Aerospace World

Nov. 1, 2004

Tanker Lease Is Dead

Congress has stopped the Air Force plan to lease aerial refueling aircraft, shifting USAF to an all-procurement strategy. However, the way ahead on new tankers was not made immediately clear.

The 2005 Defense Authorization Bill, which cleared the House-Senate conference on Oct. 7, bars the Air Force from leasing any specially modified aircraft for the aerial refueling mission and authorizes the service to procure up to 100 new aircraft. The conferees provided nearly $100 million to get the ball rolling.

Lawmakers were at odds over what the bill actually specifies.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the chief Capitol Hill critic of the tanker lease, said on the Senate floor that the bill forces the Air Force to “start from the beginning” and requires USAF to compete the tanker replacement program. Sen. John Warner (R-Va.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, agreed with that view.

However, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, and other House members do not agree with the McCain characterization of the bill. They maintain that Boeing would build the airplanes. Hunter said on the House floor that “a provision requiring bringing in outside competitors … was stricken” from the bill.

The bill did specifically bar the Air Force from awarding Boeing a sole-source $6 billion contract to support the aircraft, as the service originally had planned to do. It also said that any further moves on tanker replacement must await the completion of several studies being conducted to determine the true condition of the Air Force’s KC-135 fleet—specifically whether some elements are too badly fatigued and corroded to economically repair and operate.

Air Force Grounds 29 KC-135Es

Gen. John W. Handy, commander of Air Mobility Command, pulled 29 older KC-135Es from the flying schedule, the service announced Sept. 16. The decision came after USAF’s Fleet Viability Board identified engine strut problems.

Air Force Secretary James G. Roche in June instructed the board to conduct an independent, in-depth analysis of the portion of the KC-135 fleet that Air Force Materiel Command’s Oklahoma Air Logistics Center tagged as having excessive corrosion in the struts—the section holding the engine on the airplane. The ALC found 30 suspect KC-135E tankers.

The board evaluated those 30 aircraft over a two-month period.

Handy was briefed on its draft recommendations on Sept. 13. He grounded the problematic aircraft while the results are evaluated further.

Up to $2 Billion for Guam …

Defense officials say the Air Force may spend up to $2 billion over the next decade to improve the military capabilities at Andersen Air Force Base on the Pacific island of Guam.

Col. Steve Wolborsky, vice commander of the 36th Air Expeditionary Wing at Andersen, said in a Sept. 20 news release that the Air Force anticipates investing up to $2 billion in the base over the next five to 10 years. Wolborsky said this reflects Andersen’s role as “the most significant US Air Force base in the Pacific region for this century.”

Top officials at Pacific Air Forces have been touting Guam’s potential for years. The island is strategically located near potential hotspots in the Pacific and is US territory—which eliminates access concerns and possible flight restrictions that can arise in foreign countries.

Col. P.K. White, 36th AEW commander, said that Andersen’s 7.5 million square feet of ramp space provide “a lot of room” for airplanes. “There’s a ton of room here to put a lot of new infrastructure,” he said.

… For an ISR-Strike Task Force

Gen. Paul V. Hester, Pacific Air Forces commander, told attendees at the Air Force Association’s Air & Space Conference in September that the command wants to establish an ISR-Strike Task Force on Guam.

PACAF officials have said the island is a logical host for long-range systems that are unhindered by the vast distances that must be covered in the Pacific Theater.

Bombers are now deploying to Guam in regular air and space expeditionary force rotations, and many of USAF’s intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance systems also offer long-range capability.

“We are looking for a potential ISR-Strike Task Force out in Guam,” Hester said Sept. 14. “We look forward to trying to develop some of those plans … through the next four or five years out in the Pacific.”

Hester told reporters after his presentation that the funding needed to begin creating the ISR-Strike Task Force could appear as soon as the service’s 2006 budget request. That budget will be sent to lawmakers early next year.

F/A-22 Successfully Drops JDAM

An F/A-22 Raptor on Sept. 12 dropped a satellite-guided Joint Direct Attack Munition, successfully striking its ground target. In the test, the F/A-22 flew at 30,000 feet and dropped a 1,000-pound JDAM.

The developmental test at Edwards AFB, Calif., “marked the first complete mission demonstration of the Raptor’s air-to-ground attack capability,” the Air Force stated in a Sept. 14 news release.

In September 2002, the F-22 was redesignated F/A-22, with the “A” added to reflect the aircraft’s ground attack capabilities.

“The F/A-22 will be able to conduct both air-to-air and air-to-ground attacks when it reaches initial operational capability, currently planned for December 2005,” said Maj. Gen. Richard B.H. Lewis, program executive officer for the Raptor program.

Airman Dies in Qatar

Capt. John J. Boria, a KC-135 pilot, died Sept. 6 while deployed to Doha, Qatar. He died several days after crashing a rented recreational vehicle on Aug. 31, while off duty. Because of his deployed status, the Pentagon says Boria died while supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Boria, from Broken Arrow, Okla., was permanently assigned to the 911th Air Refueling Squadron at Grand Forks AFB, N.D.

Jumper Says No Forced Cuts

Speaking to airmen at Ramstein AB, Germany, in late August, Gen. John P. Jumper, Air Force Chief of Staff, emphasized that USAF leaders plan to cut the force to its Congressionally mandated end strength level without “any forced reductions.” The service must drop 20,000 airmen from its books by the end of Fiscal 2005.

Jumper said that the previously announced reduction in enlisted accessions—from 34,000 new recruits to 24,000—for Fiscal 2005 should get the service “back to the numbers” it is authorized.

However, he added, “We’ve never tried this before.”

Jumper went on to say that recruiting and retention have “remained superb” despite fears that airmen would leave once Stop-Loss actions were lifted. “I don’t want anybody to be forced to leave,” said the Chief, adding that reducing recruiting is “the right thing to do.”

The Air Force also plans to restrict the career field options for its new recruits. Currently, officials say “about half” of the 2005 enlistments will be in one of 56 Air Force specialty codes “identified as critical by manpower specialists.”

For 2006, service officials expect enlisted accessions to return to normal levels, about 36,000.

US May Sell F-16s to Pakistan

Fourteen years ago, the US canceled a sale of F-16 fighters to Pakistan in response to that country’s pursuit of nuclear weapons. Now, the two nations are again discussing an F-16 purchase.

“This is not a rumor; it is a statement by the American government,” said Air Chief Marshal Kaleem Saadat, Pakistan’s air force chief, at a defense exhibition in Karachi.

Because of Pakistan’s cooperation in the US-led war on terror, “there is a change in [Western countries’] attitude,” Saadat told reporters. “They have indicated that they are ready to give us F-16s,” he said, adding that negotiations had been paused because of the US election in November.

Pakistani public opinion remains biased against the US because Pakistanis “think the Americans want to keep them weak,” Saadat said. He has urged the US to work to change this perception.

Pakistan purchased 40 Lockheed Martin F-16s in the 1980s, but a follow-on order was canceled in 1990 after sanctions were imposed on the country for its clandestine nuclear weapons program. By that time, 28 fighters had already been paid for and built, and it took a decade for Pakistan to get its money back. Those 28 Falcons were later reconditioned and delivered to the US Air Force and Navy for test and training purposes.

Luftwaffe To Cut Holloman Force

The German Air Force will scale back its training force at Holloman AFB, N.M., the Luftwaffe’s Chief of Staff said during a visit to the base.

“The Luftwaffe is getting smaller” and will reduce its numbers of aircraft and fighter wings, said Lt. Gen. Klaus-Peter Stieglitz, the Alamogordo Daily News reported. “So we will see a decrease in terms of number of aircraft and numbers of personnel here at Holloman.”

The reduction will be in the neighborhood of 20 to 25 percent, meaning roughly 175 German airmen will be departing New Mexico. The Luftwaffe currently maintains a force of approximately 750 German airmen at the base, with an additional 1,500 family members accompanying them.

Stieglitz added that Germany will “stay here at Holloman because we will continue the training with the Tornados. That is the mainstay here.”

The German Air Force moved its Tornado fighter training to Holloman in 1996 to compensate for a shortage of airspace for training in Europe.

Bush Nominates Harvey for Army

President Bush on Sept. 15 nominated industry executive Francis J. Harvey to be the next Army Secretary. The Senate Armed Services Committee on Oct. 11 sent the nomination to the full Senate. If confirmed, Harvey would succeed Thomas E. White, who resigned in April 2003 after repeated disagreements with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.

Air Force Secretary James G. Roche was the Administration’s previous pick for Army Secretary. Roche asked that his name be removed from consideration earlier this year, after his nomination languished in the Senate amid ongoing controversies about the Boeing tanker lease and sexual assault complaints at the US Air Force Academy. (See “Aerospace World: Roche Withdraws Name,” April, p. 13.)

Harvey is vice chairman of Maryland-based Duratek, Inc., and had earlier served as head of defense and electronics systems for Westinghouse Electric Corp.

New Command Covers Capital

The Defense Department on Sept. 22 formally activated its new joint headquarters charged with coordinating homeland defense efforts around the national capital. It is located at Ft. McNair in Washington, D.C.

The Joint Force Headquarters-National Capital Region unifies all DOD elements engaged in homeland defense efforts, plus the Coast Guard. The new command is led by Army Maj. Gen. Galen B. Jackman, who reports to USAF Gen. Ralph E. Eberhart, head of US Northern Command.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld ordered creation of the new joint headquarters in June 2003. It was initially formed in October 2003 and began developing a joint operations center, which formally opened in August. The JOC has more than 50 workstations with networked links to federal agencies and area law enforcement and civilian agencies. It is also integrated with NORTHCOM’s secure communications system. In addition to the JOC, the JFH-NCR has a 41-foot-long mobile command center and a smaller communications vehicle.

According to Jackman, the new command has been activated six times during the past year for activities ranging from cleanup after Hurricane Isabel to the February ricin incident on Capitol Hill.

The JFH-NCR’s primary role is to “work with all jurisdictions to form plans in the event of attacks and will support national-level ceremonies,” according to a DOD news release.

The command’s Air Force elements are the 11th Wing at Bolling AFB, D.C., and the 89th Airlift Wing at Andrews AFB, Md. Other components are the Army Military District of Washington; the Naval District of Washington; and the Marine Corps National Capital Region Command.

Airman Heads Prevention Effort

Air Force Brig. Gen. K.C. McClain in September was named commander of the Defense Department’s Joint Task Force for Sexual Assault Prevention and Response. McClain will be the “single point of accountability for all sexual assault policy within the Department of Defense,” stated a Sept. 9 news release.

McClain’s task force will report to David S.C. Chu, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness. It will advise the Secretary of Defense on all policy and program development, budget, and program oversight matters relating to sexual assault prevention and response.

McClain previously served as deputy director of operations for technical training at Air Education and Training Command, Randolph AFB, Tex. In that capacity, she led AETC’s sexual assault awareness review, surveying 13 AETC bases.

NATO Renames Air Headquarters

As part of the NATO military structure reorganization, the alliance recently renamed two air headquarters: Gone are AIRNORTH and AIRSOUTH, and in their place are Air Component Command Ramstein and Air Component Command Izmir.

The air component headquarters remain at Ramstein AB, Germany, and Izmir AS, Turkey. The name changes simply reflect the new NATO reality that it no longer makes sense to arbitrarily divide Europe into a North and South for control of air forces.

“It’s part of a wider command structure [and] NATO rearrangement,” explained RAF Air Marshal Philip Sturley, chief of staff for CC-Air Ramstein. “From the airman’s point of view, there are no boundaries in the air, so for us to be North or South is meaningless.”

Each headquarters can “cover something happening anywhere in the NATO area,” Sturley added, so the alliance discarded the Cold War division in favor of “a more collective way to approaching NATO problems.”

CC-Air Ramstein aligns with Joint Force Command in Brunssum, Netherlands, one of the two new standing commands responsible for conducting NATO operations. CC-Air Izmir falls under the Joint Force Command at Naples, Italy.

New Deal for ICBM Maintenance

The Ogden Air Logistics Center at Hill AFB, Utah, and contractor Northrop Grumman recently signed a partnership agreement for ICBM maintenance work. Air Force and contractor personnel will work side by side at each other’s facilities as a solution to a “facility shortfall,” said Christina Hernandez of the Ogden ALC.

The $176 million arrangement is to help overhaul the Air Force’s 586 Minuteman III propulsion system rocket engines to keep them operational through the year 2020, according to a Sept. 9 Air Force news release.

Work will be performed both at the depot and at Northrop Grumman facilities. Officials said an additional benefit of the agreement is that it will combine the maintenance experience resident at Hill with Northrop’s advanced technology, manufacturing processes, and materials.

Academy Unveils New Slogan

The Air Force in late September installed a new slogan—“Integrity First. Service Before Self. Excellence in All We Do.”—at an Air Force Academy entranceway. It replaces the “Bring Me Men” slogan that was removed 20 months ago.

The previous statement was pulled in March 2003, at the height of the sexual assault scandal at the academy. It came down shortly after the Air Force Secretary and Chief of Staff ordered sweeping changes at the academy, in response to complaints of institutional problems that made the academy’s atmosphere hostile to female cadets.

The new slogan was approved by Lt. Gen. John W. Rosa Jr., academy superintendent. It was the winner from among more than 1,500 suggestions sent to the academy’s Association of Graduates.


Retired Brig. Gen. Frank K. “Pete” Everest Jr., record-setting USAF test pilot, died Oct. 1 in Tucson, Ariz., at the age of 84. He was born in Fairmont, W.Va., and entered Army Air Forces pilot training in November 1941. He flew a total of 161 combat missions in the Mediterranean and China-Burma-India Theaters.

Following the war, Everest became a test pilot, flying the Bell X-1, X-2, X-3, X-4, X-5, XF-92, and YB-52, as well as the 100-series fighters. In 1953, he set a world speed record of 755.149 mph in a YF-100. He also set an unofficial speed record of 1,957 mph in the X-2 rocket plane. In his later career, he served in various command positions, retiring as commander of Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Service in 1973.

Retired Col. L. Gordon Cooper Jr., one of the original seven Mercury astronauts, died Oct. 4 at his home in Ventura, Calif. He was 77.

Cooper was born in 1927 in Shawnee, Okla. His initial Air Force assignment was flying F-84s and F-86s in Germany. In 1957, he became an aeronautical engineer and test pilot at Edwards AFB, Calif., where he logged more than 7,000 hours of flying time. In 1959, he was selected for the astronaut program. Over the years, he piloted several spacecraft, logging 222 hours in space, and became the first man to make a second orbital flight. He also set a space endurance record with Charles Conrad Jr. on the eight-day, 120-revolution Gemini 5 mission in 1965. Cooper retired from the Air Force and NASA in 1970 and pursued a career in business.

Last Active Duty Starlifters Retire

The last two C-141 Starlifters in active duty use were retired Sept. 16. They belonged to the 305th Air Mobility Wing at McGuire AFB, N.J. Following a first flight on Dec. 17, 1963, the C-141 served as an operational Air Force strategic airlifter for nearly 40 years.

Air Mobility Command chief Gen. John W. Handy, in an official news release, described the C-141 as the “backbone of the mobility fleet for decades.”

Starlifters performed a number of noteworthy missions over the years, including:

  • Flying the first direct aeromedical evacuation service from Vietnam to the United States in July 1966.
  • Landing in Hanoi to pick up Vietnam War prisoners of war for Operation Homecoming in February 1973.
  • Performing “the bulk of strategic airlift” for Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm in 1990 and 1991.
  • Flying more than 3,900 aeromedical evacuation sorties supporting Opera tions Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.

    The C-141 was the first jet aircraft designed solely as a troop and cargo carrier. Contractor Lockheed Martin said that a total of 285 Starlifters were built between 1963 and 1968. Beginning in 1977, nearly all were “stretched” to the C-141B configuration to increase carrying capacity.

    The 20 remaining C-141Cs, with upgraded avionics, are being flown by Air Force Reserve Command units at March ARB, Calif., and Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. They will remain in AFRC use through 2006.

  • Ivan Forces Major Evacuations

    The threat from Hurricane Ivan in September caused the Air Force to evacuate nearly 300 aircraft from nine military installations near the Gulf of Mexico.

    On Sept. 15, the service announced it had relocated the aircraft normally based at Duke Field, Eglin Air Force Base, Hurlburt Field, and Tyndall Air Force Base, all in Florida. Evacuations were also made from Ft. Rucker and Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama, Keesler AFB, Miss., Moody AFB, Ga., and NAS JRB New Orleans.

    The aircraft were sent to a variety of host bases out of Ivan’s path. For example, more than 30 special operations forces aircraft were pulled from Hurlburt for safekeeping at Ft. Campbell, Ky. They returned on Sept. 19, officials said.

    In the immediate aftermath of Ivan, Duke Field became a focal point for the disaster recovery effort. The Federal Emergency Management Agency used Duke Field as a logistical staging area, a storage point for food, ice, water, and other commodities before they were shipped to various distribution points in the area, a Sept. 22 announcement read.

    The field’s flight line housed “hundreds of tractor-trailers filled with supplies ranging from baby food to bug spray,” the release stated.

    Recovery required a cleanup effort. It was up to the 203rd RED HORSE Squadron, a Virginia Air National Guard unit, to return the Pensacola Regional Airport to usable condition. (The squadron had deployed from Virginia Beach to help with Hurricane Frances recovery efforts and stayed in Florida when Ivan approached.)

    Lt. Col. Paul Julian said of the need to clear the runway and repair damage, “This is what we do in a wartime scenario.”

    Rand Proposes Test of “Up or Out” Alternatives

    Citing criticism that the Pentagon’s “up or out” promotion policy fails to make the best use of its officers, the federally funded think tank Rand recently proposed a study of alternatives. Rand analysts believe a “perform or out” policy might better serve DOD.

    Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld “has expressed concern that current promotion policies risk driving experienced people to leave the military too early,” Rand reported in the study, “New Paths to Success: Determining Career Alternatives for Field-Grade Officers.” The report was prepared for the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

    In studying the Air Force, Rand found that there are several career fields (pilot, developmental engineer, manpower, scientist, and public affairs) that are significantly below their ideal staffing levels for majors and lieutenant colonels.

    Following the policy set in 1947, field grade officers who are passed over for promotion twice are discharged or permitted to retire, as the situation warrants. If the system were changed to a perform or out approach, the Rand analysts believe, those highly experienced individuals who continue to perform but are passed over for promotion could stay to serve full careers, helping alleviate manpower shortfalls.

    Since its inception, critics of the current system have called it “wasteful and illogical for the technical services,” stated the Rand report. The 2001 US Commission on National Security/21st Century said the system did “not fit contemporary realities.”

    Rand proposes a controlled field experiment for the Air Force to allow a “small number” of majors and lieutenant colonels to remain in service. This could help meet pilot community requirements, where the “effective manning” rate for lieutenant colonels is as low as 35 percent.

    Essentially, there would be two alternative career paths. One would move individuals toward command, with its requirement for increasing rank and a broader experience base. The other would develop “deep functional expertise,” stated the report.

    This approach could benefit pilots in both staff assignments and flying billets. There are desk-job assignments that require rated officers. “If the Air Force could lengthen the amount of time a rated officer cycled through one of those billets, it would free flying time for other officers,” said the report.

    The report noted that Gen. John P. Jumper, Air Force Chief of Staff, has said USAF “will make sure that qualified people who do not pursue the command path will not be denied advanced professional development and a rewarding career to retirement.”

    Martin Withdraws Nomination for US Pacific Command Post

    Air Force Gen. Gregory S. Martin formally withdrew his name from nomination to be the commander of US Pacific Command following an acrimonious Oct. 6 Senate Armed Services Committee confirmation hearing. Martin, the commander of Air Force Materiel Command, will remain at that post.

    During the hearing, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) promised to delay Martin’s confirmation indefinitely, pending more investigations and hearings about the Air Force’s controversial plan to lease Boeing KC-767 aerial refueling aircraft. McCain was also angry that some internal Air Force e-mails which he had long demanded, regarding the lease deal, had not yet been provided.

    “I will strongly object to your nomination leaving this committee until we get all the e-mails and all the answers,” McCain said after a heated exchange with Martin over whether some KC-135E tankers are actually so badly corroded that they require replacement.

    Martin said the next day that he believed it to be “in the best interests of the Pacific Command and Air Force Materiel Command for me to withdraw my nomination, even though I have not been involved with the KC-767 tanker program.” He said he expected further investigation would take months, leaving both PACOM and AFMC in limbo as to their leadership.

    McCain became especially upset during the questioning when Martin insisted he had not witnessed any wrongdoing on the part of Darleen A. Druyun, the disgraced former USAF acquisition official. (See “Washington Watch: Druyun’s Downfall,” p. 10.) Martin worked with Druyun as a three-star general in acquisition at the Pentagon in 1998-99.

    Five days before the hearing, Druyun, formerly the No. 2 civilian acquisition official in the Air Force, received a nine-month federal prison term after she confessed to showing favoritism to Boeing in multibillion-dollar contracts, including the tanker lease.

    Martin said he couldn’t vouch for the veracity of Druyun’s remarks in her plea statement, to which McCain replied, “I’m questioning your qualifications for command.”

    Martin himself has not been implicated in any wrongdoing pertaining to the tanker lease or other contracts affected by Druyun’s actions.

    Air Force Secretary James G. Roche and Chief of Staff Gen. John P. Jumper, in a joint statement, said they were “saddened by General Martin’s decision to withdraw his name from the nomination process but fully understand his reasons.” The statement continued, “We have full faith and trust in his ability to continue in his command of our outstanding men and women in the Air Force Materiel Command, where his command performance has been superb.”

    In an interview with Air Force Magazine, Martin said he understood McCain’s desire to hold the nomination up, pending further scrutiny of the e-mails in question. They had only reached McCain shortly before the hearing. Withdrawing from the nomination was the only reasonable thing to do, Martin said, because no matter how fast the documents were provided, “it was pretty clear the process was going to be bogged down for quite some time.”

    McCain previously had delayed for a year Roche’s nomination to be Secretary of the Army over the tanker issue and a brewing sexual assault scandal at the Air Force Academy. Roche, too, withdrew his nomination when it became clear it would not be resolved on a predictable timetable.

    Martin said that he had no indication that his nomination was headed for a holding pattern until just a few minutes before the hearing. He had met with members of McCain’s staff in early September to discuss some e-mails about which they had questions, and Martin came away feeling that the Senate staffers were “satisfied” with his answers. He said he tried to contact, but had been unable to reach, McCain’s staff in the weeks after that initial meeting to answer subsequent questions.

    For the official Senate hearing transcript, Martin inserted a revision to his remarks, explaining that he did not question Druyun’s guilt, but that he could not understand how she could have duped the Pentagon’s acquisition community. He acknowledged that his initial response was not clear.

    Martin maintained that Druyun’s actions need to be considered within the “full context” of the acquisition-review process as it exists today. It had not yet been fully explained, he said, whether Druyun falsified source selection documents, or gave Boeing inside information that allowed the company to make a better bid, or rigged the contract awards in some other way.

    “The admissions that were made were unexplainable to me,” he told Air Force Magazine.

    Martin said that he worked with Druyun for 18 months and he would have noticed if she had done something wrong.

    Martin noted, though, that Druyun had held her position through a period of prolonged and pronounced change in the acquisition process.

    “She became the corporate knowledge,” he said in the interview. “She became the person that everyone depended on and trusted,” not only within the Air Force but within other services as well.

    As a result, Martin said, the system became “responsive to that individual’s direction.” He added: “If that individual happens to be a criminal, then we’re going to have some problems. And apparently, that’s what happened here.”

    Martin said the Air Force must now be as “aggressive and positive” as it can be in providing information that Congress has requested on the tanker issue. The goal should be to get the review completed “as fast as possible.”

    Air Force leaders, he said, must be “as supportive and as helpful to Senator McCain’s review as we can be.”

    While Martin will continue to serve as AFMC commander, Adm. Thomas B. Fargo, the current PACOM chief, will continue in that post until another nominee can be selected and confirmed.

    Gen. Bruce A. Carlson, now head of 8th Air Force, had been confirmed by the Senate to succeed Martin at AFMC. At press time, it had not been decided where he will now be assigned. Maj. Gen. Kevin P. Chilton had been nominated, but not yet confirmed, for promotion to lieutenant general and to be 8th Air Force commander.

    —John A. Tirpak

    C-130 Designer Hawkins Dies

    The lead designer for the C-130 Hercules airlifter, Willis M. Hawkins, died at his home in Woodland Hills, Calif., on Sept. 28. He was 90.

    Hawkins, who was born in Kansas City, Mo., worked as an aerospace engineer and designer with Lockheed Martin’s legacy companies for nearly 50 years. During that time, he worked in various capacities on numerous aircraft, including the P-38 Lightning, P-80 Shooting Star, and F-104 Starfighter.

    He began work at Lockheed Aircraft Corp. in 1937. His first projects as a structural component designer were the P-38, Hudson bomber, and Lodestar transport. He then headed the design teams for the P-80, XF-90 experimental fighter, XFV vertical takeoff and landing prototype, F-104, and Constellation transport-airliner. In 1947, he led the X-7 ramjet test vehicle development team. Later, he directed the X-17 re-entry test vehicle program, pioneered analytical antisubmarine warfare studies, led development of the Polaris—the Navy’s first sea-launched ballistic missile—and headed the Corona reconnaissance satellite program.

    Hawkins started the Lockheed Missiles and Space Co., serving as its president. In 1963, he left Lockheed briefly to serve as assistant secretary of the Army, where he started development of what would become the Abrams M1 battle tank.

    He retired from Lockheed in the early 1980s but was often recalled to work as a consultant, including work on the latest in the Hercules line, the C-130J.

    Officials Break Ground for Soaring Air Force Memorial

    Active duty and retired USAF officials, key lawmakers, and Air Force Association leaders gathered in the rain in Arlington, Va., on Sept. 15 for the groundbreaking and site dedication of the Air Force Memorial. The Air Force is currently the only branch of the armed forces without a memorial in the national capital area.

    The memorial will feature three stainless steel spires, the tallest of which is to stand 270 feet high. Expected to be completed in 2006, the 27-story monument will instantly become a prominent part of the Washington area skyline. It will be visible from the National Mall.

    The groundbreaking came 13 years after Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) wrote the legislation that began the process of building the memorial. Early plans called for a different memorial design to be located near the Marine Corps’ Iwo Jima memorial. Those opposed to that location felt the Air Force’s proposed site infringed upon the Marine Corps memorial.

    After a protracted dispute, Congress offered the Air Force Memorial Foundation the option of placing the memorial on the grounds of the to-be-demolished Navy Annex, adjacent to Arlington National Cemetery and overlooking the Pentagon. That option had been considered initially but discarded because its availability was uncertain since the federal office buildings located there were still in use by DOD.

    Stevens said, “It’s been a long process, but we never doubted we’d achieve this goal.”

    Also speaking at the event, Air Force Secretary James G. Roche said, “Human beings need symbols,” and “the beauty of this structure will be like that of all good art: It will mean different things to different people.”

    The Iraq Story Continues


    By Sept. 29, a total of 1,053 Americans had died during Operation Iraqi Freedom. The fatalities included 1,050 troops and three Defense Department civilians.

    Of those casualties, 800 Americans were killed by enemy action, including the three DOD civilians. The other 253 troops died in noncombat incidents, such as accidents.

    Fallujah Brigade Disbanded

    With officials calling the Iraqi-led Fallujah Brigade a “fiasco,” the force that was supposed to bring order to the violent city in the Sunni Triangle was disbanded in September.

    “The Fallujah Brigade is done. Over,” said Marine Col. Jerry L. Durrant.

    The brigade was created in April, three days after US marines began an assault on the city to put down an Iraqi insurgency that seemed to originate there. It was hoped the Fallujah Brigade would quell the insurgency and forestall a bloody US-led assault on the city. Unfortunately, the brigade proved, at best, ineffective and, at worst, a supporter of the terrorists.

    Fallujah became a magnet for insurgents and a safe haven for terrorists amid reports that US-equipped brigade members were actively supporting the attacks on Iraqi and coalition government forces.

    “We’re trying to go in and recover the stuff we gave them, but I’m not sure it’s worth it,” Durrant said.

    Air Strikes: Effective in Fallujah

    With US marines stationed outside Fallujah’s city limits and the city’s Iraqi-led brigade ineffective, the US increasingly turned to air strikes to target insurgents holed up in the rebellious city.

    Air Force Brig. Gen. Erwin F. Lessel III said continued air strikes in Fallujah prevented terrorist attacks elsewhere in Iraq. “We’re confident that, through these air strikes, we have been able to thwart many large-scale attacks and suicide bombings that were in the planning process,” said Lessel, deputy director of operations in Iraq, at a press briefing.

    The strikes have specifically targeted insurgents loyal to Iraqi strongman Musab al-Zarqawi. “We’ve gotten some of [Zarqawi’s] associates and emerging leadership in his organization,” Lessel said.

    News Notes

    By Tamar A. Mehuron, Associate Editor

    • USAF is bringing back the William Tell air-to-air competition after an eight-year absence, said an Oct. 8 news release. It is to be held Nov. 8-19 at Tyndall AFB, Fla. USAF shut down the competition because of the service’s high operations tempo, but the service now believes it will help foster an exchange of tactics that will aid the F-15 force in combat operations.
    • The Air Force plans to relocate the famous World War II B-17 Memphis Belle to the US Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio. The move, said an Oct. 4 news release, should take place before the end of the year. Belle resided in Memphis, Tenn., since 1946, originally on loan from USAF to volunteers and aviation enthusiasts. In the 1980s, the Memphis Belle Memorial Association became the leaseholder. The USAF museum plans further restoration and will make Belle the centerpiece of its World War II aircraft collection. “We will give it a level of care and public visibility befitting its legacy,” said Charles D. Metcalf, director of the USAF museum.
    • The Senate voted 77-17 on Sept. 22 to confirm Rep. Porter J. Goss (R-Fla.) to be the new director of the Central Intelligence Agency. He replaces George J. Tenet, who resigned this summer.
    • Concerns about a return of the military draft continue to swirl, despite claims to the contrary, according to two recent polls. President Bush and Congress have forcefully denied it, but the National Annenberg Election Survey showed that 51 percent of adults age 18 to 29 believe Bush wants to reinstate the draft. A survey by the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion revealed that more than a third of Americans believe a new draft is possible. An Annenberg analyst noted that older respondents were more likely than younger ones to know that neither Bush nor Democratic candidate Sen. John Kerry favors reinstating the draft.
    • The last Atlas IIAS rocket launched a National Reconnaissance Office satellite into orbit Aug. 31 from Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla., according to Florida Today. The launch concluded a perfect record for Lockheed’s Atlas II rockets, which completed 63 launches since 1991.
    • Air Force Reserve Command will transfer Operation Deep Freeze airlift missions to Antarctica to the active duty 62nd Airlift Wing at McChord AFB, Wash. The last AFRC C-141C mission to Antarctica will be in February 2005. AFRC adopted the mission in 2000 when McChord began replacing its C-141s with C-17s. McChord C-17s will handle the mission for the new airlift season, beginning in August 2005.
    • According to Textron, a B-1B during a mid-September test at Hill AFB, Utah, successfully dropped CBU-105 sensor fuzed weapons (SFWs), striking a moving tank target “multiple times.” It was the final test point for a weapons upgrade for the B-1B, said Maj. Chris Abramson, a weapons officer at Hill. The SFW did not carry a seeker; instead it was directed to the target by the bomber’s ground moving target tracking radar.
    • AFRC recruiters bested their recruiting goal for the fourth straight year. They signed up 9,636 recruits by Aug. 31, a month ahead of the Sept. 30 deadline. The command’s goal was 9,600 recruits.
    • Electronic Systems Command officials at Hanscom AFB, Mass., are testing Internet capability aboard a Joint STARS aircraft in an effort to provide an interim airborne networking capability until the arrival of the joint tactical radio system wideband network. The Internet capability was slated for demonstration in an October Red Flag exercise at Nellis AFB, Nev.
    • An Air Force accident investigation, released Aug. 31, concluded that loss of situational awareness by pilot Maj. Thomas R. Sims led to the May 17 collision of two Air National Guard F-16s in midair over Indiana. Maj. William E. Burchett was killed; Sims ejected safely. (See “Aerospace World: Pilot Killed in Midair Collision,” August, p. 12.) Sims was making a 180-degree left turn after performing a weapons check. During the check, he did not notice that Burchett, in the lead F-16, had changed airspeed and altitude. Both pilots were assigned to Indiana ANG’s 113th Fighter Squadron in Terre Haute.
    • USAF awarded a $9 billion, five-year contract to NCI Information Systems, Inc., Reston, Va., for a Network-Centric Solution Program. The contract calls for a huge array of engineering, technical, and network services for USAF, DOD, and other federal customers.
    • Northrop Grumman received a $1 billion contract from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, to build and flight-test three demonstration unmanned combat aircraft, one for the Air Force and two for the Navy, officials announced Aug. 19. The X-47B vehicles are slated for demonstration flights beginning in 2007.
    • DARPA took over the X-37 program in September from NASA after the space agency decided not to pursue reusable launch technology. The X-37 is a reusable launch vehicle technology demonstrator.
    • The United States, Russia, and Germany are the top leaders in the global arms market, according to the annual Congressional Research Service report “Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations,” released in August. The US led with agreements valued at more than $14.5 billion in 2003, or 56.7 percent of all arms deals, principally to developing nations.
    • Boeing received an $892 million contract in August for C-17 sustainment. Work is to be completed by September 2005.
    • An F-15 Eagle crashed on St. George Island, Fla., May 21 because the pilot accidentally ejected, Air Force investigators concluded in an accident report released in September. The pilot, Lt. Col. Patrick Marshall, 1st Fighter Squadron, Tyndall AFB, Fla., ejected safely. He was on an air combat training flight when an air-regulating valve separated from his torso harness and got stuck in the ejection seat handle. As he turned his head to check his position and pulled the control stick toward him, the movement created enough tension on the detached valve to raise the ejection seat handle, causing him to eject. The aircraft loss was valued at $36.5 million.
    • BAE Systems received a $174 million contract to upgrade electrical components of F-16s. Work is scheduled to be completed by August 2009.
    • The Missile Defense Agency on Sept. 25 placed its fifth interceptor missile in an underground silo at Ft. Greely, Alaska. One more was scheduled to be installed at Ft. Greely by mid-October, and two interceptors are scheduled for emplacement at Vandenberg AFB, Calif., late this year. All interceptors are part of an integrated system to detect, track, and destroy an incoming missile warhead before it reaches a target in the United States. Despite naysayers, officials still predict the system will be operational by year’s end.