QDR Scrutinizes F/A-22 Risk
The Pentagon’s Quadrennial Defense Review is considering a wide range of numbers as the buy objective for the F/A-22 Raptor, and the final call will be a figure based on “risk calculation,” acting Air Force Secretary Michael L. Dominguez said June 21.
The Air Force maintains it needs 381 F/A-22s to equip 10 Air and Space Expeditionary Forces (AEFs) with one squadron each, Dominguez said. However, he added that the currently funded target of about 170 would be “a formidable force … in many, many contingencies.”
The Pentagon is evaluating “lots of other numbers … in the structure of the joint air dominance study. Those numbers will help define where we want to go,” Dominguez said. However, while the 170 aircraft might be sufficient in some scenarios, yet to be determined is the size force that will be necessary for the long run.
“Are they sufficient as you think into the future, for a 30-year future, maybe a 50-year future? Are they sufficient for the range of threats that we may see out there? Are they sufficient to maintain dominance of the global commons of air and space? And those are the kinds of questions we should be exploring?” Dominguez asked.
The “risk calculation” he said, will be affected by assumptions made “about the proliferation of capable advances in surface-to-air missiles” and the needs of the United States as it confronts emerging powers “in this multipolar world” that will “inevitably” challenge US interests.
Airman Dies in U-2 Crash
A U-2 surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft crashed in the United Arab Emirates on June 22. The pilot, Maj. Duane W. Dively, was killed. Dively was assigned to the 1st Reconnaissance Squadron at Beale AFB, Calif. The Air Force said the cause of the crash was still under investigation, and Pentagon officials reported that hostile fire was not involved. They also said the aircraft was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom in the Southwest Asia theater. Published reports say the accident occurred while the aircraft was landing at Al Dhafra Air Base.
Schwartz To Go to TRANSCOM
President Bush on June 14 nominated Air Force Lt. Gen. Norton A. Schwartz to be the next commander of US Transportation Command, at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois. If confirmed by the Senate, Schwartz would be promoted to general and would replace Gen. John W. Handy, who is retiring.
At the time of the announcement, Schwartz was serving as director of the Joint Staff at the Pentagon.
Although Handy (and all previous TRANSCOM commanders) had simultaneously served as chief of USAF’s Air Mobility Command, the President did not immediately nominate Schwartz for the AMC position in the June 14 announcement.
Schwartz has spent much of his career flying special operations C-130 transports. His previous assignments include stints as commander of the 16th Special Operations Wing at Hurlburt Field, Fla., and commander of Alaskan Command and 11th Air Force at Elmendorf AFB, Alaska.
DOD Identifies Vietnam MIAs
The Defense Department recently announced that it had recovered and identified two airmen missing in action since the Vietnam War. The remains of Col. James L. Carter of Johnson City, Tenn., and 1st Lt. Lee A. Adams of Willits, Calif., were recently returned to their respective families for burial.
Carter was a C-123 aircraft commander who in 1966 took off on a supply mission from Khe Sanh, headed to Dong Ha. His aircraft was not found until local villagers took investigators to various crash sites beginning in 1993.
Specialists from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) performed four excavations between 2000 and 2003, recovering “human remains, personal effects, and other debris,” a news release stated.
JPAC’s forensic scientists analyzed the remains, and dental records eventually helped to positively identify Carter, according to a June 10 release.
DOD announced Adams’ identification May 31, and a memorial service with full military honors was held for him June 1 at Beale AFB, Calif.
Adams was an F-105 Thunderchief pilot in Vietnam. On April 19, 1966, his airplane went down while he was attacking targets in North Vietnam. “As other pilots in the flight watched, his plane failed to pull out of the dive, crashed, and exploded,” the release explained.
In 1993, a local resident turned over to a US-Vietnamese search team a “skeletal fragment he had found near the site of the crash.” Officials used DNA testing and other methods to identify Adams.
Million-Pound Mobility Days Seen
Air Force mobility personnel continue to move cargo at near-record rates, nearly four years after Operation Enduring Freedom began and two years after the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Mobility forces moved more than 1.05 million pounds of cargo on June 13, Central Command Air Forces officials recently announced.
This was almost two-thirds more than the post-9/11 daily mobility average and represented the highest airlift total in four months.
“Cargo included everything from food, equipment, and medical supplies to up-armored Humvees,” stated a June 14 press release.
The record day for airlift during the global war on terrorism also came earlier this year, when 1.1 million pounds were moved in one day in February.
Collectively, coalition airlift forces have “moved more than 1.3 million tons of cargo and nearly 2.7 million troops,” for the operations in and around Iraq and Afghanistan, CENTAF reported.
PACAF Opens Warfighting HQ
Pacific Air Forces on June 1 established the provisional George C. Kenney Headquarters at Hickam AFB, Hawaii. The warfighting headquarters (WFHQ) will focus on preparations for air combat operations in the Pacific and is expected to become permanent this fall.
The Kenney Headquarters “will serve as the premier joint forces air and space command and control organization,” said PACAF commander Gen. Paul V. Hester, in a May 31 press release. The warfighting headquarters is linked to the Pacific Air Operations Center at Hickam.
The center’s namesake served as commanding general of Allied Air Forces in the Southwest Pacific during World War II.
The provisional Kenney Headquarters is led by Lt. Gen. Victor E. Renuart Jr., who is also vice commander of Pacific Air Forces.
Once it becomes permanent this fall, most of the Kenney Headquarters personnel will continue to be drawn from relocated numbered air force staff, a spokeswoman said.
EADS Chooses Alabama Site
If the Air Force picks the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co. to build aerial tankers, the company will perform final assembly of the aircraft in Mobile, Ala., EADS officials announced June 22.
The Brookley Industrial Complex site was chosen because of its existing long runways and proximity to a deepwater port, company officials said. The marine facility is important because EADS would transport large sections of its KC-330 tanker to Alabama via ship.
The site was chosen over competing locations in Florida, Mississippi, and South Carolina.
Should EADS be selected for the tanker work, the company said, it will invest $600 million in the site and hire up to 1,000 workers. The facility envisioned would be able to produce up to 24 aircraft a year.
The Air Force is studying ways to recapitalize the aging KC-135 tanker fleet. It is expected that the Air Force will hold a competition between EADS and Boeing for an initial tranche of up to 100 aircraft, which could be a winner-take-all or a split buy with annual competitions to supply the remainder of a 400-aircraft fleet.
USAFA Attracts Large New Class
The Air Force Academy’s incoming freshman class of 1,418 cadets for the fall of 2005 is the academy’s largest since 1992. It is more than 100 students larger than last year’s class, which enrolled 1,305 officer candidates.
Over the past decade, incoming academy classes have averaged about 1,250 students, the Colorado Springs Gazette reported. The record class came in 1975, when 1,626 cadets were enrolled.
Looney Takes Command at AETC
Gen. William R. Looney III took command of Air Education and Training Command June 17 at Randolph AFB, Tex., in a flight-line ceremony that included the retirement of his predecessor, Gen. Donald G. Cook.
New Aircraft at Cope Thunder
Japan recently brought its F-15J fighters and E-767 battle management aircraft to the Cooperative Cope Thunder exercise in Alaska for the first time. This is Japan’s third year as a CCT participant, the Air Force announced in June, but 2005 marks the first time these advanced aircraft have participated in the large-scale, composite force exercises.
The F-15J is a Japanese derivative of the Boeing F-15C air defense fighter, and the E-767 is an airborne warning and control aircraft with a radar “saucer” like that of the USAF’s E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System. It is based on the Boeing 767 platform.
Cooperative Cope Thunder is the largest realistic training event in the Pacific Theater. This year’s iteration ran from June 9 to June 24 at the ranges near Alaska’s Eielson and Elmendorf Air Force Bases.
F-16 Aids Recovery Operation
An Air Force F-16 provided close air support to ground forces engaged in a fight to recover the bodies of two US helicopter crewmen in Iraq, officials recently announced. The F-16 helped to hold off the attacking insurgents by dropping a laser guided bomb, which suppressed the enemy small-arms fire, according to a press release.
On May 26, a pair of OH-58 Kiowa helicopters came under small-arms fire near Baquba, Iraq, about 40 miles northeast of Baghdad. The two soldiers aboard one of the aircraft died when the helicopter went down. The other Kiowa was able to return to base.
“The ground troops had to battle terrorist insurgents while performing search and recovery operations,” said a May 31 press release. “An Air Force joint terminal attack controller embedded with the Army ground troops communicated with the F-16, ultimately directing the pilot to the target.”
An MQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicle also aided the mission by providing video surveillance of the combat zone.
Corley Nominated To Be Vice Chief
President Bush nominated Lt. Gen. John D.W. Corley on June 29 to be promoted to four stars and assume the duties of vice chief of staff of the Air Force. If confirmed by the Senate, Corley would replace Gen. T. Michael Moseley, who was recently confirmed by the Senate to be USAF Chief of Staff.
Corley is principal deputy, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, and military director of the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board. Previously, he was the director of USAF global power programs, and during that assignment, directed the combined air operations center during the early phase of Operation Enduring Freedom. He graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1973.
|Global Strike Task Force Set for Guam
The Air Force in May announced details of the service’s goal to build a Global Strike Task Force on the island of Guam. Strike, mobility, and intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance aircraft would all operate from the Western Pacific island, which is a United States territory.
The proposal would permanently base 12 aerial refueling tankers and three Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicles at Guam’s Andersen Air Force Base.
The “strike” portion of the task force would be provided by “48 fighter and six bomber aircraft [which] would rotate to Andersen AFB from bases in the 50 states,” according to a May 18 notice in the Federal Register.
Approximately 2,400 additional military, civilian, and contractor personnel would be required to support the Global Strike Task Force, according to the notice. “The action would also result in facility construction, addition, and alteration projects.”
The Air Force and US Pacific Command have long had their eye on Guam as a logical place to increase American military power.
The island is in the same region as potential hot spots such as the Taiwan Strait, the Korean Peninsula, and the Strait of Malacca, but it is also far enough into the Pacific Ocean to be reasonably safe from enemy counterattack.
Andersen also has long runways, large parking areas, and enormous weapons and fuel storage capacity. Officials are fond of noting that the base hosted hundreds of B-52s during the later days of the Vietnam War, and that the base’s infrastructure has continuously been modernized.
|Flight Control Failure Caused F/A-22 Crash
An Air Force accident investigation recently found that a fault in an F/A-22’s flight control system (FCS) led to the crash and destruction of the aircraft at Nellis AFB, Nev., last Dec. 20. The pilot, Maj. Robert A. Garland, safely ejected moments before the aircraft crashed on takeoff.
The Raptor “broke into several pieces, leaving a debris field scattered over the departure end of [the] runway.”
The dysfunctional FCS rendered the mishap aircraft “uncontrollable,” said the accident report, released June 8. The F/A-22’s three rate sensor assemblies, which measure acceleration in three directions for the avionics system, all failed.
Consequently, the mishap aircraft “began a series of uncommanded and progressively more violent yaw, roll, and pitch transients” as soon as it left the ground, the investigation found.
A momentary power interruption had rendered the Raptor’s FCS inoperative.
The only way to identify this problem was through an “initiate built in test,” or IBIT. Before takeoff, Garland started the engines, “performed an IBIT, and had a fully functioning flight control system,” investigators determined.
Subsequently, in order to perform a maintenance operation, the engines were shut down, which momentarily interrupted the aircraft’s power flow and caused the flight control failure. The pilot did not believe another IBIT was necessary after the engine shutdown, however, because the Raptor’s auxiliary power system had been continuously running.
Garland was hardly alone in thinking an additional test was unnecessary. The “belief was based on academic training,” along with “ambiguous” technical data descriptions, the report noted. The misperception “was shared by most F/A-22 personnel interviewed.”
Col. Stanley T. Kresge, president of the accident investigation board, noted in his statement of opinion that, prior to this mishap, a catastrophic triple rate sensor assembly failure was “considered nearly impossible.”
|Military Remains Public’s Most Trusted Institution
Despite the difficulty US military forces are having securing peace in Iraq, the American public still finds the military to be the most trusted US institution. Nearly three in four Americans expressed “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in the military, according to a June Gallup poll.
“Only two other institutions—the police and the church—score above 50 percent [confidence] in this year’s survey,” Gallup officials wrote.
While 74 percent confidence in the military is down slightly compared to the 82 percent expressing confidence in 2003, it is still historically high. Only four times has the public expressed higher confidence in the military—in 1991 (just after the Persian Gulf War), 2002, 2003, and 2004.
Gallup has tracked this issue since 1975. Confidence in the military bottomed out in 1981, at 50 percent, just before the Reagan defense buildup.
Americans also feel the military budget is appropriate. Spending on military and national defense accounts was deemed “about right” by a plurality of 38 percent of respondents. Identical 30 percent portions of the public thought defense spending to be “too little” or “too much.”
The last time a plurality of Americans felt too little was being spent on national security was about six months before the 9/11 terrorist attacks. In February 2001, 41 percent said there was not enough defense spending, while 38 percent found it about right, and 19 percent believed there was too much.
The last time Gallup found a plurality believing too much was being spent on the military was in March 1993, when 42 percent of the respondents held that opinion.
|The War on Terrorism
Operation Iraqi Freedom—Iraq
By July 8, a total of 1,752 Americans had died supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. The total includes 1,747 troops and five Defense Department civilians. Of those fatalities, 1,348 were killed in action by enemy attack, and 404 died in noncombat incidents. There have been 13,336 troops wounded in action during OIF. This includes 6,844 who returned to duty within 72 hours and 6,492 who were unable to quickly return to action.
Fighters Kill 40 Insurgents
USAF F-16s providing close air support for marines in Western Iraq killed approximately 40 insurgents during a June 11 battle. The F-16s delivered five 500-pound GBU-12 Paveway laser guided bombs (LGBs) and two 500-pound GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munitions, destroying terrorist hideouts.
“These successful strikes resulted from close coordination with the coalition ground forces who had requested immediate air support,” read a June 12 press release from Central Command Air Forces. In the mission, enemy forces had “taken refuge in buildings in an attempt to shield themselves from coalition attack,” the release stated.
“Airpower was the only effective way to eliminate this threat.” Air Force KC-10 and KC-135 refueling tankers supported the strike aircraft, “so they could stay on station until all targets were destroyed.” The air strikes began before noon local time and lasted until 4 p.m.
The release noted that nearly 70 percent of all munitions used by coalition air forces in Iraq have been precision guided. The 500-pound JDAM was first used in Iraq last September and is valuable for its satellite-guided accuracy and low collateral damage, compared to the 2,000-pound JDAM. And in clear conditions, LGBs such as the Paveway can deliver near-pinpoint accuracy.
CENTAF officials called Operation Iraqi Freedom “the most deliberate, disciplined, and precise air campaign in history.”
Operation Enduring Freedom—Afghanistan
By July 8, a total of 213 Americans had died supporting Operation Enduring Freedom, primarily in and around Afghanistan. The total includes 99 troops killed in action and 114 who died in nonhostile incidents such as accidents. A total of 511 troops have been wounded in Enduring Freedom. They include 182 who were able to return to duty within three days and 329 who were not.
B-52 Reprises CAS mission
The B-52 bomber, which became the poster child for defense transformation when 40-year-old BUFFs began performing close air support attacks in Afghanistan, recently reprised its role as a CAS aircraft.
The Air Force announced June 3 that troops in Afghanistan’s Oruzgan Province “came under small-arms fire, and the B-52 responded.”
The venerable B-52 dropped three satellite-guided Joint Direct Attack Munitions on a cave sheltering the attackers, “killing two and leading to the capture of 10 others by coalition ground forces,” a press release stated. The bombs “hit the cave dead-on and closed all three entrances,” said the unidentified mission lead. The B-52, permanently stationed at Minot AFB, N.D., was deployed with the 40th Air Expeditionary Group.
By Tamar A. Mehuron, Associate Editor
- Northrop Grumman began construction in June of the X-47B Joint Unmanned Combat Air Systems (J-UCAS) aircraft, the first unmanned surveillance attack aircraft designed to operate from both land bases and aircraft carriers. Final assembly of the first X-47B begins this summer at Northrop’s Palmdale, Calif., facility.
- A fourth Predator squadron will stand up at Creech AFB, Nev., according to a USAF announcement June 3. Air Force Special Operations Command will run it. The first three squadrons are under Air Combat Command.
- AMC commanders can now plan, schedule, and track all mobility airlift and aerial refueling missions at both unit and force levels, thanks to a new command and control system. Currently used at Scott AFB, Ill., and at McChord AFB, Wash., the system will be installed throughout the command through August 2006.
- Warfighters in search of a single source for employing space assets in combat need look no further than the Joint Space Operations Center, which opened at Vandenberg AFB, Calif., on May 18. For the first time, all joint-space assets will be handled under one roof. The center will provide shared situational awareness to commanders and troops in the field.
- Air National Guard C-130J-30s from California, Maryland, and Rhode Island arrived in early June in Southwest Asia to conduct airlift missions to Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Horn of Africa. The 746th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron is comprised of airmen and aircraft from California’s 146th AS, Maryland’s 135th AS, and Rhode Island’s 143rd AS.
- An accident investigation board report, released June 10, concluded that pilot error was to blame for the Nov. 24 crash of an MQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicle at a military installation in CENTCOM’s area of responsibility. During the landing process, he failed to disengage the airspeed hold, as required by the landing checklist. This caused the aircraft to be incorrectly configured for landing. The Predator crashed near the runway and was destroyed.
- During a solo training flight June 8 at Columbus AFB, Miss., a T-37 Tweet trainer rolled off the runway. The student pilot suffered no injuries. The aircraft sustained damage to its left wing, creating a small fuel spill.
- William Winkwerder Jr., assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, changed the Tricare policy May 3 for transitional survivors of those who have died in service. Active duty family members on accompanied orders outside the continental United States who suffer the loss of a spouse are now eligible for Tricare Prime benefits overseas during the three-year transitional survivor period.
- An Air Force accident investigation determined that a B-1B mishap Nov. 23 at Ellsworth AFB, S.D., was caused by incorrectly aligned rollers on the crew entry ladder assembly that created an abort-takeoff condition. The brakes overheated from the high-speed abort, leading to an explosion and a fire in the No. 8 landing gear.
- All four main subassemblies for the first F-35 have been joined, and fabrication of parts for the second F-35 has begun, Lockheed Martin announced June 13 at the Paris Air Show.
- Hq. US Air Forces in Europe received the Air Force Organizational Excellence Award for outstanding service from July 1, 2002, to June 30, 2004. The award honors units with exemplary performance and stellar achievements.
- Lockheed Martin on June 10 achieved a second successful test firing of a hybrid motor, a key component of the Falcon Small Launch Vehicle program, at the Air Force Research Laboratory, Edwards AFB, Calif. The first test firing took place in January. The program aims to create an affordable and responsive spacelift capacity able to speedily launch a small satellite into low Earth orbit.