Air Force World

Sept. 1, 2009

Two Airmen Die in F-15E Crash

Capt. Thomas J. Gramith, 27, of Eagan, Minn., and Capt. Mark R. McDowell, 26, of Colorado Springs, Colo., died July 18 when their F-15E Strike Eagle fighter crashed while conducting coalition operations in eastern Afghanistan near Ghazni province.

Both were assigned to the 336th Fighter Squadron from Seymour Johnson AFB, N.C. The Air Force said the crash was not due to hostile fire.

As of mid-August, the mishap’s cause was under investigation.

KC-X Tanker Restart Delayed

DOD efforts to release a draft request for proposal to restart the KC-X tanker recapitalization program by the spring or early summer have faltered. As a result, the Office of the Secretary of Defense hinted that the solicitation might not hit the streets until around September.

“No final decision has been made on this yet,” Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell told reporters in the Pentagon July 15.

McKinley Steps Down, Roy Steps Up

CMSAF Rodney J. McKinley stepped down from his post as USAF’s top enlisted leader on June 30 during a ceremony at Bolling AFB, D.C. Taking over the post from McKinley that same day was CMSgt. James A. Roy, who became 16th Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force.

“It isn’t the awards, the decorations, or the rank that means the most to me; it’s the people, … the relationships I’ve experienced along the way,” said McKinley during his farewell address. He is retiring from the Air Force after 35 years of service, effective Nov. 1. He became 15th Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force in June 2006.

Roy, who was US Pacific Command’s command chief master sergeant prior to his new post, said he was “truly humbled and honored” to follow McKinley and would “take great personal responsibility” in advising the USAF leadership on the enlisted force.

QDR Vetting COIN Wing

The current Quadrennial Defense Review is strongly considering the establishment of a dedicated counterinsurgency/irregular warfare wing within the Air Force, Michael G. Vickers, assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low intensity conflict and interdependent capabilities, told reporters in the Pentagon July 23.

“I think there is a need for that kind of capability, … but the question is how much and exactly the mix,” he said. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton A. Schwartz divulged back in April that the Air Force was mulling such a wing.

Holloman To Host UAV Training

Air Combat Command on July 13 announced that Holloman AFB, N.M., would be the site of the Air Force’s new Predator and Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle formal training unit.

Air Force officials have said establishing a second UAV training site—in addition to the one at Creech AFB, Nev.—would allow the service to churn out greater numbers of UAV combat operators. The longer-term plan is to consolidate all UAV operator training at Holloman, which has extensive training capacity. This would free the space-constrained Creech to focus on operational UAV employment.

“The stand up of the second FTU and the subsequent FTU consolidation at Holloman will put the Air Force on a sustainable [unmanned aircraft system] flight path,” said Gen. John D. W. Corley, outgoing ACC commander.

Missile Wing Passes Inspection

The 91st Missile Wing at Minot AFB, N.D., passed a nuclear surety inspection that took place from June 14-28, receiving a grade of “satisfactory,” the highest possible mark, in the demanding assessment by an Air Force Space Command-led inspection team.

As a result, the wing remained certified to perform its strategic deterrent mission. In addition to passing the NRI, the wing also performed well during its operational readiness inspection that was conducted during the same time frame. It earned a satisfactory grade there, too.

Kehler Eyes Close Cyber-Intel Ties

Air Force Space Command is making progress in defining the direction it will take with its nascent cyber efforts, and that tack may well include closer ties with the Intelligence Community, Gen. C. Robert Kehler, AFSPC boss, told a Capitol Hill seminar July 14.

Kehler said the very nature of cyberspace with its national security, economic, and private elements makes it “difficult to separate traditional intelligence from traditional operations.” He expects to have IC personnel attached to 24th Air Force, the new numbered air force for cyber operations, set for Lackland AFB, Tex.

“We’re going to put them in the unit, and they’re going to be sitting in there with the appropriate authorities to conduct intelligence-related activities at the same time that we conduct operational activities,” Kehler said.

Speicher’s Remains Identified

The Pentagon announced Aug. 2 that the remains of Navy Capt. Michael Scott Speicher, the first US pilot lost over Iraq during the opening phase of Operation Desert Storm in January 1991, have been positively identified. His identification culminated an 18-year saga: Speicher was shot down while flying a combat mission in an F/A-18 Hornet over west-central Iraq on Jan. 17, 1991, but his remains were not found at the crash site and there was evidence that seemed to indicate he might have survived and been taken prisoner.

According to the Pentagon, US marines, acting on information provided by an Iraqi citizen, last month found Speicher’s remains in the western Iraqi desert. Among the bones and skeletal fragments, the jawbone found matched his dental records, DOD said.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Captain Speicher’s family for the ultimate sacrifice he made for his country,” said Navy Secretary Ray Mabus.

Adm. Gary Roughead, Chief of Naval Operations, added “We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Captain Speicher and his family for the sacrifice they have made for our nation and the example of strength they have set for all of us.”

During the intervening 18 years, Speicher’s official status changed several times as various leads and investigations were pursued. He was initially listed as killed in action, and then his status was changed to missing in action, then to missing/captured, before finally reverting to MIA this past March.

Cause of Airmen’s Death Identified

SSgt. Kenneth J. Wilburn, a combat controller apprentice from Union, S.C., who died Jan. 12 after losing consciousness three days earlier during training, suffered cardiac arrest that led to irreversible brain injury, according to the findings of Air Combat Command’s investigation into his death, released July 7.

Wilburn, who was assigned to Lackland’s 342nd Training Squadron, lost consciousness Jan. 9 while treading water during skills training in a pool at Lackland AFB, Tex. He did not respond to emergency lifesaving efforts on the scene and never regained consciousness at Wilford Hall Medical Center. He was removed from life support three days later. He was 30.

Multinational C-17 Wing Activated

The first of three new Boeing-built C-17 Globemaster III transports destined for the 12-nation Strategic Airlift Capability consortium arrived at its main operating base, Papa AB, Hungary, on July 18.

On July 27, the SAC activated the multinational Heavy Airlift Wing that will operate the aircraft. Boeing expects to deliver the other two C-17s this month and in October.

The SAC members are NATO nations Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, and the US, plus Partnership for Peace countries Finland and Sweden.

Keesler Gains Cyber Training Role

The Air Force has chosen Keesler AFB, Miss., over Goodfellow and Sheppard Air Force Bases in Texas as the site to host its cyber warfare training, the Standard-Times, of San Angelo, Tex., Goodfellow’s location, reported June 26.

Meanwhile, supporters of Goodfellow and Sheppard said these bases may still have a future cyber training role. The Times Record News of Wichita Falls, home to Sheppard, reported June 27 that Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.) said she would be “making that case to the Pentagon as it plans for Fiscal Year 2011 and beyond.”

T-6 Crashes, No Injuries

A T-6 Texan II trainer aircraft assigned to the 14th Flying Training Wing at Columbus AFB, Miss., crashed July 9 in a sparsely populated area of Webster County, Miss., about 40 miles west of the base.

The pilot, an international officer whose name was initially withheld, ejected safely. This officer was conducting flight training as part of the Aviation Leadership Program, which provides undergraduate flying training.

The Air Force convened a board to investigate the accident.

Training Complex for Lackland

The Air Force in early July launched a construction project to bring a 74,000- square-foot training complex by the fall of 2010 to the Inter-American Air Forces Academy at Lackland AFB, Tex.

The San Antonio Business Journal reported July 6 that AMEC Earth & Environmental of Plymouth Meeting, Pa., received an $18.5 million contract to start work on the complex, which will house classrooms, aircraft operations, and hangar maintenance training areas as well as administrative space.

This type of training for the IAAFA, which educates airmen from partner nations in Latin America, currently goes on at Port San Antonio, the former Kelly Air Force Base, but it is being relocated to Lackland courtesy of BRAC 2005.

Expanded Guard Role Sought

National Guard Caucus leaders Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) and Sen. Christopher S. Bond (R-Mo.) reintroduced legislation June 25 dubbed the National Guard Empowerment Act III that continues their push to further the role of the Guard in defense policy-making.

Among the latest initiatives, the caucus wants to ensure governors retain “tactical control” of the Guard when operating domestically; wants to give the National Guard Bureau budgetary authority; and wants to create an NGB vice chief.

Under last year’s empowerment effort, the lawmakers successfully elevated the NGB chief to a four-star position. Now, they want to try again to get the chief a seat on the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Latest Global Hawk Variant Unveiled

Air Force and Northrop Grumman officials rolled out the first RQ-4 Global Hawk Block 40 unmanned aerial vehicle at the company’s Palmdale, Calif., facility June 25. This aircraft is designated AF-18.

The Air Force program of record is to procure 15 Global Hawk Block 40 aircraft. This configuration of the high-flying reconnaissance UAV carries the Northrop Grumman-Raytheon Multiplatform Radar Technology Improvement Program sensor, a sophisticated active electronically scanned array radar for synthetic aperture radar imaging and tracking moving ground targets.

USAF expects to field Block 40 aircraft at Grand Forks AFB, N.D., next decade.

Space Fence Upgrade Launched

The Air Force in June awarded $30 million contracts each to Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Raytheon for Phase A concept development work on the proposed “Space Fence,” the replacement for the Air Force Space Surveillance System, the string of ground-based space-surveillance radars across the US.

The Air Force wants to transition from the VHF band of the AFSSS to the S-band for the Space Fence in order to achieve greater tracking accuracy and have the ability to detect and monitor smaller space objects and debris in low and medium Earth orbit. Phase A will culminate with a system design review and prototyping demonstration.

Delivery of the first new radar is anticipated in 2015. According to Raytheon, up to three globally positioned S-band radars are envisioned. Northrop Grumman said Australia is a candidate for the first Space Fence location.

F-15 Training To Be Consolidated

The Oregon Air National Guard’s 173rd Fighter Wing at Klamath Falls Airport/Kingsley Field is slated to become the Air Force’s sole F-15 training base, Army Maj. Gen. Raymond F. Rees, adjutant general of the Oregon National Guard, said in a July 10 interview.

Under a proposal in the Air Force’s Fiscal 2010 budget plan, F-15 training operations would be phased out at Tyndall AFB, Fla., and consolidated at Klamath Falls. If Congress approves this proposal, F-15 training activities would cease at Tyndall by the end of Fiscal 2010.

Earlier this year, news reports suggested that the Oregon legislature was considering closing Kingsley Field as a cost-saving measure. But upon closer examination, Rees said, it became clear that “it was kind of like cutting off your nose to spite your face to talk about reducing state fiscal responsibilities to Kingsley Field.”

AFRL Groundbreaking in Ohio

Air Force officials broke ground July 1 at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, on a new $36 million project to expand the facilities of the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Sensors Directorate.

The Dayton Daily News reported that same day that the project, which is due for completion in April 2011, will add offices, labs, and a testing range to the existing Sensors Directorate building. The project is part of the Air Force’s effort to consolidate Sensors Directorate work at Wright-Patterson by moving about 100 research positions to the Ohio base from Rome, N.Y., and Hanscom AFB, Mass. Butt Construction is the lead contractor.

Overall, Wright-Patterson is undergoing about $332 million in construction projects as about 1,200 research positions transfer to the base per BRAC 2005, according to the newspaper.

Human Error Caused E-8C Damage

A plug mistakenly left by a civilian subcontractor employee in a fuel vent of an E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System aircraft after scheduled depot maintenance late last year led to a ruptured fuel tank while the aircraft was operating in Southwest Asia March 13, Air Combat Command announced July 9.

The aircrew was able to overcome the in-flight emergency, which occurred during aerial refueling, and safely return the aircraft to its base. There were no injuries, but the rupture caused an estimated $25 million in damage.

Investigators also faulted the depot subcontractor for ineffective tool-control measures and not following mandated procedures. Northrop Grumman, lead Joint STARS contractor, said July 9 it implemented corrective actions immediately after learning of the incident and assembled an independent team to review its procedures.

USAF Matures UAV Concept

The Air Force is poised to begin the analysis of alternatives for its MQ-X unmanned aerial vehicle, the notional successor to today’s MQ-1 Predators and MQ-9 Reapers.

The service intends to have the study of alternatives complete by late summer or fall of 2010, Col. Eric Mathewson, director of USAF’s Unmanned Aerial Systems Task Force, told reporters in the Pentagon July 23. He said it’s too early to know when the new platform would be fielded.

Mathewson said the Air Force will examine a range of capabilities for the aircraft, including low-observable technology. Further, the MQ-X program will serve as a “test bed” for the concepts of modular unmanned fighters and intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance, electronic attack, mobility, and other mission aircraft, he said.

IG Report Faults Moseley

The Pentagon inspector general on July 10 released the results of its investigation into actions by now-retired Gen. T. Michael Moseley, former Chief of Staff, surrounding the December 2005 Thunderbird Air Show Production Services (TAPS) contract award to Strategic Message Solutions.

The IG concluded that Moseley violated ethics regulations by: providing preferential treatment to SMS; creating an appearance of improper disclosure of nonpublic information; misusing subordinates’ time and government property; and soliciting and accepting gifts from a prohibited source.

The IG recommended that the Secretary of the Air Force “consider appropriate corrective action.”

Moseley, through his counsel, responded to the IG that he believed the IG conclusions to be wrong and based on erroneous application of contract law. Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley has stated that he will spend some months reviewing the entire case.

In 2008, a two-star Air Force general and several other officers received administrative discipline for their roles in allegedly steering the TAPS contract to SMS.

WASPs Get Overdue Recognition

President Obama on July 1 signed into law S. 614, the bill that awards a Congressional Gold Medal to the Women Airforce Service Pilots of World War II who flew noncombat military missions to free their male counterparts for combat missions.

Obama said at the signing ceremony these female pilots “courageously answered their country’s call in a time of need, while blazing a trail for the brave women who have given and continue to give so much in service to this nation since.” He added, “Every American should be grateful for their service.”

Despite their service—they were the first women ever to fly American military aircraft—WASPs did not receive veteran status until 1977. The bill enjoyed broad bipartisan support as it moved its way though Congress.

Professor Sentenced in UAV Case

University of Tennessee emeritus professor J. Reece Roth was sentenced by a US federal judge to four years in prison on July 1 for violating US law regarding the protection of sensitive technology in his work on an Air Force research project related to unmanned aerial vehicles.

Roth, 71, was mulling an appeal. He was convicted in September 2008 on 18 counts of conspiracy, fraud, and violating the Arms Export Control Act for the unlawful transfer of sensitive data to foreign nationals from 2004 to 2006 while he was researching plasma guidance for UAVs under two Air Force-sponsored projects.

He has always maintained his innocence.

Ogden Does Get UAV Work

The Utah Congressional delegation announced July 15 that the Ogden Air Logistics Center at Hill AFB, Utah, will handle depot maintenance for key components of the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles.

According to a release by Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R), the Ogden ALC will work on the MQ-1 airframe, ground data terminal, primary satellite link, and ground control station as well as the MQ-9 airframe. Ogden will also service components for the RQ-4 Global Hawk UAV.

Airmen Receive Bronze Star Medals

Maj. Todd Andre received a Bronze Star Medal in early July for his meritorious service as commander of the 379th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron at an air base in Southwest Asia. He oversaw more than 400 airmen in this role.

Also receiving Bronze Star Medals in July were Capt. Karen Rupp, now assigned to Elmendorf AFB, Alaska, for her actions in Iraq as commander of the 424th Medium Truck Detachment, and CMSgt. William J. Brown, a native of Bristol, Conn., for his work last year leading more than 500 airmen at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan.

Also recognized were TSgt. Cohen Young of Hickam AFB, Hawaii, for his service in Iraq as a combat cameraman, and TSgt. Jeremy J. Pifer of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., for his activities in Iraq last year as an explosive ordnance disposal team leader.

McClellan Cleanup Plan Approved

The Environmental Protection Agency and the state of California agreed in July to a cleanup plan for a 62-acre portion of land on the former McClellan Air Force Base. The decision represents the first time that the Department of Defense ceded authority to EPA to select a cleanup plan for a Superfund site, according to a July 20 EPA release.

EPA chose a private redevelopment company, McClellan Business Park LLC, to conduct the cleanup under EPA and state oversight, using Air Force funds. The rest of the base, about 3,000 acres, may also undergo a private cleanup approach, said EPA.

AFRC Activates Flying Tigers

Air Force Reserve Command on July 11 formally activated the 476th Fighter Group at Moody AFB, Ga. Its 76th Fighter Squadron, 476th Maintenance Squadron, and 476th Aerospace Medicine Flight will participate in A-10C Warthog operations at Moody with the active duty 23rd Wing.

The 476th FG embraces the Flying Tigers heritage of World War II fame through the newly reformed 76th Fighter Squadron, which is the first-ever Reserve A-10 associate unit.

AFRC began working in June 2007 toward standup of the group by establishing a detachment at Moody to pave the way for transfer of some Reservists from the 442nd Fighter Wing at Whiteman AFB, Mo. The 442nd FW still serves as the parent wing for the 476th FG.

US, Russia Agree on Nuclear Force Cuts

President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on July 6 signed a document in Moscow that sets the parameters for reductions in the two nations’ nuclear force levels by up to one-third beyond the current ceilings laid down in the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty and 2002 Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty.

This joint understanding for the START follow-on treaty states that both sides are committed to reducing their strategic warheads to a range of 1,500 to 1,675, and their strategic delivery vehicles to between 500 and 1,100.

Under START and SORT, the maximum amount of deployed warheads is currently 2,200 and the maximum allowable level of launch vehicles is 1,600.

“As the world’s two leading nuclear powers, the United States and Russia must lead by example, and that’s what we’re doing here today,” said Obama at a joint press briefing with Medvedev.

The joint understanding is meant to guide the remainder of the negotiations that will culminate in a new legally binding agreement that will replace START, which expires in December.

The new treaty, which Obama said would be completed by year’s end, will include effective verification measures, according to the joint statement.

The two nations also released documents on July 6 outlining their intent to resume bilateral military-to-military exchanges that were suspended in August 2008 after Russia’s armed incursion into Georgia; strengthen cooperation to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons; and seek cooperation in monitoring ballistic missile developments around the globe and work toward a multilateral missile launch notification regime.

Russia also agreed to allow US military personnel and military equipment to pass through Russian territory en route to Afghanistan.

Air Force Issues UAV Roadmap

The Air Force’s new Unmanned Aerial Systems Flight Plan 2009-47, issued July 23, forecasts a future where unmanned drones replace manned aircraft as the dominant airpower capability that USAF provides to the joint military force.

The flight plan, service officials said during its rollout in the Pentagon, is meant to institutionalize USAF’s vision for developing and resourcing unmanned capabilities for the foreseeable future.

“We are today, with unmanned aerial systems, about where we were in the 1920s with manned aircraft,” said Lt. Gen. David A. Deptula, deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance on the Air Staff.

He added that there is “lots of potential out there. And we have to change the way that we think about using these systems across the entire spectrum of military operations.”

The flight plan centers on development of a “family” of unmanned aircraft ranging from small, man-portable vehicles to “medium ‘fighter-size’ vehicles” and “large ‘tanker-size’ vehicles.”

Ultimately, they would have “autonomous-capable operations,” enabling them “to perceive the situation and act independently with limited or little human input,” the Air Force said. This will greatly shorten decision time, in effect, compressing airpower’s OODA loop—observe, orient, decide, and act.

The document does not lay out specific solutions but rather “concepts and possibilities” that will be filled in as the service talks with industry, academia, the other services, and allies.

Deptula said a key advantage of unmanned aircraft today is the persistence—dubbed “first among equals”—that they provide. UAVs have “the ability to stay in position or maneuver over large areas for a long period of time, and that’s where a person in an aircraft becomes a limitation.”

Although there is no pilot sitting in the cockpit of unmanned vehicles, “highly skilled airmen” are still today at the heart of these systems, said Gen. William M. Fraser III, then vice chief of staff of the Air Force.

JASSM Again Comes Under the Microscope

Production of the Air Force’s AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile may be terminated if its test record does not improve, Bloomberg news reported June 30, citing an Air Force spokeswoman.

Lockheed Martin builds the missile and more than 600 of them have already been delivered to air bases for potential use, and more than 1,000 have been ordered, Bloomberg reported.

However, the missile program has still not fully overcome reliability issues that have marred the performance of the baseline JASSM in some flight tests despite internal Lockheed Martin efforts and Air Force-sponsored improvements.

As a result, an upcoming series of 16 test shots later this year could seal the missile’s fate. The Air Force wants end-to-end success (i.e., hitting the targets and detonating properly) in at least 80 percent of the upcoming flights.

Alan Jackson, Lockheed’s JASSM and JASSM-Extended Range program director, told Reuters in early July that the missile program had achieved “significantly over 80 percent reliability” and was nearing the 90 percent mark, which the Air Force is establishing as the future standard for the missile.

Pending the test results, the Air Force did not ask procurement funds for JASSM in its Fiscal 2010 budget request to Congress.

This isn’t the first time JASSM has been in the hot seat. Performance reliability was an also issue back in 2007-08 when the missile program underwent an extensive review and had to be recertified by the Office of the Secretary of Defense for continuation.

Meanwhile the Air Force did award Lockheed Martin a $23 million contract in July for 12 extended-range JASSMs for use in upcoming flight tests to determine whether this variant of the missile is ready for low-rate production.

As of late July, JASSM-ER had a 100 percent success rate in its four developmental flight tests.

Operation Iraqi Freedom—Iraq


By Aug. 17, a total of 4,335 Americans had died in Operation Iraqi Freedom. The total includes 4,322 troops and 13 Department of Defense civilians. Of these deaths, 3,465 were killed in action with the enemy while 870 died in noncombat incidents.

There have been 31,463 troops wounded in action during Operation Iraqi Freedom. This number includes 17,612 who were wounded and returned to duty within 72 hours and 13,851 who were unable to return to duty quickly.

Air Strikes Decline Precipitously in Iraq

US Air Forces Central in late June released a comprehensive tally of air operations statistics that revealed just how much offensive air operations in Iraq have wound down since the beginning of the year.

According to US air planners, no munitions were expended in Iraq in June. And so far, only 4,461 close air support sorties have been flown over Iraq in 2009, compared to 18,422 recorded for all of 2008.

In May, there were only three munitions delivered from the air countrywide. The drop in kinetic operations is in sharp contrast to two years ago, when 360 munitions were expended in Iraq during July 2007, around the height of the US troop surge.

Operation Enduring Freedom—Afghanistan


By Aug. 17, a total of 778 Americans had died in Operation Enduring Freedom. The total includes 777 troops and one Department of Defense civilian. Of these deaths, 538 were killed in action with the enemy while 240 died in noncombat incidents.

There have been 3,522 troops wounded in action during OEF. This number includes 1,328 who were wounded and returned to duty within 72 hours and 2,194 who were unable to return to duty quickly.

Taliban Attack US Base Prior To Helmand Offensive

Two US troops were killed in an attack on a remote outpost in Paktika province in early July, just as a large US offensive against the Taliban kicked off in the country’s interior.

According to US and coalition reports, Taliban fighters fired mortars and rockets at the base, which is located near Zerok in Paktika province—not far from where a US soldier was captured in late June.

A suicide bomber attempted to drive a truck filled with explosives up to the facility’s gate, but was shot before he could get to the gate. His truck detonated prematurely.

US officials said the attack started with small arms and indirect fire on the outpost, followed by the detonation of an improvised explosive device and successive waves of small-arms fire.

Air support in the form of an Air Force MQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicle responded by dropping a GBU-12 laser guided bomb against a group of militants involved in the attack.

A Predator also fired a Hellfire air-to-surface missile against a group of militants who had engaged ground forces with a long-barreled weapon and rocket-propelled grenades.

Following the strikes, coalition aircraft and a Marine Corps AV-8B Harrier performed shows of force to deter further attacks.

In addition to the two killed in action, seven soldiers and two Afghan security force members were wounded in the assault.

The attack came days after US Marines spearheaded a massive offensive against the Taliban in Helmand province, with 4,000 troops moving in to attack and dismantle the core of the Taliban’s opium trade, a major source of financing for their weapons and activities.


• Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley on July 9 dismissed from the service the three officers who fell asleep on July 12, 2008, when they were supposed to be watching classified launch code devices at a missile alert facility at Minot AFB, N.D.

• US and coalition forces supporting operations in Southwest Asia set a new airdrop record in June by delivering 3.25 million pounds of supplies in Afghanistan, the most in one month in the region since operations began in fall 2001.

• The National Aviation Hall of Fame on July 18 enshrined the late Brig. Gen. Jimmy Stewart, World War II bomber pilot, famed Hollywood actor, and one of the early officers in the Air Force Association, as one of its inductees in the class of 2009.

• The New York Air National Guard’s Northeast Air Defense Sector on July 15 was renamed the Eastern Air Defense Sector to better reflect its expanded mission of providing air sovereignty over the eastern US.

• The 451st Air Expeditionary Group at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, officially became the 451st Air Expeditionary Wing on July 2. Kandahar is the site of increased Air Force activity for the US troop buildup in Afghanistan.

• The 41st Expeditionary Electronic Combat Squadron, an EC-130H Compass Call unit at Bagram AB, Afghanistan, on July 9 flew its 2,000th combat mission in support of operations in Afghanistan since October 2001.

• Lt. Col. Booth M. Johnston on June 16 received the Koren Kolligian Jr. Safety Trophy for outstanding airmanship during an October 2007 sortie when he safely landed his F-16 despite back and neck injuries suffered during a high-G maneuver.

• 2008 Lance P. Sijan Air Force Leadership Award winners, announced June 30, are: Maj. James Hughes Jr. (senior officer), Capt. Thomas Eckel (junior officer), SMSgt. Michael Bobbitt (senior enlisted), and TSgt. Scott Woodring (junior enlisted).

• The Air Force Communications Agency at Scott AFB, Ill., on July 15 became the Air Force Network Integration Center to better reflect its role in cyberspace operations. USAF is realigning its cyber forces under Air Force Space Command.

• North Dakota’s Ronald Reagan Minuteman Missile State Historic Site near Cooperstown opened to the public July 13. It features a former missile alert facility and a launch facility that were part of the now-defunct 321st Missile Wing.

• The first home to be completed under a $170 million housing upgrade project at Fairchild AFB, Wash., west of Spokane, was turned over to an Air Force family July 8 during a ceremony.