Tyndall Joins ACC
Tyndall AFB, Fla., transitioned from Air Education and Training Command to Air Combat Command Oct. 1 as part of the Air Force’s F-22 fleet reorganization.
Tyndall, home to one Raptor training squadron, is due to receive a new combat-coded F-22 squadron transferring from Holloman AFB, N.M.
“Co-locating a combat-coded F-22 squadron together with F-22s assigned to the formal training unit … provides training, maintenance, and operational advantages that benefit combatant commanders and ensure operational readiness,” AETC officials stated in a press release Oct. 1.
Due to budgetary constraints under the continuing resolution, the Air Force had no immediate “specific timetable” for the combat-ready jets’ arrival. A CR took effect at the beginning of October to supply funds in lieu of Congress enacting Fiscal 2013 defense appropriations legislation before the new fiscal year began.
The 337th Air Control Squadron (redesignated from the 325th ACS Oct. 4), trains air battle managers and is the only unit at Tyndall that still remains under AETC.
New Guard Bureau Chief
Army Gen. Frank J. Grass replaced Air Force Gen. Craig R. McKinley as National Guard Bureau chief in a change-of-responsibility ceremony at the Pentagon Sept. 7.
McKinley was the first four-star leader of the Guard Bureau and the first Guard chief to serve as a statutory member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
“The National Guard has been an integral part of our Active force for decades, and I don’t think we’ve ever reached a point where it’s been more relevant, or reliable, or competent,” McKinley said at the handover.
Grass, who previously served as US Northern Command’s deputy commander, received his fourth star at the event prior to taking charge of the National Guard Bureau.
McKinley, who had served as NGB chief since November 2008, retired after 38 years of uniformed service and assumed a new role as the Air Force Association’s President.
Double Raptors in the Pacific
A second package of F-22s from JB Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, deployed to the western Pacific, joining Raptors from JB Langley-Eustis, Va., that deployed over the summer.
The placements were “a prudent measure to maintain a credible deterrent posture and presence in the region,” said Elmendorf spokeswoman Capt. Ashley Conner, quoted by the Alaska Dispatch Sept. 18. Though territorial tensions between China and Japan were running high in September, the deployments were “not in response to any specific situation,” she said.
Elmendorf’s F-22s took up station at Andersen AFB, Guam, while the Langley Raptors operated from Kadena AB, Japan.
The twin deployments are the Raptors’ first to the region since the F-22 fleet returned to flight in 2011.
The Elmendorf contingent includes airmen from the Active Duty 3rd Wing and Air Force Reserve Command’s 477th Fighter Group, which reached full operational capability for the first time in September.
Back on Campus
Air Force ROTC cadets took the oath of enlistment at Yale University for the first time in decades, at the beginning of the school year at the New Haven, Conn., campus.
Return of an Air Force ROTC detachment to the Ivy League school resulted from an agreement between Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley and Yale President Richard C. Levin, signed in September 2011.
University officials allowed the detachment’s return after the Obama Administration’s repeal of the law banning homosexuals from openly serving in the US military.
Yale had an AFROTC detachment on campus until 1957. The school’s ban predated DOD’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy by several decades.
Yale’s new AFROTC detachment officially opened its doors on Sept. 21, with 38 cadets from Yale and cross-town partnership institutions, said AFROTC officials at Maxwell AFB, Ala.
Classes began for the academic year Aug. 29, and AFROTC Det. 009 Commander Col. Scott Manning administered the oath in a ceremony Sept. 6.
Goodbye, 13th Air Force
The Air Force inactivated 13th Air Force, headquartered at JB Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, transferring its airpower planning and execution functions to Pacific Air Forces headquarters, also at Hickam.
“Our commitment to the region remains steadfast,” said Lt. Gen Stanley T. Kresge, who led the numbered air force at its inactivation, effective Oct. 1. “The joining of 13th Air Force and PACAF not only ensures an effective response in a crisis, but also facilitates increased trust and interoperability with allies and partners,” said Kresge, taking up his new post as PACAF vice commander.
The inactivation ceremony took place on Sept. 28 and also celebrated the NAF’s 70-year history of supporting the Pacific region.
In Air Force parlance, PACAF is a C-Majcom, or component major command, that now has direct operational responsibility under US Pacific Command for the area of the Asia-Pacific region formerly covered by 13th Air Force. PACAF’s 7th Air Force at Osan AB, South Korea, still has operational responsibility for the Korean peninsula and northwest Pacific.
In addition to 13th Air Force, USAF stood down 17th Air Force in April and inactivated 19th Air Force in July as part of a servicewide initiative to operate more efficiently and shed redundancy.
B-2 Fleet Upgraded
Northrop Grumman completed field installations of an upgraded radar system for the B-2 stealth bomber fleet, according to company officials.
“Every operational B-2 is now equipped with the new radar” thanks to efforts undertaken for the B-2 Radar Modernization Program, Northrop Grumman said in a Sept. 24 news release.
Raytheon supplied the components to upgrade the B-2’s 1980s-vintage AN/APQ-181 multimode radar; they include active electronically scanned array antennas, a power supply, and a modified receiver/exciter.
Northrop Grumman completed hardware installation at Whiteman, delivering jets “anywhere from one to 11 days early,” said Ron Naylor, company director of B-2 modernization.
The total package improves the radar’s maintainability and lays the foundation for future capability enhancements.
USAF operates a fleet of 20 B-2s, including one normally used for testing at Edwards AFB, Calif. The others are assigned to the 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman AFB, Mo.
Space Fence Post
The Air Force will base its first Space Fence radar site on Kwajalein atoll in the Marshall Islands, Air Force space officials revealed Sept. 25.
Space Fence features an S-band radar system expected to be capable of detecting, tracking, identifying, and characterizing objects as small as a softball in low and medium Earth orbits up to 1,200 miles away.
Construction is scheduled to begin next September and take 48 months to complete, leading the site to initial operational capability in Fiscal 2017, according to the service’s news release.
Lockheed Martin and Raytheon have been maturing their respective Space Fence designs, and the Air Force is expected to select one competitor to begin engineering and manufacturing development early this fiscal year.
The Air Force may also establish a second Space Fence site in Western Australia that would come online sometime in Fiscal 2020, according to Federal Business Opportunities documents online.
The Fence will form an important part of the Air Force’s overall space surveillance network.
Spooky in the Sunlight
AC-130 gunships began daylight missions for the first time this summer, providing fire support to coalition ground forces in Afghanistan thanks to a new high-definition sensor suite.
“We have not flown gunships during the day before, but they are currently flying during the day” now over Afghanistan, said Air Force Special Operations Command boss Lt. Gen. Eric E. Fiel.
The new sensors “allow us a longer standoff range, which caused a little problem since the weapons can’t engage targets at that range,” said Fiel, speaking at the Air Force Association’s Air & Space Conference outside Washington, D.C., in September.
AFSOC is working to fix the problem, he said. The command has already integrated Small Diameter Bombs onto its AC-130W gunships for a limited standoff precision strike capability and is working to expand the arsenal.
Stinger gunships in Afghanistan currently carry eight SDBs—four under each wing—as well as “internal precision guided munitions,” said Fiel.
AFSOC planned to begin testing Hellfire air-to-ground missiles on the AC-130 in October to add true standoff capability in the near future, he said.
Missile Defense Center Opens
US European Command and NATO leaders recently inaugurated the new European Integrated Air and Missile Defense Center in Einsiedlerhof, Germany.
The center is meant to support the increased education and training requirements driven by the emerging NATO mission for the territorial ballistic missile defense of Europe. “What we see today represents the US contribution to this critical mission, and we fully expect to grow it into a true coalition center with US and European nation partners working side by side,” said Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, commander of US Air Forces in Europe.
Breedlove also leads NATO’s allied Air Component Command, collocated with USAFE at Ramstein AB, Germany. He assisted EUCOM Commander Adm. James G. Stavridis, who also heads NATO’s Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers, Europe, in the ribbon cutting Sept. 26.
F-35 Schoolhouse About To Open
Air Force evaluators began the final certification process for full-up F-35A training at Eglin AFB, Fla., early this fall.
A cadre of four pilots began the operational utility evaluation, essentially a dry run of every facet of Eglin’s F-35 training pipeline, on Sept. 10.
“The start of the OUE is another huge milestone for the Air Force and the program as a whole,” said Col. Andrew J. Toth, 33rd Fighter Wing commander in charge of Eglin’s joint F-35 schoolhouse.
Training officials at Eglin originally intended to launch the OUE last October, paving the way to start training operational F-35 pilots this past January. Instead, Air Force officials didn’t clear the F-35A to begin flight operations at Eglin until the end of February, bumping the OUE back almost a year.
Following the 65-day OUE, “we should receive the Air Education and Training Command’s approval that states we are ‘ready for training’ ” sometime in mid-November, said Toth.
New GPS Satellite Launches
The Air Force and its industry partners launched the third GPS Block IIF satellite into space Oct. 4.
A United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket carried the Boeing-built positioning, navigation, and timing satellite aloft from Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla. “Once again, the 45th Space Wing, working in concert with our talented mission partners, is delivering space assets that will greatly benefit our nation,” said Col. Robert J. Pavelko, the wing’s vice commander and the mission’s launch decision authority.
The October launch was the first boost of a GPS satellite this year, and the Space and Missile Systems Center expects SVN-65 to be designated “healthy” for navigation use approximately 90 days after the launch.
In the meantime, the satellite will undergo extended navigational signal testing, but indications are good, as controllers confirmed initial contact several hours after the launch, according to Boeing.
Block IIF satellites are designed to provide greater navigational accuracy, a more secure and jam-resistant military signal, a more robust civil signal, and an extended design life. The first IIF satellite entered operational service in August 2010, followed one year later by the second IIF satellite.
MALD-J Starts Operational Testing
The Air Force and Raytheon began operational testing of the Miniature Air Launched Decoy Jammer with four successful test shots, company officials said.
The decoy and jammer variants have “achieved 13 successful flight tests in 13 attempts,” according to Raytheon’s announcement Sept. 24.
The MALD-J adds radar jamming capability to the basic MALD platform, which Air Combat Command cleared for real-world operations in July.
“MALD saves lives by saturating enemy integrated air defense systems, causing them to pursue the wrong target instead of attacking our aircraft,” said Harry Schulte, Raytheon’s vice president of air warfare systems. “With MALD-J, we are building on this combat-proven decoy to provide the warfighter with even more capability.”
Several more operational test and evaluation flights were scheduled for the remainder of the year, according to the company.
Reports Complete on Two Accidents
A combination of operator and mechanical errors downed an MQ-1 Predator remotely piloted aircraft that crashed in Afghanistan Feb. 14.
Air Combat Command investigators found that the Predator experienced a dual alternator failure followed by the complete loss of electrical power midflight, according to a command press release Sept. 7.
The controller responsible for launch and recovery of the Predator then “failed to adequately assess the nature of the emergency and fully execute proper procedures,” states the release.
The RPA lost electrical power and crashed in a field northeast of the deployed airfield. The resulting loss of equipment and property damage totaled an estimated $3.9 million, the abbreviated investigation report said.
In a second incident, engine failure caused by an ignition cable malfunction downed an MQ-1B Predator remotely piloted aircraft during a reconnaissance mission over Afghanistan April 14, Air Combat Command determined.
The RPA “experienced a single-point failure that simultaneously caused both ignition circuits” to lose control of engine ignition, stated an ACC press release, summarizing the accident investigation board’s findings Sept. 4.
The RPA controllers followed the correct protocols and attempted to recover the aircraft. After deeming it impossible to restart the engine or glide the aircraft safely to base, the crew intentionally crashed it on an unpopulated mountainside.
The Predator and a guided anti-surface missile survived the impact mostly intact and were destroyed by an Army recovery team after they stripped the aircraft of sensitive components.
Another Hot, Busy Season
The Air Force’s small fleet of C-130 firefighting airplanes finished a busy season battling wildfires in the western United States in mid-September.
US Forest Service officials released the final two Modular Airborne Firefighting System-equipped C-130s due to favorable conditions in the western states Sept. 14, 153rd Air Expeditionary Group officials stated.
MAFFS C-130s began fighting the wildfires on June 25, with up to six airplanes simultaneously battling blazes across the western US throughout the summer.
As of the stand-down, MAFFS aircraft had released some 2.5 million gallons of fire retardant in 1,011 drops over 10 states, racking up the second highest tally for gallons dispensed in a single season in MAFFS fleet history. In the 1994 season, aircraft dropped five million gallons.
The last two C-130s—Air National Guard assets from California and North Carolina—staged from Sacramento, Calif., for several weeks prior to the end of operations.
“Although our planes and crews have returned home, we all know MAFFS can still be reactivated well into the fall,” warned Lt. Col. Donald Taylor, 153rd AEG acting commander.
C-130s from the Wyoming Air Guard and Air Force Reserve Command’s 302nd Airlift Wing also took part in wildfire operations, surging several times throughout the summer.
Reserve Raptors Cleared for Ops
Five years after activation, Air Force Reserve Command’s 477th Fighter Group at JB Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, is now fully capable of executing its combat mission, group officials said in early September.
“Fully operation[ally] capable means that we are ready and able to execute our wartime tasking,” said Col. Bryan P. Radliff, 477th FG commander, announcing the milestone Sept. 9.
The group cooperates with Elmendorf’s Active Duty 3rd Wing to operate and maintain the base’s two squadrons of combat-coded F-22s.
The 477th FG was activated at Elmendorf in October 2007, becoming the Air Force’s first Reserve F-22 unit and the only AFRC unit in Alaska.
The group reached F-22 initial operational capability along with the 3rd Wing less than a year later in September 2008.
The 477th FG traces its heritage to the Tuskegee Airmen of the 477th Bomb Group in World War II.
Plinking at Pilsung
Air Force Special Operations Command deployed AC-130U gunships to South Korea for the first time in more than a decade to participate in live-fire close air support training with South Korean special operations forces.
For Exercise Teak Knife, South Korean special operators directed the two gunships as well as F-16s and A-10s from the 51st Fighter Wing at Osan Air Base against targets on the Pilsung Range complex.
Additionally, five members of Osan’s 51st Security Forces Squadron trained to direct air strikes in defense of Osan, should the base come under attack, according to Osan officials.
Along with the gunships, some 100 US special operators and support personnel deployed for the exercise, which ran Sept. 2 to Sept. 14.
WinFly Ends, Deep Freeze Begins
A C-17 from JB Lewis-McChord, Wash., launched aerial resupply activities for the 2012-2013 season of Operation Deep Freeze, the US military’s mission providing logistical support to US scientific researchers in Antarctica, Oct. 1.
Active Duty and Reserve airmen of McChord’s 62nd Airlift Wing and Air Force Reserve Command’s 445th AW deployed with the airlifter to the staging base at Christchurch, New Zealand, on Sept. 29, according to McChord officials.
In August, a McChord C-17 flew six preseason missions to the barren continent, ferrying 319 passengers and more than 230,000 pounds of cargo to McMurdo Station, Antarctica. Despite weather delays, the team extracted 69 passengers and more than 35,000 pounds of equipment on return flights to Christchurch.
McChord C-17s and ski-equipped LC-130 “Skibirds” from the New York Air National Guard’s 109th AW in Scotia form the air component of Joint Task Force-Support Forces Antarctica. The C-17 primarily shuttles between Christchurch and McMurdo. LC-130 flights from McMurdo farther inland were slated to begin Oct. 18, according to a task force statement on Sept. 26.
An unexplained engine fire caused an F-15E to crash during an aggressor training sortie from the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing’s operating location in Southwest Asia May 3, stated Air Combat Command.
“A rare ignition of the titanium components” within the right engine severely damaged vital systems, leading to the crash, according to ACC’s accident investigation board, which released its findings in a report Sept. 26.
Midway through the training engagement, the Strike Eagle’s crew experienced a violent concussion during a full-afterburner climb. The pilot leveled the aircraft, and immediately shut down the right engine, responding to an overheat warning. Struggling to control the aircraft, the pilot applied full left stick and rudder to keep the fighter near level. He called for his backseater to eject, then canceled the order after regaining momentary control. Moments later, a complete power failure forced the crew to eject. Both were recovered unharmed.
The F-15E belonged to the 391st Fighter Wing from Mountain Home AFB, Idaho. ACC estimated losses and damage from the crash at $45.5 million.
Medical flight crews at Ramstein AB, Germany, tested use of a civilian Gulfstream III jet as a way of speeding aeromedical evacuations from Africa earlier this fall.
“Each takeoff and landing places stress on patients, and any delays in a flight could hinder a patient’s care,” said SrA. Gabriela Perez, a technician with Ramstein’s 86th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron.
The Learjet C-21s the squadron currently uses for low-capacity transfers lack sufficient range to reach Africa unrefueled, so the unit has been exploring the feasibility of using civil Gulfstreams instead.
“This is something that has been in the planning phase for more than a year,” explained Lt. Col. Paul Yenter, air evacuation chief in Ramstein’s 603rd Air and Space Operations Center. “Once the waivers to fly on the G3 were complete,” along with the training, unit members just had to “wait for the right patients,” he said.
The first flight departed Ramstein on a one-day mission, recovering two ambulatory patients from Africa Sept. 3, according to a news release.
A fan blade flawed in manufacturing caused an F-16C to crash during ground-support training over the Utah Test and Training Range May 4, Air Combat Command investigators determined.
Eight years of cracking and wear along the manufacturing anomaly at the base of the fan blade caused it to snap off, causing “catastrophic damage to the engine fan, compressor, and turbines,” ACC said, outlining the accident investigation findings in a release Sept. 6.
The pilot “correctly applied” procedures, trying to restart the engine for 90 seconds before he was forced to eject from the crippled jet, the accident investigation board report said.
The pilot escaped unscathed, but the fighter was destroyed upon impact, resulting in a $23.9 million loss, according to ACC.
Investigators faulted the “failure to detect the anomaly” during an engine installation inspection in 2004 as the main contributing factor in the crash.
Both the pilot and the F-16 were assigned to the 421st Fighter Squadron at Hill AFB, Utah.
CV-22s and MC-130Js to Britain
Air Force Special Operations Command plans to stand up a squadron of CV-22 Ospreys at RAF Mildenhall, UK, next year, AFSOC boss Lt. Gen. Eric E. Fiel said at AFA’s Air & Space Conference in September.
“Probably June or July , we’ll be standing up our third CV-22 squadron when the first CV-22s land at Mildenhall,” he said speaking at National Harbor, Md., Sept. 19.
The command had originally planned to deploy CV-22s to England sometime this year.
Next summer, AFSOC also plans to replace its legacy MC-130 covert operations aircraft at Mildenhall. Shortly after the Ospreys arrive, “we’ll begin to recap our ageing MC-130 fleet, both our Talon IIs and our Combat Shadows,” by replacing them with the MC-130J Commando II, said Fiel.
AFSOC hopes to introduce CV-22s into the Pacific region as well by 2014, he added.
The 500 F119s
Pratt & Whitney delivered the 500th F119 turbofan built for the F-22 Raptor fleet in September and plans to wrap up production of the fifth generation power plant by year’s end, company officials said.
The F119 also recently surpassed 20 years of simulated use in accelerated mission tests, the company announced in a release Sept. 25.
“Delivery of the 500th F119 engine, along with our accomplishments in AMT, provides tangible proof of the durability of this fifth generation propulsion system,” said company F119 director Cliff Stone. “We continue to demonstrate substantial life-extension capabilities and cost savings” much as the company has for F100 engines used on the F-15 and F-16, he said.
“The F119 AMT demonstrates our ability to deliver similar cost savings for the F-22,” said Chris Flynn, vice president of F119 and F135 engine programs.
To date, F119 engines have logged more than 230,000 operational flight hours on the F-22 fleet, according to the company.
Lancer Torture Test
Boeing recently began fatigue-testing a B-1B bomber wing late this summer and was scheduled to begin similar testing on the Lancer’s fuselage this month.
The stress testing at the company’s facility in Tukwila, Wash., will help validate the aircraft’s predicated life expectancy, revealing areas of concern for future maintenance and repair planning.
“This comprehensive testing is a proactive way for Boeing to meet its mission of keeping the B-1 bomber fleet ready and viable,” said Rick Greenwell, the company’s B-1 program director.
Boeing projects that the B-1 will remain structurally viable out to 2050.
A Fourth Serving of BACN
Bombardier delivered a Global 6000 business jet destined for conversion to an Air Force E-11A overhead communications relay aircraft, the Canadian company revealed in September.
“The intention is to equip this new addition with the battlefield airborne communications node, or BACN, in time for deployment next summer,” the company stated in a press release Sept. 6.
After conversion, this airframe will be the fourth BACN-equipped Bombardier Global aircraft to join the inventory.
USAF’s three other E-11As have been supporting coalition operations in Afghanistan, alongside several similarly equipped EQ-4B Global Hawk remotely piloted aircraft.
The BACN communications suite, supplied by Northrop Grumman, enables disparate battlefield communications systems to share data, even in rugged terrain.
Handover ceremonies took place at Bombardier’s facility in Connecticut Aug. 30.
Lot Two F-15E AESAs
Raytheon received a contract to build the second lot of APG-82(V)1 active electronically scanned array radars for the Air Force’s F-15E fleet, the company announced.
Delivery of Lot 2 low-rate initial production AESA units is scheduled to begin in February 2014, according to a Raytheon release Sept. 17.
Under the F-15E Radar Modernization Program, Boeing is installing the Raytheon-supplied AESAs on the Strike Eagle fleet, replacing the aircraft’s existing APG-70 mechanically steered radar.
Raytheon will assemble 10 units during the Lot 2 production run according to prime contractor Boeing.
In addition to enhancing reliability, the APG-82 can simultaneously detect, identify, and track multiple air and surface targets at longer ranges than the current APG-70, according to Raytheon.
The company began Lot 1 production totaling six units last fall.
First Cadet T-53A Solo
Cadet 1st Class Staci Rouse became the first cadet to solo in the Air Force Academy’s new Cirrus T-53A single engine flight training aircraft on Sept. 7.
Rouse lifted off on the historic flight at the academy’s airfield, flying once around the pattern before landing.
“I had much more confidence flying the aircraft than I expected I ever would after my first flight,” said Rouse, a senior from Woodbridge, N.J., with Cadet Squadron 40.
“I was overjoyed to see everyone waiting for me after the flight because they all helped me so much,” she added, thanking her classmates and instructors who greeted her after the flight.
Rouse “was definitely ready for solo and well-qualified to be the first solo cadet,” said her instructor, Lt. Col. Scott Oskvarek, a Reservist with the 70th Flying Training Squadron. “I’m extremely proud of her accomplishment.”
BACN Bits and WiFi
The Air Force awarded Northrop Grumman a $20 million contract to add beyond-line-of-sight command and control functions to one of its E-11A communications-relay aircraft.
BLOS C2 will allow the Battlefield Airborne Communications Node-equipped jet to spread “wireless Internet over the battlefield,” giving ground forces access to video, imagery, and Internet chat, according to a company announcement Sept. 24.
The Air Force’s small, combined fleet of BACN-equipped E-11As and RQ-4B Global Hawk remotely piloted aircraft currently provide near-constant communications relay over Afghanistan, the company revealed.
The E-11A slated for the upgrade is one of three Bombardier BD-700 Global Express airplanes already modified with BACN payloads. Technicians at Hanscom AFB, Mass., are scheduled to complete BLOS C2 installation and integration work on this aircraft by next June.
The Air Force previously announced it is undertaking conversion of a fourth Bombardier aircraft to E-11A standards to augment the existing BACN fleet.
H Model Herks Leave Dyess
The last two C-130H transports assigned to Dyess AFB, Tex., departed for their new home at Little Rock AFB, Ark., this fall, as part of Dyess’ ongoing transition to the C-130J.
“We’re not only saying goodbye to the H models that have had a great history here for 37 years, but we are losing flight engineers and navigators” as well, said Col. Walter H. Ward, Dyess’ 317th Airlift Group commander. “It’s a bittersweet day.”
In March 1975, Dyess received the first C-130H to roll off Lockheed Martin’s assembly line in Marietta, Ga., according to the base.
Capt. Christopher Dorough—son of the pilot who ferried the first C-130H to Dyess—flew the final C-130H to leave the Texas base Sept 26. Lockheed Martin delivered the 23rd of Dyess’ planned 28 C-130Js just two weeks before.
McChord Adds C-17
Boeing delivered the Air Force’s 218th production C-17 Globemaster III to JB Lewis-McChord, Wash., in mid-September.
The commander of Air Force Reserve Command’s 446th Airlift Wing, Col. Bruce A. Bowers Jr., piloted the factory-fresh airlifter from Boeing’s assembly plant in Long Beach, Calif., to McChord Field Sept. 14, base officials said.
The 446th AW cooperates with the Active Duty 62nd Airlift Wing to operate and maintain McChord’s three C-17 flying squadrons.
USAF has ordered 224 C-17s from Boeing.
Wyatt Inducted Into Order
The Air National Guard’s enlisted corps inducted Lt. Gen. Harry M. Wyatt III, Air Guard director, into the reserve component’s Order of the Sword, honoring him for his contributions to supporting enlisted Air Guardsmen.
The induction ceremony took place on Sept. 28 in Tulsa, Okla., according to the National Guard Bureau. Wyatt has led the Air Guard since February 2009.
Gen. Bennie L. Davis, 1928-2012
Retired Gen. Bennie L. Davis, commander of Strategic Air Command from August 1981 through July 1985, died Sept. 23 in Georgetown, Tex. He was 84 years old,
Born in McAlester, Okla., in 1928, Davis graduated from West Point in 1950 and subsequently joined the Air Force, earning his pilot wings in 1951.
He flew more than 9,000 hours as a bomber pilot throughout his career, including cockpit time in the B-29, B-47, B-52, and B-57.
Among his early assignments, Davis served as a B-52 instructor pilot. He then flew the B-57 during the Vietnam War from 1967 to 1968, accumulating more than 350 combat hours, according to his official service biography.
Later, Davis led the Air Force Recruiting Service and became deputy chief of staff, personnel. In April 1979, he received his fourth star for his appointment as commander of Air Training Command at Randolph AFB, Tex. He then led SAC until his retirement in August 1985. A maintenance facility at Offutt AFB, Neb., home to SAC headquarters, is named in his honor.
Davis is to be interred with full military honors at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio early this month.
Afghanistan Surge Ends
The United States has completed the drawdown of surge forces from Afghanistan, returning to the US all 33,000 additional troops authorized by President Obama in December 2009.
Completion of the surge drawdown marks an “important milestone” in the gradual handover of security in Afghanistan to Afghan forces, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said in a Sept. 20 statement.
The return of US surge forces fell at a difficult time for NATO’s International Security Assistance Force. A week before Panetta’s announcement, the coalition suspended the majority of its joint operations with Afghan forces, due to a spike in “green on blue” killings, incidents in which uniformed Afghans turn on allied forces. (See: “Green on Blue Scourge,” p. 44.)
Speaking in a press briefing Sept. 21 during a visit with New Zealand Defense Minister Jonathan Coleman in Auckland, Panetta said the 68,000 US troops in Afghanistan will continue working to reduce violence.
In addition, US forces remain dedicated to building the capacity of Afghan forces to ensure the Taliban does not regain momentum in the region, he said.
In his statement, Panetta reiterated that the transition to Afghan control “will be completed by the end of 2014” per the Administration’s plan.
White House Reports on Sequestration
If Congress doesn’t reach a deficit reduction deal before January, the Pentagon will have to cut its base budget by $54.7 billion in Fiscal 2013 under sequestration, according to a White House report released to Congress.
The cut translates to a 9.4 percent reduction to each of the services’ discretionary accounts—except for personnel accounts, which are exempt—states the document, issued by the White House budget office Sept. 14.
Congress mandated the report under the Sequestration Transparency Act of 2012 in order to understand sequestration’s effect on defense accounts and federal nondefense programs in Fiscal 2013.
Among the Air Force’s cuts would be a $5.2 billion reduction to operation and maintenance activities; a $2.7 billion hit to research, development, test, and evaluation work; a $2 billion reduction in aircraft procurement; and $167 million less for military construction, according to the report.
“While the Department of Defense would be able to shift funds to ensure warfighting and critical military readiness capabilities were not degraded, sequestration would result in a reduction in readiness of many nondeployed units, delays in investments in new equipment and facilities, cutbacks in equipment repairs, declines in military research and development efforts, and reductions in base services for military families,” states the report.
The War on Terrorism
Operation Enduring Freedom
By Oct. 16, a total of 2,133 Americans had died in Operation Enduring Freedom. The total includes 2,130 troops and three Department of Defense civilians. Of these deaths, 1,691 were killed in action with the enemy while 438 died in noncombat incidents.
There have been 17,790 troops wounded in action during OEF.
MC-12 Liberty aircraft of the 4th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron surpassed 100,000 flight hours over Afghanistan on a sortie from Bagram Airfield.
The unit reached the operational milestone less than three years after USAF introduced the MC-12s to Bagram in December 2009, according to 4th ERS officials.
Flying the first MC-12 airframe to arrive at Bagram three years ago, the 4th ERS aircrew reached the flight milestone on a Sept. 11 mission.
“One hundred thousand hours is huge,” said Lt. Col. Jeffrey Alexander, 4th ERS commander. “That’s about 11-and-a-half years’ worth of flying for the MC-12s in two years and nine months.”
It took the unit nearly two years of providing ISR to coalition ground forces in theater to achieve 50,000 flight hours, and only a single year to double the figure, according to a statement released in September.
Arizona Warthogs Descend on Bagram
Twenty A-10s from the 354th Fighter Squadron recently deployed from Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., to Bagram Airfield, with approximately 400 airmen and support personnel.
“Over the last six months, the men and women of the 354th Fighter Squadron and 355th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron have done a superb job preparing to support operations in Afghanistan,” said Lt. Col. Daniel Luce, 354th FS commander.
The unit’s Warthogs began departing for Bagram on Sept. 26, two days after the first maintainers and operators left, according to an Oct. 3 news release.
D-M’s contingent is replacing a mixed group of Air National Guard A-10s from Arkansas’ 188th Fighter Wing at Ft. Smith and Maryland’s 175th Wing near Baltimore that arrived in Afghanistan in early July.
The Davis-Monthan A-10s will serve at Bagram as the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing’s close air support package, flying strike missions for coalition operations and top cover for personnel recovery missions.
Clearer photos of China’s second stealthy-looking fighter design emerged on the Internet as Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta kicked off his diplomatic visit to Beijing in September.
The Shenyang F-60—also called the J-21 or J-31—resembles the F-22, but with the intakes more reminiscent of the F-35 strike fighter. The F-60 appears to lack the Raptor’s stealthy thrust-vectoring engines, and there appear to be no attempts at a reduced radar cross section with the engines currently installed in the airplane.
The F-60’s canopy, nose, and overall dimensions closely mimic those of the F-22, and the photos seem to show internal weapon bays arranged similarly to the Raptor’s.
Unlike the F-22, however, the fighter sports a ruggedized undercarriage, potentially suiting it to future carrier-deck operations.
Photos of what may have been a partially disassembled F-60—heavily shrouded en route to testing earlier this year—implied the aircraft is smaller than the Chengdu J-20, unveiled by the Chinese at the end of 2010.
As such, the larger J-20 seems designed for longer-range strike roles, while the F-60 appears to be optimized for air superiority.
Lockheed Martin engineers inspecting the F-16C Block 50 airframe soon to undergo a 12,000-hour full-scale durability test discovered the aircraft’s left wing was not original to the airframe.
“The left wing was installed onto the aircraft postproduction,” said Air Force spokesman Richard Essary at Hill AFB, Utah.
Officials picked airframe 91-0409 as a representative example of the Block 40/42/50/52 inventory, expecting it to have original components with approximately 3,800 flight-hours of wear. Despite the discrepancy, USAF will go ahead with the “torture” test and doesn’t expect it to delay service life extension program plans, said Essary, quoting F-16 program management.
“Many flying units … swap aircraft parts in order to meet flying schedules and/or real-world missions,” he said in a Sept. 13 statement. This is “not an unusual occurrence,” and “therefore, the wing mismatch is indeed representative of the fleet,” he said.
Lockheed Martin accounted for the newer wing with “specific flight-load criteria” and has already “updated the overall test spectrum,” said Essary.
Testers will take advantage of the situation to see if there’re any structural implications of wing mismatches throughout the fleet, he noted.
|Senior Staff Changes
NOMINATIONS: To be Lieutenant General: Christopher C. Bogdan. To be Major General: Andrew M. Mueller. To be ANG Major General: Donald P. Dunbar. To be ANG Brigadier General: Matthew P. Jamison. To be AFRC Brigadier General: Gerard F. Bolduc Jr., Jon A. Weeks.
CHANGES: Lt. Gen. (sel.) Christopher C. Bogdan, from Dep. Dir., Jt. Strike Fighter Prgm., OSD, Arlington, Va., to Dir., Jt. Strike Fighter Prgm., OSD, Arlington, Va. … Brig. Gen. Scott L. Dennis, from Cmdr., Kandahar Airfield, US Forces-Afghanistan, CENTCOM, to Spec. Asst. to the Cmdr., ACC, JB Langley-Eustis, Va. … Brig. Gen. John K. McMullen, from Cmdr., 325th FW, AETC, Tyndall AFB, Fla., to DCS, Ops., Allied Air Command, Allied Command Ops. (NATO), Ramstein AB, Germany.
SENIOR EXECUTIVE SERVICE CHANGES: Richard K. Hartley, to Asst. DCS, Strat. Plans & Prgms., USAF, Pentagon … Gregory C. Radabaugh, to Dir., Jt. Info. Ops. Warfare Center, JBSA-Lackland, Tex. … Barbara A. Westgate, to Exec. Dir., AFSPC, Peterson AFB, Colo.