Airman Dies in Afghan War
SrA. Adam P. Servais, 23, of Onalaska, Wis., died Aug. 19 when his vehicle came under fire in Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan, during a long firefight with insurgent forces.
A combat controller, Servais was assigned to Air Force Special Operations Command’s 23rd Special Tactics Squadron at Hurlburt Field, Fla. He was part of a US team that is training the Afghan National Army.
Servais’ team was supporting an Afghan patrol when it encountered a force of as many as 150 insurgents. The patrol was attacked with small arms and returned fire, calling in artillery and close air support. The firefight continued for nearly four hours. In addition to Servais, an Afghan soldier was killed and three other US service members were wounded in the engagement.
IED Claims Ohio Airman
The Defense Department confirmed on Aug. 21 the death of MSgt. Brad A. Clemmons, 37, of Chillicothe, Ohio. While on transportation convoy duty en route to Taji, Iraq, Clemmons’ vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 354th Civil Engineer Squadron at Eielson AFB, Alaska.
ANG Deflects Cuts, Leaders Say
The planned cut of 40,000 USAF personnel planned over the next six years will largely spare the Air National Guard, according to two Guard leaders.
Lt. Gen. Craig R. McKinley, ANG commander, and Army Lt. Gen. H. Steven Blum, chief of the National Guard Bureau, stated in August that no dramatic reductions in ANG personnel are expected. (See “An Air Guard for the Future,” September, p. 67.) Blum told reporters that the Air Force had offered the Guard Bureau the option to cut personnel as a way to reduce costs, but he and Air Guard officials rejected the idea, citing the Guard’s recent workload in Southwest Asia and domestically.
Blum added that the ANG will absorb its share of cost-cutting but that the savings will come through reductions in flying hours and other economies. The Air Guard wants to wait until it has a better idea of what missions USAF wants it to bear in the wake of the Base Realignment and Closure process before making any drastic cuts to its ranks, he added.
CMOC Goes on Standby
Cheyenne Mountain Operations Center, the iconic Cold War-era nerve center of North American air defenses, has been put in standby status by the order of Adm. Timothy J. Keating, commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command. Over the next 16 months, missions previously performed by US Northern Command and NORAD “under the mountain” will shift to nearby Peterson AFB, Colo.
The facility will be kept in standby status, ready to be reactivated on short notice if needed.
Keating said he wants to better integrate the activities of NORTHCOM and NORAD. He took the action after a study of the two organizations’ functions; the review was not connected with either the Quadrennial Defense Review or the Base Realignment and Closure process. No jobs are being eliminated by the action.
NORTHCOM and NORAD account for about a quarter of the US military functions conducted at Cheyenne Mountain. The others aren’t affected by the move.
F-35 Training Goes to Eglin
The 33rd Fighter Wing at Eglin AFB, Fla., is getting a new mission: It will conduct pilot training in the F-35 Lightning II fighter, scheduled to arrive at the base in 2010.
The much-decorated wing, which has flown F-15Cs since the 1980s and claimed the most air-to-air victories in the 1991 Gulf War, will train pilots from the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps, as well as pilots from allied air forces, in the F-35. The Air Force announced the change Aug. 10.
The 33rd’s F-15Cs will be distributed to other units throughout the Air Force and Air National Guard; the last one will leave in the summer of 2010. At that point, the wing will transfer from Air Combat Command to Air Education and Training Command. Final certification of the plan depends on the results of an environmental impact analysis.
Plans call for AETC, over the next few years, to stand up a new wing structure for the Lightning II mission. Details on the number of people who would transfer from the old mission to the new were not disclosed.
The announcement seemed timed to answer the concerns of Florida officials—including Republican Gov. Jeb Bush—who have complained about Air Force Materiel Command’s plan to move flight-test operations elements of the 46th Test Wing, now based at Eglin, to Edwards AFB, Calif.
Gen. Bruce Carlson, AFMC commander, paid a visit to local officials in the Eglin area in July to reassure them that the wing would not be leaving Eglin imminently and that the Department of Defense would need to sign off on the move and forward it to President Bush for inclusion in the Fiscal 2008 budget.
CSAR-X Acquisition Delayed
The Air Force will wait until next month at least to award a contract for its next generation combat search and rescue helicopter, the service said in August.
The delay was directed in order to conduct more analysis with bidders, a service spokesman said. As a result of the need for more analysis, the Defense Acquisition Board, which must approve contract milestones, rescheduled its contract-review meeting from Sept. 6 to Oct. 31. The DAB review will look at a range of issues—such as cost, funding, requirements, and performance—before moving the program into system development and demonstration. The contract award is now targeted for Nov. 6.
The Air Force has already delayed the award twice, once to change program requirements that pushed the contract announcement back from this spring into summer—then delaying to September.
The CSAR-X program seeks to replace the HH-60G Pave Hawk fleet, now managed by Air Combat Command. The mission was moved from Air Force Special Operations Command in February. (See “Aerospace World: CSAR Mission Is On the Move—Again,” April, p. 17.)
The Air Force has 101 Pave Hawks, first fielded in 1982, and wants to replace them with 141 CSAR-X airframes. USAF wants more aircraft to fully flesh out the needs of the air and space expeditionary forces and seeks to fix a long-standing low-density, high demand situation.
The CSAR-X replacement effort is one of the top five priorities of Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley, who has said that it is “an ethical and a moral imperative to be able to pick our people up.”
Lt. Col. Tim Healy, the Air Staff’s special aircraft requirements deputy division chief, told reporters last December that the Air Force doesn’t have enough assets to meet rotational requirements and that the harsh operational environments of the past several years have taken a toll on mission capable rates. Operating costs per flying hour for the Sikorsky Pave Hawk have also risen 16 percent over the last few years, and the type has been turning in only a 62 percent mission capable rate.
Competing for the program are Boeing, with the CH-47; Lockheed Martin with the US101; and Sikorsky, with the HH-92 Superhawk.
RAF Stealth Flying Expands
British pilots have flown both the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber and the F-22A Raptor fighter.
Royal Air Force Squadron Leader David Arthurton is the first foreign exchange pilot to fly the B-2. Arthurton, a veteran Tornado GR4 pilot flies with the 13th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron as part of the RAF Personnel Exchange Program.
Arthurton joined the 13th Bomb Squadron at Whiteman AFB, Mo., last year and deployed with other members of the unit as the 13th EBS at Andersen AFB, Guam, this summer.
Besides flying, Arthurton has performed other squadron chores at Whiteman, such as overseeing long-range scheduling, including several exercises such as Red Flag, and the 13th’s deployment to Australia this summer.
In July, RAF Flight Lt. Dan Robinson completed flight training in the F-22A Raptor at Tyndall AFB, Fla., with the 43rd Fighter Squadron. As the first allied pilot to train on the fifth generation fighter, Robinson is now serving a three-year tour at Langley AFB, Va., with the 27th Fighter Squadron.
British pilots have been assigned to F-117 Nighthawk squadrons almost since that aircraft became operational in the early 1980s.
Saudis, Britain Close Fighter Deal
Saudi Arabia recently announced it will buy 72 Eurofighter Typhoons from Britain in a deal worth nearly $19 billion. Half the money covers the aircraft; the other half covers weapons and parts.
The Typhoon is considered the second-best fighter in the world after the US F-22 Raptor. The F-35 Lightning II is also expected to be superior to the Typhoon, but it won’t be available for export for another decade or so. The F-22 is restricted from export under current US law; that and the more near-term availability of the Typhoon were considered a big part of the reason for the Saudi selection of the Typhoon.
The F-35 and the French Rafale fighter were also in the competition.
The Saudi order marks the biggest export deal for the Eurofighter, which until now has only been purchased among the original program partners—Britain, Germany, Italy, and Spain—and Austria, which has bought 18 of the fighters. Cost growth and delays have plagued the development and production cycle.
Details of the deal were not immediately made public, but British government officials said Saudi Arabia might perform final assembly of some of the aircraft, among other “technology transfer” aspects of the deal.
Second F-35 Engine Has a Cost
If Congress insists that the Pentagon continue development of an alternative engine to power the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, it will mean fewer F-35s are bought, Air Force Brig. Gen. Charles R. Davis, the new JSF program manager, said.
The Pentagon, in its last budget, killed the General Electric-Rolls Royce F136 engine, which was to compete with the Pratt & Whitney F135 to power JSFs. The money for F136 development came out of the JSF budget. Putting the F136 back in the program without adding funds—as Congress seemed inclined to do in the run-up to the House-Senate budget conference—would mean the program will have to pay for it some other way, Davis said in August.
“If the money comes out of JSF, we’ll trade airplanes to pay for it,” Davis told Bloomberg News. He said that somewhere between 50 and 100 aircraft out of the 2,500 planned for US use would have to be eliminated to cover the costs of developing the F136.
The JSF program office told Air Force Magazine that the cost of developing the F136 would be “approximately $2 billion” between Fiscal Years 2007 and 2013.
In a written response to a query, the program office said, “If the overall F-35 program budget is not increased by this amount, aircraft will need to be cut from the early production lots to fund the F136 effort.”
Lockheed Suggests Pilotless F-35
Lockheed Martin has been working for more than two years on an unmanned version of the F-35, the company said in August. The aircraft could fly autonomously or be remotely piloted.
The news came from Frank Mauro, Lockheed Martin’s director of unmanned aeronautical systems, who said in a National Press Club briefing that the concept is in its early stages, but will advance if the government shows interest. He said that a pilotless F-35 would leverage worldwide logistics and help to lower overall acquisition costs.
Rear Adm. Steven L. Enewold, who until July was the F-35 program manager, said that the F-35 has a “superb flight-control system” and “there’s no reason you couldn’t” make it into an unmanned system. However, he said that so much investment has been made in the cockpit of the aircraft—human interface, escape systems, displays—that it might be impractical to convert it to such a role.
The idea of using the F-35 as a UAV is not new. Retired Gen. Ronald R. Fogleman, former Air Force Chief of Staff, suggested in 1996 that later versions of the Joint Strike Fighter would probably be unmanned. (See “First Force,” September 1996, p. 34.)
Mauro also provided background on the Lockheed Martin-funded Polecat UAV concept, which the company held out as a potential intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance platform as well as a contender for the next long-range strike vehicle. The company unveiled the aircraft during the summer to show that it is fully engaged in the large UAV field, presently dominated by Northrop Grumman’s Global Hawk, General Atomics’ Predator, and the Boeing Navy Unmanned Combat Air System, or N-UCAS.
Travis Gets First C-17
Travis AFB, Calif., celebrated the arrival of its first C-17 Globemaster III on Aug. 8 with a ceremonial flyover. Spirit of Solano, named in honor of the base’s surrounding community of Solano County, makes Travis the first and only mobility base to operate three of AMC’s largest weapon systems: the C-5 Galaxy, KC-10 Extender, and C-17.
Twelve more C-17s will be delivered to the base and will be flown by the 301st and 21st Airlift Squadrons in airlift and aeromedical evacuation operations.
Mirrors, and then Smoke
The Air Force demonstrated the ability to bounce a laser off a mirror at long range and hit a target, in an experiment done recently.
The Aerospace Relay Mirror System demonstration, performed at Kirtland AFB, N.M., in conjunction with contractor Boeing, was done with a half-scale device and proved that such a system could be used to bounce ground-, air-, or sea-based lasers off high-altitude or orbiting mirrors toward a target, such as an ICBM. Extending the reach of lasers beyond line of sight opens up some new possibilities for future laser weapons.
During the Kirtland test, the ARMS hardware was suspended 100 feet off the ground by a crane, while testers fired a low-power ground laser from several miles away at one of the system’s two 30-inch mirrors. The other mirror relayed the laser to a ground target two miles away from the relay.
Boeing has been working on the ARMS project for four years, under a $20 million Air Force contract. USAF plans to use the system to build a permanent test bed for relay technology development.
AFSOC Activates Intel Squadron
Air Force Special Operations Command stood up its first dedicated intelligence squadron Aug. 1 with the reactivation of the 11th Intelligence Squadron at Hurlburt Field, Fla.
The squadron’s mission will be to process, analyze, and distribute information to commanders gathered by AFSOC’s MQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicles and other airborne intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance sources.
AFSOC’s first Predator squadron, the 3rd Special Operations Squadron at Creech AFB, Nev., stood up in October 2005. The two units will coordinate their activities to provide a unique method of gathering and distributing intelligence, unit officials said.
The squadron traces its heritage to World War II-era photo and reconnaissance units that became the 11th Reconnaissance Technical Squadron. The unit was inactive until its redesignation and activation as the 11th IS in August. It has 38 members; at full strength in 2008, it will have 135.
Despite Cuts, USAF Still Hiring
The Air Force may be in the process of cutting about 40,000 people from its ranks, but it’s still hiring.
Next year’s recruiting goal is 27,760 people, down nine percent from Fiscal 2006 goals. About a third of those slots—10,200—will be filled by people going to the security forces, maintenance, administration, and electronics fields, which are now undermanned (see “News Notes”). Another 5,540 slots are available in linguistics, aerospace maintenance, computer systems operations, fire protection, integrated avionics systems, vehicle operations, munitions systems, tactical aircraft maintenance, air traffic control operations, fuels, explosive ordnance disposal, aerospace propulsion, aircraft loading, and operations intelligence.
Career fields that the Air Force Personnel Center classifies as “hot” include air and ground linguists and special tactics areas such as pararescuemen, survival instructors, and combat controllers. The Air Force is also looking for 482 college graduates to fill out its officer corps, most for the pilot, combat systems officer, air battle management, and electrical engineering fields.
ANG Dedicates New Intel Center
A ribbon-cutting was held Aug. 16 to open the Air National Guard’s newest and largest intelligence center at McConnell AFB, Kan.
The $7.4 million center is home to the ANG’s 161st Intelligence Operations Group. The unit is already providing intelligence support for deployed forces, but with the new 22,000 square-foot facility up and running, the unit’s imagery processing and battlefield support capabilities are multiplied.
Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence, Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.), ANG director Lt. Gen. Craig R. McKinley, and Lt. Gen. Stephen G. Wood, deputy chief of staff for strategic plans and programs, attended the ceremony.
Hobbins Eyes Russian Airpower
Gen. William T. Hobbins, chief of US Air Forces in Europe, in August toured military facilities in Russia, taking up an invitation from Russian officials to fly in two-seat models of the frontline Su-27 Flanker and MiG-29 Fulcrum fighters.
Hobbins flew in the aircraft from Lipetsk Air Base. After the flights, he told reporters, “It’s obvious the aircraft are meticulously maintained. … These are very good airplanes, and I’m flying with skilled masters.”
Those “masters” were Gen. Col. Aleksandr Zelin, the deputy commander in chief of the Russian Federation Air Force, and Gen. Maj. Aleksandr Kharchevskiy, chief of the 4th Center for Combat Use and Flight Training. The two generals visited USAFE in 2003, where they each got F-15E rides, prompting the reciprocal invitation from Russia.
Brig. Gen. Daniel R. Eagle, the US defense attache to Russia, said the aim of the visit was to improve cooperation in the Global War on Terror by building better mutual understanding of tactics, techniques, and procedures. He said he hoped the visit would lead to further dialogue and training opportunities. Hobbins visited other facilities and towns, as well.
Pope’s A-10s Off to Moody
The A-10s stationed at Pope AFB, N.C., have begun relocating to Moody AFB, Ga., in implementation of Base Realignment and Closure decisions. The transition is expected to be complete by the middle of 2007.
The move is intended to streamline combat search and rescue operations by locating A-10s with Moody’s rescue aircraft. Warthogs are woven into the fabric of rescue operations, since their primary mission is close air support; they are often used to escort HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopters and HC-130s during rescue operations.
In addition to the 23rd Fighter Group from Pope, Moody will get six A-10s from Alaska’s 355th Fighter Squadron at Eielson Air Force Base, and from the Connecticut Air National Guard’s 118th Fighter Squadron.
To preserve the heritage of the 23rd Fighter Group—which stretches back to Lt. Gen. Claire Lee Chennault’s Flying Tigers of World War II—the 347th Rescue Wing combat search and rescue unit will deactivate this month and be replaced with the 23rd Wing, headquartered at Moody and adopting the banner of the Flying Tigers. The wing will retain the rescue mission.
The 347th RQW is currently the only active duty combat search and rescue wing in the Air Force, but more units and missions are scheduled to fall under the 23rd Wing in the future.
Talon I Ends Active Service
The first MC-130E Combat Talon serving with the 8th Special Operations Squadron completed one of its last active duty missions July 14, on its return from a deployment to Southwest Asia.
The aircraft’s return to Duke Field, Fla., was greeted by distinguished visitors, crew family members, and 8th SOS commander Lt. Col. Ted Corallo. “It’s served the nation well after 41 years of active duty service,” Corallo said of the 1960s-vintage aircraft. The modified C-130 is not retiring; it will continue to serve with the Air Force Reserve.
The 8th SOS and the Talon I have a long history in Air Force special operations—going back to the assault on the North Vietnamese Son Tay prisoner of war camp in 1970. The Talon I also took part in the 1980 Desert One rescue attempt in Iran, flew Gen. Manuel Noriega back to the US after Operation Just Cause in 1989-90, and flew missions in Operations Desert Storm, Assured Response, and Southern Watch.
Along with support operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and South America in 2005, Talon I was the first aircraft to land at the New Orleans Airport after Hurricane Katrina had devastated the city.
The unit began its transition to the CV-22 Osprey in August, when the 8th SOS began moving from Duke Field to nearby Hurlburt.
Canadian Soldier Killed in Friendly Fire Incident
One Canadian soldier was killed and about 30 wounded on Sept. 4 in a “friendly fire” incident in Afghanistan.
According to NATO officials, USAF A-10 Warthogs strafed a group of Canadian troops camped in an open area in Kandahar Province. Close air support had been requested by another Canadian unit in the area. The incident followed several days of fighting in which Canadians were engaging Taliban forces as part of Operation Medusa.
The Canadian contingent belonged to the International Security Assistance Force, other elements of which provided immediate medical assistance. The 30 wounded troops did not have critical injuries, NATO reported. The military operation against the Taliban forces continued.
An investigation into the incident was launched by the US, NATO, and Canadian forces.
Turkey Seeks Advanced F-16s
Turkey wants to buy 30 F-16 Block 52s to replace some of its aging F-4E Phantoms, Turkish government officials said in August.
The buy would be a stopgap measure to keep the Turkish fighter fleet fresh until the Ankara government decides on a more advanced aircraft. It is considering the F-35 and the Eurofighter Typhoon. Turkey is partnered with the US on development of the F-35, but is under no obligation to buy the fighter.
The announcement seemed to indicate that a plan to have Israel update 48 of Turkey’s F-4Es has been dropped or reduced. Turkey already fields 217 F-16s, some purchased and some license-built by Tusas Aerospace Industries in Turkey.
Turkish officials said they hope to reach a deal by the end of the year. The 30 F-16s would be worth about $1.5 billion.
Greece, Turkey’s longtime sparring partner and NATO ally, signed a deal in 2005 to purchase 30 Block 52 F-16s, which will arrive in 2009. (See “Aerospace World: Greek Deal Extends F-16 Line,” February, p. 21.)
MSgt. David Halvorson of the 16th Helicopter Maintenance Squadron, Hurlburt Field, Fla., was awarded the Bronze Star in July for combat actions in Iraq from Aug. 13, 2003 to Dec. 3, 2003. According to the citation, Halvorson led 56 maintenance and supply personnel from his squadron in keeping four MH-53 Pave Low helicopters on 10-minute alert in Iraq, despite being under constant threat of mortar and rocket attack. All the while, the team worked out of the back of a truck, in extreme temperatures with limited resources and no maintenance facilities.
Also from the 16th HMXS, TSgt. Mark Skerrett and SSgt. Sean Allen received the Air Force Commendation Medal with valor. They received the decorations for actions while responding to a disabled helicopter in Southwest Asia while under enemy fire, resulting in the successful extraction of the helicopter. It was the third AFCM with valor for Skerrett.
TSgt. Ruben M. Vasquez, of the 36th Medical Operations Squadron at Andersen AFB, Guam, was awarded the Bronze Star in August for his meritorious service as a medical technician and military advisor in Iraq from November 2005 through May 2006. Vasquez was assigned to a military transition team, a small unit embedded with Iraqis to teach specialty skills and help set up medical capabilities.
First Lt. Kelly McGann from Charleston AFB, S.C., was awarded the Bronze Star in August for actions as the officer-in-charge of a multinational combat camera unit in Iraq from Nov. 24, 2005 to May 15, 2006. McGann was honored for his actions during an April 13, 2006 patrol near Mumandyia, Iraq, when a bomb exploded and engulfed the lead vehicle in a fire. McGann ran to the vehicle burning in a ravine and helped pull the injured driver and gunner from the wreckage and administered first aid—later helping provide covering fire for injured troops.
|Three Missing World War II Airmen Identified
The Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office announced in August the identification of three airmen missing in action from World War II, and the return of their remains to their families for burial with full military honors.
The missing airmen were 2nd Lt. David J. Nelson of Chicago; TSgt. Henry F. Kortebein of Maspeth, N.Y.; and TSgt. Blake A. Treece Jr. of Marshall, Ark. All three were members of the Army Air Forces on Aug. 8, 1944 when their B-17G Flying Fortress departed an Allied air base in England to bomb targets near Caen, France. Witnesses saw the B-17 explode and crash after being struck by flak near the village of Lonlay L’Abbaye, south of Caen.
While German forces and French civilians living near the crash site recovered some of the crew’s remains and buried them nearby, only six of the nine crew members were identified after US forces advanced. In 2002, a team from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command was informed that a French aircraft wreckage hunting organization had found a crash site near Lonlay L’Abbaye. The JPAC team excavated the site in July 2004, recovering human remains, effects, and crew materials.
Nelson, Kortebein, and Treece were buried along with group remains of their aircrew at Arlington National Cemetery in August.
|Hill Air Force Base Workers Clamor for Early Outs
More than 760 people filed applications for voluntary early retirement from civilian posts at Hill AFB, Utah, on the first day the program was offered in July. The large number seeking to take advantage of the program—which offers a cash incentive for accepting an early out—indicates that Air Force Materiel Command may not have some of the severe financial problems next year it was worrying about.
In June, AFMC chief Gen. Bruce Carlson told reporters he expected his command would have to lose about 700 people as its share of Air Force-wide personnel reductions in Fiscal 2007. The incentives for early outs were to be the first way to address the situation.
But, Carlson said, “what if nobody volunteers?” That would be followed by an involuntary reduction in force, or RIF, which would take time to do properly and fairly, he said.
By that point, “now you’re already probably at least halfway, maybe two-thirds of the way, into ’07, and I don’t have funding for any of those people in ’07. So now I’ve got to pay the bill by taking money out of something else,” Carlson said.
The strong response at Hill indicates that AFMC needn’t worry so much about finding enough people to volunteer.
Hill’s Personnel Director Andy Flowers told the Hilltop Times that the high number wasn’t a surprise there, adding that officials had expected “hundreds of employees” would want to get in the line to time their decision to end their federal employment with the chance of some extra cash. The program provides up to $25,000 pretax incentive pay when employee service ends this month, if the eligibility criteria is met and the positions are not considered critical.
“Some very experienced employees will be permitted to leave our employments rolls, where others can’t be let go because of mission requirements,” Flowers said.
The response of the civil service employees doesn’t mean AFMC is out of the woods, yet, Carlson noted.
“You don’t just want to open the floodgates and say the first 700 people who make it through the door get a bonus and get to retire early. You may get the wrong 700 people that, if you let go, you absolutely couldn’t make the command work.” AFMC will continue to “target” certain groups, he said.
|P-47 Ace “Herky” Green Dies in California
Retired Col. Herschel H. “Herky” Green, one of the top Army Air Forces fighter aces in World War II, died Aug. 16 in Torrance, Calif. He was 86. Green destroyed 18 aircraft in air-to-air combat. He was the top ace for Fifteenth Air Force as a fighter pilot in Europe and Africa from 1943 to 1944, flying the P-40, P-47, and P-51. He shot down his first aircraft in May 1943 near Italy, sustaining heavy damage in combat with enemy fighters.
Green went on to earn several decorations during his service, including the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star, and two Distinguished Flying Crosses before being grounded after flying 100 combat missions. His exploits are detailed in his 1996 memoir, Herky! The Memoirs of a Checkertail Ace. He retired from the Air Force in 1964, after which he worked for Hughes Aircraft.
|The War on Terrorism
=””>Operation Iraqi Freedom—Iraq
By Sept. 15, a total of 2,676 Americans had died in Operation Iraqi Freedom. The total includes 2,669 troops and seven Department of Defense civilians. Of these deaths, 2,131 were killed in action with the enemy while 545 died in noncombat incidents.
There have been 20,113 troops wounded in action during OIF. This number includes 10,955 who returned to duty within 72 hours and 9,158 who were unable to return to duty quickly.
C-130 “Jackpot” Assists Convoys
A C-130 unit assigned to Balad AB, Iraq, is flying one of its Hercules aircraft over Iraq in a new mission—carrying a command and control suite to aid ground convoy commanders running supplies along the country’s explosive-laden roads.
The new capability, provided by the 777th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, is called the Joint Airborne Command and Control Command Post, or “Jackpot.” Aircrews from Balad began flying the missions this summer, for several weeks without a break.
The operators of the Jackpot are from all branches of the military and are helping convoy operators manage information and pick out problems in advance.
Operation Enduring Freedom—Afghanistan
By Sept. 15, a total of 333 Americans had died in Operation Enduring Freedom, in and around Afghanistan. This number includes 178 troops and one Department of Defense civilian employee killed in action and 155 who died in nonhostile incidents such as accidents.
A total of 931 personnel have been wounded in OEF. That number includes 355 who were wounded and were able to return to duty within three days and 576 who were not.
Warthogs Surge in Afghanistan
The A-10 Warthogs of the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing at Bagram AB, Afghanistan, have been surging this summer. In two major ground offensives, A-10s have pushed enemy forces out into the open and made short work of them.
“There have been numerous occasions where our troops have been taking heavy fire and we show up, and either our presence ends the engagement or we employ against enemy positions and end the engagement,” said Col. Tony Johnson, the 455th Expeditionary Operations Group commander.
Operations Mountain Lion and Mountain Thrust helped flush Taliban extremists out of their hiding places, exposing them to coalition forces on the ground who have called in A-10s on numerous occasions to provide close air support.
On Aug. 22, Air Force A-10s and Royal Air Force GR7s helped provide close air support to coalition troops in contact with enemy forces near Kandahar. Warthogs and GR7s responded with CAS, expending a Paveway II bomb that NATO officials said killed 11 insurgents.
Summer of 66 for the 347th RQW
The 347th Rescue Wing from Moody AFB, Ga., racked up an impressive record in their summer Afghanistan deployment, saving 66 people from potentially fatal injuries between June 1 and Aug. 4, wing officials said. Another 56 were saved from serious injuries in the same time frame. The group has a wide variety of missions in its Operation Enduring Freedom portfolio, performing aeromedical evacuations, flying emergency medical supplies to forward locations, and rescuing downed helicopter pilots.
The unit is deactivating this month. (See “Pope’s A-10s Off to Moody,” p. 17.)
By Breanne Wagner, Associate Editor
- The Air Force expected to meet or exceed its recruiting goals for Fiscal 2006—the seventh straight year it has done so. The Air Force Personnel Center announced Aug. 17 that 25,654 people had enlisted in the Air Force and entered active duty in FY06. The force was on pace to send 30,750 airmen to basic training and technical schools to fill slots in more than 150 career fields.
- Unmanned aerial vehicles in USAF service hit two major milestones this summer. The Global Hawk surveillance system passed 10,000 flight hours in June and had added another 500 hours by late July. More than 63 percent of the flying time was spent on combat support missions. The figures were announced by the Air Force Aeronautical Systems Center at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. The Predator MQ-1 system achieved the 200,000 hour mark in August, 75 percent of that time in nearly 11,000 combat missions.
- The 100th F-22 Raptor fuselage went into production in Seattle in August, Boeing announced. The aft fuselage component, housing the fighter’s two F119 engines, is scheduled for delivery this month to prime contractor Lockheed Martin, which had delivered 76 Raptors to USAF as of Aug. 8.
- Raytheon delivered the first next generation active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar for the F-15C to Boeing ahead of schedule, the company announced in August. The delivery in late June followed a successful flight test on the APG-63(V)3 AESA radar, where it exceeded all performance expectations in air-to-air modes in flight. The new radars provide increased situational awareness for Air Force and Air National Guard F-15s. More test flights are scheduled for Eglin AFB, Fla., this fall.
- Air Force leaders signed a portion of the Air Force Memorial during a visit to the construction site in Arlington, Va., on Aug. 3. Gen. T. Michael Moseley, Chief of Staff, and CMSAF Rodney J. McKinley both signed a stainless steel segment that is now on top of the tallest of the three spires that comprise the memorial. Moseley and McKinley were given a tour of the area by retired Maj. Gen. Edward F. Grillo Jr., president of the Air Force Memorial Foundation. The memorial will be dedicated and opened to the public this month.
- Boeing received a $780 million contract in August as the first payment toward providing four C-17 Globemaster III transports to the Royal Australian Air Force. The deal is part of a foreign military sales agreement announced July 31. The first airplane is scheduled for delivery in November and the last is scheduled for February 2008.
- To attract more dentists to a USAF career, the service is expanding programs such as special pays and bonuses, as well as scholarship incentives. The Health Professions Scholarship Program is being offered to anyone who has a bachelor’s degree and is selected for dental school. The Air Force has been struggling to recruit sufficient numbers of dentists for nearly a decade. The goal is to recruit about 150 new dental officers a year, but only about 120 make it in. Only 35 percent of dentists remain in USAF after their initial service commitment is up. (See “Action in Congress: Medical Recruiting Incentives,” September, p. 34.)
- Air Force Reserve Command’s aerial spray unit flew out to the California coast in August to participate in an oil spill response exercise. The 910th Airlift Wing from Youngstown-Warren Arpt./ARS, Ohio, participated in Exercise Safe Seas 2006 in the Gulf of the Farallones and Monterey Bay. There the unit worked with participants from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Coast Guard, California’s Office of Spill Prevention and Response, and the Department of the Interior. The unit deployed a C-130 that conducted several passes to simulate dropping an oil dispersal material.
- A six-person team from Ramstein Air Base’s 24th Intelligence Squadron in Germany and an eight-person team from the 1st Combat Communications Squadron deployed to Niger in July for an Eagle Vision mission. The airmen collected satellite imagery for map-making purposes and to spread some goodwill. Squadron members distributed donated soccer balls to children in villages and bought 1,000 pounds of rice for residents of Karadje.
- A bearing assembly failure caused the crash of an F-16 in March, Air Combat Command announced in August. The crash, in an area close to Carrington Island in Utah’s Great Salt Lake, ocurred when the No. 4 bearing assembly in the engine failed, causing a compressor stall. There was then inadequate thrust to sustain flight. The pilot ejected successfully, but the aircraft, assigned to the 388th Fighter Wing, Hill AFB, Utah, was destroyed on impact.
- As part of an effort to provide services more effectively, Air Force officials plan to move 170 civilian personnel from various locations to the Air Force Personnel Center at Randolph AFB, Tex., the service announced in August. Of the positions to move, 135 will come from Air Force Materiel Command’s four interim personnel centers—at Hill AFB, Utah, Robins AFB, Ga., Tinker AFB, Okla., and Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. Bolling AFB, D.C., will also realign some positions. The shift will centralize a number of functions; it will be accomplished by Fiscal 2011.
- The north runway at Ramstein AB, Germany, is undergoing a $20 million, three-phase construction plan that will extend the airstrip 1,000 feet to allow heavier air transports to take off at maximum payload. The construction began in April and should be complete by Jan. 1, 2007, a Ramstein project official said. When complete, the runway will stretch nearly 10,000 feet and will be used by the 86th Airlift Wing and the 723rd Air Mobility Squadron.