NATO Moves To Buy C-17s
NATO wants to buy three or four C-17s for strategic airlift needs, the alliance announced in September.
In a letter of intent released Sept. 12, 13 allied nations agreed to jointly buy and fly the transports, which would be based at Ramstein AB, Germany. The aircraft would be flown and maintained by NATO crews in an arrangement similar to that for NATO’s E-3 AWACS aircraft.
An alliance statement emphasized that NATO has an “urgent operational need” for strategic airlift to support operations such as the one in Afghanistan. It wants to have the first aircraft on the ramp by the middle of next year and have all its C-17s in service in 2009.
The aircraft would be used chiefly for NATO operations, but could also provide airlift “exclusively of a national character” or for United Nations, European Union, or other international purposes such as humanitarian or disaster relief.
The aircraft will be configured in the same way as those flown by the US Air Force and British Royal Air Force.
Boeing Gets Reprieve for C-17
In September, Boeing’s C-17 transport got a last-minute reprieve from Congressional conferees, who added $2.1 billion to the defense appropriations bill to buy a total of 10 more of the strategic cargo airplanes.
The funding will extend production past the planned mid-2009 shutdown date previously cited by Boeing officials in August. At that time, the company ordered suppliers to start winding down work on long-lead parts for the aircraft, as it had not logged enough new orders to keep the line running.
The Congressional add is seven more Globemasters than either the House or the Senate had previously approved, and the request will bring the Air Force inventory to 191, according to a statement released Sept. 21 by Sen. Jim Talent (R-Mo.).
Talent, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said that, coupled with foreign sales, the total production run of the C-17 will stand at 205 airframes.
Jim Albaugh, president and CEO of Boeing’s defense operations, was also quoted in Talent’s statement—stating the funds would extend the production of the airlifter, but he did not say how long.
Apart from the NATO move to buy at least three C-17s, and possibly more, other nations, including Sweden, have also expressed interest, but could not finance the aircraft in time to meet Boeing’s end date. The extension will open the door to more C-17 orders.
The decision follows an intense lobbying campaign by Boeing officials, as well as Congressional delegations from California, Georgia, and Missouri. The C-17 is assembled in Long Beach, Calif., where it employs about 5,500 people.
US Scores Missile Intercept
After 20 months of test and preparation, the Missile Defense Agency’s Ground-Based Midcourse Defense system on Sept. 1 scored a direct hit on a target missile in flight.
Prime contractor Boeing said the hit was not on its list of primary test objectives, but it happened. The testers, airmen from the 30th Space Wing and the Missile Defense Agency, accomplished the first launch of an operationally configured interceptor and the first tracking of a ballistic missile based on data gathered by a new warning radar and transmitted to the interceptor.
The interceptor was launched from Vandenberg AFB, Calif., and struck a target missile launched from Kodiak Launch Complex in Alaska.
Seventeen minutes after the Kodiak target lifted off, operators at Vandenberg launched the interceptor, which released its exoatmospheric kill vehicle. The kill vehicle tracked and, although not part of the test objective, intercepted the dummy warhead.
Plans call for a more comprehensive test of the system and a planned intercept in December.
Report Released on Airman’s Death
The Air Force has deemed the May 4 death of an airman from Luke AFB, Ariz., to be an accident.
According to an official report released Sept. 6, SrA. Abby J. Bilbrey was killed when the vehicle she had been driving rolled off a cliff and fell nearly 400 feet. Bilbrey was an airfield systems journeyman assigned to the 56th Communications Squadron at Luke.
Bilbrey was driving another airman up a mountain to repair a communication system when they decided to switch places. Bilbrey stopped and put the four-wheel drive vehicle into park. As the other airman got out and Bilbrey slid over to the passenger seat, the vehicle slipped into neutral.
The truck rolled off the edge of the steep road before the other airman could gain entry to the driver’s seat. Bilbrey was ejected from the vehicle and died of her injuries.
US Bids Farewell to Iceland
The US military facility in Iceland, NAS Keflavik, closed its doors and was officially disestablished Sept. 8 at a ceremony in the NATO nation.
The closure marked the end of a transition period, announced by the US in March, during which all US forces redeployed. The Pentagon had decided that forces in Iceland were needed elsewhere. US forces maintained a presence on the island nation for more than 50 years. Iceland has no military forces of its own. (See “Presence, Not Permanence,” August, p. 34.)
The 56th Rescue Squadron and 56th Aircraft Maintenance Unit relocated to RAF Lakenheath, Britain, in June, and approximately 200 airmen and their families are expected to be assigned to the two units over the next year.
ACC To Lose 12,600 Spaces
Air Combat Command’s share of a planned six-year, 40,000-person force reduction will be 12,600 billets, reports ACC’s commander, Gen. Ronald E. Keys.
The cuts—covering both uniformed and civilian billets—will be administered by October 2007.
Keys said at AFA’s Air & Space Conference in September that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq cost ACC about $200 million per month. That money, he said, isn’t in his budget.
The Air Force confirmed that it would compress the schedule for the force reduction, setting the final round of cuts for Fiscal 2009, or two years earlier than planned.
A $12 billion reduction in budgets over the next six years forced the service to move more quickly. It hopes to reap great savings by squeezing the personnel account, which is USAF’s biggest expense. (See “Washington Watch: Wynne, Place, or Show,” p. 10.)
F-35 Concludes Wind Tunnel Tests
USAF has wrapped up aerodynamic testing on two F-35 variants, said officials at Arnold Engineering Development Center, Arnold AFB, Tenn. The testing comprised more than 8,000 hours of wind tunnel evaluations.
Testers gather high-speed force and momentum data for the conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) and short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) variants of the F-35.
The data will be used in computer analysis of performance and flight control before the flight-testing phase of the program begins.
USAF Scraps the Firefly
The Air Force announced in September that it will scrap its entire fleet of 110 T-3A prop-driven Firefly training aircraft, which have been in storage since 1997.
The fleet was grounded following a series of fatal crashes involving midair engine stalling. The service determined that it would be too costly to repair the airplanes and change them into a safe configuration.
Three Air Force Academy cadets and three instructors were killed in Firefly crashes.
The Air Force used the Firefly for initial flight screening of pilot candidates, but it saw little actual service.
An Air Education and Training Command spokesman said the Air Force no longer has a mission for the aircraft, now that initial flight screening duties have been contracted to Doss Aviation of Colorado Springs, Colo.
The Air Force purchased the trainers for $32 million and spent $10 million trying to make them airworthy in recent years.
The aircraft first saw service in 1993, but soon ran into trouble.
The Firefly was manufactured by Slingsby Aviation of Britain. The choice of a non-US supplier was controversial at the time.
South Korea Presses for UAVs
South Korea wants to buy four Global Hawk surveillance unmanned aerial vehicles to keep watch on North Korea, but Washington is balking at the sale.
The United States says it is concerned about the compromise of sensitive technology.
A South Korean government official in September said that Seoul planned to make an informal request for the aircraft at the next round of Security Policy Initiative talks.
The pitch follows two others that proved unsuccessful. The first official bid came during a meeting of the US-South Korea Security Cooperation Committee in June 2005, but was later rejected without an official explanation. In August, South Korea tried again, submitting a written request to the Department of Defense that had not been answered by mid-September.
Defense Ministry officials have publicly stated that they believe technology leak concerns are what is holding up any progress on the deal.
The country is building up its aerial surveillance capabilities and is pushing forward a $2 billion project to purchase surveillance aircraft in addition to the requested Global Hawks.
Boeing Docked for GPS Problems
Cost overruns and delays on the Global Positioning System IIF satellites have prompted the Air Force to dock contractor Boeing $21.4 million in performance-based fees.
After a program review, the service determined that Boeing wasn’t entitled to any award fees on the GPS IIF program for the 12-month period ending this September.
The Air Force has stated that the overall price of the GPS IIF program, including development and production of satellites and ground facilities, has risen from $2 billion to $2.5 billion, a number that includes three more satellites than the initial cost projection planned.
A Boeing spokeswoman said the company had worked with the Air Force regarding the development problems and had restructured the program and replaced the management team.
C-17s Evacuate Wake Island
Just ahead of Typhoon Ioke, C-17s of the15th Airlift Wing and the Hawaii Air National Guard evacuated 188 people from Wake Island.
The operation in the US territory was staged by teams of active duty and Guard airmen on Aug. 28.
Evacuees included active duty airmen, Defense Department personnel, and Thai nationals working as contractors. The entire operation took less than one hour.
Wake is a scientific outpost and an air strip for aircraft crossing the Pacific Ocean. The runway is only 14 feet above sea level.
The storm made landfall on Aug. 31, packing winds up to 150 miles per hour.
There was less destruction than expected, and members of the 36th Contingency Response Group, Andersen AFB, Guam, were dispatched on a Navy ship to assess the state of the airfield and prep it for C-17s that followed with a larger team of airmen to begin reconstruction efforts.
Predator Cleared for US Airspace
Air Combat Command has gotten a green light from the Federal Aviation Administration to operate the MQ-1 Predator UAV in US domestic airspace.
ACC then designated four Predators as response aircraft for major disasters in the US.
Under the new agreement, the FAA and USAF will cooperatively designate airspace and altitudes at which the Predators can fly. Civilian traffic will be steered around the slow-moving drones.
The Air Force will operate the Predator from designated airports and develop a plan for getting the drones to airspace set aside for their flights.
After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Predator optical systems were used for observation, but they were mounted on tall buildings because the FAA had not yet cleared the unmanned aircraft for use in civilian airspace. The new deal will expand their effectiveness in monitoring key infrastructure and searching for survivors.
Those MQ-1s approved for disaster response are in storage at Creech AFB, Nev.
They can be loaded onto trucks, along with their van-like control unit, and dispatched quickly. In addition to providing a 24-hour coverage of an affected area, Predators can be in contact with rescue operators.
Taiwan’s Pursuit of F-16s Halted
Taiwanese defense officials have been thwarted in their quest to purchase advanced F-16C/D fighters, with the US officially blocking the deal in early October.
Taiwanese defense officials confirmed Oct. 3 that the deal has been declined by President George Bush and cite the country’s parliament for failing to appropriate funds for an earlier arms deal.
Taiwan was pressing for a deal to buy up to 66 of the fighters as recently as August, submitting a formal request to the US representative in Taipei despite US misgivings about the deal and Chinese lobbying to stop any sale.
Taiwan’s military has been working on obtaining the Block 50/52 F-16C and F-16D models for at least a year, a US official told Reuters. The new models would replace the indigenous F-5 Ching-kuo Defense Fighter and possibly the Mirage 2000s.
China’s foreign ministry has repeatedly urged Washington to not approve the deal.
Taiwan’s Defense Minister Lee Jye confirmed in September that domestic political bickering endangered a previous weapons deal with the US that involves the purchase of P-3 Orion aircraft, Patriot missile batteries, and several submarines—and could complicate efforts to purchase F-16s. The failure of the country’s legislature to allocate funds for the previous deal has soured the US on how seriously the country takes its own defense and has led to officials from the State Department and the National Security Council to recommend President Bush turn down any request for new F-16s.
Taiwan’s Air Force already has F-16A/B models and has trained its pilots at Luke AFB, Ariz., since 1997.
Charles Terhune Jr., 1916-2006
Retired Lt. Gen. Charles H. Terhune Jr., a former commander of the Air Force’s Electronic Systems Division and head of the service’s high-level technical planning study called Project Forecast, died at his home in La Canada, Calif., on Aug. 30, at the age of 90.
He was one of the original 10 men to receive the Air Force Space and Missile Pioneers award, given to those who made a significant contribution to early Air Force space programs.
He was one of the first five officers to work on Air Force ballistic missile programs such as the Thor, Titan, and Minuteman. After his retirement from the service, he continued to work in the aerospace sector as a civilian.
Robert McDermott, 1920-2006
Retired Brig. Gen. Robert F. McDermott, who made his mark as the “father” of the Air Force Academy and chairman and CEO of USAA, died Aug. 17 in San Antonio at the age of 86.
McDermott was named by President Eisenhower as the school’s first dean of faculty in 1956, a position he held until 1968.
At Colorado Springs, McDermott introduced new academic practices, including the use of electives and majors that allowed students to pursue interests in a wide range of fields, rather than all of them having to take the same courses, as at West Point and the US Naval Academy.
After retirement, McDermott went on to serve for 25 years as the chairman and chief executive officer of United Services Automobile Association, a major insurance and financial services company, better known as USAA, in San Antonio.
The New, Responsive NRO
Even the supersecret National Reconnaissance Office has been transforming itself to meet the demands of the War on Terror. During the Cold War, the NRO delivered reconnaissance “miracles” when they were ready, Donald M. Kerr, NRO director and assistant to the Secretary of the Air Force for intelligence space technology, told the Air Force Association’s Air & Space Conference.
This was acceptable because the Soviet Union was largely a static threat. Today, faced with rapidly changing threats, the NRO delivers what it can when the capability is needed.
Kerr cited chemical and biological weapons facilities, counter terrorism operations, and mobile individuals as targets that present new challenges for the Intelligence Community. The establishment of the director of national intelligence office, partly to make US intelligence more agile, had an inadvertent outcome, Kerr added: It left the Air Force “disenfranchised” at the NRO.
This was an unacceptable situation, as USAF supplies roughly half the reconnaissance office’s 3,000 personnel. To remedy the problem, Air Force Maj. Gen. John T. Sheridan was recently added to the NRO chain of command, as deputy director.
The need for responsive intelligence means that some of the NRO’s “most important capabilities” are in geosynchronous orbit, where they can provide around-the-clock surveillance, albeit with lower resolution than would be offered by lower altitude satellites offering limited coverage periods.
Kerr said unblinking coverage can be extremely important when dealing with mobile targets. In one high-profile example, he said the United States nearly got to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, in 2003. Zarqawi, who was being tracked as a moving target at the time, got away because of a 20-second gap in coverage. In those 20 seconds, the trail went cold.
MIA Vietnam War Airman Identified
The remains of Air Force Maj. Burke H. Morgan, who was carried as missing in action since August 1967, have been identified and interred at the Air Force Academy.
Morgan, from Manitou Springs, Colo., was lost on a reconnaissance mission over Laos. He and another airman were flying an A-26A Invader from Nakhon Phanom AB, Thailand, when contact with their aircraft was lost. Searches of their last known position found nothing.
In 2002, Laotian officials reported that the remains had been turned over to a government official in the late 1980s but that the official had died. His driver, however, had possession of the remains and had been holding them in safekeeping awaiting directions from authorities.
Scientists from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command were able to identify the remains as Morgan’s using forensic methods. He was buried Sept. 7 beside his wife, Mary. His burial service coincided with the 45th reunion of his USAFA class.
Midair Refueling Tests Successful
In a development with big implications for a future robotic long-range strike platform, researchers have demonstrated autonomous aerial refueling for the first time.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) said in September that a NASA F/A-18 Hornet, configured to operate as an unmanned test bed, succeeded in taking on fuel from an aircraft using the probe-and-drogue method. The receiving aircraft was fitted with gear and flight controls to conduct the refueling on its own, but a pilot was aboard, to take the controls in an emergency.
The test aircraft used Global Positioning System navigation, coupled with an optical tracker, to position the aircraft behind a tanker that was equipped with a small navigation pallet. The test was done Aug. 30 at Edwards AFB, Calif.
Lt. Col. Jim McCormick, the DARPA program manager, said the probe-and-drogue method was chosen because it is the most challenging for autonomous systems. The capability demonstrated would apply equally to boom refueling methods used by most Air Force aircraft.
Autonomous in-flight refueling has broad implications for affordable, persistent unmanned strike systems—particularly now that the Air Force has ramped up efforts for the next long-range strike platform due in 2018. (See “The 2018 Bomber and Its Friends,” October, p. 24.)
The tests were initiated under the now-defunct Joint Unmanned Combat Air System program, but the successful demonstration will allow engineers to use the data obtained to develop in-flight refueling for future unmanned aerial vehicles.
Airlift Surged for Evacuation
The Air Force played a significant role in the evacuation of 13,000 US citizens from Lebanon at the height of fighting there this summer, Air Mobility Command officials said in August.
The airlift, which surged from July 22 to 25, required 29 C-17s, as well as numerous commercial airliners. From Lebanon, evacuees were airlifted to Cyprus, and then some went on to Ramstein AB, Germany. About 1,800 of the total required immediate lift back to the US and were flown to McGuire AFB, N.J. There they were met by AMC troops who helped them make further travel arrangements.
The C-17s were drawn from bases as far away as McChord AFB, Wash.
Officials said the airlift was one of the largest noncombatant evacuations since World War II.
McGuire served as the nerve center for the effort, with the base’s airmen helping connect evacuees with family members, civilian flights Stateside, and assistance from the Red Cross and other organizations, said Maj. Aaron Smith, commander of the McGuire’s 305th Communications Squadron. Smith said the effort went relatively smoothly, with the average stay on base for an evacuee held to only a few hours.
More than 700 aircrew members, support, and volunteer personnel were involved with the operation. They distributed more than 1,200 Red Cross comfort kits and served 988 boxed meals for evacuees.
Joint Cargo Aircraft Replace A-10s
The new Joint Cargo Aircraft will have a home with the Michigan Air National Guard at Battle Creek, Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm announced in August. The aircraft will replace A-10 Warthogs that are leaving as a result of Base Realignment and Closure decisions. Plans call for the base’s 15 Warthogs to move out in 2009, with the JCA to arrive shortly afterward. The announcement follows a June visit to the base by Lt. Gen. H. Steven Blum, chief of the National Guard Bureau, and a meeting with Michigan officials.
|Pentagon Reviewing Medals Criteria
Responding to confusion over how to recognize valor when troops are participating in many widely separated aspects of a fight, the Defense Department is undertaking a new review of criteria for awarding medals.
The planned outcome of the review is an updated and improved Manual of Military Decorations and Awards, the document that governs the awarding of medals. Pentagon officials hope to create better uniformity of guidelines across the services and plug some cracks wherein true valor can’t be recognized because of a technical detail.
David S.C. Chu, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, announced in September that a working group including representatives from each service, the Joint Staff, and DOD’s Institute of Heraldry are conducting the review and are expected to complete their work in six to eight months.
The last revision of the guidelines was in 1996, and the current review will involve only decorations and awards that are offered by all services, such as the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star.
Members of the working group will look at three major areas—expeditionary medals, honor and valor awards, and the awarding of multiple Iraq and Afghanistan campaign medals.
A Pentagon spokesman told Stars and Stripes that a clear standard has to be established for the awarding of battlefield medals, and the concept of a “battlefield” needs to be clearly defined. He also added that there have been concerns about standards and consistency when awarding the “V” device for valor.
Due to the multiple tours that many service members face in either Iraq or Afghanistan, the Pentagon is also examining multiple awards of campaign medals—or developing a means for personnel to show multiple tours in the theaters. There is no device that shows consecutive tours.
|Moseley Wants Frequent Gatherings of Generals
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley has recently pushed up the tempo of four-star meetings, with a recent series of summits covering intelligence, space, and other issues. The first such summit was held on Aug. 2 at the Pentagon and focused on intelligence matters.
On Aug. 24, Moseley invited all general officers from the ranks of the active duty, Air National Guard, and Air Force Reserve, in addition to members of the Senior Executive Service, to meet in St. Louis for a one-day “Blue Summit” to discuss a range of issues from budgeting to personnel and operations. A Sept. 7 “Space Summit,” at the Pentagon, featured current and retired space leadership. The group discussed the force’s space portfolio and the recent split of US Strategic Command’s joint force component.
Lt. Gen. Arthur J. Lichte, the director of staff for the Air Force, said the summit concept gives the Chief an opportunity to address the entire general officer corps and his senior civilian leaders all at the same time and to inform them about efforts to develop the force and prosecute the War on Terror. The summits are in addition to the Corona meetings, a conference of the service’s four-stars that dates back to the early days of the force. Lichte said Moseley is a strong believer in getting “firsthand feedback from the field,” which has driven the desire for more high-level meetings.
Summits are also planned for the topics of cyberspace and acquisition.
|Missing World War II Airmen Identified
The top Air Force officer in Southwest Asia said the service is pushing a high operating tempo in Iraq and Afghanistan and has new capabilities to aid the counterinsurgency fight.
Central Command Air Forces chief Lt. Gen. Gary L. North, speaking by teleconference with Pentagon reporters in September, said his forces have changed the classic set piece air tasking order into one that is flexible and responsive to coalition needs as they arise. He noted that when CENTAF F-16s carried out the air strike that killed terror leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in June, they were performing a routine countermortar-improvised explosive device patrol and were rerouted to carry out the Zarqawi mission.
Combat air forces are covering so-called “vulnerability periods” in both Iraq and Afghanistan, flying on-call in areas where troops are operating to provide both close air support and nontraditional intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance, North said. (See “Eyes of the Fighter,” January, p. 40.)
CENTAF is providing lots of close air support—an average of 74 CAS sorties per day, with 50 on average over Iraq and 24 over Afghanistan as of Sept. 1.
North noted that the use of advanced targeting pods on both F-15Es and F-16s, working in concert with unmanned drones such as the Predator, has paid dividends in the Iraq campaign, locating and targeting weapons caches, key leaders, and IED ambush locations.
The Air Force has been working mostly the areas around Baghdad, Mosul, Fallujah, and other hot spots. In Afghanistan, where the geography is more open, CAS is being called on to support NATO operations countrywide.
Air defense threats have not increased significantly since the end of major combat operations in 2003 in Iraq, North said. Anti-air threats have been limited mostly to rocket-propelled grenades and occasional light anti-aircraft artillery in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
CENTAF is now fielding several new capabilities that will improve the effectiveness of both combat and mobility operations. The Small Diameter Bomb—also known as the GBU-39—was fielded on F-15Es in the September Air and Space Expeditionary Force rotation, according to Col. Joseph T. Guastella Jr., director of operations at CENTAF headquarters.
The extended range, all-weather precision weapon will allow close air support missions to hit insurgent fighters in tighter spots, due to the minimal fragmentation of the weapon, he added.
More than 24,000 units are planned during the life of the SDB program, North said, adding that the weapon is not replacing anything in the Strike Eagle’s arsenal but will allow a “better mix” of effects for close air support and contingency missions in tight urban battlespaces.
Mobility forces are keeping a high operating tempo in theater as well, North reported, airlifting more than 697,000 troops and 117,000 tons of supplies and providing 78 million gallons of gas via aerial refueling between Jan. 1 and Sept. 1.
|Now, Air-Dropped Cargo Pallets Steer Themselves
Think of it as precision guided cargo. That’s the result of a 13-year effort to develop an air-drop system that guides cargo pallets released from an altitude of as low as 19,000 feet to a specific spot. Such a system was tested in Afghanistan in August.
An Air National Guard crew from Alaska’s 144th Airlift Squadron dropped several bundles using the Joint Precision Air-Drop System—also known as JPADS—which uses GPS coordinates and a steerable parachute to get the goods right to where they’re needed, while minimizing the risk to the transport aircraft from ground fire. It was the first combat drop of the system. The cargo aircraft releases “dropsondes,” not unlike sonobuoys, which relay wind speed and direction at various altitudes back to the aircraft. Calculations are made and the cargo is released, steering itself to a pinpoint landing using a steerable parafoil parachute.
The JPADS is a family of systems that is combined to bring the same accuracy to the mobility community that combat pilots have enjoyed for years since the development of the Joint Direct Attack Munition.
When fully developed, the program will field four sizes of JPADS—extra light, light, medium, and heavy. While still in the concept development phase, the heavy JPADS may be able to drop up to 60,000 pounds of cargo.
|Senator … Er … Colonel Graham Deploys
Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) became the first sitting member of Congress in decades to perform military duty in a combat zone when he deployed to Afghanistan in August.
Graham was assigned to train Afghan judges, lawyers, and prosecutors in the country’s armed forces.
A colonel in the Air Force Reserve, Graham served more than six years on active duty in the Air Force’s Judge Advocate General Corps before his election to Congress in 1995. He has served on the Air Force Court of Appeals in the past, but his trip to Afghanistan, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates was his first foreign assignment as a Reservist.
“Our hope is that if we can transform the military to accept the rule of law, it will spread to the civilian population in Afghanistan,” Graham told the McClatchy News Service.
During his trip, Graham traveled with Maj. Gen. Jack L. Rives—the Air Force’s judge advocate general. Rives said that Graham traveled and was treated as a colonel in the Reserve. The Senator’s trip was not publicized in advance, for security reasons.
Graham is the only sitting US Senator serving in the Air National Guard or Air Force Reserve. Three members of Congress serve in other branches: Rep. Steve Buyer (R-Ind.) and Rep. John M. Shimkus (R-Ill.) are members of the Army Reserve, and Rep. Mark S. Kirk (R-Ill.) is a member of the Navy Reserve.
|The War on Terrorism
Operation Iraqi Freedom—Iraq
By Oct. 19, a total of 2,772 Americans had died in Operation Iraqi Freedom. The total includes 2,765 troops and seven Department of Defense civilians. Of these deaths, 2,217 were killed in action with the enemy while 555 died in noncombat incidents.
There have been 21,077 troops wounded in action during OIF. This number includes 11,543 who returned to duty within 72 hours and 9,534 who were unable to return to duty quickly.
Iraqi Air Force Up and Running
Even though it has only been a going concern for a few months, the new Iraqi Air Force has racked up some impressive accomplishments, according to Brig. Gen. Stephen L. Hoog, director of the air component coordination element at US Central Command’s air component.
The fledgling force has moved more than 6,000 Iraqi troops and coalition forces, along with 460 tons of cargo, and carried out 200 intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance missions in the country, Hoog said in a Pentagon teleconference briefing for reporters in September. It has flown more than 454 sorties since March, accumulating 650 flight hours in a fleet of small prop airplanes, Bell 206 helicopters, and three C-130s.
The Iraqi Air Force’s primary ISR systems are Seeker SB7L-360 light surveillance aircraft and CH-2000 tactical surveillance aircraft. Hoog said the C-130s are Iraq’s most sophisticated types.
He added that, by January, the Iraqi Air Force will receive the first of 16 upgraded UH-1H Hueys for moving troops and casualty evacuation missions, as well as 10 Russian-built Mi-17s with an initial cadre of trained pilots to help troop movements of Iraqi forces. Follow-on training, assisted by USAF, will start in spring 2007. The goal is to have more than 2,500 trained Iraqi Air Force personnel ready for duty by the end of next year.
Operation Enduring Freedom—Afghanistan
By Oct. 19, a total of 339 Americans had died in Operation Enduring Freedom. The total includes 338 troops and one Department of Defense civilian. Of these deaths, 183 were killed in action with the enemy while 156 died in noncombat incidents.
There have been 988 troops wounded in action during OIF. This number includes 380 who returned to duty within 72 hours and 608 who were unable to return to duty quickly.
Puerto Rico ANG Deploys for First Time
The Puerto Rico Air National Guard deployed to Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, on Sept. 8—marking the first time the island’s Air Guard has deployed as a unit to a war zone in its 55-year history.
A 156th Airlift Wing officer noted that the unit had so many volunteers it had to restrict the deployment length to one month to make sure most of their Guardsmen got a chance to serve in Operation Enduring Freedom.
The unit flies and operates the C-130 Hercules, previously having flown the F-16.
Although unit participants will be rotating out every 30 days, the unit is committed to its 120-day deployment.
By Marc V. Shanz, Associate Editor
- The F-117 test team that has evaluated the Nighthawk’s stealth features and certified it for weapons for the last 24 years was inactivated at Holloman AFB, N.M., on Sept. 15. The unit had developed survivability tactics and tested all system upgrades. The inactivation was in anticipation of the retirement of the F-117 next year. The Nighthawk is slated to be replaced at Holloman by the F-22A Raptor.
- Thirty California Air National Guardsmen and 30 members of the state’s Emergency Medical Services Authority took part in a terrorism response exercise in Odessa, Ukraine, in September. The exercise, Rough and Ready 2006, simulated a response to terror attacks on a port, oil pipeline, railway, and a shopping mall. Along with Ukrainian forces, the Guardsmen trained alongside troops from Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Moldova. The exercise was conducted within the context of California’s State Partnership Program with Ukraine.
- Reorganization of the Air and Space Expeditionary Force Center took place Aug. 29, with administration of the AEF Center shifting from Langley AFB, Va., to the Air Force Personnel Center at Randolph AFB, Tex. The change will reduce overlap, save on manpower, and streamline wartime requirements and assignments under a single commander.
- In its first such test in 11 years, Russia launched a ballistic missile from a submarine in the Arctic Ocean in September. Russian officials said all three test warheads hit their target, a test range in the Barents Sea.
- A modernized C-5M Super Galaxy completed dynamic taxi testing at Edwards AFB, Calif., in August. The tests helped validate the structural design of the airlifter’s new engine pylon. The pylon is being fitted to C-5s under the Reliability Enhancement and Re-engining Program. The taxi tests specifically looked at structure movement when traveling over rougher surfaces with new engines.
- Seven Air Force Research Laboratory scientists and engineers were honored as new fellows during an annual awards ceremony held Sept. 19 at the National Museum of the US Air Force. The awards recognize and reward AFRL’s most outstanding in-house scientists and engineers and provide each with a grant of $100,000 per year for two years, over and above the recipient’s normal budget. Honored at the ceremony were Paul Barnes, Hugh DeLong, Dennis Goldstein, Kumar Jata, Frank Marcos, Michael Murphy, and Carl Snyder. Those recognized are working on projects ranging from high-temperature superconductors to directed energy and nonlethal weapons.
- Raytheon will develop an alternative approach to space-based missile warning under a $54 million contract awarded by the Air Force in September. The work is a hedge against failure in the long-troubled Space Based Infrared System, or SBIRS, developed by Lockheed Martin, which has been plagued by delays and cost overruns. The Air Force restructured SBIRS in December 2005, and DOD has said it would like to look at alternative technology before signing up for a third SBIRS satellite, since two are already in the works. Raytheon is to deliver a key sensor for space qualification testing by 2008, when DOD is expected to weigh the alternative system against SBIRS.
- Schriever AFB, Colo., ended its 18-year support of the Defense Support Program on Aug. 29, turning over the early warning mission to nearby Buckley Air Force Base, where it will be performed by the 2nd Space Warning Squadron. The 1st and 7th Space Operations Squadrons at Schriever will transition to other missions. The 1st SOPS will become a multimission satellite operations center.
- Electronic Systems Center awarded a $627 million contract to Computer Sciences Corp. in September to develop and integrate the Expeditionary Combat Support System. The system is intended to streamline and speed up logistics operations. The company will use the Oracle 11i product suite to consolidate and support all logistics functions, replacing more than 400 legacy systems. The full-up system is to be in place in Fiscal 2013.
- Boeing demonstrated a new camera system on its KC-767 recently, intended to make aerial tanking safer. The Remote Vision System uses a series of cameras mounted on the aircraft’s fuselage and provides high-definition imagery to the boom operator, giving the aircrew wingtip-to-wingtip visibility behind the aircraft. The technology will also improve all-weather, day, and night refueling capabilities. The KC-767 is a candidate for the Air Force’s next generation tanker aircraft.
- Pacific Air Forces co-sponsored a meeting of air Chiefs from 19 nations in September. The Pacific Rim Airpower Symposium was held in Jakarta, Indonesia, and was co-sponsored by the Indonesian Air Force and PACAF’s Kenney Warfighting Headquarters.
- In August, Lockheed Martin delivered the sixth of eight C-130J Super Hercules to be fielded by the 146th Airlift Wing, Channel Island ANGS, Calif. The “Super” version has a longer fuselage than the standard C-130J, featuring a strengthened cargo ramp and improved air-drop system that allows crews to make air-drops at 288 mph. A total of 182 C-130Js of both types are on order, with 142 delivered as of Aug. 31.