Airman Dies in Iraq Accident
A1C Jerome Ware Jr. was killed July 1 in a noncombat-related accident in Iraq. He was 22. The accident is under investigation.
Ware was a security forces specialist at Camp Bucca, the largest prisoner internment camp in Iraq. He was assigned to the 15th Airlift Wing from Hickam AFB, Hawaii.
F-22 Exports Debated …
The House voted on June 20 to lift a ban on international sales of the F-22 Raptor, which would allow allies such as Japan to buy the fighter. However, Senate appropriators voted in July to keep the foreign Raptor ban, setting the stage for a conference battle.
At issue was the Obey Amendment, drafted by Rep. David R. Obey (D-Wis.) in 1997 in the wake of controversies over whether customer countries could back-engineer and profit from the technologies in advanced weapons. There was also concern about whether allies could adequately protect those sensitive technologies.
The repeal of certain provisions of the Obey Amendment affecting the F-22 was introduced in the House by Rep. Kay Granger (R-Tex.), whose district includes 2,640 Lockheed Martin employees in Fort Worth, where the Raptor’s midsection is built.
In the Senate, prominent opponents were Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), defense appropriations chairman, Sen. Byron L. Dorgan (D-N.D.), and Sen. Christopher S. Bond (R-Mo.). The Senate Appropriations Committee voted on July 18 to continue the ban.
Lockheed Martin will close the F-22 production line in 2010 if it does not book more orders. The Air Force has accepted delivery of 75 Raptors against an overall planned buy of 183 of the fighters.
… While Moseley Ponders Impact
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley said he might be comfortable with allowing some allies to operate the F-22 Raptor, but he wants more discussion of the issue.
Moseley told Air Force Magazine on July 7 that USAF has had a positive experience working with allies who bought top-rank Air Force weapons such as the F-15 and E-3 AWACS aircraft, and said the resulting relationships with those countries’ air arms are an “inherent good for us.”
Offering the F-22 for sale has its benefits, but “we still have to think who would be the logical customers, … what would that mean to the production line, what would that mean to the unit cost.” The method of allowing the technology transfer could be tricky, he said.
It may be logical, he said. “I’m not opposed, but I haven’t had that discussion.”
SDBs Are Operational in UK
The Air Force gained a new weapon in July, when the 494th Fighter Squadron at RAF Lakenheath, Britain, went operational with the GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb.
The 250-pound munition takes advantage of modern precision-attack techniques, allowing targets to be destroyed with a smaller warhead while limiting the danger to adjacent structures and people. As a bonus, strike aircraft can carry more of the weapons, thus increasing the number of individual targets they can attack per sortie.
The weapon became operational during a July 10 training mission. Four F-15E Strike Eagles at Lakenheath were loaded with GBU-39s and scored 16 hits against 16 separate targets on one pass.
“In Operation Desert Storm, you could expect one plane loaded with six bombs to destroy one target. Now, we can use one bomb per target and each aircraft can carry up to 16 bombs,” said Lt. Col. Will Reese, 494th Fighter Squadron commander.
The SDBs are about six feet long and are carried on a special rack that holds four on the same station that otherwise could only carry one 1,000-pound or 2,000-pound bomb. After release, the SDB deploys scissors-like wings that can allow it to glide up to nearly 70 miles, depending on the release altitude. The weapon can penetrate reinforced concrete.
Two groups of airmen were trained to operate the GBU-39 bomb by instructors from Ramstein AB, Germany. The newly trained airmen will deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan this month with the new munitions.
Boeing is the prime contractor for the SDB. Under a $1.2 billion contract, it expects to deliver 24,000 SDBs to the Air Force through 2015.
Put Spurs to Long-Range Strike
If the Air Force is to meet its planned in-service date of 2018 for a new long-range strike capability, it will need to nail down its requirements for the new system soon, the Pentagon’s top technologist said in July.
John J. Young Jr., Pentagon director of defense research and engineering, was hoping to have the Air Force’s requirements for long-range strike in August for inclusion in the Fiscal 2008 program objective memorandum, which lays out the Pentagon’s long-range plan for spending. The POM is the foundation of the 2008 defense budget, now being drawn up.
Missing the 2008 POM would cost the Air Force a year or more in developmental funding, Young said.
Young also said he doubts that hypersonic technology will be ready in time to support a system planned for a 2018 operational date, but that it could well be supersonic. He also expressed doubt that the Air Force would go to an unmanned system, due to risk.
Air Force Secretary Michael W. Wynne said earlier this year at AFA’s Air Warfare Symposium that it will be “a struggle” to get initial operational capability on the new bomber-like system by 2018.
Network Warfare Is Restructured
Network operations force structure, once a hodgepodge of outfits scattered throughout the Air Force, has been consolidated into a single organization under a single commander.
The new Air Force Network Operations structure aims to streamline the service’s approach to network warfare and puts it under the command of 8th Air Force at Barksdale AFB, La. The move unifies computer network defense and offense under AFNETOPS, which provides the capability to US Strategic Command. It also broadens the mission from simply supporting air and space operations to fighting in cyberspace itself. The changes took effect in July.
The move combines efforts within 10 major commands, the Air Intelligence Agency, and Air Force Communications Agency into the new 67th Network Warfare Wing, headquartered at Lackland AFB, Tex. It used to be the 67th Information Operations Wing.
Reporting to the 67th will be two Integrated Network Operations and Security Centers: one at Langley AFB, Va., and one at Peterson AFB, Colo.
B-52 To Burn Synthetic Gas
Tinker AFB, Okla., received the first shipment of an alternative, synthetic fuel for use in a suitability experiment on a B-52.
In a ground test, the Air Force will run two TF33-P-3/103 turbofans on a B-52 with synthetic gas made from coal. If successful, in-flight testing will follow.
Gen. Bruce Carlson, head of Air Force Materiel Command, said the B-52 was chosen for testing because it has eight turbofan jet engines, offering a high degree of safety in case the test engines lose power. During the tests, two of the power plants will run on the synthetic gas, and the rest will run on conventional fuel.
If the flight tests at Edwards AFB, Calif., go well, the fuel will be tested on other aircraft, possibly the C-135 transport and the T-38 trainer, said Carlson.
The Air Force has recently been working with the Department of Energy to search for alternative sources to decrease DOD’s dependence on conventional fuel. The Air Force alone consumes 41 percent of DOD’s fuel.
ANG Commands Active Unit
A C-130 unit in Wyoming in July became the first active duty squadron to come under the operational control of the Air National Guard.
The 30th Airlift Squadron is based at Cheyenne Arpt., Wyo. It will operate alongside the Wyoming Air National Guard 153rd Airlift Wing.
The unprecedented move is a new initiative in the evolution of the Total Force. It allows active and Guard personnel to share aircraft and facilities with their reserve counterparts, like the traditional reverse arrangements of past years.
Under Base Realignment and Closure directives, the Guard group will get four more C-130s in spring 2007, bringing its total to 12. The Guard and active duty airmen will jointly operate the dozen theater airlifters.
All airmen will follow their traditional command structures. When the Guard is called to state duty by the governor, the active duty airmen will stay behind. If deployed to war, both Guard and active will go as directed by the President.
Academy Demographics Change
The Air Force Academy this year admitted record numbers of women and minorities.
The Class of 2010, numbering 1,352 students, includes 277 women. They account for 20.5 percent of the class.
The minority figure is 317 new cadets, or just over 23 percent. That figure comprises 125 Asian-Americans, 34 Native Americans, 99 Hispanics, and 59 African-Americans. Of the minorities, 72 are women.
The academy received 9,255 applications, with 1,719 appointments offered. Of those accepting appointments, 1,075 were men. In the Class of 2010, 633 cadets are medically qualified to apply for pilot training upon graduation.
The academy also admitted 19 international cadets.
For the first time, the academy enrolled cadets from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Laser JDAM Has Second Success
A laser guided model of the Joint Direct Attack Munition made its second successful test June 30 at Eglin AFB, Fla.
An F-16 released a 500-pound weapon with an inert warhead from 20,000 feet. It scored a direct hit on a moving armored personnel carrier. A third and final test is scheduled for later this year.
Boeing is developing the laser guided JDAM independently. It has no firm orders from the US military yet, but company officials said both the Air Force and Navy have expressed strong interest in the munition. Boeing said it could begin deliveries in 2007.
The weapon adds a laser seeker to the standard satellite guided bomb. If clouds, smoke, or fog block the laser beam before the weapon hits the target, satellite guidance will still allow the bomb to hit with high precision.
Canada Picks C-17, Conditionally
Canada said in July that it has tentatively selected Boeing to supply C-17s for that country’s outsize military cargo transport requirement. Canada’s Defense Ministry said it doesn’t appear that any other company can supply a comparable aircraft within the time needed.
The work would be part of a larger contract worth about $7.3 billion. Besides four C-17s, the deal would include 16 or more CH-47 Chinook helicopters and maintenance for both types of aircraft for 20 years. Canada wants the big transports by the end of 2008 and the helicopters the following year.
The selection was welcome news for Boeing, which is facing the shutdown in 2008 of its Long Beach, Calif., C-17 plant when the Air Force takes delivery of its 180th and last Globemaster III. However, the company is underwriting the building of long-lead parts for 12 C-17s against its bet that foreign operators will want to buy them. Australia has also selected the big airlifter, but between the two orders Boeing has yet to sell out an extra year of production.
GPS Rival Takes a Hit
The business case for Galileo, the European satellite navigation system built to compete with the US Global Positioning System, suffered damage in June, when scientists announced they had cracked the access codes for the planned Galileo constellation.
The development casts doubt on the program. The European Commission was pursuing the system so as not to be dependent on GPS, which the US can turn off or make less accurate. (See “The Sensational Signal,” February 2003, p. 66.) The US also does not make its most precise GPS signals available outside the US military. Galileo was touted as offering a higher-quality signal without the complications of military control.
The project was expected to pay for itself by selling access code license fees to companies that would make devices using the more precise Galileo signal. Now that those codes may be available for free, funding for the project could be hard to raise.
Scientists at Cornell University in New York said they had deciphered the access codes for Galileo using a rooftop satellite dish and signal processing techniques.
The European Commission said it would change the access codes, but the Cornell scientists said anyone could use their method to crack them.
Galileo is supposed to be operational by 2010.
Lockheed Will Miss Raptor Bonus
The Air Force will withhold from Lockheed Martin up to $57 million in award fees on the F-22 project. The funds will pay for inspections of 73 Raptors believed to have flaws.
Cracks on the Raptor’s titanium booms were discovered during fatigue testing. The Air Force said they were a result of improper heat treatment. The repairs are estimated to cost $100 million. (See “Aerospace World: F-22A Fix Pegged at $100 Million,” July, p. 24.)
Due to the flaw, the Air Force decided to withhold funds that would have been given as a bonus, had Lockheed Martin met all contract requirements.
The Air Force plans to withhold $250,000 to $1.2 million per airplane.
The problem will not affect the overall Raptor program, nor will it affect the service life or safety of the fighter aircraft, according to Lockheed Martin.
USAF Agencies Swap Officials
Air Force Space Command and the National Reconnaissance Office are swapping two high-ranking officials in a move to foster closer coordination.
USAF announced in July that Maj. Gen. John T. Sheridan will become deputy director at the NRO, which will then send a top-ranking civilian official to Space Command.
AFSPC and the NRO want to develop a plan to train space experts and create tactics to protect US satellites from foreign attack, and find ways to change acquisition processes.
Gripens Fly at Cope Thunder
Swedish JAS-39 Gripen fighters participated in the Pacific Air Forces exercise Cooperative Cope Thunder in Alaska from July 20 to Aug. 5. It marked the first time the Swedish Air Force has participated in an exercise in the United States.
Seven Gripens arrived at Eielson Air Force Base July 17 for the exercise, accompanied by 23 technicians aboard two Swedish C-130s. The Swedish Air Force is using the exercise to gain experience with long-distance deployments. They traveled 6,324 miles from their home base to get to Eielson.
More than 600 US service members and 200 foreign military personnel from Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, Mongolia, Slovakia, South Korea, and Sweden participated in the event.
The US also expected to host observers from Bangladesh, Malaysia, Mexico, Russia, and Sri Lanka.
Convoy Drivers Get New Trainer
The Air Force now has a permanent, virtual, combat-convoy trainer at Camp Bullis, Tex., where airmen train for convoy duty.
Training at Camp Bullis has picked up in the last couple of years as airmen are increasingly tapped to take over convoy driving and escort missions from US Army troops in Iraq.
The new device, called the Virtual Combat Convoy Trainer, is a fixed-site simulator. Previous trainers were delivered to the Army and Marine Corps and are kept in mobile trailers for easy transportation.
The VCCT is a simulator made up of a full-scale Humvee with visual, audio, and weapons systems to replicate combat scenarios in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Lockheed Martin first developed the VCCT in 2004 and has since fielded 23 systems.
Hall of Fame Inducts Hill, White
The National Aviation Hall of Fame inducted four new “legends of aviation,” including Flying Tiger Brig. Gen. David L. “Tex” Hill and Air Force test pilot Maj. Gen. Robert M. White.
Hill, who was born in Korea in 1915 to missionary parents, started his aviation career in the Navy, but in 1941 resigned his commission to join the American Volunteer Group Flying Tigers, becoming the famed fliers’ second leading ace. When the US Army Air Forces incorporated the AVG, Hill became a major with the 23rd Fighter Group and later commanded the group. He left active duty in 1946, entering the Texas Air National Guard, where he became the youngest one-star general in the history of the Air Guard. (See “Tex,” July 2002, p. 81.)
White was born in New York City in 1924 and entered the AAF in 1942 as an aviation cadet, flying P-51s over Germany. Between wars, he earned an electrical engineering degree while serving in the Reserve and returned to active duty during the Korean War. White then became an Air Force test pilot at Edwards AFB, Calif., where he flew the F-86, F-89, F-102, F-105, and ultimately the X-15. He became the first man to fly a winged aircraft six times faster than the speed of sound and, in July 1962, flew to 59.6 miles above earth, earning an astronaut rating. White flew 70 combat missions in the Vietnam War. (See “Valor: A Place Called the Doumer Bridge,” February 1988.) Following the war, he helped guide development of the F-15 and oversaw flight testing of the A-10 and the F-15, among other aircraft.
The other two aviation legends inducted into the hall this year were Bessie Coleman, the first American civilian of color to earn a pilot’s license, and actor Cliff Robertson, who has won numerous awards for his advocacy of aviation and organization of relief flights into civil war-torn Nigeria in 1969 and famine-plagued Ethiopia in 1978.
NORTHCOM Watched Missiles
US Northern Command was watching closely when North Korea salvoed a half-dozen missiles in unannounced July 4 tests and was ready with interceptors if necessary, NORTHCOM officials said.
The North Korean test was a failure for the Taepo Dong 2, which is said to have an intercontinental range and to be capable of reaching the western US. The missile’s first stage failed 42 seconds into flight, and the vehicle splashed into the Sea of Japan.
The Ground-based Midcourse Defense System interceptors at Ft. Greely, Alaska, and Vandenberg AFB, Calif., were operational throughout all the launches, NORTHCOM officials said. The command was able to “determine quickly that the launch posed no threat to the United States or its territories,” according to a NORTHCOM statement.
NORTHCOM personnel were monitoring the missiles from command headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colo.
The other missiles fired by North Korea—including a seventh on July 5—appeared to be a mix of short-range Scud-C missiles and intermediate-range Nodong missiles, all of which fell into the Sea of Japan. None appeared to be armed with a warhead.
The six missiles were fired from a base in Kittaeryong, on the southern part of North Korea’s east coast. The Taepo Dong 2 was launched from northeast North Korea.
|Air Force Thinking More Tankers
The Air Force may be planning to buy more aerial tankers than has been disclosed. A request for proposal due in the coming months could ask for as many as 189 new generation air refueling aircraft, as opposed to the initial purchase of 100 USAF has previously quoted.
The new numbers were made public by Ralph D. Crosby Jr., chairman and CEO of European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co., North America, one of the contractors vying for the tanker program. Crosby, quoted in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, said the Air Force disclosed the figure in a briefing to his company in early July.
He also said he expected the Air Force to delay release of its RFP until early 2007. The Air Force has said it wants to make a source selection in 2007. (See “Aerospace World: Tanker Competition Launched,” June, p. 22.)
In a request for information released in April, the Air Force said it was looking at buying 100 tankers as an initial round of replacement for about 500 aging KC-135 aircraft.
Kenneth J. Krieg, the Pentagon’s top weapons buyer, has said the service would buy 15 to 20 tankers a year at full production.
EADS and Northrop Grumman have teamed up to compete a modified version of the Airbus 330 for the tanker requirement, with Northrop as prime contractor.
Boeing is expected to offer its KC-767. A third competitor, Omega Air Refueling, announced plans in June to offer 60 modified DC-10s in an outsourcing plan. (See “Aerospace World: Firm Joins Tanker Competition,” August, p. 18.)
|Modern Air Force Gets a Lightning, Too
The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter has a new nickname: Lightning II. The selection was announced by Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley at ceremonies unveiling the first flight-test model of the airplane at Lockheed Martin’s Fort Worth, Tex., plant on July 7. (See “Struggling for Altitude,” p. 38.)
The name reflects the heritage of both the US and British Royal Air Forces. It highlights the fact that the airplane has been developed in partnership with Britain. In World War II, the Lockheed P-38 Lightning was the fighter flown by America’s two top aces: Maj. Richard I. Bong and Maj. Thomas B. McGuire Jr. One of the Royal Air Force’s first supersonic jet fighters was also called the Lightning, and it was made by a forerunner of F-35 industry partner BAE Systems.
The P-38 was notable for its unusual twin-tail configuration; the German Luftwaffe called it “the fork-tailed devil.” The F-35 also has two vertical tails. The name is also supposed to evoke the aircraft’s speed and its ability to collaborate almost instantly with all elements of coalition air networks.
Moseley picked the name from among six finalists, suggested by the US and national partners, which included Black Mamba, Cyclone, Reaper, Spitfire II, and Piasa. Marine aviator and other interest groups were campaigning for names such as Fury and Phoenix. Moseley got to pick the name because USAF will be the largest customer for the strike fighter.
The name is also a nod to the fact that the P-38 and British Electric Lightning served in a number of foreign air forces. The F-35 is expected to equip the air arms of eight partner countries and as many as 30 more countries that have previously bought the F-16, F/A-18, and AV-8B, which the JSF replaces.
The F-35 Lightning II will be flown by the US Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps as well as both the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy. Additionally, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, and Turkey, as program partners, will be the first countries with a chance to buy the aircraft.
|Missing World War II Airmen Identified
The remains of nine airmen carried as missing in action since World War II were identified, the Defense Department announced in late June. They are: Cpl. John A. DeCarlo, Newark, N.J.; 2nd Lt. John F. Green, Watertown, N.Y.; 2nd Lt. Hugh L. Johnson Jr., Montgomery, Ala.; SSgt. Walter Knudsen, Sioux City, Iowa; 2nd Lt. John M. Meisner, Pembroke, Mass.; Cpl. William G. Mohr, Mount Wolf, Pa.; Cpl. Michael J. Puskar, Mahanoy City, Pa.; Cpl. Robert E. Raney, Monon, Ind; and 2nd Lt. Byron L. Stenen, Northridge, Calif.
The airmen took off on the morning of Oct. 9, 1944 in a B-24 Liberator to fly a training mission from New Guinea. The aircraft was never seen again, and officials speculated that the crew ran into bad weather. In 2002, US officials learned that villagers in Morobe Province, New Guinea, had found two dog tags and launched an investigation.
|The War on Terrorism
Operation Iraqi Freedom—Iraq
By Aug. 11, a total of 2,591 Americans had died in Operation Iraqi Freedom. This total includes 2,584 troops and seven Defense Department civilians. Of those fatalities, 2,055 were killed in action by enemy attack, and 536 died in noncombat incidents.
There have been 19,387 troops wounded in action during OIF. This includes 10,547 who returned to duty within 72 hours and 8,840 who were unable to quickly return to action.
Airmen at Ali Base Hand Perimeter Defense to Army
Perimeter defense at Ali Base, Iraq, was handed over to the US Army from the Air Force on June 30.
Airmen with the 407th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron turned over the mission to the Army’s 528th Quartermaster Company after more than three years of protecting the base since it first opened in March 2003.
The turnover took place after USAF determined it would no longer permanently base aircraft at Ali.
Before preparing to leave, the 170 security forces airmen trained 164 soldiers, first in integrated base defense and then in practical scenarios.
The airmen, known as “Desert Hunters,” were recognized for their service during a July 1 ceremony. They were awarded the Iraq Campaign Medal.
All 170 airmen are leaving Ali, either to fill security positions around the theater or to go home.
First Iraqi Maintainers Complete Course
Two Iraqi citizens completed the Aircraft and Munitions Maintenance Officers Course at Sheppard AFB, Tex. They are the Iraqi Air Force’s first maintenance officers. USAF withheld their names for security reasons.
The two airmen were trained in aerospace ground equipment maintenance, plans and scheduling, jet engine accident investigation, and munitions maintenance.
Operation Enduring Freedom—Afghanistan
By Aug. 11, a total of 320 Americans had died in Operation Enduring Freedom, primarily in and around Afghanistan. This total includes 319 troops and one DOD civilian. Of those fatalities, 165 were killed in action by enemy attack and 155 died in nonhostile incidents such as accidents.
A total of 851 troops have been wounded in Enduring Freedom. They include 324 who were able to return to duty in three days and 527 who were not.
Air Force Strikes Taliban Forces
A USAF A-10 Warthog dropped several GBU-12 laser guided bombs near Musah Qal’eh in Afghanistan on July 10, destroying an enemy compound, according to US Central Command Air Forces.
Other A-10s along with British GR-7s provided close air support near Gereshk and Laskar Gah.
On July 11, a USAF B-1B bomber providing close air support near Musah Qal’eh released a GBU-31 Joint Direct Attack Munition on Taliban extremists who were firing small arms and launching rocket propelled grenades at coalition forces. The Taliban attacks stopped after the JDAM was released. French Air Force Mirage 2000s provided close air support for coalition forces.
In another engagement around Musah Qal’eh on July 11, USAF A-10s were at work again, flying close air support with a B-1B Lancer and a Predator drone for coalition forces taking fire from Taliban forces. The enemy insurgents were firing small arms and launching rocket propelled grenades when the A-10s fired cannon rounds and a GBU-12 Paveway II, ending the fight.
Bagram Airmen Drop July 4th Bundles
Airmen from Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, air dropped Fourth of July bundles to share the holiday with soldiers stationed at remote bases.
A C-130 Hercules dropped 14 containers weighing 1,500 pounds to seven different locations around Afghanistan.
The bundles contained soda, beef jerky, clothing, soccer balls, footballs, CDs, and DVDs requested by the soldiers.
Attached to each bundle was an American flag and a letter from Army Maj. Gen. Benjamin C. Freakley, Combined Joint Task Force-76 commander, thanking the soldiers for their service.
By Breanne Wagner, Associate Editor
- Army Gen. Bantz J. Craddock was nominated by President Bush to become Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, and head of US European Command. Craddock has served as chief of US Southern Command since November 2004. Craddock will replace Marine Gen. James L. Jones in the European post, barring any delays in his Senate confirmation.
- Lt. Col. Glenn Rattell received the Bronze Star in June for actions under fire in Iraq. Rattell was cited for leading more than 1,000 troops in survival and recovery operations while coming under more than 50 Iraqi insurgent attacks. It was the most violent period in Iraq since the start of the war in 2003. Rattell served as deputy commander of the 506th Air Expeditionary Group at Kirkuk Regional AB, Iraq, from Sept. 1, 2005 to Jan. 24, 2006.
- The second flight-test F135 engine for the Joint Strike Fighter was delivered to Lockheed Martin’s Fort Worth, Tex., facility. The engine is the second of three that will support the F-35’s first flights, scheduled for the next few months. The JSF test engines have logged 9,000 hours of demonstration ground and flight testing.
- An MC-130W, the newest C-130 variant, was delivered to Air Force Special Operations Command on June 28 at Warner Robins Air Logistics Center in Georgia. Originally built as a C-130H2 transport, the aircraft was modified to handle helicopter refueling and low-level missions. A dozen MC-130Ws are slated to be based with a new, as yet unnamed, squadron located at Cannon AFB, N.M.
- The US and Kyrgyz governments officially signed a basing agreement on July 14 for an unspecified amount of money, giving the US military the green light to continue using Manas Air Base to support operations in Afghanistan. Kyrgyzstan threatened in February to evict American forces if the US didn’t pay more than $200 million in rent.
- The Air Force announced the 2005 combat rescue officer and pararescuemen of the year in July. They are: Capt. Jose L. Cabrera from Moody AFB, Ga., MSgt. Douglas Issacks from Lackland AFB, Tex., TSgt. Steven M. Young from Pope AFB, NC., and SrA. Luis Garcia from Kadena AB, Japan. The airmen will receive their awards during the pararescue association reunion banquet Sept. 15 in Las Vegas.
- The C-17’s engine, the Pratt and Whitney F117, logged its four millionth flight hour aboard the cargo aircraft in July. The F117 engine began USAF service in September 1991, powering the Globemaster III, which is used for airlift and mobility missions by USAF and the British Royal Air Force.
- In July, Pacific Air Forces was awarded the Maj. Gen. Benjamin D. Foulois Memorial Award for flight safety. PACAF had a perfect safety record with no destroyed aircraft or aircrew deaths in 2005. It also reached the Secretary of Defense’s goal of a 50 percent decrease in major aviation mishaps for the second year running.
- Lt. Col. Jeff Roetzel, with the 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, is the first pilot to log 4,000 flying hours in the B-1B bomber, a milestone recently achieved during an Operation Enduring Freedom combat mission. During his 20-year flying career, Roetzel has racked up 7,500 total flying hours with the Air Force, Air National Guard, and civilian airlines. He planned to retire from the Air Force in the fall.
- UFC Aerospace Corp., Bay Shore, N.Y., was awarded a $100 million contract for modification kits for 1,200 USAF F-16s as well as foreign military sales customers. Kits will include structural parts such as aircraft bulkheads and leading edge flaps. Work is scheduled to be completed by September 2014.
- Aviano AB, Italy, was hit by a heavy storm in June, with winds gusts recorded at 94 mph—the highest ever measured at the base—causing an estimated $3.5 million in damage. The tail and rotor sections of a Black Hawk helicopter were damaged, and cars and infrastructure destroyed. Only minor injuries were reported, with no fatalities.
- Eglin AFB, Fla., was recognized as the 2005 Complex of the Year in July, for maintaining the most complex airspace and airfield with many runways and moving parts. Eglin supports five million square yards of pavement used by six wings, five major commands, six civilian airlines, and the Army and Navy.
- Northrop Grumman’s new Unmanned Systems Center in Moss Point, Miss., began assembling the plant’s first Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle on schedule, despite damage to the facility caused by Hurricane Katrina. The Global Hawk fuselage is being assembled at the plant and then will be shipped to Palmdale, Calif., for the final assembly and testing.