts have not kept pace with force cuts, leaving excess capacity of about 25 percent.
On May 19, the White House released a statement saying the President will “strongly oppose” attempts to “weaken, delay, or repeal” the base closing legislation.
Airman Dies in Iraq
SrA. Pedro I. Espaillat, 20, of Columbia, Tenn., died May 15 while on duty in Operation Iraqi Freedom. The Air Force announced that he succumbed to “nonhostile injuries” while deployed to Kirkuk Air Base in northern Iraq.
Espaillat was a weapons loader, assigned to the 4th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, Seymour Johnson AFB, N.C.
Combat Control Gains Members
This spring, the largest-ever group of Air Force combat controllers began training at Pope AFB, N.C. The class totaled 32 members. Graduates will join USAF’s elite group of 360 combat controllers.
Controllers are key links between operational aircraft and special operations forces on the ground. Before attending the 13-week combat control school, a candidate must complete 15 weeks of USAF air traffic control school, three weeks of Army airborne school, and three weeks of Air Force basic survival school training.
The combat control career field is one of several battlefield airmen categories found on USAF’s list of critical shortages.
Mobility Forces Get New Codes
The Air Force in May created new Air Force specialty codes for mobility pilots and navigators, according to a service news release. Gone are the old “A” for airlift and “T” for tanker designations. Replacing them are a common “M” for mobility.
According to USAF, all airlift and tanker pilots and navigators will get the new codes. Air Mobility Command officials said the change provides a “generalist” code that fits both airlift and tanker officers, making it easier for personnel officials to fill mobility aircrew positions.
Included in the change is a separate code for pilots of C-130Js. Col. John Clatanoff, chief of AFMC’s operations and training division, said the C-130J’s unique characteristics set its pilots apart from those flying other Hercules variants.
Guard Gains New Space Asset
The Florida Air National Guard this spring received a new mobile space launch tracking system—the Ballistic Missile Range Safety Technology (BMRST). It can track rockets launched from Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla., and assist in their destruction, if necessary.
The Honeywell-built system will be operated by the 114th Combat Communications Squadron and the 114th Range Flight. The BMRST system consists of a control van and two trailer-mounted tracking antennas.
According to Lt. Col. Rembert Schofield, 114th CCS commander, a mobile system is the most efficient solution for space-launch tracking needs. “As opposed to keeping a seldom-used tracking site opened and manned year-round, you can use this system … and only use it and pay for it when you need it,” he said.
Airmen Express Satisfaction
The 2003 Air Force Climate Survey, completed by more than half of the members of the Total Force, found that airmen are generally satisfied in areas such as job characteristics, resources, values, and unit cohesion. Overall, 78 percent of respondents expressed general job satisfaction.
Results showed improvement in two longtime problem areas: recognition of exceptional performance and management of time, people, and equipment.
A USAF news release said that, while these areas “continue to score low in the survey,” rankings in both cases “have continued to increase.”
The climate areas in which airmen showed the highest satisfaction were unit performance (94 percent satisfaction), job characteristics (92 percent), core values (87 percent), teamwork (86 percent), and team members going above and beyond the call of duty (86 percent).
New AFRC Unit Supplies Haiti
Air Force Reserve Command activated the 84th Aerial Port Squadron at Greenville, S.C., in January and deployed it to Haiti in April. The Reservists are supporting Operation Secure Tomorrow—the DOD mission to provide stability and security to Haiti.
The new unit, normally assigned to Charleston AFB, S.C., is managing the aerial flow of supplies into and out of Haiti for US forces.
The Reservists run a well-rehearsed drill when aircraft land at the Port-au-Prince airport. They unload the inbound cargo and upload any outbound materiel within a matter of minutes, as the aircraft’s engines are running.
As soon as the aircraft lands and “the door comes open, we attack,” said SrA. Alex Lowell Henson, a forklift operator. There is “no shutting the engines down—we just slam it and go,” he said.
Task Force Pushes Changes
A Defense Department task force charged with strengthening prevention of sexual assault and improving the response to such crimes determined that DOD lacked a comprehensive plan for dealing with the problem.
Ellen Embrey, task force director, recommended that the department create a single DOD office responsible for sexual assault issues. Embrey said this office should develop departmentwide policies and help the services and combatant commanders institutionalize the new policies.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld created the task force in February in response to reports of sexual assaults in Iraq and Kuwait.
According to a May 14 statement, the task force concluded that “DOD policies and standards focus on sexual harassment, not assault; commanders don’t have the guidance, resources, [or an] emphasis on prevention and response; and efforts to hold offenders accountable are not apparent, due to Privacy Act concerns.”
Further, each military service runs its own sexual assault prevention program, and there is no “cohesive program” for the department as a whole.
The system that is used to report, respond to, and investigate sexual assault must be made timely and sensitive to victim needs, Embrey said. She noted that some of the task force’s recommendations are already being implemented.
CV-22 Flies Multiship Test
USAF conducted the first CV-22 Osprey multi-aircraft interoperability sorties this spring, according to a news release from Air Force Special Operations Command. The test was successful.
The April 19 mission comprised two CV-22 tilt-rotors and was performed “to ensure that one aircraft’s multimode radar did not interfere with the other aircraft’s multimode radar while conducting terrain-following operations,” said Maj. Greg Weber, CV-22 government flight-test director.
The CV-22’s radar software recognizes a variety of terrains and adjusts flight profiles accordingly. In flight over rough terrain, the computer must be able to order a safe climb profile, Weber explained.
The CV-22, which combines the flying characteristics of both a helicopter and a prop aircraft, is being developed to transport AFSOC’s commandos into and out of war zones.
Guardian Challenge Returns
The 37th edition of the Air Force’s premier space and missile competition—Guardian Challenge—came to an end May 6. More than 200 active duty, Guard, Reserve, and civilian competitors participated in Guardian Challenge 2004 at Vandenberg AFB, Calif.
Air Force Space Command on May 7 announced the challenge winners. The top awards are the Blanchard Trophy for best ICBM wing, Aldridge Trophy for best space operations wing, and Schriever Trophy for best spacelift wing. The 91st Space Wing, Minot AFB, N.D., earned the Blanchard; 21st SW, Peterson AFB, Colo., took the Aldridge; and 45th SW, Patrick AFB, Fla., captured the Schriever.
Airmen Earn FAA Certification
The first two of what is likely to be many Air Force enlisted aircraft maintenance personnel have earned Federal Aviation Administration certification through a new Community College of the Air Force (CCAF) program. The FAA credentials will make the maintainers more attractive to private sector employers.
TSgt. Mark Faught, Ramstein AB, Germany, and TSgt. Jeffrey Gunson, California Air National Guard, are the first airmen to be certified under the CCAF’s Air Force Airframe and Powerplant Certification Program. USAF officials said there are more than 3,200 maintainers in the program now.
Even a maintainer with 20 years of aircraft maintenance experience would benefit, said J.R. Breeding, chief of CCAF licensing programs. “If they don’t have the credentials to back it up, the chances to market themselves are greatly reduced,” he explained.
Gunson said the first question he was asked by prospective employers was whether he had certification. “Now that I have successfully completed all FAA exams, I feel I’ll now be very well positioned after retirement,” the sergeant said.
Retired Col. Robert Morgan, pilot of the famed World War II B-17 bomber Memphis Belle, died May 15 in Asheville, N.C., at the age of 85. Morgan successfully piloted his B-17 through 25 dangerous daytime bombing runs against Nazi Germany.
Memphis Belle was the first Army Air Forces bomber to complete 25 missions, and its crew returned to the United States in 1943 for promotional purposes.
Later in the war, Morgan returned to combat as a B-29 pilot against Japan. Morgan’s first combat mission in the Pacific Theater was also the first B-29 attack directed against Tokyo.
|USAF Seeks New Long-Range Strike Capability
The Air Force has settled upon a two-pronged approach to meet its future long-range strike requirements. The service plans to develop a midterm capability—ready by around 2018—in addition to pursuing a revolutionary next generation system—due in 2025-30.
This puts the Air Force on track for initial operational capability of a new interim platform around 2020, explained Maj. Gen. (sel.) Stephen M. Goldfein, USAF director of operational capability requirements.
Meanwhile, work will continue on the science and technology programs originally expected to yield a next generation system. Goldfein maintained that a revolutionary system, perhaps involving space-based weapons or hypersonic speed, is still highly desirable. However, he said in an interview, “an IOC out in the 2030s was just too far away.”
Long-range strike “is at the heart of holding things at risk around the world” and is a pivotal Air Force mission, Goldfein said. “Last fall, it became clear that enough studying had probably been done,” he added. “We needed to enter a process.”
Consequently, Air Force Materiel Command and Air Combat Command have established offices to begin developing requirements and options. ACC will define what is needed, and AFMC will work with industry to determine the possibilities. Earlier this year, USAF put out a request for information to industry, calling for “a better understanding of what resources/mature technologies are available” to meet the new global strike requirements.
New capabilities should ensure that USAF can hit “a variety of targets, including hardened or deeply buried targets … in nonpermissive environments until fielding of the next generation long-range strike capability,” the RFI notice stated. “A development effort could start as early as 2006 with [IOC] in 2015.”
While the revolutionary capability is undefined, the midterm bridging capability likely will feature something easily comprehensible. It could be a modification to an existing aircraft, such as new B-2 bombers or an FB-22. It could be a non-nuclear ICBM or an unmanned attack system. It will be something the Air Force can start to build in the next few years.
Air Combat Command has already competed a functional area assessment that essentially catalogued what capabilities are expected to be in service in 2011, based on the Pentagon’s long-range spending plan. Next is a functional needs analysis to answer the question, “What do we need to do in the future—and when?” explained Lt. Col. M.D. Dates, who is leading the assessment for ACC’s requirements directorate at Langley AFB, Va.
The functional needs analysis should be completed sometime this summer, when it will be taken to Goldfein for approval and forwarding to the Joint Staff’s requirements council.
If everyone agrees on the plan, an analysis of alternatives would begin in Fiscal 2006 so that specific long-range strike solutions can be identified by the end of 2007.
|JFCOM Finds Fratricide an Enduring Problem
According to a US Joint Forces Command draft review of lessons learned from Operation Iraqi Freedom, fratricide problems during OIF came from a lack of joint warfighting protocols.
JFCOM found that DOD has barely begun using joint solutions to prevent friendly fire deaths. As units deployed to Southwest Asia for OIF, there was “no joint standard” for combat identification and blue force tracking systems, stated the review, a copy of which was obtained by Inside the Pentagon.
Many of the systems designed to prevent fratricide were not interoperable. For example, ground forces were deployed with seven different systems unable to communicate with each other. US Central Command created an antifratricide working group to tackle the problem, and four combat ID systems were selected as common solutions to eliminate the confusion.
Unfortunately, “the integration problem at CENTCOM headquarters was considerably greater,” the report noted. This was because the headquarters had to track air, land, sea—and enemy—forces. The hodgepodge of ID and tracking systems developed and fielded by the individual services was not “born joint.”
A problem for the Air Force was that “company-level ground units and most air platforms possessed limited or no capability to develop or share a comprehensive picture of the friendly ground situation,” increasing the risk of fratricide incidents.
JFCOM said the force needs two immediate improvements. First, “best practices” developed by CENTCOM must be pushed to the other warfighting commands. This will keep DOD from having to reinvent the wheel for the next war. Second, fratricide must remain a high priority within JFCOM, which develops joint solutions to warfighting problems.
It also was suggested that JFCOM “examine the feasibility of providing blue and red force tracking information [to] all aerial platforms and to small ground units.” (See Better ‘Blue Force’ Tracking,” June, p. 66.)
Officials have previously said that one of the frustrations in OIF was that the smaller units—including individual soldiers and aircraft—often have the greatest need to know where the friendly forces are, but frequently have only limited access to such information.
|Light Airborne RED HORSE Tackles Heavy Work
The Air Force’s new Airborne RED HORSE (ARH) units proved their merit during Operation Iraqi Freedom by quickly opening numerous airfields for coalition use.
Three 35-person ARH teams—each containing traditional RED HORSE construction and utility experts plus explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) personnel, firefighters, and nuclear-biological-chemical defense experts—deployed for Gulf War II. The units were created after operations in Afghanistan highlighted the need for a lightweight, rapidly deployable construction capability.
At Langley AFB, Va., ARH airmen recently poured out of a C-17 and demonstrated their ability to rapidly repair a runway crater. The airmen described their mission as one of performing heavy duty repairs with the lightest equipment possible.
The teams have a “set equipment package” that includes loaders, a backhoe, four-wheel all-terrain vehicles, and a tracked “dump truck.” It is relatively light yet able to withstand airdrops and tactical landings on unimproved airstrips.
ARH airmen, already experts in their fields, undergo additional training, including Army airborne training at Ft. Benning, Ga.
Over the years, traditional RED HORSE units became increasingly heavy and, consequently, more difficult to deploy. In December 2001, Gen. John P. Jumper, Chief of Staff, ordered the creation of ARH, and the airmen had the opportunity to build their inventory from scratch.
One benefit, noted MSgt. Mike DeShon, noncommissioned officer in charge of the 819th RED HORSE Squadron, Malmstrom AFB, Mont., is that the airborne units are specifically designed to be “tailorable” for each mission. Units take only the equipment needed for a mission, because “we’re still trying to get lighter,” he said.
TSgt. Steve Stanford is a heavy equipment operator with the 823rd RHS, Hurlburt Field, Fla. He was part of the ARH team that opened up Tallil and Baghdad airports to coalition aircraft. His unit set up the airfield lighting at Tallil and had to repair 11 bomb craters at Baghdad before aircraft could begin flowing in.
The teams are set up to make temporary repairs. The goal, notionally, is to fill a 25-foot bomb crater in eight hours—a patch that would let aircraft use the field until a traditional RED HORSE unit arrives to make a permanent fix. In Baghdad’s case, Stanford said, commanders needed permanent repairs from ARH. It took longer, but the teams “made it work,” he said.
SSgt. Brandon Livingston was with another ARH team that went into northern Iraq. An EOD technician based at Langley, Livingston was on hand for the opening of Bashur and Kirkuk Air Bases, as well as a third location he declined to name. Coalition aircraft started landing at Kirkuk just 36 hours after his unit arrived on-scene, he said.
ARH is highly expeditionary. Livingston, for example, opened three bases but was only in the theater for 52 days. He said that ARH teams are designed to “deploy, do the mission, and go on.”
The units were cobbled together in a short time. Training can sometimes be difficult to coordinate, DeShon said. The three ARH teams are based with the permanent RED HORSE units, but the supporting components come from other locations. They may eventually consolidate at common locations, DeShon said.
|3,600 Troops Deploying From Korea to Iraq
The Defense Department announced May 17 that approximately 3,600 troops assigned to the defense of South Korea will rotate to Iraq this summer. The move will reduce the US manpower presence in South Korea by nearly 10 percent.
Officials said Washington had not decided whether this will be a temporary relocation or a permanent reduction in the 37,000-strong US complement in South Korea. The advent of precision weapons and network warfare, coupled with improvements in intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance systems and long-range strike capabilities, has led Pentagon officials to reassess what size force is needed to defend South Korea against Communist North Korea.
At a background briefing on the decision, a senior defense official said the move was being made in “the context of—and within the bounds of—our entire global posture realignment and discussion process.”
The department previously announced plans to move almost all US military forces away from the Demilitarized Zone and Seoul and toward the Osan Air Base area.
“In this new world of increased capabilities, we were able to position ourselves differently throughout the world,” the senior defense official said. The move will result in “absolutely no diminution of our capabilities either in the region or on the Korean Peninsula,” the official added.
US Pacific Command recently rotated a group of B-52 bombers to Guam in the western Pacific to bolster PACOM’s firepower in the region.
|The Iraq Story Continues
By May 24, a total of 797 Americans had died while supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. This included 795 troops and two Defense Department contractors. Of those casualties, 582 were killed in action, while the other 215 died in noncombat incidents, such as accidents.
President Bush declared major combat operations in Iraq complete on May 1, 2003. Since that time, 657 troops have died in Iraq: 471 in combat and 186 in nonhostile incidents. The two DOD civilians were killed this year, also in the line of duty.
Airpower Proves Utility in Urban Setting
Air Force AC-130 Spectre gunships played a major role in the attack on Fallujah that preceded the US negotiated cease-fire in that city.
On April 27, aircraft and ground units were sent into Fallujah to quell a continued violent uprising in the city. That night, Marines saw enemy forces in two vehicles dropping off bundles in intersections—a pattern that previously had preceded attacks on coalition forces. The AC-130 and helicopters were called in. They attacked the vehicles and followed the occupants to a nearby building. The aircraft then attacked the building.
Army Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, deputy operations director in Iraq, said the building contained a “large amount” of munitions and that “secondary explosions” continued for about 20 minutes after the air strike.
By April 29, reported the New York Times, three days of air strikes against Fallujah had destroyed at least 10 buildings and two occupied “sniper nests” in the city. Air Force F-15E and F-16 fighters also struck targets, as did Navy F/A-18s and F-14s.
Coalition Finds 8,700 Arms Caches
Coalition forces in Iraq have found more than 8,700 arms caches scattered throughout the country. Remnants of the former regime continue to complicate security efforts in the country.
“We continue to find them” said USAF Gen. Richard B. Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, of the weapons dumps. “We’re up over 8,700 now, and tens are found every week,” he told the Senate Appropriations Committee May 12.
Myers said the US has more then 6,000 people devoted to the task of finding and eliminating the arms caches, a total that includes both military personnel and contractors.
The vast number of weapons sites across Iraq has made it easier for insurgents and terrorists to obtain the weapons that have been used to deadly effect against coalition forces and members of the nascent Iraqi government.
|Sarin Found in Roadside Iraq Bomb
An artillery shell used as a roadside bomb contained the nerve agent sarin, Defense Department officials said May 17. The bomb, referred to as an improvised explosive device (IED), was used to attack a military convoy traveling near Baghdad.
US troops discovered the IED intact, but it detonated before an explosives team could disable it, said Army Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, deputy operations director in Iraq.
When it exploded, the device released a small amount of sarin, causing the two soldiers minor injuries consistent with low-level exposure to the gas.
Kimmitt explained that this sarin shell was a “binary chemical projectile,” meaning it had two chambers filled with different chemicals, which, when mixed, create sarin. When used as an IED, the mixing is incomplete, creating what the general described as “very small traces” of sarin.
He said it was unlikely the perpetrators knew the artillery shell contained the deadly gas.
Saddam Hussein’s defunct regime had used chemical weapons against Iran in the 1980s during the Iran-Iraq war and against the Kurdish minority in northern Iraq in the 1990s. Kimmitt noted that “the former regime had declared all such rounds destroyed before the 1991 Gulf War.”
The Associated Press reported that roughly 20 percent of Hussein’s chemical weapons production was of sarin-type agents. The Wall Street Journal further reported that, earlier in May, US forces had found Iraqi insurgents with a shell that contained inert mustard gas.
|“Victory Through Air Power” Returns
“Victory Through Air Power,” the theatrical film said to have strongly influenced the thinking of Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt on how to fight World War II, has been reissued by the Walt Disney Co. on DVD. The film has only rarely been shown since its 1943 release and has never been offered for sale.
The “Victory Through Air Power” film was Disney’s adaptation of the 1942 book by aviation pioneer Alexander P. de Seversky. In that book, he made the case that long-range aircraft could take the fight to the enemy homeland and hasten the end of the war.
De Seversky appears in the film, explaining his theories. (See “Sasha the Salesman,” August 2003, p. 74.) Additional archival footage of Maj. Gen. Billy Mitchell and others is included. Accompanying material describes the making of the movie.
The film is included in a Disney wartime films retrospective titled “On the Front Lines.” It comprises 32 short subjects ranging from war production training films (e.g. “Four Methods of Flush Riveting”) to numerous educational and propaganda cartoons starring various Disney cartoon characters. Disney’s company was given over almost completely to making such films during the war, and they were a key element in bond drives.
Disney is issuing 250,000 sets of “On the Front Lines,” which lists for $32.00. Major book and video retailers are carrying the set, which was released in May.
— John A. Tirpak
|Eglin Eyes New Weapons Range
Officials at Eglin AFB, Fla., hope to secure a new range for testing advanced long-range weapons through their full flight envelopes. Weapons such as the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile and the Small Diameter Bomb need more space than existing ranges can offer, they say.
“The nation does not have a test range where our most modern weapons can be tested in an operationally representative manner,” noted Col. Robert Nolan, commander of Eglin’s 46th Test Wing.
The wing soon will have access to new offshore testing capabilities that will meet some of the demand. Still, Nolan said, “Certain weapons will need to impact land-based targets.”
This requirement has led to what is known as the Big Bend Range Initiative, an effort to secure a one-square-mile impact area in the sparsely populated “bend” of Florida—southeast of Tallahassee and west of Gainesville. Such a range would be operated by Eglin but would be hundreds of miles removed from the base proper. The area has a low population density, limited air and shipping traffic, and almost no development along the coast, said officials.
The Air Force wants to build trust with the nearby communities and work out a cooperative agreement, said Eglin spokeswoman Lt. Mae-Li Allison. All the land under consideration is currently owned by local citizens, Allison noted. While the service would like to get the range land as quickly as possible, a final site decision will probably not be made this year.
Once a location is approved, USAF will move to a demonstration phase before finalizing plans.
By Tamar A. Mehuron, Associate Editor
President Bush nominated Maj. Gen. John A. Bradley to become the next chief of Air Force Reserve and commander of Air Force Reserve Command. The previous AFRC commander, Lt. Gen. James E. Sherrard III, retired June 1. Maj. Gen. John J. Batbie Jr., AFRC vice commander, is acting commander, pending Bradley’s confirmation.
Northrop Grumman won an $88 million contract April 30 to develop a demonstration radar system for the E-10 aircraft. The contract also includes delivery of three radars for Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicles. Work is to be completed by May 2010.
The last Atlas II rocket rolled out from Lockheed Martin’s Denver facility May 14. Production now shifts to Atlas V, one of the two new heavy lifters partially financed under USAF’s Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program. The Atlas II series achieved 61 successful missions in 13 years. This last Atlas II was slated, on June 30, to boost a national security satellite into orbit from Cape Canaveral, Fla.
On May 6, NASA selected Maj. James P. Dutton Jr., an F/A-22 test pilot, as one of two new space shuttle pilots. The other was Marine Corps Maj. Randolph J. Bresnik. NASA also selected Navy Lt. Cmdr. Christopher J. Cassidy and Army Maj. Robert S. Kimbrough, as mission specialists. Shuttle flights resume in spring 2005.
Lockheed Martin finished the critical design review phase of the Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) satellite communications system and began production this spring, according to a company news release. AEHF, which is scheduled for launch in early 2007, will replace the Milstar communications system.
Investigators found that an Aug. 16, 2003, accident in which a T-1A trainer ran off the runway at Keesler AFB, Miss., was caused by several pilot errors. The student pilot, 2nd Lt. Tiffany Ley, flew excessive approach and landing speeds and maintained too high a thrust for the first few seconds after touchdown. Instructor pilot, 1st Lt. Nancy Badgett, engaged the emergency brakes but the wet runway sent the Jayhawk into a skid. Both officers are assigned to the 86th Flying Training Squadron, Laughlin AFB, Tex. Neither was injured, but the aircraft had an estimated $2.5 million in damage.
Two F-15E crew members ejected safely after their aircraft crashed near Roanoke, Va., on May 6. Assigned to the 4th Fighter Wing, Seymour Johnson AFB, N.C., the pilot, Capt. Darren Wees, and the weapon systems officer, Capt. Daniel Spier, walked away from the crash. USAF officials are investigating the cause of the accident.
Lockheed Martin, on May 5, received a $53 million increment of a $200 million contract to develop a Joint Common Missile for Army, Navy, and Marine Corps aircraft. The air-to-ground missile will replace the current Hellfire, Longbow, and Maverick systems. Full production begins in 2011. The Pentagon expects to buy 54,000.
A landing gear malfunction, on May 10, caused the pilot of a T-6A trainer, assigned to Randolph AFB, Tex., to land it with gear up at Kelly Field Annex, Tex. The two crew members were unharmed.
Earlier this year, several parts of the historic XC-99 were airlifted by a C-5 from the 433rd Airlift Wing, Lackland AFB, Tex., to the Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, where the XC-99 will be restored. (See “Big Fella,” February, p. 70.) The huge airlifter has to be taken apart sequentially, as it was built, and will be delivered in three phases.
USAF awarded a seven-year contract to CPI Aerostructures, Edgewood, N.Y., worth $214.8 million, to supply spares of 100 wing-related components for C-5 aircraft. Work is to be completed by May 2012.
US Joint Forces Command inaugurated a new Command Senior Enlisted Leader Capstone Joint Operations Module course earlier this year at its Joint Warfighting Center, Norfolk, Va. The new two-day course, which is open to all services and allies, is designed to help senior enlisted leaders understand joint command and control and planning, enabling them to aid joint task force headquarters. JFCOM expects to create an expanded program in the near future.
Air Force Reserve Command stood up the 710th Combat Operations Squadron last fall and, this spring, began seeking individuals to man the new unit whose mission will be to deploy worldwide within 72 hours to help manage an air campaign. The 710th, headquartered at Langley AFB, Va., expects to have 129 members, including 21 full-time reservists, one full-time civilian, and 107 traditional reservists. AFRC has a similar unit, the 701st COS, March ARB, Calif., but its focus is to support only the Pacific theater.
USAF took many honors in the Secretary of Defense’s annual environmental awards for 2003, announced in May. The natural resources conservation award for small installations went to Columbus AFB, Miss., and for an individual to Gregory Lee, 347th Civil Engineer Squadron, Moody AFB, Ga. Robins AFB, Ga., won the industrial installation award for pollution prevention. Environmental restoration awards went to Tinker AFB, Okla., and the 45th Space Wing, Patrick AFB, Fla. Aeronautical Systems Center, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, won the environmental excellence in weapon system acquisition team award.
Air Force officials honored retired CMSgt. Wayne Fisk, a pararescueman, by renaming a park at Gunter Annex, Maxwell AFB, Ala., after him and dedicating a monument to his career. Fisk, who was at the April 28 ceremony, earned two Silver Stars, a Defense Superior Service Medal, a Legion of Merit, two Distinguished Flying Crosses, and 18 Air Medals. The park is next to the Enlisted Heritage Hall museum.