Airman Dies in Afghanistan
TSgt. Daniel L. Douville, 33, of Harvey, La., died in Afghanistan June 26.
Harvey died as a result of injuries suffered from an improvised explosive device on the border of the Nad Ali district of Helmand province. At the time of his death, Harvey was assigned to the 96th Civil Engineer Squadron at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.
F-16 Pilot Killed in Nellis Crash
Capt. Eric Ziegler, 30, an operational test and evaluation instructor pilot with the 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron at Nellis AFB, Nev., died June 28 when his F-16C crashed in the desert near Caliente, Nev., during a training mission. Ziegler recently had been selected to attend the Air Force Weapons School at Nellis.
His F-16, which was unarmed, was participating in an air-to-air combat training mission on the Nellis range when it crashed. Helicopters and ground teams searched a wide area for two days to find the wreckage.
Panetta Takes Over
The Senate voted on June 21 to unanimously approve Leon E. Panetta to become Defense Secretary. Previously the head of the CIA, he won bipartisan support following his June 9 confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Panetta assumed his new post at the Pentagon June 30, replacing Robert M. Gates, who had led the Defense Department since December 2006. President Obama nominated Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, top US general in Afghanistan, to replace Panetta at the CIA. Petraeus received Senate confirmation on June 30.
Gates Says Goodbye
Robert M. Gates, who was first appointed Defense Secretary by President George W. Bush in 2006, received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama at a June 30 Pentagon ceremony. The day before, Gates issued a farewell message to troops.
“It has been the greatest honor of my life to serve and to lead you for the past four-and-a-half years,” he wrote, continuing, “Your dedication, courage, and skill have kept America safe even while bringing the war in Iraq to a successful conclusion and, I believe, at last turning the tide in Afghanistan.”
Global Hawk Clipped
The Defense Department has reduced USAF’s planned buy of Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk aircraft by 11 airframes, to 55, as part of a program overhaul, Pentagon acquisition executive Ashton B. Carter told Congress June 14.
Large increases in the Global Hawk’s price triggered a program review under the Nunn-McCurdy law, which governs overruns and schedule delays. Despite trimming the planned buy, Carter said the program is essential to national security and should continue.
The 11 aircraft were all to be in the Block 30 configuration, designed to carry sophisticated sensors and electronic eavesdropping equipment.
According to an Air Force spokesman, the revised program of record calls for seven Block 10 aircraft, six Block 20s, 31 Block 30s, and 11 Block 40s. This cut follows on the heels of a previous 11-airframe cut announced in February, affecting Block 40 aircraft meant to host the Multiplatform Radar Technology Insertion Program (MP-RTIP) surveillance radar.
According to Bloomberg News, the Global Hawk program’s estimated cost is now $12.4 billion, down from $13.9 billion for 66 aircraft last December.
Fiel Takes Over AFSOC
Lt. Gen. Eric E. Fiel took command of Air Force Special Operations Command from Lt. Gen. Donald C. Wurster during a June 24 ceremony at Hurlburt Field, Fla.
Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, Air Force Chief of Staff, presided over the ceremony; Adm. Eric T. Olson, US Special Operations Command boss, also participated.
Fiel comes to AFSOC from SOCOM, where he was vice commander.
“AFSOC will continue to change,” said Fiel. “We will continue to focus on who we are and what it means to be the specialized air arm of the SOF team.” He now commands AFSOC’s roughly 16,000 active duty, Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve, and civilian personnel.
“Each of you makes a difference, every job matters,” Wurster told AFSOC’s airmen. “Despite the relatively small number of personnel in AFSOC, we fight above our weight and produce lasting and strategic effects in our wake.” Wurster is retiring after 38 years of service, effective Aug. 1, having led the command since November 2007.
Half-Prompt Global Strike
House defense appropriators roughly halved the Pentagon’s funding request for development of conventional prompt global strike capabilities for next fiscal year, approving only $104.8 million of the $204.8 million sought by the Defense Department.
Though the report accompanying the committee’s version of the Fiscal 2012 defense spending bill gives no specific reason for reduction, appropriators also upped funding for the Air Force’s next generation bomber by $100 million to $297 million.
House defense authorizers in May cut $25 million from the Pentagon’s CPGS request, citing concern that the Pentagon may be pushing too quickly for an operational system leveraging technology not yet proven.
The Air Force CPGS concept calls for a long-range ballistic missile carrying a hypersonic glide vehicle to strike high-value targets anywhere on the globe within 40 minutes of launch.
B-1B Cuts From Dyess and Ellsworth
Cuts to the B-1B fleet proposed by the Air Force will fall most heavily on the 7th Bomb Wing at Dyess AFB, Tex., which will lose four of the six bombers slated to retire.
The remaining two bombers will be pulled from the 28th Bomb Wing at Ellsworth AFB, S.D., Air Force officials told congressional representatives of the base constituencies, reported the local Rapid City Journal.
By retiring six B-1s from the 66-aircraft Lancer fleet, the service intends to press the saved operational costs into modernizing the remaining airframes.
Three of the aircraft marked for retirement from Dyess, home of the B-1 schoolhouse, will be training airframes, according to the Times Record News of Wichita Falls, Tex.
Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley testified in February that the retirements would not pose an unreasonable operational risk.
First MC-12s at Beale
The first MC-12W Liberty intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance aircraft touched down at their new home on Beale AFB, Calif., on June 10. According to a base spokesman, four of the seven MC-12s expected by year’s end had arrived as of late June.
The Air Force has been using these seven MC-12s at Key Field, the Air National Guard base in Meridian, Miss., to train Liberty crews, and they will serve the same role at Beale. The remaining MC-12s in the 37-airframe Liberty fleet are in Southwest Asia for operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The move to Beale comes against the backdrop of the Senate Armed Services Committee supporting a provision in next fiscal year’s defense policy bill to transfer ownership of the MC-12 fleet to the Army.
Wisconsin Guard Viper Down
A Wisconsin Air National Guard F-16 from the 115th Fighter Wing in Madison crashed in central Wisconsin June 7, during a routine training flight from Volk Field ANGB, Wis.
According to Wisconsin ANG officials, the pilot ejected safely and was recovered by emergency responders south of New Chester, Wis. He was taken to a hospital for medical evaluation.
The F-16 struck an unoccupied summer cottage, according to reports by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel; no injuries were reported on the ground.
The Air Force opened an investigation into the mishap’s cause.
GPS Expansion Complete
The 50th Space Wing at Schriever AFB, Colo., successfully moved the last of six Global Positioning System satellites to its new location June 15, completing a two-phase, 18-month expansion of the satellite constellation.
The wing undertook the initiative, known as “Expandable 24,” to provide the US military with a more robust GPS signal and a higher probability of signal acquisition in difficult terrain such as the mountains of Afghanistan. Commercial and civil GPS users also will benefit.
Repositioning of the satellites began in January 2010 when the 2nd Space Operations Squadron at Schriever began relocation of the first three satellites.
Phase two began in August 2010. “From the planning phases in the fall of 2009 to its completion today, 2nd SOPS operators, engineers, analysts, and support personnel have done an incredible job in making the Expandable 24 GPS initiative a reality,” said Maj. Benjamin Barbour, the squadron’s assistant director of operations.
MALD Is Jammin’
The Air Force and Boeing conducted the first powered launch of a Miniature Air Launched Decoy Jammer at the Eglin AFB, Fla., test range over the Gulf of Mexico.
Launched from a B-52 bomber in early June, the initial shot was a “successful test,” according to Boeing.
“The software functioned exactly as we designed,” said Scot Oathout, Boeing’s B-52 program director. He added, “This is another great opportunity for the Air Force and Boeing to transform the B-52 and expand its mission from a predominantly offensive role to a more defensive player, defending US and allied aircraft in combat zones.”
Boeing designed the B-52’s avionics suite, which enables the bomber to launch and control the Raytheon-built MALD-J.
The weapon is a variant of the baseline MALD, optimized to loiter near enemy territory and disrupt enemy radar.
BACN and Next
The Air Force has purchased a Bombardier BD-700 Global Express aircraft for use as an overhead communications-relay platform in Southwest Asia.
Designated E-11A in Air Force service, the aircraft was expected to be handed over to the Air Force in July.
Carrying Northrop Grumman’s Battlefield Airborne Communications Node, or BACN, the platform allows disparate battlefield communications systems to share data.
The Air Force leased the aircraft from Northrop Grumman before deciding to buy it outright, in the interest of economy. “The prime contractor understands the military is looking to effectively use every dollar provided and worked hand in hand with the government team to facilitate the transition of this new platform into the [Air Force] inventory,” a spokesman for Electronic Systems Center at Hanscom AFB, Mass., stated June 16.
The service had considered installing BACN on three BD-700s and two Global Hawk Block 20 remotely piloted aircraft to fill urgent demands for battlefield communications relay in Southwest Asia, though the status of the other airframes is unclear.
Nearly 100 airmen joined NATO allies for exercise Northern Viking at former NAS Keflavik, Iceland, in June.
An Air Force Reserve Command KC-135 from the 459th Air Refueling Wing at JB Andrews, Md., accompanied F-16s from the Wisconsin Air National Guard’s 115th Fighter Wing to join Danish, Italian, and Norwegian aircraft in practicing air defense tactics.
Italian Eurofighter Typhoons also participated in the exercise, flying with US and Norwegian F-16s for the first time, while a duo of Norwegian Dassault Falcon 20 electronic warfare aircraft flew jamming sorties.
USAF’s 1st Combat Communications Squadron from Ramstein AB, Germany, and the Icelandic Coast Guard supported the week-long exercise, which ended June 10.
The biennial event is aimed at providing partner nations with “continuity from year to year to sustain our combat capability,” explained Lt. Col. Brian Vaughn, exercise director.
Minotaur on the Chesapeake
A Minotaur I rocket carrying ORS-1, the Defense Department’s first Operationally Responsive Space satellite, blasted into space from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s eastern shore June 29.
Delayed one day for inclement weather, the liftoff took place at 11:09 p.m. Eastern time after two countdown pauses to address technical concerns.
ORS-1 is designed to provide overhead imagery to commanders in Southwest Asia, enhancing battlespace awareness.
The satellite carries a customized version of the SYERS-2 sensor resident on U-2 reconnaissance aircraft. Once on orbit, ORS-1 was to undergo a 30-day trial and adjustment check before handover to USAF’s 1st Space Operations Squadron at Schriever AFB, Colo.
Second X-51 Test Cut Short
The second flight test of an X-51A experimental hypersonic air vehicle was cut short because the vehicle’s scramjet engine ignited but failed to transition to full power, the Air Force announced.
“Obviously we’re disappointed and expected better results,” said Charlie Brink, Air Force Research Lab’s X-51A program manager. A B-52 released the X-51 at about 50,000 feet altitude, off the California coast, for its June 13 flight. The X-51’s booster then accelerated the vehicle to a speed around Mach 5 before it separated. While the vehicle’s scramjet engine subsequently lit on ethylene, it did not properly transition to JP7 fuel operation.
The vehicle then continued controlled flight until ocean splashdown. The first X-51 flight, considered overwhelmingly successful, took place in May 2010. The next flight test is tentatively scheduled for this fall.
Bigger Belly BUFF
The Air Force is upgrading the B-52’s internal weapons bay interface capability to add eight smart weapons, thus increasing the aircraft’s precision guided munitions payload by roughly two-thirds, according to Lt. Gen. James M. Kowalski, commander of Air Force Global Strike Command.
“The B-52 delivers the widest variety of stand-off, direct-attack nuclear and conventional weapons in the Air Force and we have been investing in multiple improvements,” Kowalski said at a National Defense University Foundation-sponsored event in Washington, D.C.
This effort represents the “most significant B-52 modernization since the [1980s] and will add 21st century capability to the aircraft,” stated Kowalski unequivocally.
Major improvements include new flight-control software to enhance targeting pod capabilities and incorporate miniature air launched decoys onto the B-52, as well as a modern digital communications system.
With progress thus far, Kowalski said he expects the B-52’s combat network communications technology upgrade to enter low-rate production by 2013.
Boeing’s T-X, Osprey Prospects
Boeing successfully partnered with BAE Systems to build the Navy’s T-45 Goshawk jet trainer, but it is “keeping its options open” about how to approach the Air Force’s T-X trainer aircraft competition, Boeing Military Aircraft President Christopher M. Chadwick said in June. Those options include teaming with other partners or even drafting a clean-sheet design.
Speaking with reporters at the Paris Air Show, Chadwick said he thinks the T-X will likely be a completely new kind of training system, with far heavier emphasis on simulators and less on airplanes in order to hold down cost and risk. “That’s the future,” he said.
Chadwick also said that, after nearly 30 years of development and production, the V-22 tilt-rotor aircraft might soon become available for export.
Boeing has “held discussions with several international customers” about buying V-22s. “As we add capacity … and as we work on cost reductions,” the V-22 could become more attractive, and the US government seems to have no objections, he said.
Each of Boeing’s products is working toward “an affordability target,” Chadwick noted. When the V-22 reaches that point, “there’s a good chance for international sales.”
He also thinks the Navy may buy additional V-22s to backfill aging C-2 Greyhounds used for transporting cargo and passengers between aircraft carriers and shore bases.
Preventing Space Debris
The Joint Space Operations Center at Vandenberg AFB, Calif., has sent Russia 252 notifications and China 147 notifications in the past year “regarding close approaches between satellites,” said Frank A. Rose, deputy assistant secretary of state for arms control, during a conference in Prague, Czech Republic.
The warnings are part of a US effort to prevent collisions that could create more orbital debris in an already congested near-space environment.
In the last year alone, government and commercial satellite operators have had to reposition satellites more than 100 times in low Earth orbit to avoid debris created by China’s 2007 anti-satellite-weapon test, Rose said in June.
Space became even more littered in February 2009 when a commercial communications satellite collided with an inoperable Russian military satellite. The 2007 and 2009 events “created significant amounts of dangerous debris” in LEO, Rose asserted.
The Air Force will establish the C-27J Spartan training schoolhouse at Key Field in Meridian, Miss., home of the 186th Air Refueling Wing.
Two C-27J transports and associated personnel will be available to begin training Spartan pilots, loadmasters, and maintenance crews at Key Field by the second half of 2014, according to a joint statement issued by Mississippi lawmakers in June.
The training mission will be fully operational in 2015 with 142 personnel. Key Field is already slated to host four operational C-27s starting in early Fiscal 2012, giving the base six of the 38 C-27s that the Air Guard will operate.
Last December, the Air Force identified Key Field as the preferred site to host training, pending completion of an environmental impact study, which determined the mission to have “no significant impact,” said lawmakers. Key Field has been the training site for MC-12W Liberty intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance aircraft, but that mission is moving to Beale AFB, Calif.
Satellite Exports Stymied
The US has “lost enormously in market share in commercial satellites,” chiefly because of export restrictions, noted Aerospace Industries Association President Marion C. Blakey.
In an interview at the Paris Air Show, Blakey said US export controls have driven the United States from one-time leadership in the satellite business to one of a struggling competitor. Controls need to be reformed swiftly, she said.
“It’s not just a question of economic activity, such as jobs and sales,” she said. If companies can’t sell their products, “they won’t see a reason to innovate” in technology and cost, she continued, and the US will lose even more ground in the market.
She applauded the Obama Administration for already taking significant strides in export control reform, eliminating some 70 percent of restrictions on some categories of items, such as vehicles. It is now undertaking a similar “case by case” analysis of aerospace goods, but it can’t come fast enough, Blakey said.
T-38 Pilot Error
Air Education and Training Command officials determined that pilot error led to a hard landing of a T-38C trainer at Ellington Field, Tex., Feb. 11. The incident caused roughly $2.1 million in damage to the T-38 in addition to slightly damaging the runway, located near Houston.
Assigned to the 14th Flying Training Wing at Columbus AFB, Miss., the pilot lost altitude too quickly and allowed his airspeed to fall below a safe level, according to AETC’s accident investigation board findings.
He exited the aircraft safely, but sustained minor injuries in the landing, which resulted in catastrophic damage to the T-38’s undercarriage and damage to the right wing.
Investigators further cited pilot fatigue, inappropriate supervisory policy, and inadequate operational risk management as contributing factors in the mishap.
At the time of the accident, the pilot was on a solo cross-country flight to Ellington Field as part of his training.
Expeditionary in Bulgaria and Romania
Members of the 621st Contingency Response Wing at JB McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., opened Burgas Arpt., Bulgaria, and Mihail Kogalniceanu AB, Romania, for temporary use by USAF tanker and cargo aircraft.
An element of about 50 people established cargo operations at MK, opening it for use as an air hub for equipment and material flowing to Southwest Asia via Romania’s Black Sea port of Constanta.
A smaller team of 12 people simultaneously set up Burgas for tanker operations, establishing it as a temporary home for KC-135s performing refueling missions over Afghanistan.
The wing arrived May 9 at both locations, setting up airfield operations and paving the way for follow-on aircraft and personnel during the following three weeks.
Distinguished Flying Crosses
Three rescue airmen assigned to Nellis AFB, Nev., received the Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor Device for heroic actions in Afghanistan.
Maj. Keith Altenhofen, 561st Joint Tactics Squadron instructor pilot; MSgt. Joshua Fetters, 34th Weapons Squadron flight engineer; and TSgt. Christian Corella, 88th Test and Evaluation Squadron aerial gunner were awarded the honor in a ceremony at the base, June 15.
On April 4, 2009, Corella manned an HH-60 helicopter door-gun in a blinding sandstorm, helping to evacuate and save the life of a wounded Afghan soldier. Corella is credited with saving the lives of 40 US Special Forces soldiers that same day, redirecting their convoy after it came under enemy attack.
In separate action on May 19, 2009, Altenhofen and Fetters overcame heavy enemy fire and a critical engine failure in their HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopters to save three wounded soldiers.
Missing Bomber Crew Laid To Rest
The Defense Department identified the remains of five airmen missing in action since World War II, returning them to family members for burial with military honors.
All crew members of a B-25J bomber that crashed northeast of Consolacion village in the Philippines on April 3, 1945, were disinterred at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis for individual identification beginning in 2008. They were: Capt. Leonard E. Orcutt of Alameda, Calif.; TSgt. Louis H. Miller, Philadelphia; SSgt. George L. Winkler, Huntington, W.Va.; 2nd Lt. Harry L. Bedard, Minneapolis; and 2nd Lt. Robert S. Emerson, Norway, Maine.
Orcutt was buried on May 5 in Oakland, Calif.; Miller on June 17 in Arlington National Cemetery; Winkler on May 5 in Arlington; Bedard on June 25 in Dayton, Minn.; and Emerson’s interment was scheduled for July 9 in his hometown.
With reservations, the nation’s top military officer and the senior US general in Afghanistan have backed President Obama’s plan to withdraw thousands of American troops from Afghanistan starting in July.
Both were candid, however, in assessing Obama’s plan as more accelerated and potentially hazardous than the timetable they had envisioned.
“I support the President’s decisions,” said Adm. Michael G. Mullen, Joint Chiefs Chairman, in June testimony before the House Armed Services Committee. However, the drawdown plans “are more aggressive and incur more risk [than] I was originally prepared to accept,” he added.
Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, ISAF commander, called the plan “a more aggressive formulation, if you will, in terms of the timeline, than what we had recommended.” Petraeus made his remark before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence during his confirmation hearing to become CIA director.
Like Mullen, Petraeus said, “Obviously, I support” the plan “and will do all that I can during my remaining time as the commander of ISAF to implement it.”
Both he and Mullen said they were able to voice their views to Obama before the President made the decision. Under Obama’s plan, 10,000 troops will leave Afghanistan by year’s end, and a total of 33,000 will exit by mid-2012, essentially ending the troop surge that began in December 2009.
The remaining 68,000 US troops are to depart Afghanistan by the end of 2014.
|Underestimating the Air Force Budget?
The Air Force is probably going to be well short of funds over the next 20 years, to the tune of nine percent a year, according to the Congressional Budget Office in a recent report, “Long-Term Implications of the 2012 Future Years Defense Program.”
The CBO noted that the Air Force is asking for $66 billion for acquisition in 2012—a figure USAF expects to grow only slightly over the FYDP—but CBO projects that acquisition costs will be closer to $70 billion a year. That spells a $30 billion deficit over the next decade.
Beyond the FYDP, with spending focused on the F-35 fighter and KC-46 tanker, the Air Force’s average annual procurement cost will probably be $84 billion a year, “about nine percent higher than costs estimated,” CBO said. The problem peaks in 2029, when the budget office says the Air Force will need to spend $89 billion to fulfill its buying plans, $8 billion more than USAF’s estimates.
CBO said the Pentagon overall will need $64 billion more over the next five fiscal years just to fulfill its current modernization plans, with no additions.
|Global Hawk Test Worries
Despite its track record of collecting valuable intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance material, the Pentagon’s top weapons tester found that the RQ-4 Global Hawk Block 30 remotely piloted aircraft is “not operationally effective” for conducting the near-continuous, persistent overhead imagery collection and electronic eavesdropping that the Air Force requires.
In a May report chronicling the results of tests conducted last fall, the director of operational test and evaluation highlighted technical performance deficiencies and air vehicle reliability issues that limited the aircraft’s effective-time-on-station coverage to less than half of what the Air Force wants for this new variant of the combat-proven Global Hawk.
In a document issued to Capitol Hill staffers, Northrop Grumman said the DOTE report represents “a snapshot in time” from late last year. Since then, the Air Force has already implemented an array of corrective actions, which have resulted in better performance, as demonstrated during the aircraft’s recent use over Japan and Libya, according to the company.
Further, the Air Force is expected to formally approve the Block 30 configuration for operations this summer, said Northrop.
The Air Force has completed testing and integration of the Massive Ordnance Penetrator on the B-2 stealth bomber, declared Lt. Gen. James M. Kowalski, head of Air Force Global Strike Command.
With the 30,000-pound MOP, the B-2 is “our nation’s only long-range anti-access penetrating strike platform capable of delivering nuclear and heavy conventional payloads,” said Kowalski during a National Defense University Foundation address in Washington, D.C., in June.
USAF began flight testing MOP on the B-2 after taking over last year from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, which had led efforts demonstrating the MOP on the B-52H.
Kowalski also said AFGSC—together with B-2 prime contractor Northrop Grumman—has completed radar modernization of four B-2s this year, bringing the total number of B-2s with upgraded radar to 12, or 60 percent of the 20-aircraft fleet. The modernization improves radar maintainability as well as performance, explained Kowalski.
The Air Force also is now working to upgrade the B-2’s defensive management system to allow the aircraft to “operate in anti-access and aerial-denial environments well into the future,” he said.
The War on Terrorism
Operation Enduring Freedom—Afghanistan
By July 12, a total of 1,651 Americans had died in Operation Enduring Freedom. The total includes 1,649 troops and two Department of Defense civilians. Of these deaths, 1,299 were killed in action with the enemy, while 352 died in noncombat incidents.
There have been 12,593 troops wounded in action during OEF.
OEF Eagles Win Mackay Trophy
Four airmen from the 48th Fighter Wing at RAF Lakenheath, UK, have been selected to receive the 2010 Mackay Trophy. The prize, presented by the National Aeronautic Association, recognizes the year’s most meritorious flight made by an Air Force crew.
Operating as a flight of two F-15Es, the four Strike Eagle crewmen—Lt. Col. Donald Cornwell, Lt. Col. Dylan Wells, Capt. Leigh Larkin, and Capt. Nicholas Tsougas—helped saved the lives of about 30 coalition troops on April 6, 2010.
More than 100 enemy fighters had surrounded the troops in the town of Bala Morgab, Afghanistan. Through bad weather, the airmen used terrain-following radar to execute five “show of force” passes in a valley surrounded by high terrain. As the combat intensified, the airmen delivered six Joint Direct Attack Munitions on enemy positions. The JDAMs helped kill roughly 80 of the insurgents, allowing the coalition troops to survive.
NAA will present the trophy Nov. 7 in Arlington, Va.
Bagram Via the Polar Route
Fourteen mobility airmen from active duty and Reserve ranks teamed to fly a C-5M Super Galaxy transport on a direct, nonstop mission from Dover AFB, Del., to Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan.
More than 15 hours in duration, the June 5-6 flight included an aerial refueling. While commercial airlines routinely use the airspace, the proof-of-concept flight marked the first time an Air Force aircraft flew the northern route from the United States over Canada into the Arctic Circle and back down over Russia and Kazakhstan to Afghanistan.
Maj. John Rozsnyai, a US Transportation Command operations planner, said mobility officials are eyeing the new route as a quicker means of swapping deployed troops, aircrews, and air assets conducting Afghanistan operations.
Similar flights originating from the western United States wouldn’t require tanker support, he noted.
Afghan Angels From Alaska
Members of the Alaska Air National Guard’s 212th Rescue Squadron at Camp Denali are credited with saving 107 lives during an eight-month deployment to Afghanistan.
“Just about everybody in the unit had the chance to deploy, and they represented the Alaska Air National Guard very well,” said Maj. Joe Conroy, 212th RQS director of operations. 212th Guardsmen supported the deployment, which concluded in May, in two- to four-month intervals. During deployments to Bagram Airfield, they provided combat rescue as well as patient transfer between medical facilities.
On a particular harrowing occasion April 23, five of the unit’s pararescuemen—Maj. Jesse Peterson, TSgt. Shane Hargis, TSgt. Chris Uriarte, SSgt. Bill Cenna, and SSgt. Zachary Kline—retrieved an Army aviator and his fallen comrade under withering enemy fire.
|Senior Staff Changes
RETIREMENTS: Lt. Gen. John T. Sheridan, Lt. Gen. Donald C. Wurster, Maj. Gen. Floyd L. Carpenter, Maj. Gen. Marvin T. Smoot Jr., Brig. Gen. Joseph A. Lanni. AFRC RETIREMENTS: Maj. Gen. Mark W. Anderson, Maj. Gen. Floyd C. Williams.
NOMINATIONS: To be Lieutenant General: Stanley E. Clarke III, Bradley A. Heithold. To be Major General: Terrance A. Feehan, Leonard A. Patrick.
CHANGES: Lt. Gen. Robert R. Allardice, from Cmdr., 18th AF, AMC, Scott AFB, Ill., to Vice Cmdr., AMC, Scott AFB, Ill. … Brig. Gen. Steven J. Arquiette, from Dep. Dir. Ops., Ops. Team Two, Natl. Mil. Command Ctr., Jt. Staff, Pentagon, to IG, AMC, Scott AFB, Ill. … Brig. Gen. Christopher J. Bence, from Dep. Dir., Ops. & Plans, TRANSCOM, Scott AFB, Ill., to Dep. Dir. Ops., Ops. Team Two, Natl. Mil. Command Ctr., Jt. Staff, Pentagon … Brig. Gen. Theresa C. Carter, from Dir., Instl. & Mission Spt., AMC, Scott AFB, Ill., to Cmdr., 502nd AB Wg., AETC, Fort Sam Houston, Tex. … Maj. Gen. Stanley E. Clarke III, from Sr. Defense Official, Ofice of Defense Cooperation Turkey, EUCOM, Ankara, Turkey, to Cmdr., 1st AF, Tyndall AFB, Fla. … Maj. Gen. Walter D. Givhan, from Commandant, AFIT, AETC, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, to Dep. Asst. Secy., Plans, Programs, & Ops., Department of State, Washington, D.C. … Brig. Gen. Timothy S. Green, from Spec. Asst. to the Cmdr., EUCOM, Supreme Allied Cmdr. Europe, SHAPE, Casteau, Belgium, to Dir., Instl. & Mission Spt., AMC, Scott AFB, Ill. … Maj. Gen. Bradley A. Heithold, from Cmdr., AF ISR Agency, DCS, ISR, USAF, Lackland AFB, Tex., to Vice Cmdr., SOCOM, Pentagon … Maj. Gen. Mary Kay Hertog, from Cmdr., 2nd AF, AETC, Keesler AFB, Miss., to Dir., Sexual Assault Prevention & Response Office, Office of the USD, Personnel & Readiness, Washington, D.C. … Brig. Gen. Richard A. Klumpp Jr., from IG, AMC, Scott AFB, Ill., to Dir., US Forces-Afghanistan Liaison to the US Embassy, Kabul, Afghanistan … Maj. Gen. Bruce A. Litchfield, from Spec. Asst. to the Cmdr., AFMC, Tinker AFB, Okla., to Cmdr., Oklahoma City ALC, AFMC, Tinker AFB, Okla. … Maj. Gen. (sel.) Leonard A. Patrick, from Cmdr., 502nd AB Wg., AETC, Fort Sam Houston, Tex., to Cmdr., 2nd AF, AETC, Keesler AFB, Miss. … Maj. Gen. Joseph Reynes Jr., from Dir., Jt. Experimentation, Norfolk, Va., to DCS, Ops., Allied Joint Force Command, Brunssum, Netherlands … Lt. Gen. Paul J. Selva, from Asst. to the CJCS, Jt. Staff, Pentagon, to Vice Cmdr., PACAF, JB Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii … Brig. Gen. Burke E. Wilson, from Cmdr., 45th Space Wg., AFSPC, Patrick AFB, Fla., to Dir., Air Component Coordination Element-Fort Meade, 24th AF, AFSPC, Fort Meade, Md.
COMMAND CHIEF MASTER SERGEANT RETIREMENTS: Thomas S. Narofsky, David E. Spector.
COMMAND CMSGT CHANGE: Richard A. Kaiser, to Command Chief Master Sergeant, AMC, Scott AFB, Ill.
SENIOR EXECUTIVE SERVICE RETIREMENTS: Donald B. Paul, Garry B. Richey, Judith L. Simon.
SES CHANGES: Nancy K. Andrews, to Dir., Contracting, Ogden ALC, AFMC, Hill AFB, Utah … Timothy A. Beyland, to Administrative Asst. to the SECAF, USAF, Pentagon … Roger S. Correll, to PEO, Space Launch, Office of the Asst. SECAF, Acq., Pentagon … Robert E. Corsi Jr., to Asst. DCS, Manpower, Personnel, & Svcs., USAF, Pentagon … Richard P. Deavel, to Chief Operating Officer, AF Review Boards Agency, Office of the SECAF, Manpower & Reserve Affairs, Washington, D.C. … Stephanie Paige Hinkle-Bowles, to Principal Dep., Civilian Personnel Policy, Office of the USD, P&R, Pentagon … Elain A. McCusker, to Dir., Resources & Analysis, CENTCOM, MacDill AFB, Fla. … Ronald A. Poussard, to Dir., Contract Mgmt. Div., Office of Procurement, NASA, Washington, D.C. … Gordon O. Tanner, to Dep. Asst. SECAF, Reserve Affairs, Office of the Asst. SECAF, Manpower & Reserve Affairs, Pentagon … John S. Wilcox, to Dir., Munitions, AFRL, AFMC, Eglin AFB, Fla.
Norway’s parliament has authorized the purchase of four F-35s for the training of Norwegian pilots at Eglin AFB, Fla., starting in 2014. Norway expects to buy as many as 56 F-35s, including the four training airframes, Norwegian policy chief Adm. Arne Roksund announced at the Paris Air Show in June.
The Air Force Academy is buying 25 Cirrus SR20 two-seat cadet trainers. Designated T-53A in USAF service, the SR20s will replace the fleet of Diamond DA-40s currently leased by the academy. Equipped with digital cockpits, the aircraft will enter training service in January 2012.
JB Charleston, S.C., is preparing to completely refurbish its 9,000-foot main runway, shared with Charleston Airport. The nine-month, $50 million project is the first time the runway will have been totally redone since construction in the 1940s.
The first C-17 transited the newly built $30 million ramp at the Manas Transit Center, Kyrgyzstan, June 1. The ramp adds four C-17-sized slots and was negotiated under a lease renewal with the Kyrgyz government in 2009.
A retired F-16 Block 25 will decorate the entrance to the Minnesota Air National Guard 148th Fighter Wing in Duluth, thanks to local business donations. The wing retired its Block 25s last year and currently flies the Block 50.
Airmen of the 55th Logistics Readiness Squadron at Offutt AFB, Neb., snatched rare artifacts, military vehicles, and weapons on display at Omaha’s Freedom Park from floodwaters from the Missouri River in June. Several displays were then taken to Offutt for safekeeping.
A UH-1N helicopter assigned to the 58th Special Operations Wing became the second Huey to surpass 15,000 hours flight time. Serial No. 69-6650 entered the USAF inventory in 1971, attaining the milestone on a late May sortie from Kirtland AFB, N.M.
Lockheed Martin will lose $15 million in available award fees and agreed to restructure its contract with the Air Force to offset the cost of the first Advanced Extremely High Frequency communications satellite’s tardy arrival on orbit. AEHF-1 suffered a propulsion system anomaly shortly after launch in August 2010 and has yet to reach its intended orbit.
Three C-130s and more than 70 airmen from the 374th Airlift Wing at Yokota AB, Japan, flew to Halim AB, Indonesia, for Cope West in June. During the week-long bilateral exercise, US and Indonesian airmen practiced contingency and air mobility tactics.
Despite weather delays and communication disruptions, the 30th Space Wing successfully launched an unarmed Minuteman III ICBM on June 22. Fired from Vandenberg AFB, Calif., the re-entry vehicle landed on target near Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific’s Marshall Islands—4,200 miles from Vandenberg.
Four C-130s deployed to Kirtland AFB, N.M., to fight wildfires in the southwest in June. California and North Carolina Air National Guard crews targeted areas near Pacheco Canyon and Raton, N.M., and the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona, dropping a combined total of 65,035 gallons of retardant in the first week alone.
GEO-1, the first Space Based Infrared Systems geosynchronous satellite reached its intended orbit in mid-June, deploying its solar arrays, high-gain communications antennas, and infrared sensors light shade. The satellite began performance tests required before being declared operational.
The Indian defense ministry signed a foreign military sales agreement with the US government to purchase 10 C-17 transports. Slated for delivery between 2013 and 2014, the buy will make India the largest foreign operator of the C-17. A follow-on buy is also possible.