Daily Report

June 4, 2012

PACAF: Proposed Move of Eielson’s F-16s Would Save Millions

After an initial outlay of $5.6 million, the Air Force would save $14.6 million from Fiscal 2013 to Fiscal 2017 by moving the 18th Aggressor Squadron from Eielson Air Force Base, near Fairbanks, Alaska, to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, near Anchorage, according to a newly released Pacific Air Forces report. Part of the savings would come from the reduction of 81 military positions, states PACAF's May 31 release on the report. PACAF dispatched a site activation task force to both bases in April to study the overall impact of the proposed move. The Air Force also expects there would be additional savings of $227 million through Fiscal 2017 based on proposed manpower adjustments in base operating support at Eielson, according to the release. Brig. Gen. Mark McLeod, PACAF's director of logistics, said Eielson "is, and will continue to be, a valuable strategic location." For example, the Alaska Air National Guard's 168th Air Refueling Wing will continue to operate from there, he noted. But Alaska lawmakers have not embraced the proposal. Sen. Mark Begich (D), for example, has called it a "back-door BRAC" (see below). (PACAF report; caution, large-sized file.) (See also PACAF infographic)

Begich Keeps Up the Pressure

Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) has refused to lift his hold on Lt. Gen. Hawk Carlisle's nomination for a fourth star to lead Pacific Air Forces, saying the service's newly issued report on the planned relocation of the 18th Aggressor Squadron from Eielson AFB, Alaska, has yet to address his lingering concerns on the affordability and feasibility of the move. "While I'm pleased to finally have the report released, I am disappointed, yet not surprised, to see the move of the F-16s from Eielson to [Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson] would actually cost money in the first year and estimated cost savings appear to be less than half of what was projected initially," stated Begich in a release on May 31. "The bottom line is we have yet to see a comprehensive five-year analysis detailing the total budgetary ramifications of the relocation and long-term plan for Eielson," he said. Begich urged the Air Force leadership to defer the relocation for at least a year so that service officials could "ensure our airmen have somewhere to live and don't suffer unnecessary financial burdens when trying to sell their homes in Fairbanks." (PACAF report; caution, large-sized file.)

Air Force Gets First Female Fighter Wing Commander

Col. Jeannie Leavitt last week took her place in history as the Air Force’s first-ever female fighter wing commander, announced service officials. Leavitt, an F-15E Strike Eagle pilot with a total of more than 2,500 flying hours, including 300 combat...

Conaton Honored for Service

Air Force Secretary Michael Donley presented outgoing Undersecretary of the Air Force Erin Conaton with the Air Force Decoration for Exceptional Civilian Service, citing her invaluable contributions to the service. During the May 30 presentation ceremony at the Pentagon, Donley...

Carter Reaffirms Need for Proposed Aircraft Cuts

Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter last week defended the Pentagon’s proposed retirements of scores of older tactical fighters and airlifters in Fiscal 2013. “We need to be able to make those changes. To keep older aircraft online would impede the...

Late Recovery Attempt Doomed Tethered Aerostat

The delayed recovery of an Air Force-operated tethered aerostat radar system caused the aerostat to break away and crash during high winds on Feb. 14 in Marfa, Tex., announced Air Combat Command. The investigation determined that the mishap's cause was the aerostat flight director's "late decision to recover the aerostat despite receiving a six-hour weather forecast predicting high wind gusts," states ACC's May 30 release, citing the newly released findings of the command's accident investigation board. Turbulence and winds on the aerostat during the rapid retrieval efforts caused a 40-degree left roll and a 60-degree nose-low pitch-over, according to the release. This, coupled with the severe cable tension, caused the aerostat to nosedive and impact private property approximately 100 yards northeast of the TARS site, it states. The total loss was estimated at $8.8 million. There were no injuries or significant damage to government or private property, said ACC officials. (AIB report; caution, large-sized file.)

DARPA Tasks Boeing to Explore Small Satellite Launch Technology

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency awarded Boeing an 18-month contract to evaluate technologies for on-demand small satellite launch systems, announced the company. Under the Airborne Launch Assist Space Access contract, worth about $4.5 million, Boeing will analyze affordable, aircraft-based...

World War II Triple Ace Dies

Bill Harris, who scored 16 confirmed aerial victories against Japanese airplanes during World War II, died last month at age 96 in Midland, Ore., reported the Herald and News of Klamath Falls, Ore. Harris suffered from advanced Alzheimer’s disease and...

C-27s Purchased for Australia

The Air Force awarded L-3 Communications of Greenville, Tex., a $321 million foreign military sales contract for 10 C-27J transport aircraft and associated hardware and logistics support for Australia. The Pentagon announcement came on May 31, some five months after...