Airman Killed in Iraq Patrol
A1C Leebernard E. Chavis, 21, of Hampton, Va., died Oct. 14 on duty in Iraq. Chavis was killed while serving as a turret gunner during a patrol of the Baghdad area with Iraqi police, the Defense Department said.
Chavis was assigned to the 824th Security Forces Squadron at Moody AFB, Ga. He served in Iraq with the 732nd Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron, which is helping to train Iraqi police units.
USAF Resets Some Priorities …
The Air Force has reset its buying priorities to cope with aging aircraft and the evolving employment of USAF forces worldwide, Secretary Michael W. Wynne and Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley announced on Oct. 12.
Now heading the “top five” list is the KC-X program to replace USAF’s aging fleet of aerial tankers. In descending order, the others are the CSAR-X combat search and rescue program; satellites for early warning and communications; the F-35 fighter; and the next generation long-range strike platform.
Missing from the lineup was the F-22 fighter, which has recently been approved for a multiyear procurement program. (See “Washington Watch: F-22 Multiyear Approved; Countdown Begins,” p. 11.)
Moseley told reporters at a Corona meeting of top USAF brass in Washington, D.C., that the F-22 had been the No. 1 procurement priority from the mid-1990s “up until this morning.”
However, the F-22 is being delivered—easing the declining fighter problem—while the tanker issue has reached critical mass, Moseley said.
“The single point of failure of an air bridge, or the single point failure for global intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, or the single point failure for global strike is the tanker,” he explained.
… And Predicts Slower Buys
Wynne noted that Air Force budgets will be too tight to replace the tankers at a once-hoped-for rate of 20 per year.
“I don’t think we’re going to get to that,” he said. “We’re probably going to replace at … a rate of between 10 and 15 units a year.” He expects the aircraft to cost $150 million to $200 million apiece, over and above development, and that first deliveries will not take place until 2012 to 2013.
Moseley said that limited funds will also stretch out procurement of the F-35 fighter, although he has not relaxed his grip on an overall target of 1,763 of the fighters.
“We used to say we would like 110 a year,” Moseley noted. “I don’t think we’re there anymore. I think we’re below 100.”
First F-35 Bases Proposed
The Air Force in October released a list of the first beddown bases for the F-35 and said that the units flying this new fighter will be a mix of active duty and associate units.
First up will be Eglin AFB, Fla., for primary maintenance and flight training. Eglin will also be the common main training base for Navy and Marine Corps F-35 pilots.
Nellis AFB, Nev., will get the fighter for tactics development. Edwards AFB, Calif., will be the primary flight-test base. The first operational bases will be Hill AFB, Utah, and Kadena AB, Japan, followed by Shaw AFB, S.C., and nearby McEntire ANGB, S.C.
Both the South Carolina and Utah locations will combine active duty and reserve component personnel.
The aircraft are expected to begin arriving in 2009, with planned deliveries scheduled to run beyond 2025. All base selections are contingent on the successful introduction of the F-35 into service and on passing environmental impact evaluations.
USAF Records Safest Year Ever
The Air Force has just wrapped up its safest year since it was founded in 1947.
In Fiscal 2006, there were 19 Class A mishaps—those resulting in a fatality or more than $1 million in damage—down from 32 the previous year; among those, eight aircraft were destroyed vs. 11 in FY05. One airman died in a flying accident in the last fiscal year, while 14 were lost in the previous fiscal year.
Air Combat Command ended 2006 with four major flight mishaps and a fifth straight year without a single weapons mishap. The number of Class A mishaps in ACC during 2006 was down 67 percent from Fiscal 2005.
The tally of losses does not include two airmen who were killed on Feb. 17 during the midair collision of two Marine Corps helicopters off Djibouti in Africa. (See “Toward Zero Mishaps,” p. 58.)
Recruiting Posts Strong Year
The armed forces all nearly reached their recruiting targets in Fiscal 2006, the Pentagon announced in October. The Air Force and Army beat the requirement.
The Air Force brought on 30,889 recruits—139 over its goal for the fiscal year.
The Army, which was 6,700 recruits short of its goal last year, overshot this year’s target of 80,000 new soldiers by 635.
In the reserve components, two met or exceeded their accession goals—the Marine Corps Reserve and the Air Force Reserve, the latter of which brought on 6,989 people, beating its goal by 382.
The Air National Guard signed up 9,138 Guardsmen, falling 242, or three percent, short of its goal.
C-130J Goes Operational
Air Mobility Command has declared initial operational capability for the C-130J, the Air Force’s leading intratheater airlifter. As with many systems in recent years, the aircraft has long been deployed in combat before the technical criteria of IOC were met.
The Oct. 16 announcement reflects successful completion of operational test and evaluation, equipping of the first combat squadron with its full complement of aircraft, and the filling-out of a full squadron with trained aircrews and maintenance members.
The Maryland ANG’s 135th Airlift Group was the first combat delivery squadron to reach its full complement of aircraft and also meet the manning requirement for IOC.
The C-130J first deployed to Southwest Asia from December 2004 to March 2005, where the two airframes sent exceeded expectations. Four C-130Js have been continuously deployed to the region since June 2005, flying more than 7,844 hours and achieving a mission capable rate of 84 percent.
Boeing’s 777 Enters Competition
Boeing, which had been sticking to its KC-767 aerial refueling aircraft as its planned proposal in the Air Force tanker competition, announced in September that it will also offer a militarized 777 in the contest.
The larger-aircraft offer is in recognition of the Air Force’s stated intention to have the next tanker also serve as a swing airplane able to do some airlift, company officials said at AFA’s Air & Space Conference in Washington, D.C. The Air Force has said it will consider a mix of different aircraft types for the mission, and Boeing will continue to offer the widebody KC-767, which has been purchased by Italy and Japan and is now in flight test.
The 777 has a maximum hauling capacity that exceeds 170,000 pounds of cargo, and company officials said it could be configured for quick changes between hauling cargo or passengers, on palletized seating. The aircraft could carry up to 37 cargo pallets fully loaded and would have a maximum fuel capacity of more than 350,000 pounds.
Boeing said that the Air Force’s latest draft of its request for proposal clarified the service’s requirements, such as the fuel offload rate and the ability for any new tanker to operate from a NATO-standard 8,000-foot runway.
The company also announced a new tanker boom being developed for use on the KC-767s being built for Italy and Japan, noting that the fly-by-wire boom could automatically correct its position to reduce potential damage to a receiving aircraft. The new boom would also be far easier to maintain than equipment now on USAF tankers.
Early Outs Draw Crowds at Robins
Thousands of Air Force civilians recently responded to an incentive program that sought to cut an estimated 185 positions at Robins AFB, Ga.—a sign that Air Force civilians are moving to take advantage of the upcoming force reduction.
At least 3,000 workers investigated an Air Force incentive bonus of $25,000 for those selected for early retirement or separation by Jan. 3, 2007. Of those, 900 filled out formal applications.
The application window for the buyout closed on Sept. 21, and the first round of offers was scheduled to be issued by the middle of October, according to Robert Williams, deputy director of civilian personnel at Warner Robins Air Logistics Center.
More than half the 12,300 civilian workers at the center will be retirement eligible in the next five to six years, reports the Macon (Ga.) Telegraph. Williams said the ALC is looking to replace and realign skills in the facility’s workforce, with a focus on maintenance, avionics electronics skills, and engineering. Air Force Materiel Command is making personnel cuts across its variety of facilities and logistics centers.
SDB Goes Operational
Six months ahead of schedule, the Air Combat Command chief, Gen. Ronald E. Keys, has declared initial operational capability with the GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb.
The declaration comes only weeks after the weapon was first deployed with Air and Space Expeditionary Force 3/4 in early September. The IOC declaration was contingent on having sufficient units available and air and ground crews proficient in operating and maintaining the weapon and its unique bomb rack.
The F-15E Strike Eagle is the only aircraft now equipped to carry the SDB, but future platforms planned for the weapon include the B-1B, B-2, F-16, F-22A, and F-35. Tests are currently being performed to integrate the weapon on a B-52 (see below).
The range of the SDB is more than 57 miles when launched at 40,000 feet and enables aircraft to launch bombs at multiple targets while beyond the range of many anti-aircraft systems. An all-weather, satellite guided weapon, it can be fired at targets that are ahead, abeam, or behind the launch aircraft.
B-52 Fit-Checked for New Bomb
Engineers at a Boeing lab in Wichita, Kan., have test-fitted the new GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb in the bomb bay of the B-52, toward integrating the weapon on the venerable bomber.
For conventional missions, the bomb bay of the B-52 is not often used, with most ordnance carried on external wing pylons. Putting SDBs on the Common Strategic Rotary Launcher could increase the number of bombs carried by the B-52 by 100 percent, Boeing said. The rotary launcher, which normally carries conventional and nuclear cruise missiles, can hold 32 SDBs.
USAFE To Lose 3,500 Airmen
The Air Force plans to cut 3,530 active duty positions within US Air Forces in Europe in the next two years as part of its force-wide personnel drawdown. The number represents approximately 12 percent of the airmen currently stationed in Europe, according to Stars and Stripes.
Brig. Gen. Michael A. Snodgrass, director of plans, programs, and requirements at USAFE, told the paper in October that nearly every type of job in the command will be affected. Snodgrass said USAFE will give up airmen specializing in avionics, fuels, staff duties, and services.
Virtually every specialty “is pretty much getting touched,” he added.
Airmen will not be separated, but their billets will be phased out after they transfer back to the US. In addition, about three percent of the Air Force’s general-schedule staff—approximately 55 American civilian employees—will be cut from Europe, and the positions will not be filled after personnel are rotated back to the US, according to USAFE.
Dutch Approve JSF Pact
The Netherlands has agreed to sign a memorandum of understanding with the US that solidifies the Dutch commitment to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter production program, according to the Dutch state news service.
The Dutch Cabinet agreed to sign the MOU despite a threat from the opposition Labor Party that it would withdraw from the project.
The agreement was to be formally signed in November and was touted as a logical next step in the Netherlands’ long involvement in the JSF project. Cabinet officials stated that the MOU was not a commitment to purchase aircraft, but that a decision for purchase will be taken in 2009 by the next government.
“Laser Gunship” Begins Tests
A C-130H began flight tests with the Advanced Tactical Laser concept demonstration program in October at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, according to Boeing. The demonstration could be the forerunner of building a “laser gunship” that could succeed today’s AC-130 aircraft.
During flight tests that began Oct. 10, the aircraft found and tracked ground targets at the range using a low-power solid state laser as a stand-in for the ATL.
The company fired the high-energy chemical laser for the first time in ground tests in Albuquerque, N.M., this past September. The weapon is mounted in a rotating turret in the belly of the aircraft.
By 2007, Boeing said it will install the ATL on the aircraft and fire it in-flight at ground targets to demonstrate the military utility of high-energy lasers.
CRAF Contracts Top $2.3 Billion
Air Mobility Command will spend more than $2.3 billion with 11 contractors or contractor teams to move people and cargo around the world next year, the command announced in September.
The annual Civil Reserve Air Fleet contracts purchase airlift above and beyond that performed by AMC’s own cargo airplanes. In exchange for making their aircraft available for emergency use in wartime, the companies receive preference for military air freight contracts during peacetime.
The Pentagon has cited the need to maintain a healthy CRAF as one of the reasons it has opted not to request more C-17 airlifters. Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, US Transportation Command chief, has said that too much organic airlift would reduce the amount of lift available to farm out under CRAF, which could induce participants to quit the program.
The single largest potential CRAF contract was to the Alliance contractor team, comprised of Evergreen International Airlines and North American Airlines, which is guaranteed at least $142 million out of a potential $1.08 billion worth of CRAF work.
Depending on AMC’s requirements, it may contract for more than $2.3 billion worth of air cargo and passenger services.
USAF Completes B-1 Upgrade
The last batch of aircraft to be upgraded under the B-1B Conventional Mission Upgrade Program was completed in September, bringing the entire fleet of 67 B-1Bs to the Block E, or latest, configuration.
The CMUP began in the early 1990s. The B-1 was the first weapon system wherein the Air Force proposed to retire a portion of the fleet and use the maintenance savings to fund an upgrade. The B-1B fleet was reduced from 93 airframes to 67, with the savings used to complete the CMUP, which altered the bomber from a dual-role nuclear-conventional bomber to a strictly conventional system.
The Block E version is the third major fleetwide improvement and took five years to develop and install at a cost of $680 million. It replaces six older computers with four, increasing memory and output margins that are needed for conventional weapons, defensive systems upgrades, and future add-ons.
The avionics package includes the Wind-Corrected Munitions Dispenser, the Joint Standoff Weapon, and the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile. The B-1B boasts the largest single-aircraft payload in the Air Force inventory and is currently flying support missions for operations in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
X-45s Head to Museums
The two X-45A unmanned combat air vehicle demonstrators are headed for the nation’s two largest aerospace museums, Boeing announced in October.
The two aircraft, designed and built by Boeing under Air Force and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency programs, will soon go to the National Museum of the US Air Force at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, and to the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum.
The X-45As wrapped up demonstration flights in August 2005, racking up several milestones for unmanned aircraft, including the first fully autonomous flight of a high-performance, combat-capable UAV and the first weapons release from an autonomous UAV. The two aircraft also flew collaborative missions.
The UCAV project became an all-Navy effort in February. The new program seeks to demonstrate a UCAV’s ability to take off from and land on an aircraft carrier and to be operated safely aboard ship.
AFSOC Leads First Exercise
Air Force Special Operations Command kicked off Emerald Warrior 07 at Hurlburt Field, Fla., on Oct. 25. It was the first joint coalition exercise ever to be completely planned and coordinated by AFSOC.
The event ran from Oct. 25 to Nov. 3 and focused on the training of Air Force, Army, and allied units in special operations missions related to operations in Southwest Asia.
Scenarios included infiltration and extraction of personnel and equipment, recovery operations, controlling close air support, coordination of support operations, and command and control activities.
Much of the exercise took place at a nearby range at Eglin AFB, Fla.
Participating units included the 16th Special Operations Wing and 720th Special Tactics Group, as well as units from Eglin, Tinker AFB, Okla., Robins AFB, Ga., and MacDill AFB, Fla. The Army’s 1/7th Special Forces Group from Ft. Bragg, N.C., also participated, as well as coalition forces from Denmark, Germany, Lithuania, and Norway.
Missile Trades Heft for Speed
RATTLRS, a Lockheed Martin-designed missile, was accelerated to speeds exceeding Mach 2 in sled tests at Holloman AFB, N.M. The tests were concluded in October.
RATTLRS stands for Revolutionary Approach to Time-critical Target Long-Range Strike.
The warhead went cleanly and completely through concrete barriers, and recovered hardware showed it remained structurally intact. The demonstration proved that lightweight penetrator warheads provide the penetration depth of significantly heavier weapons when coupled with high-speed vehicles, according to company officials.
The weapon is being demonstrated under the auspices of the Office of Naval Research; however, the technology is of a type that is of interest to the Air Force for a near-term long-range strike platform or weapon.
Flight demonstrations were scheduled for late 2007.
AETC Looking for Iraqi AF Pilots
Air Education and Training Command is putting together a program to train pilots for Iraq’s new air force (see “Aerospace World: Iraqi Air Force Up and Running,” November, p. 22) and is seeking qualified instructors who can provide a range of aircraft training services.
The command is looking for ground-based academic, simulator, and flight instruction skills, according to an Oct. 13 notice. The Air Force Security Assistance Training Squadron is leading the search for qualified personnel.
Officials predict the program will admit 100 to 200 Iraqi personnel each year, with the goal of graduating 50 fixed-wing and 50 helicopter pilots a year. All of the training will be conducted inside Iraq and will require flight instructors to be fluent in Arabic.
US and Iraqi officials are hoping to increase the approximately 750 personnel of the Iraqi Air Force to a force of nearly 2,000 by next summer.
Maintainers Post Perfect Score
Maintainers of the B-52 Stratofortress belonging to the 36th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron succeeded in achieving a 100 percent mission effectiveness rate and weapons release rate for every sortie flown from Andersen AFB, Guam, in September.
The numbers reflect nearly 50 sorties and more than 400 hours of flight time with 72 weapons released—all with only six bombers, according to Capt. Randy Schwinler, the officer in charge of the maintenance unit.
The squadron deployed from Minot AFB, N.D., with the 23rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron to support a heavy bomber presence in the Pacific. The change in environment brought its own challenges to the unit, which battled heat, humidity, and rain as part of day-to-day maintenance challenges. Wind, lightning, and glare all slowed maintenance down.
The B-52s from Minot are deployed to Guam until January 2007, when they will be replaced with bombers from another unit.
|US and Pakistan Hammer Out New F-16 Deal
Pakistan has signed a deal to buy F-16s from the US in a sale worth $5.1 billion. The deal was in negotiation for months, because the US feared the fighter’s technology would leak to unfriendly nations.
The Pakistan deal, for 18 Block 52 F-16C/Ds with an option for 18 more, was struck only after the US received reassurances about the capabilities and use of the aircraft. Mindful of the close arms cooperation between Pakistan and China, the US stipulated that Pakistan’s F-16s will not have certain hardware, such as that used to penetrate air defenses. Pakistan also agreed that the US must approve in advance any F-16 flights out of Pakistani airspace. Personnel from the US will inventory the fighters and their systems every six months, and the fighters are to be segregated from aircraft supplied to Pakistan from other countries.
Islamabad also promised not to transfer any of the fighter’s technologies to third parties, such as China. The deal calls for the 32 F-16A/Bs already in Pakistani service to receive the midlife update, and Pakistan will receive an additional 26 used F-16s at a later date.
In an unrelated agreement, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency has notified Congress that it wants to sell 30 Block 50 F-16s to Turkey for $2.9 billion, confirming reports of the sale earlier this year. (See “Aerospace World: Turkey Seeks Advanced F-16s,” October, p. 18.)
The sales will allow Lockheed Martin to keep its F-16 line running through at least 2010, meaning there will be no break in production at the Fort Worth, Tex., factory before production of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter ramps up there.
|McNabb Pushes JCA Over Repaired Antiques
It will cost $22 million to $25 million apiece for the Air Force to repair dozens of aged and grounded C-130Es—money better spent on a new class of smaller cargo aircraft, Air Mobility Command chief Gen. Duncan J. McNabb said in September.
McNabb, speaking to reporters in Washington, D.C., said he’s pushing for the new Joint Cargo Aircraft, on which the Air Force is partnering with the Army.
Given the bill to fix up what are mostly 40-plus-year-old airplanes, McNabb said, “at some point, this is not good for the nation,” arguing that the money would more efficiently be put toward new airplanes that also meet new requirements. The grounded C-130Es have cracked wing boxes and need new engines and avionics.
The JCA program, he said, addresses three separate new needs at once—a light aircraft that can carry three pallets to far-flung troops at austere runways; replacements for the old C-130s, many of which are flying inefficient, half-full missions in combat now; and a short takeoff and landing airplane that would be useful in homeland defense and disaster relief here at home.
“We’re looking for that sweet spot,” McNabb said, an airlifter that can perform all three missions with one airframe.
A recent RAND study suggested the need for JCA is most urgent, as age issues are grounding more and more of the C-130 fleet. Increasingly diverse missions and a higher operating tempo have taken their toll on the Hercules, 33 of which were grounded and 26 in restricted status as of mid-October. Barring any changes, RAND said, the C-130 fleet will soon decline below 400 aircraft, making it tougher to meet theater demands.
The Army is planning on purchasing its first JCA in 2008 with the Air Force set to buy its initial version in 2010.
|Prisoner of War/Missing in Action News
Missing World War II Airman Identified
The Defense Department announced in October it had identified the remains of an Army Air Forces pilot missing in action from World War II.
The remains of 1st Lt. Shannon Estill of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, were returned to his family for burial with full honors at Arlington National Cemetery.
On April 13, 1945, Estill’s P-38J was struck by anti-aircraft fire while attacking targets in Germany. Another pilot reported seeing Estill’s aircraft explode and crash, but because the site was within the sector of Germany later controlled by the Soviet Union, US personnel couldn’t recover Estill’s remains after the war.
Efforts to investigate the crash site began in 2003, when two German nationals found human remains, which they turned over to the US officials. In 2005, P-38 wreckage and additional human remains were discovered near the town of Elsnig. Scientists matched DNA from a maternal relative to positively identify Estill.
Vietnam War MIA Pilot Identified
The remains of 1st Lt. James L. Hull of Lubbock, Tex., were to be buried in November at Arlington National Cemetery. He had been missing in action since 1971. Hull’s remains were identified in October by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Lab.
On Feb. 19, 1971, Hull and a crew member were flying a mission near Vietnam’s border with Laos when their O-2A Skymaster crashed. Both men died in the crash, but Hull’s body was buried in the wreckage and could not be recovered due to hostile enemy action.
Investigations conducted between 1993 and 1997 involving the US, Vietnamese, and Laotian governments produced Hull’s identification tag, but the crash site itself, inside the Laotian border, could not be examined at that time.
Interviews and the assistance of a local Vietnamese led to examination of the crash site in May 2006. Teams later used forensic identification tools to positively identify Hull’s remains.
Vietnam MIA Is Identified
Identification of the remains of Maj. Charles L. Bifolchi, of Quincy, Mass., an Air Force pilot lost in the Vietnam War and missing since 1968, was announced in October by the Pentagon’s POW/Missing Personnel Office.
Bifolchi’s remains were returned to his family, and he was buried with full honors on Oct. 27 at Arlington National Cemetery.
Bifolchi and a fellow crew member were flying an armed reconnaissance mission against enemy targets in South Vietnam on Jan. 8, 1968 when their RF-4C aircraft disappeared. The next day, an Army helicopter discovered wreckage, but enemy activity, combined with steep terrain and high winds, prevented recovery of the crew.
Between 1993 and 2000, joint surveys by DOD and Vietnamese teams were conducted in the area believed to be the crash site. Remains held by Vietnamese citizens, who claimed to have recovered them from the crash site, were examined. Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command scientists used DNA from a Bifolchi relative to positively identify the remains.
|Awards for Valor
Charleston AFB, S.C., Airmen receive Bronze Stars
Two Air Force explosive ordnance disposal technicians received Bronze Stars in October for helping destroy and disarm explosives during their tour in Iraq.
TSgt. Quincy Banks and SSgt. Michael Williams were honored for their service at an Oct. 20 ceremony at Charleston AFB, S.C.
During his deployment with the 447th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron, Banks helped to prevent the explosion of approximately 34 improvised explosive devices, according to the Air Force, and thwarted an ambush that included two large IEDs that were buried. His actions helped save the crew of an Army tank that was operating in the area.
Williams participated in 99 missions involving 61 roadside bombs and nine unexploded ordnances. He also uncovered weapons caches, assisted in assault missions, disarmed three IEDs, and helped recover the remains of the two Army casualties.
|Schoomaker Says US Must Spend More on Defense
The nation must spend more on defense, because failure to modernize the military is hurting future readiness, the Army’s Chief of Staff, Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, said in October.
The blunt comments were offered at a conference of the Association of the United States Army in Washington, D.C. Schoomaker said that the cost of prosecuting the wars in Southwest Asia should not be borne “at the expense of future readiness” and that the military cannot afford to mortgage its future. “Failure to underwrite this commitment with sustained investment will increase risk for the Army, the joint team, and the nation,” he declared.
“Let there be no mistake. Our soldiers’ effectiveness in battle, both today and tomorrow, ultimately depends upon a national commitment to recruit, train, equip, and support them and their families properly,” he said. “This is a matter of national priorities, not affordability.”
Schoomaker pointed out that defense spending sits at less than four percent of America’s gross domestic product, compared to World War II, when it claimed 38 percent; the Korean War, at 14 percent; and Vietnam, at 10 percent.
He also characterized the war as still in its early stages, with a long road ahead.
“I have little doubt that we are much closer to the beginning than the end of this Long War, and time is not on our side unless we understand how to use it.”
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld recalled Schoomaker from retirement in 2003 to serve as the Army’s top officer. Schoomaker had previously served 31 years, mostly in special operations.
|Peterson Ending Tour; Search for AFA President Begins
The Air Force Association has begun its search for a new President (formerly called Executive Director) to succeed Donald L. Peterson, who is retiring in 2007 after serving for five years in the position. A search committee has been appointed to identify candidates.
The search committee consists of Thomas J. McKee as chairman, Michael E. Ryan, and Frederick J. Finch. McKee is a former AFA Chairman of the Board and National President. Ryan is a former Air Force Chief of Staff. Finch served as the 13th Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force. All three have broad experience in AFA.
Persons wishing to be considered by the search committee must submit their requests in writing, to be received by Feb. 1, 2007, to:
Air Force Association
Attn: Presidential Search Committee
PO Box 791
Arlington, VA 22216-0791
The Air Force Association intends to select a new President early next summer.
|DOD Opens New Africa Center in Ethiopia
The Department of Defense opened a small office in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa on Oct. 26, a sign that the US may be moving forward on the concept of an African Command alongside the other regional commands.
US military involvement in Africa is now handled mainly by US European Command, although the Horn of Africa and Egypt are within the purview of US Central Command.
The new office is an annex to the department’s Africa Center for Strategic Studies and is located on the grounds of the US Embassy in Addis Ababa, according to a center statement. The center is one of five regional centers around the world that are built to promote cooperation between the US military and foreign officials, reports Inside the Pentagon.
However, the idea for an African Command has been gaining ground in recent months, especially given the rise of extremist Islamist elements in some African countries and the growing dependence of the US on oil from nations such as Nigeria.
Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld recently confirmed that he and the Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman, Gen. Peter Pace, support the idea of a separate command for Africa and have been pushing for the department to “come up with the details as to exactly how it would be done,” he said during a Sept. 22 town hall meeting with troops.
The DOD created Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa in 2002 under the auspices of US Central Command. Based in Djibouti, it is focused on humanitarian operations and counterterrorism operations there and in Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen.
Pace said that either a unified command with a separate headquarters could be established or a subunified command as part of EUCOM could be set up with dual-hatted officers in charge.
|The War on Terrorism
Operation Iraqi Freedom—Iraq
By Nov. 9, a total of 2,838 Americans had died in Operation Iraqi Freedom. The total includes 2,831 troops and seven Department of Defense civilians. Of these deaths, 2,279 were killed in action with the enemy while 559 died in noncombat incidents.
There have been 21,572 troops wounded in action during OIF. This number includes 11,752 who returned to duty within 72 hours and 9,820 who were unable to return to duty quickly.
Mass Casualty Drill at Sather Air Base
Airmen at Sather AB, Iraq, tested their ability to react during a mass casualty exercise at the base on Sept. 29, helping to identify problem areas using skills learned from two weeks of classes prior to the drill.
Self-aid and buddy care classes were hosted by doctors and technicians with the 447th Expeditionary Medical Squadron. The classes focused on first aid and other skills and were attended by more than 650 airmen.
“I have to be assured that everyone down to the youngest and the least experienced airman knows exactly what they have to do and how they have to do it,” said Col. Gregory L. Marston, the 447th Air Expeditionary Group commander. The colonel decided to continue the training theme during the exercise by making medical squadron airmen act as casualties in order to better assess skills.
The core of the self-aid buddy care training introduced tourniquet use for severe hemorrhaging.
Operation Enduring Freedom—Afghanistan
By Nov. 7, a total of 345 Americans had died in Operation Enduring Freedom. The total includes 344 troops and one Department of Defense civilian. Of these deaths, 189 were killed in action with the enemy while 156 died in noncombat incidents.
There have been 1,034 troops wounded in action during OIF. This number includes 388 who returned to duty within 72 hours and 646 who were unable to return to duty quickly.
NATO Takes Command of Afghanistan Ops
NATO’s International Security Assistance Force assumed command of coalition military security operations in eastern Afghanistan on Oct. 5—effectively becoming responsible for security operations throughout the country.
The Pentagon said the transfer marked a milestone in the progress of improving security and stability in the country.
The transition from a US-led coalition to the ISAF-led operation began two years ago with the transfer of responsibility for the northern portion of the country to NATO. Since then, the Afghan National Army has been integrated into coalition combat operations.
The US will continue to lead counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan, train and equip the Afghan armed forces, and assist in reconstruction efforts.
By Marc V. Shanz , Associate Editor
- Airmen with the 554th RED HORSE Squadron broke ground on the Northwest Field Expeditionary Training Campus at Andersen AFB, Guam, on Oct. 11—starting a $20 million construction project that will span the next five years. The engineers will be housed on the campus, which will also be the home to Combat Communications, Commando Warrior, and Silver Flag. Military construction and related projects will bring the total cost of the complex to about $240 million. The complex is to be fully operational by 2016. The 554th Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operations Repair Squadron Engineers is the only permanently assigned military heavy construction capability in US Pacific Command.
- Headquarters of 13th Air Force, which moved from Guam to Hickam AFB, Hawaii, in 2005 has become a component numbered air force headquarters. Thirteenth AF is now one of 10 organizations designed to enhance the operational level support, planning, command, control, and execution of air, space, and information operations across the Pacific. The unit is directly responsible for two Air Force wings, the 15th Airlift Wing and the 36th Wing at Andersen AFB, Guam.
- Britain has asked the US for permission to buy two MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles (recently renamed from Predator B), the Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress in September. The transfer would mark the first overseas sale of the combat UAV system produced by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems of San Diego. The proposed $77 million deal with Britain does not include weapons, but the aircraft is compatible with several types of ordnance in the British inventory. DOD officials said that if the deal goes through, it will relieve pressure on the US fleet of unmanned vehicles operating in Southwest Asia.
- Boeing and the Air Force’s MILSATCOM Systems Wing have signed a $1.067 billion contract for up to three more Wideband Gap-filler System satellites. The Block II satellites will be similar to the Block I satellites already in production, with the Block IIs to feature a radio frequency bypass capability designed to support airborne intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance platforms that need high bandwidth and data rates. Boeing is preparing the first WGS satellite for launch in 2007, with the Block II contract calling for the launch of the first Block II satellite by 2011. WGS will augment and eventually replace the Defense Satellite Communications System constellation currently on station.
- Lockheed Martin’s Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod successfully demonstrated compatibility with the launch of a Maverick missile from an adjacent A-10C wing pylon, during an August test at Eglin AFB, Fla. The ability to fire missiles so close to the Sniper ATP effectively qualifies Sniper for the Maverick configuration—doubling the previous A-10C Maverick load capabilities, according to company officials. The pod is part of the avionics upgrade known as Precision Engagement that is being undertaken on the A-10 at Lockheed’s Owego, N.Y., facility.
- Kansas State University has renamed its military science building in honor of Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, who retired last year after serving as the 15th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Myers was to attend the dedication ceremony at the Manhattan, Kan., university. The Gen. Richard B. Myers Hall is home to the university’s Army and Air Force ROTC programs. Myers, who is a Kansas native, entered the Air Force in 1965 through the Air Force ROTC program at the university where he also earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. He currently holds a part-time appointment at Kansas State as a professor of military history and leadership.
- North American Aerospace Defense Command conducted Exercise Falcon Virgo 06-12 on Sept. 20 and 21 in the Washington, D.C., area, carrying out a series of training flights held in coordination with the Federal Aviation Administration, National Capitol Region Command Center, Civil Air Patrol, US Coast Guard, and other organizations. The exercise was designed to test NORAD’s intercept and identification operations, with C-21s, F-16s, CAP aircraft, and Coast Guard helicopters participating in the two-day event. NORAD has conducted similar exercises throughout the US and Canada since the start of Operation Noble Eagle.
- The Museum of Aviation Foundation in Warner Robins, Ga., broke ground on the construction of a new hangar for exhibits on World War II on Sept. 29, with Maj. Gen. Thomas J. Owen, commander of Warner Robins Air Logistics Center, participating in the ceremony. The ground breaking represented the first new hangar to be added to the museum in the last 10 years. The 60,000-square-foot facility will honor the contributions of World War II veterans with exhibits covering the air war in Europe, the home front, and the Pacific Theater, among other topics. Aircraft to be in the display include a B-29B Superfortress, P-51D Mustang, and P-40N Warhawk.
- The 347th Rescue Wing at Moody AFB, Ga., was formally redesignated as the 23rd Wing during a Sept. 29 ceremony at the base, presided over by Brig. Gen. Blair E. Hansen, vice commander of 9th Air Force at Shaw AFB, S.C. The redesignation caps a series of changes for the wing, including the assumption of the 23rd Fighter Group at Pope AFB, N.C., and Moody’s 820th Security Forces Group. The base also accepts the responsibility of carrying on the historic Flying Tigers heritage, dating back to the days of Claire L. Chennault’s American Volunteer Group in China at the beginning of World War II. (See “The Flying Tigers,” p. 36.)
- Raytheon reached a contract milestone on its High-speed Anti-Radiation Missile Targeting System program in September, with the delivery of the first R7 pod to the Air Force. The R7 pod is mounted on the side of an F-16 and provides critical identification capabilities to pilots as they patrol air above a battlespace. Using the system, a pilot can detect, locate, and identify ground-based emitters then decide to avoid the area or engage the emitter. All the current Air Force HTS pod inventory will be retrofitted to R7 over the next two years.
- The Air Force released the Chief of Staff of the Air Force reading list on Oct. 13, including a wide range of books covering topics from aviation history to efficient business practices. New books include The Philippine War 1899-1902 by Brian McAllister Linn; From Babel to Dragomans: Interpreting the Middle East by Bernard Lewis; I Could Never Be So Lucky Again, an autobiography by Gen. James H. “Jimmy” Doolittle, and Victory on the Potomac: The Goldwater-Nichols Act Unifies the Pentagon by James R. Locher III. The CSAF reading list can be accessed at www.af.mil/library/csafreading.
- Hickam AFB, Hawaii, lost power for approximately 14 hours after a 6.6 magnitude earthquake struck Hawaii on Oct. 15, but suffered no damage. The base used backup generators to power essential facilities, allowing it to stay open throughout the blackout. The quake and its aftershocks caused mud slides and some damage to buildings in parts of Hawaii, but no fatalities were reported.