Raptor Ups and Downs
Although the F-22 fleet was ordered back in the air Sept. 19 after a months-long grounding, commanders at JB Langley-Eustis, Va., and JB Elmendorf-RIchardson, Alaska, regrounded their Raptors in late October as a precaution.
The fleet was grounded due to a fault in the onboard oxygen-generating system, the cause of which remained uncertain, but Air Combat Command deemed it safe to fly as the investigation continued.
Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, Air Force Chief of Staff, announced a phased plan to return the aircraft to unrestricted flight. He said the aircraft will get frequent inspections and Raptor pilots would get a “baseline” medical exam so they can be checked for physiological changes. They’ll also wear new “protective equipment” and data-gathering gear. He predicted it would take “a couple of months” to get operational pilots—who had lost their certification—and the F-22 initial training enterprise back up to speed.
The Air Force Scientific Advisory Board started investigating the OBOGS in August, but by late October, a fix remained elusive.
The SAB apparently ruled out a problem with the intake and exhaust systems, though running engines in confined spaces may pose an issue. Heavy G-loading may affect the OBOGS, as well.
The grounding was temporarily lifted in late August in order to allow F-22s based at Langley to relocate away from the approaching Hurricane Irene.
Langley regrounded its Raptors, however, after an Oct. 20 incident in which a pilot experienced hypoxia-like symptoms. There were no injuries or mishaps. An ACC spokeswoman couldn’t say how long the new groundings would last.
First Special Ops J-Hercs
Lockheed Martin recently delivered the first HC-130J to Air Combat Command and the first MC-130J to Air Force Special Operations Command.
The HC-130J personnel recovery aircraft joined the 79th Rescue Squadron at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., Sept. 24, followed five days later by the MC-130J’s arrival at Cannon AFB, N.M., where it joined the 522nd Special Operations Squadron.
Lockheed is “set to deliver 33 airplanes this year, and we expect to continue that production rate in the mid-30s over the next several years,” Jim Grant, the company’s business development vice president for air mobility and special operations programs, said at the Air Force Association’s Air & Space Conference in September.
ACC has a firm order for 11 HC-130Js, with plans to procure a total of 37 to begin replacing its 1965-vintage HC-130N/P rescue-support fleet.
AFSOC is slated to receive a total of 48 aircraft, including 32 MC-130Js and 16 earmarked for post-production conversion as AC-130J gunships.
USAF recently added 48 airframes to its HC/MC-130J recapitalization program, increasing the intended buy from 74 to 122.
The Air Force officially completed the 2005 round of Base Realignment and Closure actions in mid-September.
“Although BRAC 2005 did not completely meet the Air Force’s infrastructure reduction requirements, we are more streamlined and better positioned” as an operational force, said Kathleen I. Ferguson, USAF’s deputy assistant secretary for installations.
The headquarters Air Force BRAC team “worked in unison with teams at each major command to execute all requirements of this congressional mandate,” she added.
In six years, Air Force officials executed seven closures and orchestrated 63 realignments at 122 installations to implement BRAC’S 64 USAF-specific recommendations. In all, the service carried out 401 actions.
USAF completed the transformation on time and within the $3.8 billion budgeted. The changes are expected to yield about $1.4 billion in annual savings, according to service estimates.
New START Comes to Minot
The 91st Missile Wing at Minot AFB, N.D., in late August underwent the base’s first on-site nuclear inspection under the New START agreement.
Given 24 hours’ notice, Minot hosted 10 Russian inspectors on a verification tour of the wing’s Minuteman III ICBMs and launch facilities. “It’s imperative to meet our treaty obligations and Team Minot has done that in a superb fashion, given the ongoing flood recovery,” said Col. Stephen L. Davis, 91st Missile Wing commander.
Under the treaty, which took effect in February, the United States and Russia are permitted both on-site and satellite-reconnaissance verification of treaty compliance.
Type 1 inspections, such as the Russian visit to Minot Aug. 23, review operational systems, while Type 2 inspections look at nonoperational systems.
Minot, home to both ICBMs and nuclear-capable B-52s, is subject to four short-notice, on-site inspections per treaty year.
Iraq Joins F-16 Club
Iraq’s government signed a deal with the US to acquire 18 Lockheed Martin-built F-16 Block 52 fighters to re-equip its air force.
Lockheed Martin is “pleased by the announcement” and welcomes Iraq “as the 26th nation to operate the F-16,” the company said in a Sept. 27 statement.
Iraq renewed its bid to acquire as many as 36 “Viper” Block 52s in late July, after tabling a deal in February, citing budgetary constraints.
Maj. Gen. Russell J. Handy, then the senior USAF representative in Iraq, told reporters in September that Iraq plans to purchase a “complete package,” including flight training.
An initial cadre of Iraqi pilots is already undergoing instruction in the United States, although the first F-16 is not expected to arrive in Iraq until late 2013 at earliest, said Handy.
Pentagon officials notified Congress of the possible foreign military sale—including advanced Block F-16s and associated weapons, training, and hardware—last year. The FMS deal could be worth upward of $4.2 billion.
Dempsey Chairs JCS, Carter In
Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey succeeded Navy Adm. Michael G. Mullen as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Sept. 30. Also, the Senate on Sept. 23 confirmed Ashton B. Carter as the new deputy secretary of defense.
Dempsey assumed the top uniformed military post after serving only a few months as Army Chief of Staff. Mullen retired after a 43-year Navy career, including four years as JCS Chairman.
Carter took over the No. 2 Pentagon job on Oct. 6 after serving as undersecretary for acquisition, technology, and logistics since April 2009. He replaced William J. Lynn III, who held the post since February 2009.
Hostage Takes Command at ACC
Gen. Gilmary Michael Hostage III assumed command of Air Combat Command from Gen. William M. Fraser III in a Sept. 13 ceremony at JB Langley-Eustis, Va. Hostage had led US Air Forces Central since August 2009, receiving a fourth star prior to taking the reins of ACC.
“These last few years have presented some of the greatest possible challenges to the [Combat Air Forces] as we sought to balance organizing, training, and equipping aircrews to win today’s war with preparing them for tomorrow’s needs,” said USAF Chief of Staff Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, who expressed his “complete confidence” in Hostage.
Fraser, who had served as ACC commander since September 2009, has gone on to head US Transportation Command at Scott AFB, Ill.
AFRC Reorganizes NAFs
Air Force Reserve Command restructured its numbered air forces, rearranging its three NAFs by function.
“The realignments give each NAF a distinct mission set, enabling them to more efficiently and effectively oversee the readiness of their subordinate units,” said Col. Greg Vitalis, AFRC headquarters program manager at Robins AFB, Ga. “These realignments are administrative only. They do not involve any changes to the units’ geographic location,” he added.
The new mission sets are: 4th Air Force at March ARB, Calif., will ensure the readiness of the command’s strategic air mobility and refueling forces; 10th Air Force at NAS JRB Fort Worth, Tex., will manage strike, ISR, space, cyber, and special operations assets; and 22nd Air Force at Dobbins ARB, Ga., will oversee AFRC’s tactical airlift, combat support, and training.
New Unified Command Plan
President Obama signed an updated Unified Command Plan 2011 on Sept. 12. It implements, among other changes, the disestablishment of US Joint Forces Command.
Obama approved a change to the plan relieving US Strategic Command of responsibility for information operations, military deception, and operational security, passing these roles directly to the Joint Staff.
STRATCOM instead gains the Joint Warfare Analysis Center, previously a subordinate command to JFCOM.
US Transportation Command will take on the global standing joint force headquarters, under the Joint Enabling Capabilities Command—another asset formerly held by JFCOM.
The Pentagon issued UCP 2011 in April, as the newest version of the strategic document defining the missions and responsibilities of US military combatant commands.
Commercial Ride for CHIRP
The first military payload launched aboard a commercial satellite successfully reached space from a launchpad at Kourou, French Guiana, in September.
“The CHIRP launch marks not only the first-ever commercially hosted payload for the Air Force, but also the first-ever wide-field-of-view infrared staring payload in space,” said Col. Scott Beidleman, development planning director at the Space and Missile Systems Center.
Mounted on the SES-2 communications satellite, the Air Force’s experimental Commercially Hosted Infrared Payload (CHIRP), blasted off for geosynchronous orbit atop an Ariane V rocket Sept. 21.
Technical concerns postponed the scheduled launch in early September and a labor dispute with an Arianespace subcontractor delayed the mission a second time—by several days, Spaceflight Now reported.
“We overcame many challenges on the way to today’s launch,” Beidleman noted after liftoff.
The Air Force planned to power up CHIRP to begin on-orbit experimentation in October.
TacSat-4 Launch Successful
Tactical Satellite-4, an experimental military satellite potentially enabling ground troops to communicate using handheld radios in mountainous and urban terrain, successfully lifted off from Kodiak, Alaska, in September.
“This capability does not currently exist,” said Peter M. Wegner, director of the Pentagon’s Operationally Responsive Space Office at Kirtland AFB, N.M.
TacSat-4 blasted off aboard the first Minotaur rocket configured with the new Minotaur IV+ booster configuration.
The Navy led the satellite’s development program. The launch was overseen by the Space and Missile Systems Center’s Space Development and Test Directorate at Kirtland.
“I am really excited about TacSat-4,” said Wegner. “It is a little bit of a surprise as not many people have paid attention to it. It is sort of an underdog mission.”
The experimental mission is scheduled to last one year.
Libya Lesson Learned
European NATO countries were forced to rely too much on the US in the Libyan air campaign, highlighting the danger of substituting the Alliance for national capability, warned French Air Force Gen. Stephane Abrial, commander of NATO’s allied command transformation.
“We could not have performed to the same level of effectiveness without heavy contribution from the US,” Abrial said. That was starkly evident in targeting and combat enablement, he said at the Air Force Association’s Air & Space Conference, Sept. 21. Interdependence “is a very nice concept but one that doesn’t work at the country level,” he added.
“Having realized where the gap is and having understood the model of Libya could be replicated,” each country must decide “what she needs to meet what she feels are her threats and challenges.” NATO members are committed to mutual defense, but for out-of-area operations such as Libya, the US could just have easily have opted out, he emphasized.
Over the Pole to Moscow
In a first, a 23rd Bomb Squadron aircrew from Minot AFB, N.D., flew a B-52H bomber over the North Pole this summer.
“The jet was designed for this type of flight, but [it] was never practiced. It took a lot of mission planning and coordination to make this happen,” said Maj. Patrick Small of Minot’s 5th Operations Support Squadron.
The airmen made the trip en route to Russia as part of a US contingent of aircraft and personnel sent to the 2011 Moscow International Air and Space Aviation Salon air show in August.
The B-52 did not require in-flight refueling to reach Moscow since the polar route is much shorter than flying more traditional routes through Europe.
Iraq T-6 Advisory Mission Ends
USAF air advisors concluded the T-6 Texan II flight training mission at Tikrit AB, Iraq, in early September.
In just under two years aiding Iraq’s Squadron 203, the 52nd Expeditionary Flying Training Squadron graduated 11 Iraqi T-6 Texan II instructor pilots, establishing a foundation for the future of Iraq’s fixed wing training program.
“They’ve really stepped up to the challenge of running their own squadron,” said Capt. Aaron Knight, a 52nd instructor pilot. “I’m extremely impressed with the maturity they have shown,” added Knight.
An additional 10 student pilots were in the pipeline at Tikrit, as of the conclusion of the 52nd EFTS’ mission in September.
With plans to train 15 to 20 more students by year’s end, “our goal is to help build a strong air force,” explained an Iraqi instructor.
USAF advisors could potentially remain in Iraq if the Iraqi government requests that the United States extend beyond the current agreement’s end-of-year departure deadline.
Less than two months after specially configured C-130s responded to wildfires in New Mexico and Arizona, the aircraft were once again battling blazes, this time in Idaho, Oregon, and Texas.
“We exceeded our annual average of fire missions [in July], and this is now becoming one of the most active fire seasons we have faced,” said Lt. Col. David Condit, deputy commander of the 302nd Air Expeditionary Group that oversees Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Command firefighting assets.
Tasked by US Northern Command, two Modular Airborne Firefighting System-equipped Hercules from the North Carolina Air Guard’s 145th Airlift Wing in Charlotte/Douglas Airport and two from AFRC’s 302nd Airlift Wing at Peterson AFB, Colo., deployed to Austin in central Texas to aid civil and government agencies against the inferno’s onslaught.
Aircraft in Texas alone had dropped a total of 44,350 gallons of retardant, as of Sept. 14. Two additional C-130s assigned to the Wyoming ANG’s 153rd Airlift Wing had dropped 2,700 gallons on fires in Oregon and 2,760 gallons in Idaho, flying from a staging base at Boise Airport, according to NORTHCOM.
AEHF’s Slow Rise
Air Force Space Command delayed the first Advanced Extremely High Frequency military communications satellite’s arrival on orbit to late October.
Space officials decided to slow the process of raising AEHF-1 into its proper geosynchronous orbit position in order “to balance operational needs, space environmental factors, and vehicle conditions,” according to USAF’s Space and Missile Systems Center, Oct. 3.
The Air Force and its industry partners launched AEHF-1 into space in August 2010. A satellite propulsion anomaly then forced Air Force and contractor engineers to devise an alternate orbital-positioning plan using different thrusters.
Speaking in September at AFA’s Air & Space Conference in National Harbor, Md., Air Force Space Command boss Gen. William L. Shelton said the Air Force is “very fortunate” that the anomaly “didn’t cause the satellite to explode.” He added, “The good news is that we project full mission life”—meaning 14 years of service—”once we get the satellite into orbit.”
Strike Eagle Radar Upgrade
The F-15E Strike Eagle radar modernization program was cleared to begin low-rate initial production starting in October, announced Boeing, which is integrating the package.
“The RMP is the latest modification under way for the F-15E,” said Karen Butler, Boeing’s RMP program manager. “It will ensure the F-15E has the capability and performance the US Air Force requires to achieve total air-to-air and air-to-ground dominance in the future.”
Under the program, Boeing is installing Raytheon’s APG-82(V)1 active electronically scanned array radar on the Strike Eagle fleet, replacing the aircraft’s existing APG-70 mechanically scanned system.
The APG-82 AESA borrows significantly from systems developed for the F-18E/F and F-15C, and consequently reduces the overall cost and integration risk of the program, according to Boeing.
The radar is undergoing flight testing at Eglin AFB, Fla., Holloman AFB, N.M., and Nellis AFB, Nev. The Air Force plans to complete a fleetwide upgrade by 2022.
Global Hawk ROK
The White House would like to offer the RQ-4 Global Hawk remotely piloted aircraft to South Korea under a foreign military sale, administration officials told Congress in August.
Eager to strengthen surveillance capability in light of heightened friction with its northern neighbor, South Korea’s “interest is based on the operational need of our military,” stated a South Korean defense spokesman, quoted by Reuters.
Pending the result of negotiations between the US and South Korean governments—as well as a required export waiver—”a contract is expected by the end of the year,” said Northrop Grumman spokeswoman Gemma Loochkartt. “As far as all the details are concerned, that’s being worked on directly between the two governments.” At present, the deal “would include four [Global Hawks] in the Block 30 configuration and, of course, the ground station,” she explained.
Pacific partners Australia and Japan have also voiced interest in the RQ-4 Block 30 intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance platform.
Technicians at the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center completed upgrading the first E-3 Sentry to Block 40/45 standards at Tinker AFB, Okla.
The 27-year-old airborne early warning and control aircraft is the first of six low-rate initial production airframes undergoing improvements including a new onboard computer network, ground station interface, and infrastructure upgrades.
The team “overcame a leaking radome, hydraulic contamination, and a late corrosion find,” yet managed to finish under budget, 23 days ahead of schedule, said Col. Cedric D. George, 76th Maintenance Wing commander, during the Aug. 25 rollout.
All six LRIP aircraft are due for completion by 2014, with initial operational test and evaluation slated for next spring. USAF plans to make the decision on upgrading the remaining 25 AWACS by 2012.
Flies Like a CHAMP
A new high-powered microwave weapon capable of destroying electromagnetic targets recently flew for the first time in a trial at the Utah Test and Training Range.
CHAMP, which stands for Counterelectronics High-powered Microwave Advanced Missile Project, is a demonstrator designed to neutralize electronic targets using an HPM payload while minimizing or eliminating the collateral damage associated with traditional kinetic weapons.
The missile and software capable of the timing and control needed to engage and successfully destroy electronic targets was flown without the high-powered microwave kill system.
“It was as close to the real thing as we could get for this test,” said Keith Coleman, Boeing’s CHAMP program manager, after the flight. The demonstration “sets the stage for a new breed of nonlethal, but highly effective weapon systems,” he added.
Boeing won the three-year, $38 million contract in April 2009 to develop CHAMP under an Office of the Secretary of Defense-sponsored demonstration.
Boosted Bunker Buster
The Air Force Research Laboratory has reached out to industry to generate ideas for a new bunker-busting bomb.
The High Velocity Penetrating Weapon Flagship Capability Concept is envisioned by AFRL as a 2,000-pound weapon sized for internal carriage in the F-35 strike fighter.
According to the agency announcement, the Air Force wants a solid rocket-boosted weapon capable of penetrating as deeply as the current 5,000-pound bunker buster.
Concept work would reduce technical risk, maturing subsystems and components to the level of enabling a potential demonstration project, possibly in Fiscal 2014.
AFRL solicited white papers identifying critical technologies such as guidance, explosive fill, and propulsion.
The broad agency announcement points out that the construction trend for hardened and deeply buried facilities “has been to increase complexity in depth and hardness, thereby making [them] more difficult to locate and destroy.”
Leave the Parts on Guam
Air Force Global Strike Command and Pacific Air Forces partnered to shave an estimated $12 million each year from the cost of B-52 rotations to Andersen AFB, Guam.
Every six months, B-52s from Barksdale AFB, La., hand off bomber presence in the Pacific to B-52s from Minot AFB, N.D., or B-2s from Whiteman AFB, Mo.
Until now, each unit lugged an enormous trove of spare parts—known as mobility readiness spares packages—over the Pacific twice a year. Instead, officials agreed to permanently position a B-52 MRSP on Guam, standardize Minot’s and Barksdale’s kits, and simply ship a single common package overland between the bases Stateside.
“The continuous bomber presence in the Pacific is vital in assuring our regional allies,” noted Lt. Gen. James M. Kowalski, AFGSC commander.
Driving the eight container-trucks rather than sea- or airlifting the larger kits significantly eases the lift burden for the mission.
Down Under Overhead
With the sixth Wideband Global SATCOM satellite now in production, the Air Force has awarded Boeing a $1.09 billion contract to build a seventh satellite for the constellation and begin long-lead prep for the eighth.
Three WGS spacecraft are already providing simultaneous X-band and Ka-band communications to US military personnel from orbit. Three more—WGS-4, -5, and -6—are in production, with the launch of WGS-4 tentatively scheduled for early 2012. Australia funded WGS-6.
With WGS-6 “we increased our overall capabilities at zero additional cost … while Australia was able to realize 100 percent of their global SATCOM requirements,” said Heidi H. Grant, USAF deputy undersecretary for international affairs.
With demand for remotely piloted aircraft growing, “demand for bandwidth is not only increasing exponentially for us, but also for our allies,” added Grant, speaking at AFA’s Air & Space Conference in September.
Following Australia’s lead, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and New Zealand have begun preliminary discussions with the Air Force on similar efforts.
AFROTC Returns to Yale
For the first time since 1957, there will be an Air Force reserve officers’ training corps detachment at Yale University in New Haven, Conn., next year.
Under an agreement signed between Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley and Yale University President Richard C. Levin in September, classes for cadets will begin next fall.
The Yale detachment also will enroll ROTC students from Connecticut universities participating in cross-town arrangements.
The Obama Administration’s move to permit openly homosexual military service with the repeal of the Clinton-era Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy warmed several schools, such as Harvard University and Yale, to re-establishing ROTC detachments on campus.
Earlier this year, Harvard agreed to an ROTC presence at the school for the first time in 41 years.
Posthumous Silver Star
Capt. Nathan Nylander, who died aiding comrades after an Afghan Air Force officer opened fire on air advisors at Kabul Arpt., Afghanistan, was posthumously awarded the Silver Star.
Chief of Staff Gen. Norton A. Schwartz presented the medal to Nylander’s widow and three children during a ceremony at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., Sept. 24.
As the disgruntled Afghan opened fire in a conference room, Nylander successfully evacuated several airmen before returning fire in the corridor, wounding the shooter. Believing the attacker incapacitated, Nylander returned to assist the wounded and was slain when the shooter resumed fire.
Assigned to Davis-Monthan’s 25th Operational Weather Squadron and deployed with the 438th Air Expeditionary Wing, Nylander was among eight airmen and one US contractor killed April 27.
“Our nation was blessed with such a brave and generous airman,” Schwartz told Nylander’s family, reported the Arizona Daily Star. “You need to know how proud we are of your father,” he told Nylander’s children. “Your dad is an inspiration.”
DFC for Moody Airman
Maj. Kirk D. Adams, an HH-60 pilot with the 41st Rescue Squadron at Moody AFB, Ga., received the Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor Device for heroic actions in Afghanistan.
On April 4, 2009, Adams “suppressed armed enemies” while evacuating a critical casualty near Kajaki, Afghanistan, according to Moody officials.
Maj. Gen. Stephen L. Hoog, 9th Air Force commander, presented the medal to Adams in a ceremony Sept. 7.
USAF’s Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor Device recognizes heroism or extraordinary achievement in aerial combat by a member of the US military.
Silver Star for Combat Controller
SSgt. Cecil Caleb Gilbreath, a Combat Control School instructor at Pope Field, N.C., received the Silver Star for his “extraordinary bravery” in Afghanistan in late 2009, when he was a member of Pope’s 21st Special Tactics Squadron.
Lt. Gen. Eric E. Fiel, head of Air Force Special Operations Command, presented the Silver Star to Gilbreath in a ceremony Sept. 23.
According to his citation, Gilbreath “exposed himself to direct enemy fire” on Nov. 2, 2009, after 30 insurgents attacked his combined Special Forces and Afghan Army team in “a well-coordinated” ambush.
Gilbreath “coordinated three separate pinpoint bomb strikes that devastated the insurgents and halted the attack.”
F-35 Structural Component Requires Redesign
Thirty Air Force F-35A and 34 Marine Corps F-35B strike fighters built early in the aircraft’s production run will require modification to reach their design lifespan of 8,000 flight hours, according to the F-35 Joint Program Office.
Engineers identified a structural weakness during full-scale durability tests in which the airframe was repeatedly subjected to simulated flight stresses.
The failure occurred in an aluminum wing component known as the forward root rib, located at the leading edge of the wing where it joins the fuselage, according to the JPO.
Engineers identified the issue before physical tests began. As predicted, a crack emerged in the F-35A’s forward root rib after little more than 2,800 hours.
Beginning in production Lot 5, both F-35 variants will incorporate a redesigned root rib. Working with the JPO, Lockheed has drafted a plan to retrofit all 64 early production aircraft with the modification. The issue doesn’t affect the Navy’s F-35C variant.
In addition to durability testing, Lockheed announced successful completion of static structural tests in September. Subjected to weight loads rather than the kinetic stress of durability testing, the two-year process verified the accuracy of technical information, as well as the structural integrity of the airframe.
Grand Forks’ Global Empire
In addition to receiving its first RQ-4 Global Hawk Block 40, Grand Forks AFB, N.D., now hosts ground control of battlefield airborne communications node (BACN) Global Hawks operating in Southwest Asia.
The Air Force currently operates two BACN-modified Global Hawks alongside three similarly modified E-11A business jet aircraft. The specially equipped Block 20 Global Hawks enable uninterrupted communication between commanders and ground forces even in mountainous terrain.
“The ground segment shelters have actually been relocated, … [and] the first couple of missions [have flown] already out of Grand Forks,” said George Guerra, Northrop Grumman Global Hawk vice president in a briefing at the Air Force Association’s Air & Space Conference, Sept. 19.
Designated as home to the Global Hawk Block 40 equipped with the sophisticated Multiplatform Radar Technology Insertion Program (MP-RTIP) radar for ground-target detection, “Grand Forks is turning out to be a hotbed” for Global Hawk operations, said Guerra.
Three days after the first operational Block 40 touched down at Grand Forks, the Air Force activated the 69th Reconnaissance Group to operate and maintain the Block 40 aircraft.
Grand Forks will host 10 RQ-4 Block 40 variants, with more Global Hawks arriving this fall. In addition to the two existing BACN Global Hawks, the Air Force has “identified two more Block 20s that would be modified to have the system,” pending congressional approval.
Dunn Ending Tour; Search for AFA President Begins
The Air Force Association has begun its search for a new President (formerly called Executive Director) to replace Michael M. Dunn, who is retiring in 2012 after five years as president and CEO. A search committee has been appointed to identify candidates.
The search committee consists of John D. W. Corley as chairman, and committee members Stephen P. “Pat” Condon and Larry A. Lawson. Corley is the former commander of Air Combat Command and is a current AFA National Director. Condon is a former AFA National President and Chairman of the Board and current National Director Emeritus. Lawson is Lockheed Martin’s Executive Vice President and General Manager of the F-35 program and is a current AFA National Director. All three have broad experience in AFA.
The search committee will be principally advised by John A. Shaud, former AFA Executive Director and current National Director Emeritus; Michael E. Ryan, former Air Force Chief of Staff and AFA National Director; and Gerald R. Murray, the 14th Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force and a former AFA National Director.
Persons wishing to be considered by the search committee must submit their requests in writing or via electronic correspondence, to be received by Jan. 15, 2012, to the following:
Air Force Association
Attn: Presidential Search Committee
PO Box 926
Arlington, VA 22216
|The War on Terrorism
Operation Enduring Freedom—Afghanistan
By Oct. 17, a total of 1,803 Americans had died in Operation Enduring Freedom. The total includes 1,800 troops and three Department of Defense civilians. Of these deaths, 1,430 were killed in action with the enemy while 373 died in noncombat incidents.
There have been 14,534 troops wounded in action during OEF.
Afghan Air Force’s First Fixed Wing Trainers
Three of the six Cessna 182Ts forming the basis of the Afghan Air Force’s undergraduate pilot training program recently arrived to Shindand Air Base in western Afghanistan.
With all six aircraft on hand later this year, the next class will be able to train for the first time in Afghanistan.
“Six years ago we had nothing, and today we are receiving our first three training aircraft,” said Afghan Maj. Gen. Abdul Wahab Wardak, AAF commander.
The inital cadre of AAF pilots selected in 2009 is still undergoing UPT in the United States and six larger Cessna 208B advanced trainers are due to arrive later this year.
For helicopter pilots, six each of the MD-530 and heavier Mi-17 helicopters are also on order to form a tandem rotary-wing training track.
“This is a huge task, developing an entire UPT program from the ground up, to include infrastructure, aircraft, maintenance, and personnel,” said Lt. Col. James Mueller, 444th Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron commander.
Shepherd in the Sky
A C-17 crew on an airdrop mission over Afghanistan late this summer diverted to escort a disabled B-1 Lancer to a safe landing back at the B-1’s operating base in Southwest Asia.
“We were working a complex situation on the ground with some guys taking some fire and we lost our navigation instruments,” said Capt. Gavin O’Brien, 34th Expeditionary Bomber Squadron B-1 pilot deployed from Ellsworth AFB, S.D. “The C-17 heard us having some trouble in the radio and offered to bring us home,” he added.
After command and control relayed the bomber’s coordinates, the airlifter detoured 150 miles to lead the Lancer home to its undisclosed air base in the region.
“They were up there flying blind more or less” and “had no way of navigating back out of country,” explained Capt. Justin Taylor, C-17 commander assigned to the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, deployed from JB Charleston, S.C.
BF-2, a Marine Corps F-35B test aircraft made the type’s first vertical landing at sea aboard USS Wasp, Oct. 3. The flight was part of several weeks of shipboard integration trials conducted with the amphibious assault vessel.
NASA unveiled plans for its next rocket. Capable of manned flight to Mars, the prototype Space Launch System would lift 77 tons, generating 8.4 million pounds of thrust. The agency aims for a prototype launch by 2017.
The Air Force’s official in-house publication, Airman magazine, disappeared from coffee tables across the force in October. Due to budget cuts, September’s edition was the magazine’s final print issue. Airman is still available online.
A microburst flattened flight-line shelters, damaging 11 F-16s and two A-10s during a wind storm at Nellis AFB, Nev., Sept. 8. Eight airmen were treated for minor injuries.
Two HH-60G helicopters simultaneously surpassed 10,000 flight hours on a training sortie from Kirtland AFB, N.M., Sept. 1. Both were assigned to the 58th Special Operations Wing at Kirtland.
CMSgt. Michael Reinert, the Air Force’s last piston-engine flight engineer, retired from the Air Force in September. Reinert began his career in 1970, operating KC-97 Stratotankers. He retired from the Missouri Air National Guard’s 139th Airlift Wing, flying aboard the C-130H.
Security forces airmen completed a ruck march in honor of the victims of 9/11 and security forces airmen killed since. The 2,100-mile tribute that began two months earlier at JB San Antonio, Tex., ended Sept. 11, in lower Manhattan.
Twenty years later to the day, Boeing’s C-17 prototype recreated its maiden flight, lifting off from Long Beach, Calif., during a ceremony at Boeing’s facility there. Aircraft T-1 first flew Sept. 15, 1991. Boeing delivered first operational C-17 to the 17th Airlift Squadron at JB Charleston, S.C., in 1993.
The 2,000th security forces airman, SrA. William Newman Jr., graduated from the Air Force Expeditionary Center’s Phoenix Raven course Sept. 22 at JB McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. Created in 1997, the two-week aircraft-protection course trains airmen in specialized asset-defense tactics.
C-5A Galaxy, tail # 90013, touched down at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, completing the Air Force Reserve Command 445th Airlift Wing’s final C-5 mission Sept. 28. Now re-equipping with the C-17, the wing flew C-5s from the base for six years.