Donley Cites Budget Vise
The Air Force budget is under attack from within, Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley said during a speech on Capitol Hill at the inaugural meeting of the Senate Aerospace Caucus May 6. Stated succinctly, the service’s topline isn’t keeping pace with the new missions USAF is required to take on, he said.
“Nearly every aspect of the Air Force budget is growing larger and faster than the Air Force budget,” said Donley, carefully choosing his words for irony. While 63 percent of the service’s spending over the future years defense program is consumed by day-to-day operations, the remaining 37 percent is for investment.
He said one-quarter of the investment dollar goes to the combat air forces. (The F-35 alone consumes 60 percent of CAF investment funding.) Space projects get 19 percent, and big portions of investment spending go toward “joint enablers” such as airlift, tankers, and intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance, and for research and development.
Lorenz Retiring, Rice To AETC
The Air Force announced May 10 that Gen. Stephen R. Lorenz will be retiring after 37 years of uniformed service. He had led Air Education and Training Command since July 2008.
Lorenz is a US Air Force Academy graduate and a command pilot, with more than 3,500 hours in the cockpits of various transport and tanker aircraft. Replacing him at AETC is Lt. Gen. Edward A. Rice Jr., whom the Senate on May 7 confirmed to receive a fourth star. Rice has led US Forces Japan and 5th Air Force since February 2008.
The AETC enlisted force plans to induct Lorenz into the Order of the Sword, its highest honor, during a July 16 ceremony at Lackland AFB, Tex.
Rescue Crew Takes Mackay Trophy
The four crew members of an HH-60G Pave Hawk rescue helicopter from the 33rd Rescue Squadron at Kadena AB, Japan, have won the 2009 Mackay Trophy, Kadena officials announced May 19. The National Aeronautic Association award recognizes the year’s most meritorious flight.
The airmen—Capt. Robert Rosebrough, 1st Lt. Lucas Will, MSgt. Dustin Thomas, and SSgt. Tim Philpott—comprised Pedro 16 during a July 29, 2009 mission while operating with the 129th Expeditionary Rescue Squadron at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan.
Pedro 16 directed rescue operations by Pedro 15, another HH-60 Pave Hawk crew, to retrieve wounded soldiers from an active firefight, kept in radio contact with the ground commander, and provided emergency close air support, returning fire themselves and acting as forward air controller for two Army OH-58 helicopters.
Cyber Command Starts Work
US Cyber Command on May 21 officially began initial operations at Ft. Meade, Md. It now leads the efforts to protect the US military’s cyber network and attack an adversary through that network, if necessary. It is a subunified command subordinate to US Strategic Command.
The nascent organization, led by Army Gen. Keith B. Alexander, draws together existing cyber capabilities from across the Department of Defense, including 24th Air Force. The Senate on May 7 confirmed Alexander’s promotion to a four-star general for the position. He also remains at the helm of the National Security Agency at Ft. Meade.
“Given our increasing dependency on cyberspace, this new command will bring together the resources of the department to address vulnerabilities and meet the ever-growing array of cyber threats to our military systems,” said Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates May 21 upon appointing Alexander to the top cyber post.
Newest GPS Satellite Launches
The Air Force and its industry partners on May 27 successfully launched the first Global Positioning System Block IIF satellite into space aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta IV expendable launch vehicle from Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla. This mission marked the first time that a Delta IV carried a GPS satellite into space.
The Boeing-built Block IIF satellite joined 30 other GPS spacecraft of earlier configurations already on orbit. The company said on May 28 the first signals had been acquired from the new satellite, paving the way for orbital maneuvers and operational testing. The satellite was expected to start operational service within 90 days of launch.
The Block IIF model features a more robust and higher power military signal—first included on GPS Block IIR-M satellites—and a new L5 civil signal for aviation safety of flight. Boeing is under contract to supply the Air Force with 12 Block IIFs.
X-51A Sets Scramjet Marks
The Air Force’s experimental X-51A WaveRider unmanned hypersonic air vehicle flew successfully on its maiden flight attempt on May 26, traveling under its own power for longer than any other supersonic combustion ramjet-powered vehicle in history, according to USAF and industry officials.
Released from a B-52 bomber over the Southern California coast, the X-51’s scramjet propelled the vehicle for more than three-and-a-half minutes over the Pacific Ocean after its host booster expired, they said. During this time, the X-51 accelerated to speeds of about Mach 5 and an altitude of about 70,000 feet.
After about 200 seconds of engine burn, a vehicle anomaly occurred and the flight was terminated. Nonetheless, Charlie Brink, X-51A program manager in the Air Force Research Laboratory, said his team of Air Force, DARPA, NASA, Boeing, and Pratt & Whitney engineers was “ecstatic” with the success of this maiden mission. Three more flights of expendable X-51As are planned.
ANG Units Get Newer F-16s
The Minnesota Air National Guard’s 148th Fighter Wing in Duluth on April 27 received the first of 20 F-16 Block 50 aircraft from Spangdahlem AB, Germany. That same day, the South Dakota ANG’s 114th FW in Sioux Falls took delivery of the first of 22 Block 40 F-16s from Hill AFB, Utah, which will replace its Block 30 models.
The Block 50s are replacing Duluth’s current F-16 Block 25s, which are being retired. The 148th FW becomes the second Air Guard wing to fly Block 50s. Sioux Falls’ 175th Fighter Squadron will operate the Block 40s in place of the Block 30s it has flown since 1991.
Duluth received its 20th and final Block 50 on May 29, while Sioux Falls is expected to receive all of its the newer F-16s by September. Spangdahlem is shedding about half of its F-16s as part of USAF’s 2010 drawdown of some 250 legacy fighters; Hill is losing about one-third of its F-16s under this reduction.
Schwartz: Airmen Are the Key
The case for maximizing the potential and performance of every airman has never been more compelling, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton A. Schwartz told attendees May 4 at the 2010 senior enlisted leaders summit at Maxwell AFB, Ala.
“Today, more than ever, tactical effects can have strategic consequences,” he said. “In many instances, mission success hinges on airmen outside the wire, making split-second decisions in a highly dynamic environment in which black and white choices are rare, and the many shades of gray can challenge even the most brilliant and competent among us.”
Schwartz said it is imperative that airmen have “the right experience, training, and education at the right time” so the service can perform its assigned missions, given the challenges of constrained resources and a historically low total end strength.
Stockpile Details Revealed
The Obama Administration on May 3 took the unprecedented step of disclosing the number of nuclear weapons in the nation’s stockpile—5,113 warheads, as of Sept. 30, 2009.
Officials said the move was intended to encourage similar disclosure by the world’s nuclear powers and strengthen nuclear nonproliferation efforts.
For details, see “Chart Page” on p. 24.
Guard OK With C-27J Fleet
A fleet of 38 C-27J twin-engine transport aircraft will be enough to meet the Army’s needs for direct support at austere forward locations, when augmented by some C-130 airlifters, Air Force Gen. Craig R. McKinley, National Guard Bureau chief, told reporters May 4 in Washington, D.C.
The Pentagon decided to procure 38 C-27s, even though the standing requirement is for 78. But McKinley said, “With 38 C-27s and however-many [C-130s] we need, we can do the direct-support mission.” He added, “We’ve done tests recently in Iraq that show the -130 can deliver the last tactical mile.”
The C-130, the comparatively larger airframe, has “significant capacity” for direct support when the proper techniques, processes, and procedures are used, said McKinley. Air Force officials told House lawmakers in April that the service is making available 40 C-130s for this role.
Schwartz Clarifies LAAR Use
The Air Force wants a Light Attack Armed Reconnaissance aircraft primarily to help build the air capacity of allied air forces and other partners, said Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, USAF Chief of Staff.
The Air Force would not need this LAAR to carry out its close air support mission, Schwartz added. It has identified “a limited need” for a light platform to serve in that role, he said.
Schwartz made his somewhat surprising remarks on May 6 at a Center for National Policy-sponsored event in Washington, D.C.
The Chief of Staff said the presence of LAAR in USAF’s combat units will give the service the ability to transfer the skills for operating light attack airplanes to the airmen of maturing air forces in partner nations.
The Air Force plans to buy 15 LAAR airframes in Fiscal 2012. For the basic CAS mission, Air Combat Command is pursuing a concept called OA-X.
NORAD Boss Cites Concerns
Gen. Victor E. Renuart Jr. on May 13 said NORAD’s “aging systems”—namely radars and air defense fighters—have become “a concern” to planners.
Renuart spoke at his final press conference as commander of both North American Aerospace Defense Command and US Northern Command.
He acknowledged that there is “a modernization plan in place” for air defense-related fighters, but the Pentagon has in place only “temporary” fixes for current ground-based radars.
Renuart asserted that DOD must have “investment in place” in the 2017-19 period, when those radars “begin to age out.”
On May 19, Vice Adm. James A. Winnefeld Jr. replaced Renuart, who officially retired on July 1.
ANG Wing Gets New Missions
The Air Force announced May 11 that the Ohio Air National Guard’s 178th Fighter Wing at Springfield-Beckley Airport will gain three missions over the next several years as it loses its F-16 training role per BRAC 2005.
Springfield, located northeast of Dayton, not far from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, will host a ground control station for operating MQ-1 Predator remotely piloted aircraft in combat zones and will serve as an interim site for F-16 bulkhead repair.
The wing’s Air Guardsmen will also support the operations of the National Air and Space Intelligence Center at Wright-Patterson. According to local press reports, the new missions will retain more than 860 jobs at the Air Guard base.
Wyatt Cites New ASA Study
Lt. Gen. Harry M. Wyatt III, Air National Guard director, told members of the House Armed Services Committee readiness subcommittee on April 27 that US Northern Command officials are studying the requirements for the air sovereignty alert mission, currently met by 18 alert sites, 16 of them covered by the Air Guard.
Wyatt said this study is be the first one conducted since the 9/11 terrorist attacks and would “determine if 18 is the required number” or perhaps “more or a little bit less.” If the answer is less, that might solve a big problem for the Air Guard, which expects to have a significant portion of its fighter fleet reach retirement age by 2017, if not sooner.
However, whichever way the NORTHCOM study comes down, Wyatt said the Air Force Chief of Staff has “pledged adequate resources to make sure that [ASA] mission is covered.”
Reservists Aid Gulf Clean-up
Air Force Reservists from the 910th Airlift Wing at Youngstown ARS, Ohio, on May 1 began operating two specially modified C-130H aircraft from Stennis Airport at Bay St. Louis, Miss., to spray a dispersing agent on the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
They were part of the US government’s response following the April 20 explosion and sinking of the Transocean Deepwater Horizon oil drilling rig about 130 miles southeast of New Orleans. By their return home on June 4, these airmen had flown 92 sorties, spraying 30,000 acres of Gulf waters with 149,000 gallons of dispersant.
The Youngstown unit has the US military’s only full-time large-area fixed-wing aerial spray capability. While its C-130s normally provide larvicide and insect eradication and vegetation control at training ranges, they are also used to help disperse oil slicks by spraying a chemical that helps break it down for natural assimilation by the ocean.
USAFE C-130Js Branching Out
Two of the new C-130J transports assigned to the 37th Airlift Squadron at Ramstein AB, Germany, participated in Flintlock 10, a US Africa Command-sponsored multinational capacity-building exercise that ran May 1 to May 23 throughout western Africa. They operated out of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.
While Ramstein’s C-130Js began flying in-and-out missions to Africa last December, Flintlock 10 marked the first time that they deployed to “an austere environment for significant durations,” as well as their first involvement in an exercise on the African continent, said Maj. Mark Oberson, 37th AS assistant director of operations.
“The -130s are making this exercise happen,” said Maj. Randle Tankersley who works plans and operations for 17th Air Force (Air Forces Africa). With them, exercise planners were able to bring the participants together at multiple exercise locations. Ramstein is building a force of 14 C-130Js.
SBIRS Sensor Gets Intel Nod
HEO-2, the second Space Based Infrared System sensor payload already on orbit, has been approved to provide technical intelligence (TI) in support of the US military and the intelligence community, the Air Force announced May 7.
This operational acceptance came after the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency validated that HEO-2’s sophisticated IR sensor provides accurate, timely, reliable, and unambiguous TI data for use in intelligence production.
HEO-2 has resided on a classified intelligence satellite in highly elliptical orbit since 2008. US Strategic Command certified it for operations in mid-2009. Its predecessor, HEO-1, was cleared for operations in late 2008. The main mission of both payloads is to provide warning of ballistic missile launches worldwide.
Shaw Drops A-10 Engine Work
Airmen at Shaw AFB, S.C., on May 11 loaded their last TF34 turbofan engine for an A-10 Thunderbolt II ground-attack aircraft on a truck for shipment to Moody AFB, Ga., marking the end of Shaw’s 18 years of major repair work on A-10 engines.
Over that span, Shaw airmen produced more than 654 serviceable TF34 engines in support of A-10 units at Pope AFB, N.C. (later Moody), Spangdahlem AB, Germany, and Eglin AFB, Fla.
Originally, the Shaw mechanics operated under the 20th Component Maintenance Squadron’s Propulsion Flight. It later became the TF34 Engine Regional Repair Center. As part of BRAC 2005, the Air Force is relocating A-10 engine work at two Centralized Intermediate Repair Facilities, one at Moody and one at Bradley Arpt., Conn.
USAF Rejects RPA Leasing
The Air Force is not looking to lease remotely piloted aircraft, not even temporarily, the service leadership said May 12 on Capitol Hill. These comments came in response to the question by Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) on whether leasing RPAs would make them available more quickly to warfighters outside of Southwest Asia.
“We intend to keep this capability over a longer term,” so it makes more sense—and is probably ultimately less expensive—to buy and own RPAs, answered Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley.
Chief of Staff Gen. Norton A. Schwartz added that the Air Force is already doing all it can from a resource and manpower standpoint to increase its RPA ranks, including “maximizing” MQ-9 Reaper production. Accordingly, he said, USAF is already on “the max performance glide path” to satisfy combatant commander needs around the globe.
Sheppard Hosts NCO Academy
Sheppard AFB, Tex., will host a noncommissioned officer academy that is expected to open its doors to technical sergeants in early 2011 and initially graduate about 1,300 airmen annually, Air Force officials announced May 7.
The new academy will train active duty, Air National Guard, and Air Force Reserve airmen. It will give the Air Force a total of 11 NCO academies—including one each in Alaska, Hawaii, Germany, and Japan—that will graduate a combined estimated 11,800 students each year.
The Sheppard academy will be housed in a facility on the base grounds previously used for enlisted medical training. That training mission is moving to Ft. Sam Houston in San Antonio, courtesy of BRAC 2005.
New Intel Center Starts Up
After more than seven years of planning and preparations, the new consolidated operating facilities for the 497th Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Group at JB Langley, Va., in late April became fully operational.
This $75 million construction project brought together more than 700 personnel and their equipment into two new buildings at the north end of the base. Previously, they operated out of six different facilities around Langley.
The group runs DGS-1, a main hub in the Distributed Common Ground System, the Air Force’s global enterprise for processing overhead imagery and signals intelligence from airborne ISR assets. With the new setup, the group’s daily capacity to analyze still imagery has increased by 50 percent, its full-motion video capacity by 300 percent.
Stenner Wants Speedier Training
Lt. Gen Charles E. Stenner Jr., Air Force Reserve commander, said May 4 if he had more funds, he would put them toward “seasoning” new recruits to make them deployable faster.
Stenner, speaking at an Air Force Association-sponsored presentation in Arlington, Va., said Reservists graduate basic schools “at a three-level” of competence, but need to be at a five-level to deploy. Recruits who do not get to deploy soon after they complete training are frustrated.
In fact, many, after spending months working up to a deployable skill level, wind up not staying in the Air Force. “It’s a morale killer,” he said. By contrast, “retention goes up tremendously” for nonpriors who get to deploy soon after completing their training. He would keep the new Reservists in training until they get their five-level certification.
Puerto Rico Unit Gets Reprieve
Senior Air Force officials told House lawmakers April 28 during an oversight hearing that USAF would hold off temporarily on a plan to retire the C-130s of the Puerto Rico Air National Guard’s 156th Airlift Wing next year that was proposed as part of the service’s Fiscal 2011 budget.
Under the original plan, the wing would have lost its six C-130s. But this idea met with Congressional resistance. Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.), co-chair of the Senate National Guard Caucus, said March 25 the plan would “eliminate the only flying unit in the Puerto Rican Air Guard” despite this unit excelling during the recent Haiti earthquake relief.
Accordingly, Lt. Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, deputy chief of staff for operations, plans, and requirements, said the service is discussing with the Air Guard, the Puerto Rico ANG’s 156th AW, and Office of the Secretary of Defense delaying the retirements “to allow time to determine a suitable follow-on mission for the unit.”
Chinese Near Fifth Gen Fighter
If a senior US foreign intelligence analyst is correct, China will have a fifth generation fighter, rivaling the Air Force’s F-22 Raptor, operational by 2018, Reuters news service reported May 20.
“It’s yet to be seen exactly how [the next generation Chinese fighter] will compare one-on-one with, say, an F-22, but it’ll certainly be in that ballpark,” Wayne Ulman, China issues manager at the National Air and Space Intelligence Center at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, told the Congressionally chartered US-China Economic and Security Review Commission that day.
Ulman’s estimated timeline is at least two years and possibly seven years earlier than what Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates told Congress in 2009 during the heated debate over Pentagon plans to cap F-22 production at just 187 aircraft.
Bronze Stars for Valor Awarded
MSgt. Jeffrey Guilmain, SSgt. Simon Malson, SSgt. Christopher Martin, and SSgt. Jeffrey Reiss on April 29 each received a Bronze Star Medal with Valor Device from Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton A. Schwartz during a ceremony at JB Lewis-McChord, Wash. All are combat controllers with the 22nd Special Tactics Squadron there.
Guilmain was honored for his actions in Afghanistan in mid-2006, during which he conducted 20 mounted and dismounted patrols and controlled more than 50 strike aircraft.
Malson was recognized for his efforts in Afghanistan from mid- to late 2008, including controlling more than 100 aircraft flights that led to more than 125 enemies killed in action.
Martin received his award for directing 22 air attacks, five strafing runs, and the release of 8,000 pounds of ordnance during two days of fighting in mid-2008 in Afghanistan.
Reiss got his medal for conducting more than 50 combat missions and delivering airpower in five direct-fire engagements, which led to 60 enemies killed during his tour in Afghanistan in mid- to late 2008.
WWII Remains Identified
The Department of Defense on April 28 announced that its forensic specialists had identified the remains of eight airmen missing in action since their B-24J Liberator bomber was shot down Sept. 1, 1944, during a mission over the Republic of Palau.
The recovered airmen are: 2nd Lt. Frank J. Arhar of Lloydell, Pa.; 2nd Lt. Jack S. M. Arnett, Charleston, W.Va.; Flight Officer William B. Simpson, Winston-Salem, N.C.; TSgt. Charles T. Goulding, Marlboro, N.Y.; TSgt. Robert J. Stinson, San Bernardino, Calif.; SSgt. Jimmie Doyle, Lamesa, Tex.; SSgt. Leland D. Price, Oakwood, Ohio; and SSgt. Earl E. Yoh, Scott, Ohio.
They were part of the 11-member B-24 aircrew. Excavations in 2005, 2007, and 2008 of an underwater site uncovered the remains.
Walker M. Mahurin, 1918-2010
Retired Col. Walker M. Mahurin, who achieved a combined 24.25 aerial kills during World War II and the Korean War, died May 11 at age 91 in Newport Beach, Calif. He died from complications from an earlier stroke, according to his Washington Post obituary.
During World War II, Mahurin served first in Europe, but after being shot down and working with the French underground for several months, he was sent to the Pacific, where he scored his last victory of the war in January 1945. In F-86s in Korea, he shot down 3.5 MiG-15s. On May 13, 1952, his aircraft was taken down by enemy ground fire.
He was captured by the North Koreans and held as a prisoner for 16 months. After his release, he left active duty in 1956, working in the aerospace industry, and later retiring from the Air Force Reserve.