Bracing for Irma, USAF Evacuates Aircraft and Airmen
The Air Force continues to evacuate airmen and aircraft as the Catagory 5 Hurricane Irma barrels toward Florida. More than 100 personnel and 50 F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 20th Fighter Wing at Shaw AFB, S.C., will relocate to Barksdale AFB, La.; 11 KC-135 Stratotankers from the 6th Air Mobility Wing and 927th Air Refueling Wing will evacuate from MacDill AFB, Fla.; 13 F-15 Eagles will relocate from Jacksonville International Airport in Florida; and 21 A-10 Warthogs and two A-29 Super Tucanos from the 23rd Wing at Moody AFB, Ga., will be evacuated. On Wednesday, Muniz ANGB, Puerto Rico, Homestead AFB, Fla., and Patrick AFB, Fla., all relocated aircraft out of the storm’s path. An eight-man team from the 621st Contingency Response Wing at Travis AFB, Calif., has deployed to St. Thomas to “evaluate the airfield and determine what will be required to prepare it to receive aircraft supporting relief missions,” according to an Air Force statement.And, JB Charleston, S.C., will serve as an intermediate staging base for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Above is a Sept. 7 satellite photo from NOAA’s National Hurricane Center showing Irma as it approaches Cuba. Just over 25 years ago, Hurricane Andrew, also a Category 5 storm, struck South Florida, obliterating the region and leveling Homestead. Learn more about how Hurricane Andrew nearly wiped out Homestead in Air Force Magazine’s August issue.
Pilots Safe After A-10s Crash Near Nellis
Two pilots ejected before their A-10Cs crashed at the Nevada Test and Training Range on Wednesday night. The aircraft, assigned to the 57th Wing at Nellis AFB, Nev., were flying a routine training mission at about 8 p.m. when the mishap occurred. The pilots were recovering at the Mike O’Callaghan Military Medical Center at Nellis following the crash, according to a 99th Air Base Wing press release. The Air Force has convened an accident investigation board to determine the cause of the crash. The 57th Wing is the operational unit of the Air Force Warfare Center, and provides advanced air combat training through the US Air Force Weapons School. —Brian Everstine
Air Force To Allow Some Pilots to Remain at Selected Bases
Faced with a mounting shortage of fighter pilots, the Air Force will allow some aircrew to remain at selected bases in an effort to keep them in uniform. Read the full report by Brian Everstine.
Investigation: Weapons Loader Died While Loading from Unbalanced Bomb Rack
SSgt. Alexandria Morrow, a 332nd Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron weapons load crew chief, died in March while loading a GBU-39 to a Strike Eagle because the bomb rack was not on a correct setting for an asymmetric load, according to an Air Force investigation. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.
SpaceX Falcon 9 Launches X-37B
The Air Force on Thursday launched the secretive X-37B unmanned space vehicle aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Fla. The launch took place at 10 a.m. and the reuseable rocket landed about 20 minutes later at SpaceX’s Landing Zone 8 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. This is the fifth mission of the X-37B, with the previous mission lasting two years in low-Earth orbit. The aircraft, produced by Boeing and managed by the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, conducts experiments, performs risk reduction, and does concept of operations for reusable space vehicle technologies, according to the Air Force. This is the first time the X-37B has been launched on a SpaceX rocket. The previous mission was launched aboard an United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket in 2015. —Brian Everstine
Spotlight: TSgt. Jason D. Selberg
TSgt. Jason D. Selberg, an MQ-1 sensor operator with the Air National Guard’s 214th Attack Squadron at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., is one of the Air Force’s 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year for 2017. Selberg served as an operator on 134 MQ-1 Predator combat support missions. During one mission, he resolved a troops in contact situation by guiding a Hellfire missile, resulting in three enemy combatants killed. He responded to a convoy taking fire and provided overwatch through full-motion video, resulting in the safe recovery of 15 soldiers. Selberg led the charge to improve real-world combat search and rescue techniques by collaborating and sharing capabilities with a pararescue training team, enhancing relationships and broadening the scope of knowledge of remotely piloted aircraft capabilities. He led 18 members of Arizona’s US Air Force 50 Summits Hiking Program to the top of a mountain, highlighting resiliency and fitness. He volunteered 27 hours to train with Team Rubicon, a veterans-led disaster-response organization. Air Force Magazine is shining the spotlight on each OAY in the days leading up to AFA’s Air, Space & Cyber Conference, which starts Sept. 18 in National Harbor, Md.
Coalition Aircraft Watching Stranded ISIS Convoy
US and coalition aircraft are keeping a constant eye on the stranded ISIS convoy in the Syrian desert, striking fighters when possible while still allowing food and water deliveries to the group of buses. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.
US Strikes Al Shabaab Fighters
US aircraft on Sept. 5 conducted another airstrike in Somalia, targeting Al Shabaab militants in the Bay Region of the country. The strike, from an undisclosed aircraft, killed three terrorists in an area about 75 kilometers west of Mogadishu, according to US Africa Command. The strike, which was conducted in coordination with the Somali government and in support of the Somali National Army and the African Union Mission in Somalia, was the latest in a series of now regular airstrikes inside the country. Seven Al Shabaab fighters were killed in three such strikes earlier this month. —Brian Everstine
Prepping for Disaster in Nigeria
USAF airmen recently traveled to Nigeria to help airmen from several African nations prepare to respond to a humanitarian assistance disaster relief scenario by working together and pooling resources. “The possibility of a humanitarian disaster and the subsequent need for aeromedical evacuation” in the Lake Chad basin is “very real,” explained African Partnership Flight team leader for execution Maj. Andrew Moisan. Read the full story by Jennifer Hlad.
Training Together in Romania
More than 150 airmen and three C-130J Super Hercules from Ramstein AB, Germany, recently participated in Carpathian Fall 2017 at Otopeni AB, Romania. The two-week exercise aims to increase interoperability between the US and Romanian militaries and to build mission readiness. “Carpathian Fall is about building our longstanding relationship with the Romanian air force,” said Capt. Jacob Morton, mission commander for Carpathian Fall 2017. “Our relationship with the Romanian air force is excellent, and we want to maintain that by working together.” During the exercise, Romanian air force aircraft airdropped cargo delivery systems built by USAF aerial delivery airmen, and USAF C-130Js airlifted Romanian paratroopers, according to the Air Force. Additionally, C-130J pilots from the 37th Airlift Squadron had the opportunity to practice evasive flight maneuvers, tactical low-level flying, flare dispenses, and assault landings—all with Romanian air force pilots in the cockpit. Airmen who participated came from a range of career fields, including maintenance, logistics, intelligence, contingency response, and medical. Morton said it’s crucial that allies train together, or “there’s a chance we might show up and not know what everyone else is doing… The more we fly together, the better we fight together.” —Jennifer Hlad
—Audio recordings show that air traffic controllers warned the USAF Thunderbirds pilot of “extreme precipitation” and noted that “wind shear advisories are in effect,” before the aircraft crashed on June 23 prior to the Dayton Air Show: Dayton Daily News.
—The Air Force’s last C-5A aircraft was scheduled to leave Westover ARB, Mass., on Thursday and head to the boneyard at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz: WWLP.com.
—Boeing is the last of six companies to be awarded a $499 million contract for the Aerospace Systems Air Platform Technology Research program: DOD contract announcement.