Airman Killed in Afghanistan
An airman assigned to Aviano AB, Italy, died Sept. 4 in a noncombat incident in Bagram, Afghanistan—the location of Bagram Air Base.
MSgt. Patrick D. Magnani, 38, of Martinez, Calif., was assigned to the 31st Medical Support Squadron at Aviano, where he served as a medical equipment technician. He was an 18-year veteran of the service.
The Pentagon said the circumstances surrounding his death are under investigation.
Accident Claims Airman’s Life
An airman was killed at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., on Sept. 12 when he was struck by a forklift, the Air Force said.
A second airman was injured in the mishap, which occurred near the James H. Doolittle Combined Air Operations Center at the Arizona facility.
MSgt. Melvin Peele, 50, of Baltimore, was walking with his wife, MSgt. Lisa Peele, when both were struck.
Lisa Peele was taken to a Tucson, Ariz.-area hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
Melvin Peele was a member of the 612th Air Communications Squadron, 12th Air Force. Davis-Monthan officials said the accident is under investigation.
Kunsan Pilot Awarded DFC
An F-16 pilot assigned to the 35th Fighter Squadron at Kunsan AB, South Korea, was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for extraordinary achievement in Iraq.
The awardee was Capt. David Anderson, a 35th FS flight commander assigned to the 524th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron at Balad AB, Iraq, from September 2006 to January 2007.
On Nov. 16, 2006, Anderson responded to a “troops in contact” call east of Baghdad. Insurgents, who were near American troops and firing from behind a berm, had pinned down US forces. Anderson, though critically low on fuel, rolled into the fray at extremely low level with his 20 mm cannon blazing.
Anderson unleashed all of the gun’s 510 rounds, killing the six enemy fighters, one of whom had been in the process of setting up a 60 mm mortar.
Lawmakers on C-130 Dodge Fire …
A C-130 carrying a Congressional delegation came under fire in August as the aircraft departed Baghdad Airport. The crew quickly deployed countermeasures and took evasive action, and no one was hurt.
Aboard the aircraft were Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.), Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), and Rep. Robert Cramer (D-Ala.).
According to a statement from US Central Command, the aircraft’s crew observed surface-to-air fire immediately after takeoff and engaged in a series of evasive maneuvers while dispensing flares. The Hercules completed its flight and sustained no damage.
Insurgents regularly take shots at airlifters during missions in theater, according to Air Mobility Command. In 2006, the command recorded 215 similar events.
… While MC-130 Takes Hits
An Air Force MC-130 was hit by rifle fire during a September flight over Mali, but no airmen were injured on the mission, which was to deliver food and water to Mali troops.
The aircraft, which was deployed from the 67th Special Operations Squadron at RAF Mildenhall, U.K., returned to the Mali capital of Bamako with minor fuselage damage, Stars and Stripes reported. The crew was in the country as part of an exercise called Flintlock 2007, when they were asked to fly supplies to Mali troops surrounded by armed fighters at a base in the Tin-Zaouatene region, near the border with Algeria.
The attack was believed to have been perpetrated by indigenous Taureg rebels who have been fighting the Mali government for several years, according to US European Command officials. The rebels are not linked to al Qaeda or related groups.
World War II Airman Identified
An Army Air Forces second lieutenant missing in action since World War II was identified in September by the Pentagon’s POW/Missing Personnel Office.
The remains of 2nd Lt. Harold E. Hoskin of Houlton, Maine, were identified through DNA analysis of remains collected during an excavation in the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve in Alaska. The remains were returned to his family and were buried in Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, D.C., on Sept. 7.
Hoskin was one of five crewmen aboard a B-24 that was lost near Fairbanks, Alaska, on Dec. 21, 1943. The aircraft was on a cold-weather test mission.
One crewman returned to Fairbanks more than two months later, having survived that long in the Alaska wilderness. He reported that the Liberator went down after losing engine power.
The site was located, and two sets of remains were recovered, but Hoskin’s were not among them. The missing remains were recovered during a 2006 investigation of the area.
Will Guard Units Get F-35
The House Armed Services Committee wants the Air Force to look at replacing F-16s and F-15s that have been withdrawn from the Air National Guard with F-35s when the new fighters become available.
In the Fiscal Year 2008 defense authorization bill, the panel directed the USAF and ANG leadership to jointly study the desirability and feasibility of acquiring F-35s for Air Guard units that conduct homeland defense air patrol sorties. The committee wants a response from Air Force Secretary Michael W. Wynne by October 2008.
The Air Force has said that Air Guard units will eventually fly the newest fifth generation fighter, but formal plans were expected to be drafted closer to the F-35’s in-service date of 2012.
Chief Announces New Associates
Several new active-associate units were announced in September, at an event that also saw the redesignation of a historic fighter squadron.
At a ceremony at Maxwell AFB, Ala., Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley confirmed the redesignation of the 160th Fighter Squadron of the Alabama Air National Guard, renaming it the 100th FS. The 100th was a Tuskegee Airmen squadron of World War II fame; the renaming preserves the unit’s heritage in an operational squadron. The unit flies F-16s from Montgomery Regional Airport (Dannelly Field).
The Air Force will also create an active association with the 187th Fighter Wing—which includes the 100th FS. The wing will keep flying the F-16 but will also incorporate active duty airmen into the unit’s operations.
Lichte Takes Command at AMC
Gen. Arthur J. Lichte assumed command of Air Mobility Command on Sept. 7, taking over from Gen. Duncan J. McNabb, who is now the Air Force’s vice chief of staff.
During a change of command ceremony at Scott AFB, Ill., Lichte said he would keep “raising the bar” at AMC and plans to visit all of the command’s bases in the next several months before putting together a plan for his tenure. However, he said he will push for recapitalization of obsolete aircraft, especially with the KC-X program.
He has previously served in a number of positions in AMC and at US Transportation Command headquarters.
Ramstein Was Terror Target
Major terrorist attacks on Ramstein AB, Germany, and other targets were foiled by German police in September.
German police raided more than 40 residences across the country on Sept. 5, gathering computers and evidence after an investigation that lasted six months.
German federal prosecutors said three men were arrested, two German citizens and a Turkish resident of Germany who had been under surveillance for months before the raids.
During the investigation, recorded phone calls and the suspects’ movements led authorities to believe that targets included Ramstein and Frankfurt Airport.
The three were apprehended in a vacation home north of Frankfurt, where stocks of hydrogen peroxide, chemicals, and detonators were found.
German authorities said the three suspects belonged to a German cell of the Islamic Jihad Union, a radical group based in Central Asia that has claimed responsibility for suicide bombings in July 2004 near the US and Israeli Embassies in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
Boeing Gets $1.1 Billion Contract
Boeing received a $1.1 billion contract in September to keep fixing KC-135 aerial refueling aircraft, the Air Force announced. Pemco, the loser in the KC-135 maintenance contract, protested the award in late September. The KC-135 is expected to serve another 20 years, as the service brings a new tanker into the inventory. A winner in the KC-X competition, in which Boeing is a competitor, is expected this winter.
Boeing’s contract covers programmed depot maintenance for more than 200 KC-135s for the next 10 years. Each aircraft gets the depot treatment every five years or so, and receives detailed inspections, repairs, maintenance, modifications, repainting, and supply chain services.
The maintenance will be performed at Tinker AFB, Okla., as well as at Boeing’s support systems site in San Antonio and a facility in Missouri.
The company said it has reduced the time each aircraft spends in depot by 19 percent, helping to reduce costs by about 15 percent per aircraft.
Selective Availability No More
The Pentagon said in September that it will no longer buy Global Positioning System satellites equipped with “selective availability” features.
“Selective availability” means DOD can degrade the accuracy of signals to non-US military users. The feature, which resides on existing GPS satellites, hasn’t been used since 2000.
The declaration coincides with solicitation of contractors to build the next generation GPS III constellation.
Millions of individuals and businesses worldwide depend on GPS for navigation and timing, the Air Force said.
The purpose of selective availability was to maintain an ability to degrade the GPS signal in case a hostile power tried to use it to conduct precision attacks on US forces or installations. The Air Force did not say whether it now has other ways of denying this advantage to an enemy.
Reserve OTS Moves to Maxwell
As of October, all Reserve officer candidates not going through the ROTC program attend Officer Training School at Maxwell AFB, Ala.
The consolidation was announced by Gen. T. Michael Moseley, Chief of Staff, in September. Previously, Air Force Reserve Command trained its officers at Maxwell and McGhee Tyson Airport, Tenn., at the I.G. Brown Training and Education Center.
Under the earlier scheme, only rated officer candidates attended OTS. The first class of rated and nonrated AFRC officer candidates was to begin at Maxwell on Oct. 11.
Air Force leaders said the consolidation was justified since AFRC had secured enough OTS class seats to accommodate all of the command’s line officer candidates.
Maj. Gen. Charles E. Stenner Jr., assistant deputy chief of staff for strategic plans and programs, said the Air National Guard is also considering moving its commissioning program to Maxwell, but has yet to decide on the matter.
CV-22 Makes Ship Landings
Air Force pilots flying the CV-22 tilt-rotor special operations aircraft made their first practice landings on Navy warships in August.
The aircraft and crews of the 8th Special Operations Squadron landed on and took off from USS Bataan.
The two-day training exercise ran from Aug. 13 to 14 and featured day and night landing operations as well as dry runs on land. Pilots said the operations were different from what they were used to, since ship landings involve more hovering than speedy assault landings.
After completing the daytime landings and takeoffs on the ship, the crews returned to land and practiced night landings with marine instructors who have experience with the MV-22, the Marine Corps version of the aircraft.
India Shops American
India has invited six aerospace companies—including Boeing and Lockheed Martin—to offer aircraft to meet a requirement for 126 new fighters, worth as much as $10 billion.
The proposed buy would be one of the largest defense purchases in India’s history. Bids are due by March 2008, but the date of an award hasn’t been fixed yet.
Among the aircraft India is considering are Russia’s MiG-35, Sweden’s JAS-39, the French Dassault Rafale, Lockheed Martin’s F-16, Boeing’s F/A-18, and the Eurofighter Typhoon. The Eurofighter is produced by a European consortium that includes British, German, Italian, and Spanish companies.
The announcement states that the first 18 fighters will be built outside India, but the remaining 108 will be produced in India under license.
The competition comes only months after Congress approved the sale of six C-130Js to India, among other equipment, in a deal worth more than $1 billion.
Arizona ANG Gets Predators
The Arizona Air National Guard is the latest official operator of the Predator killer scout unmanned aircraft. Its 214th Reconnaissance Group, based at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, activated with the aircraft in August.
Members of the Arizona ANG have been flying the aircraft over Iraq and Afghanistan since July, before the 214th RG’s official activation on Aug. 29.
The unit will acquire its own dedicated aircraft, and they will be based at Ft. Huachuca, Ariz., according to Guard officials. The unit will grow from about 75 personnel to more than 120. The ANG plans to bring about a dozen Predators to Arizona, and split pilots and support personnel between Davis-Monthan and Ft. Huachuca, near the city of Sierra Vista.
U-2, Global Hawk Training Merge
The 1st Reconnaissance Squadron at Beale AFB, Calif.—the U-2’s formal training unit—absorbed the mission of the 18th RS in August, Air Combat Command said. The 18th has been training operators of the Global Hawk unmanned recce aircraft, which is to eventually replace the U-2.
The merger of the two units is designed to build more understanding of both aircraft and increase mission capability of U-2 and Global Hawk pilots, ACC said. The old units did a good job, but there was not enough crossover, and squadron leaders are hoping to have more versatile intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance aircrew members as a result.
The consolidation comes as the Global Hawk training pipeline expands significantly. In October, students in the course increased 50 percent, from 24 to 36. Classes are also stepping up from six a year to 12. In 2009, the course is expanding to 48 students a year.
New Missile Project Begins
The Pentagon launched a competition to develop a common successor to the multiservice Maverick and Hellfire air-to-ground missiles. The Air Force may adopt the missile, although it is not among the services funding the project.
The Joint Air-to-Ground Missile is to be able to hit both line-of-sight and non-line-of-sight targets, and may employ some combination of laser, infrared, electro-optical, or millimeter-wave radar seekers.
The Pentagon believes a joint effort will answer all the services’ needs for a weapon to equip helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles. A large production run is also expected to keep unit costs down.
Lockheed Martin won a contract to develop the Joint Common Missile in 2004, but the Pentagon wants to incorporate technologies that have developed since then. The Army said contractors have proposed “fundamentally different acquisition strategies” for the new weapon.
F-35 Test Cuts?
To reverse a drain on “management reserve” funds in the F-35 program, Lockheed Martin has proposed cutting two aircraft from the fleet of 14 in the flight-test phase.
The management reserve is an amount of money held back to deal with unexpected setbacks and technical delays—typically between five and 10 percent of a program’s development cost. By some estimates, the F-35 program needs to find about $600 million to restore the reserve to the levels at which they should be for the current stage of the program.
Such reserves exist to avoid the necessity of constantly asking Congress for additional funds to keep a program going. Savings are plowed back into the reserve to deal with shortfalls in other areas.
The original reserve for the F-35 was about $2 billion, but has been drawn down to about $400 million.
To find extra funds, Lockheed Martin wants to eliminate two aircraft that would have been dedicated to testing the fighter’s extensive avionics and electronic warfare systems. It believes it can perform the tests more efficiently on a converted 737, the Cooperative Avionics Test Bed. The “CATbird” has wing-like protrusions on its nose that simulate the nose and wings of the stealthy F-35. Extensive diagnostics and other tools on board can assess all aspects of avionics performance.
The F-35 joint program office would have to approve the change.
Lockheed Seeks Price Stability
American and international F-35 partners were to meet in September to nail down just how many F-35s each will buy. The objective of the meeting was to establish a firm core production number, to establish a baseline price per aircraft, which is largely driven by the quantity produced. Until now, international orders outside those of Britain have not been counted in the F-35’s official cost analysis.
Lockheed Martin officials said they were not pressing any of the eight partner countries to commit to firm orders, but to state for the record their planned threshold and objective requirements.
With commitments for more than 100 aircraft through at least 2011, Lockheed officials said they can stabilize the per-unit cost of the aircraft.
CSAR-X Decision by Year’s End …
The Air Force plans to resolve all issues regarding the combat search and rescue helicopter competition by the end of the year, Secretary Michael W. Wynne said in September.
Speaking at a Capitol Hill event, Wynne said USAF would reopen bidding on the CSAR-X program. The program was initially awarded to Boeing, which offered its HH-47 Chinook, but after two rounds of protests by losing competitors were upheld by the Government Accountability Office, Wynne agreed to start over.
Air Force acquisition officials are making contact with all vendors involved and Wynne believes that the process will go “much quicker” the second time around.
… But More Tanker Delays
A winner in the KC-X aerial tanker replacement competition may not be selected by the end of this year, as had been hoped, Air Force Secretary Michael W. Wynne said in September.
Wynne told a Capitol Hill symposium that the KC-X choice may slip into January 2008 or later, owing to the desire by the Air Force to make sure the choice is as “protest-proof” as possible. The Air Force has seen two high-profile programs—the CSAR-X (see above) and the Joint Cargo Aircraft—delayed by protests, and hopes to avoid such a situation on the KC-X.
The KC-X is the Air Force’s No. 1 acquisition priority. Wynne said he’s anxious to get the program under way because the service’s aged KC-135s are so plagued with age-related problems that they could be grounded at any time, without warning. Wynne said his biggest fear is that the type would suffer a serious, fleetwide problem, forcing the service to either accept the risk of continuing to fly them or rely solely on a few dozen KC-10 tankers, which are themselves nearly three decades old.
|Barksdale Gets Cyber Command—At Least for a While
Barksdale AFB, La., is the official interim home of Air Force Cyber Command, Air Force Secretary Michael W. Wynne confirmed to civic leaders in Shreveport, La., in September.
The announcement was a pleasant surprise to the 700 guests assembled for an Air Force 60th anniversary celebration. Regional leaders had been campaigning to make the base the permanent home of the new command, which has been developed at Barksdale under the auspices of Headquarters, 8th Air Force, also located there.
Wynne first announced the creation of the command last November at a Washington defense symposium. It has been built around the 67th Network Warfare Wing.
In his comments to the group, Wynne praised the efforts of 8th Air Force chief Lt. Gen. Robert J. Elder Jr. to bring the new organization to fruition.
Although Wynne said Barksdale will be Cyber Command’s interim home, USAF officials said its location there may not be permanent. However, facilities and equipment are being installed at Barksdale to support the mission.
Other locations vying to be the organization’s permanent home include Offutt AFB, Neb., Beale AFB, Calif., Langley AFB, Va., and Lackland AFB, Tex.
|Hack-Suey at the Pentagon Is Latest Whodunit
Somebody hacked into a Pentagon computer network in June, and while China denies it was behind the attack, it remains the leading suspect.
First reported by the Financial Times in September, the Pentagon confirmed that in June it shut down part of a computer system that served the office of Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates. However, the Pentagon did not accuse China. The network was reportedly down for more than a week while attacks continued. As of September, the amount of data compromised or downloaded was still being assessed.
The Times cited unnamed senior US officials saying the attack came from the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, and that most of the information obtained was probably “unclassified.”
The Chinese Foreign Ministry denied any involvement, adding that China opposes criminal activities that undermine computer networks.
While the Chinese have regularly probed US networks, Pentagon officials said the June penetration raised eyebrows because the attack demonstrated they were capable of disrupting systems at critical times.
Senior Air Force officials have said that China appears to be developing proficiency at cyber warfare, and is one of its leading practitioners. Chinese military doctrine calls for that nation to seek asymmetric countermeasures to American military superiority, and specifies disruption of US networks and sensor systems as a key way to do it.
|“Father of All Bombs” Turns Up in Mother Russia
Russia announced the successful test of what it described in September as the world’s most powerful non-nuclear explosive, dubbing it the “father of all bombs.”
The nickname was a dig at the US Air Force’s biggest non-nuclear weapon, the Massive Ordnance Air Blast weapon, or MOAB, known unofficially as the “Mother Of All Bombs.” Russian media reported the new weapon is four times more powerful than the MOAB.
Col. Gen. Alexander Rukshin, a deputy chief on the Russian military’s General Staff, said testing has shown the new weapon is comparable to a nuclear weapon in its effect but doesn’t cause the fallout and radioactivity associated with nuclear weapons.
The bomb reportedly contains 7.8 tons of high explosives, as opposed to the larger MOAB which features more than 8 tons of explosives. Russia claims the new weapon—which, like the MOAB, is described as a “thermobaric” explosive—is four times more powerful because it uses a new and more efficient type of explosive. The weapon’s blast radius (990 feet) and the temperature at the epicenter of the blast are reported to be twice that of the American weapon.
|In the Air Force, “Community Basing” Makes a Comeback
A program that stations active duty airmen in towns with an Air National Guard location but no traditional base is being expanded, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley announced in September.
Expansion of the “community basing” program is among a number of new Total Force initiatives. Moseley said the initial test location will be with the Vermont Air National Guard.
Part of the Air Force’s old Future Total Force concept, the initiative was conceived in 2005 between the Air Force and the Vermont Air National Guard’s 158th Fighter Wing, based at Burlington Airport. Airmen lived in the local community rather than on a military installation and trained with experienced Air Guardsmen to learn F-16 maintenance on the unit’s fighters.
In September 2006, Lt. Gen. Craig R. McKinley, commander of the Air National Guard, said the experiment would end due to the Air Force’s manpower cuts, despite the program “working magnificently.”
Earlier this year, Moseley was pressed by Guard supporters in Congress on the program’s status and confirmed that the Air Force was committed to the program but was still deciding on the right grade structure to do it, as personnel throughout the service were being reduced in number.
|David Lee “Tex” Hill, 1915-2007
David Lee “Tex” Hill, one of the famed Flying Tigers, a flying ace, and American hero, died Oct. 11 at the age of 92.
Hill, born in 1915 to missionary parents in Korea, grew up in Texas. He graduated from Austin College in 1938 and was determined to be a military aviator. Rejected by the Army Air Forces, he signed up with the Navy, and after winning his gold wings in 1939, became a dive bomber pilot, flying from aircraft carriers.
In 1941, Hill left the Navy to join the American Volunteer Group, later known as the Flying Tigers, which flew air defense and attack missions for nationalist China under the command of Claire L. Chennault. Hill began flying combat missions in January 1942, and, within three weeks, was an ace. He shot down a total of 12 Japanese fighters before the AVG was merged into the USAAF in July 1942. The aerial victories of the Flying Tigers were a huge morale booster at a time when it seemed the Japanese advance was unstoppable.
Upon the disbanding of the AVG, Hill was one of only five Flying Tigers officers who accepted direct commissions into the AAF, becoming a major and commanding the 75th Fighter Squadron, part of the new 23rd Fighter Group. He led both fighter sweeps and ground attacks that delivered body blows against Japanese forces. He sometimes led these attacks despite being desperately ill with malaria.
Hill returned to the US for a stint as head of a test unit at Eglin Field, Fla., but accepted Chennault’s request to return to China in October 1943 as commander of the 23rd FG. In that role, he shot down six more Japanese fighters and sank at least two ships. He also led the first air attack on Japanese-held territory—Formosa—since the Doolittle Raid.
All told, Hill was credited with 18.25 victories in World War II, six of them with the AAF. He returned to the US in 1944, to assume command of the 412th Fighter Group, the AAF’s first jet fighter unit. In 1946, he left active duty, but joined the Texas Air National Guard, becoming, at 31, the youngest brigadier general in its history, as commander of the 58th Fighter Wing. Hill’s adventures in World War II were recounted in the book “Tex” Hill: Flying Tiger.
|The War on Terrorism
Operation Iraqi Freedom—Iraq
By Oct. 11, a total of 3,816 Americans had died in Operation Iraqi Freedom. The total includes 3,809 troops and seven Department of Defense civilians. Of these deaths, 3,114 were killed in action with the enemy while 702 died in noncombat incidents.
There have been 28,171 troops wounded in action during OIF. This number includes 15,549 who returned to duty within 72 hours and 12,622 who were unable to return to duty quickly.
Air Strike Kills Terrorist in Nineveh Bombing
A US air strike on Sept. 3 killed a terrorist thought to be behind a series of truck bombings in northern Iraq that killed more than 400 people in August.
Abu Mohammed Afri, a leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, was spotted while driving in a remote area about 70 miles southwest of Mosul. Both he and his driver were killed by a fixed-wing air strike after being identified by associates and detainees, according to a statement from the coalition forces.
Afri was reportedly the planner of a series of truck bombings that leveled a neighborhood of Iraqi Yazidis—a minority religious sect that is neither Muslim nor Christian—in Nineveh Province on Aug. 14.
Clash With Insurgents Leads to Air Strike—14 Killed
American and Iraqi special forces fought with Shiite militiamen in western Baghdad on Sept. 6, later calling in air strikes that killed at least 14 people.
Working on an intelligence tip, US and Iraqi forces raided the city’s Washash neighborhood looking for a suspected terrorist cell linked to attacks on police units and sectarian killings, officials with Multi-National Force Iraq said. When troops entered the area, they came under fire from more than a dozen militia members on roofs.
Troops returned suppressive fire and directed air strikes onto targeted buildings against some of the gunmen who were organizing the small-arms fire against the friendly forces.
US officials said that four buildings were damaged, including two enemy strongholds that sustained major damage.
Operation Enduring Freedom—Afghanistan
By Oct. 6, a total of 446 Americans had died in Operation Enduring Freedom. The total includes 445 troops and one Department of Defense civilian. Of these deaths, 259 were killed in action with the enemy while 187 died in noncombat incidents.
There have been 1,652 troops wounded in action during OEF. This number includes 649 who were wounded and returned to duty within 72 hours and 1,003 who were unable to return to duty quickly.
Air Strikes Kill 45 Taliban
After a joint Afghan-American patrol was attacked with rocket-propelled grenades on Sept. 12, US airpower rolled in on the attackers. Forty-five Taliban fighters were killed. The action took place in the southern Afghan province of Uruzgan.
After the initial attack, Afghan soldiers cleared Taliban fighters from firing positions in the village of Aduzay. Air Force aircraft responded, destroying several fighting positions.
NATO’s International Security Assistance Force issued a statement saying that insurgents increased attacks during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan last year and could do the same this year. The Ramadan period began on Sept. 12.
By Marc V. Shanz , Associate Editor
- Air Force Reserve Command has beaten its 2007 recruiting goal, signing up more than 8,000 people as of Aug. 28. This marks the seventh consecutive year the command has surpassed its recruitment goals. Lt. Gen. John A. Bradley, AFRC commander, said that, in 2008, the command will create 7,000 new positions as a result of mission changes.
- The Air Force in September temporarily moved 20 B-1B bombers and about 550 airmen from Dyess AFB, Tex., to Ellsworth AFB, S.D. The move allowed repairs to 6,600 feet of runway at Dyess. The work should be completed this month.
- Testing has concluded on a new F-16 upgrade that will give the fighter far greater ability to send and receive data. The Extended 1553 Data Bus improves the transfer using broadband. Greater throughput is needed now that F-16s are carrying targeting pods that allow them to act as surveillance aircraft.
- The Kansas Air National Guard’s 184th Air Refueling Wing flew its final KC-135 mission in September, ending more than 60 years of flying missions for the unit. The tankers have gone away due to the 2005 BRAC round. In October, the 184th ARW became an intelligence wing, specializing in computer systems security and satellite surveillance monitoring.
- The Defense Threat Reduction Agency has set up a shop at Eglin AFB, Fla., as of September. One of the 2005 BRAC decisions was to speed up the fielding of new systems by merging some related technical facilities and capabilities. DTRA has partnered with Eglin agencies on a number of fuze, warhead, and weapon systems projects. It’s working on thermobaric weapons, such as the Massive Ordnance Penetrator.
- Several units at Kadena AB, Japan, have been trained in small arms to supplement the base’s security forces. The “selective arming program” provides weapons and training to non-SF airmen to protect squadron resources. The initial units included the 18th Communications Squadron, the 18th Civil Engineer Squadron, the 18th Logistics Readiness Squadron, and the 18th Maintenance Operations Squadron. Training included reporting attacks, setting up entry control points, and self-protection.
- The California Air National Guard ended its presence in Costa Mesa, Calif., in September when the 222nd Combat Communications Squadron transferred north to Beale Air Force Base. The unit is now part of the 222nd Intelligence Squadron.
- In the aftermath of Hurricane Felix, which devastated Nicaragua in September, the Air Force aided US Southern Command’s relief efforts. A nine-member team from Joint Task Force-Bravo flew from Soto Cano AB, Honduras, to Nicaragua on Sept. 5 to assess storm damage. On Sept. 8, the command dispatched an Air Force C-130 from Homestead ARB, Fla., to Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua, with 25,000 pounds of US-donated supplies—including sheeting, hygiene kits, and wool blankets.
- Pratt & Whitney’s Rocketdyne division has demonstrated a new technology that could help pave the way for hypersonic engines. The company demonstrated a small-scale combustor operation for a dual-mode ramjet engine. The engine technology is being developed with Lockheed Martin and is known as the Falcon Combined-Cycle Engine Technology Program. Testing began in November 2006 and concluded in early September, with the combustor achieving operability and performance at speeds from Mach 2.5 to 6.0.
- Airmen, sailors, and soldiers participated in US Southern Command’s PANAMAX 2007 exercise in late August and early September, part of joint training efforts to better secure the Panama Canal. The air element of the exercise included more than 250 airmen with 12th Air Force, Air Forces Southern, and the 612th Air Operations Group. The exercise included civilians and military forces from 20 participating countries from across Central and South America.
- US and German airmen at Buechel AB, Germany, participated in the NATO Strike Evaluation in early September. Weapons loaders from the 702nd Munitions Support Squadron teamed up with German Fighter-Bomber Wing 33 airmen based at Buechel. The teams jointly worked 12-hour shifts to secure equipment and munitions at the base and screened personnel coming and going from the exercise.
- Instructors and trainers from the 12th Flying Training Wing at Randolph AFB, Tex., were recruiting among F-16 pilots at Cannon AFB, N.M., in late August. They wanted to entice some of the fighter pilots, whose F-16s are going away, to come to Randolph and be instructors in the T-6 Texan II, which replaces the venerable T-37 Tweet. Wing officials said they want more fighter influence in the pilot training environment.
- Boeing has successfully assembled and integrated all the flight hardware on the first Global Positioning System IIF satellite, the newest element of the GPS constellation. Boeing is under contract to build 12 of the satellites for Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center. The new payload features improved signals for aviation. Boeing technicians are now preparing the satellites for environmental testing that will confirm their design and mechanical integrity.
- The Air Force will stand up a new Global Logistics Support Center headquarters at Scott AFB, Ill., in FY 2008. The GLSC will serve as the Air Force’s supply chain manager, co-located with supply chain operations at Scott. The organization will focus on deployed operations, integration of supply chain functions, care and feeding of personnel, and coordination of all tasks in and out of the center. Once the initial location is operating, center functions will be dispersed to other centers as well, at Hill AFB, Utah, Langley AFB, Va., Robins AFB, Ga., Tinker AFB, Okla., and Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio