F-16 Crashes in Iraq
An Air Force F-16CG fighter crashed Nov. 27 while on a combat mission in Iraq. The Air Force confirmed Dec. 3 that the pilot was killed in action.
The pilot was identified as Maj. Troy L. Gilbert, of the 309th Fighter Squadron at Luke AFB, Ariz. He had been assigned to the 332nd Expeditionary Wing at Balad AB, Iraq.
The crash is under investigation. It occurred 20 miles northwest of Baghdad. The fighter went down while supporting land forces, according to a US Central Command Air Forces statement.
The Air Force confirmed that insurgents were in the area immediately after the impact. Following combat operations in the area, coalition troops secured the crash site, and investigators collected DNA samples that were identified on Dec. 1.
According to wire reports, Iraqi insurgents claimed to have shot down the fighter with a shoulder-fired surface-to-air missile. Coalition spokesman US Army Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell cast doubt on the claim.
DOD Identifies Air Force Casualty
DOD Identifies Air Force Casualty
The Department of Defense announced Dec. 5 the death of an airman in Iraq.
Capt. Kermit O. Evans, 31, of Hollandale, Miss., died when the Marine Corps CH-46 helicopter in which he was a passenger made an emergency water landing in the western portion of Iraq’s Al Anbar Province on Dec. 3.
Evans was assigned to the 27th Civil Engineer Squadron at Cannon AFB, N.M., and was deployed with the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing at Balad AB, Iraq. The crash is under investigation.
Keys: Resurrect B-52 Jammer
Gen. Ronald E. Keys, head of Air Combat Command, said Nov. 9 that he is ready to see the Air Force restart the B-52 standoff jammer program, as long as it can avoid requirements creep.
Keys told reporters in Washington, D.C., that reviving the program may be the best way to meet USAF’s requirement for the kind of jamming now provided by Navy EA-6 Prowlers. Those systems are expected to age out in the next few years.
Gen. T. Michael Moseley, USAF Chief of Staff, killed the SOJ program in 2005, largely because its cost had ballooned. (See “Washington Watch: Affording the F-22,” March 2006, p. 14.)
The plan calls for equipping a number of the venerable bombers with powerful electronic jammers. Their purpose would be to bombard enemy radars and air defenses with massive bursts of radiated energy, thereby disrupting or blinding them.
Even stealth aircraft will need protection against advanced air defense systems, say military officials.
Moseley said the SOJ started out performing “a very narrow slice” of the SOJ requirement—at a cost of about $1 billion—and ended with many more missions and a $7 billion price tag. Keys noted, “We got enamored with everything it could do instead of just filling the gap that needed to be filled.”
The ACC chief said he wants a “meat-and-potatoes, core component jammer,” but he did not say when such a program might reappear in USAF’s budget.
Osprey No. 1 Arrives at Hurlburt
USAF’s first CV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft arrived on Nov. 16 at its duty base of Hurlburt Field, Fla.
The aircraft was flown by Army Gen. Bryan D. Brown, head of US Special Operations Command, and USAF Lt. Gen. Michael W. Wooley, commander of Air Force Special Operations Command.
The CV-22’s arrival was staged as part of a simulated behind-enemy-lines mission, with AC-130 gunships firing overhead and nearby MH-53 Pave Low helicopters inserting ground forces. The Osprey converted from airplane to helicopter mode before a crowd of several hundred guests.
Once on the ground, the “keys” of the aircraft were turned over to Lt. Col. Ed Corallo, commander of the 8th Special Operations Squadron.
The Air Force is slated to receive 50 CV-22s by 2017.
San Francisco Drops JROTC
The San Francisco Board of Education voted in November to phase out its Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps over the next two years. The program, in which about 1,600 area students participate, has existed for 90 years.
The program was dominated by the Army; there are no Air Force JROTC units in the area.
Opponents of the program said they objected to a military influence in the schools, as well as the Defense Department’s intolerance of gay service members. Dan Kelly, a member of the board who voted for the phaseout, told the San Francisco Chronicle that JROTC is “basically … a recruiting program for the military.”
The board voted four-to-two to eliminate the program and created a task force to come up with alternatives. Its action withdraws about $1 million in funding from the program, which is a cost-sharing arrangement between DOD and the city. Students, parents, and instructors protested outside the meeting before the vote.
China, Israel Get B-2 Secrets
A former Northrop Grumman B-2 engineer arrested in October 2005 for spying is now under indictment for passing secrets to as many as eight countries—including China and Israel.
According to the primary allegations revealed in an indictment unsealed in November, Noshir S. Gowadia, a US citizen and resident of Hawaii, regularly transmitted data and documents filled with classified information to foreigners. He also went overseas to teach courses on stealth technology such as that used to hide aircraft exhausts from infrared seekers.
Gowadia did it for money, not political reasons, according to the FBI.
Earlier last year, prosecutors indicated the charges would expand in another indictment against Gowadia that details his sharing of information with Chinese officials and business sources in Israel. The identities of the Israelis have not been disclosed, nor has it been revealed whether they were private individuals or representatives of companies.
The indictment reveals that Gowadia received approximately $2 million from China for his services.
CAS Demands Drive A-10 Upgrade
The urgent need to fix a potentially deadly time lag in delivering close air support is driving the modification of A-10 aircraft with new digital radios.
Air Combat Command said in October that money pressures had forced it to drop a planned replacement of Warthog radios with a new digital model. However, it reversed that decision based on combat experience.
Gen. Ronald E. Keys, ACC chief, said when A-10 pilots switch to an encrypted mode on their current radios, troops on the ground have to turn switches, too, and wait two to five seconds before talking. If the pilot or ground operator doesn’t pause, the transmission can be cut off or not heard at all. The digital radio solves the delay problem.
The new radios will also improve communications at high altitudes, such as in Afghanistan, where mountainous terrain can impede transmissions, Keys told reporters in November.
The first buy of approximately 62 digital radio kits will prove that the Air Force can put the new equipment in the A-10, Keys said. Crews began installing the new digital radios for aircraft flying in Afghanistan and Iraq in November, but the installation of more will have to await funding, Keys said. He wants to make sure that there are enough radios to train with.
Dutch To Buy JSF
The Netherlands announced Nov. 14 that it will move from simply participating in development of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter to actually purchasing the aircraft. It is the first of the partner nations to do so.
Officials from the Pentagon and the Dutch Ministry of Defense signed a production, sustainment, and follow-on development memorandum of understanding which extends cooperation in the program beyond the current system development and demonstration phase. (See “Aerospace World: Dutch Approve JSF Pact,” December 2006, p. 16.)
Once the signing process is complete, the partners will cooperatively develop, produce, test, train with, and operate the F-35 Lightning II. The Netherlands joined the program as an SDD partner in 2002 and has been involved in the JSF program since 1997.
C-130s Get New Wing Boxes
Some 155 C-130s crippled by wing box cracks are getting repairs at Warner Robins Air Logistics Center, Ga. The ALC began replacing the structures in November and hopes to complete 12 airlifters by 2009 and a total of 155 by 2020, said Dusty Dodd, chief of C-130 programs at the 330th Aircraft Sustainment Group.
The Air Force has 47 C-130s under flight restriction; another 30 are completely grounded due to cracks. Dodd said he hopes to get ahead of “grounding-restriction curve” by 2012. By that, he means that the ALC will be replacing wing boxes faster than the fleet is being restricted.
The wing box replacement costs about $7 million an aircraft, depending on the model, but Dodd added that a new aircraft would cost 10 times as much.
The Air Force is loath to allow any of its C-130s to remain down for long due to repairs, as they are in heavy demand. The new wing boxes are identical to those on new C-130J versions of the Hercules.
New Spaceplane Advances
An unmanned, reusable spaceplane, based on the X-37 technology demonstrator, will continue on into full-scale development and orbital testing, the Air Force announced in November.
The new effort, called the Orbital Test Vehicle, builds on investments made by the Air Force, NASA, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency in the X-37 so far. The Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office will lead the initiative, with help from NASA and the Air Force Research Laboratory.
The project, known as the Approach and Landing Test Vehicle, recently wrapped up a series of captive-carry and free-flight tests from a commercial aircraft. The tests validated flight dynamics and extended the flight envelope beyond what NASA had already accomplished.
The OTV program will now focus on risk reduction and experimentation, as well as developing a concept of operations.
An orbital test flight of the vehicle is slated for Fiscal 2008, with a launch from Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla., on an Atlas V booster. Objectives for the first flight include the demonstration and validation of guidance, navigation, and control systems, as well as autonomous re-entry and landing. Lightweight high-temperature structures and landing gear will also be tested.
USAF Hit With Kyrgyz Claim
Kyrgyzstan is pressuring the US for compensation, charging that the crew of an Air Force tanker was responsible for a September collision with a Kyrgyz passenger airliner at the country’s Manas Airport. No one was injured in the accident.
The Kyrgyz Airlines Tu-154 was taking off in darkness when it grazed the wing of a KC-135 also operating out of the airfield. The Tu-154 made an emergency landing. The KC-135’s left wing caught fire and one of its engines was destroyed.
Transport Minister Nurlan Sulaimanov said the accident was the fault of the KC-135 crew and that Kyrgyz authorities were negotiating with the US on possible compensation for damage. He said the Kyrgyz crew could not see the KC-135 because of darkness and an uneven runway surface.
The Air Force maintains a tanker presence at Manas Airport, which is located outside of the capital, Bishkek, and serves as a refueling hub for operations in and around Afghanistan.
USAF, Australia Seek Hypersonics
The Air Force and Australian Department of Defense will jointly develop hypersonic technologies, with an eye toward developing future high-speed missiles, under an agreement signed in November.
The Hypersonic International Flight Research Experimentation program—or HiFIRE—will be a six-year project aimed at basic and applied research. However, it will involve up to 10 flights of test vehicles at speeds greater than Mach 5.
Douglas Dolvin of the Air Force Research Lab’s air vehicles directorate, said there’s potentially huge payoff from the extremely high speeds offered by hypersonic vehicles, which offer game changing possibilities in prompt, precision strike at long standoff distances.
The $54 million deal is one of the largest collaborations of its kind between the two allies. The AFRL and the Australian Defense Science and Technology Organization will lead the effort. Research will also be conducted with NASA, American industry, the Australian Hypersonics Consortium, and the University of Queensland in Australia.
The test flights will be conducted at the Woomera Prohibited Area test range in Australia—the largest land weapons range in the world.
DOD Seeks Fuel Savings
As the biggest consumer of energy in the Defense Department, the Air Force is trying a variety of approaches to reduce both its energy appetite and the kinds of fuel it can use.
Michael A. Aimone, USAF assistant deputy chief of staff for logistics, installations, and mission support, told industry officials in November that USAF is making energy consumption a consideration at every step in the buying and operations process and, where possible, will switch to a renewable, less costly, or more efficient alternative.
More than 80 percent of USAF’s energy use is in aviation operations—42 percent for mobility alone, Aimone said. Only 16 percent of the Air Force’s energy is used by installations, which are more easily converted to alternatives than aircraft.
He pointed out that the Air Force has reduced its energy consumption at its facilities by 30 percent over the last 20 years, but more needs to be done with aviation operations, especially in light of the increasingly tight global energy market. USAF uses more than three billion gallons of aviation fuel annually.
US Leads World Arms Sales
World arms sales in 2005 hit their highest level since 1998, with the US alone providing almost half the weapons sold to developing nations, the Congressional Research Service reported in October.
The CRS said the US supplied $8.1 billion in weapons, related equipment, and services to developing countries in 2005, amounting to 46 percent of all sales to such countries as Egypt, India, Israel, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. Russia came in second, with 15 percent of the sales, valued at $2.7 billion. Britain, with just over 13 percent, made $2.4 billion worth of arms transfers. It was the eighth year in a row the US has led in the value of arms deliveries. In 2005, the US made worldwide weapons deliveries valued at about $11.6 billion altogether.
Overall, arms sales worldwide are up over the period 1998 to 2005. The CRS noted that some of the major weapons orders in 2005 reflect deferred purchases that were finally consummated by several nations.
Reservist’s Remains Are Identified
Remains discovered off the California coast this past September have been identified as those of Air Force Reserve SSgt. Jonathan R. Leonard, a passenger on an HC-130 that crashed into the Pacific Ocean on Nov. 22, 1996.
Also aboard were 10 other members of the 939th Rescue Wing from Portland Arpt., Ore. Only one crew member survived. The Coast Guard recovered two bodies after the crash; Navy efforts to retrieve the remains were only partially successful.
In September, a fishing boat dredging waters west of Punta Gorda, Calif., discovered Leonard’s remains along with an aircrew survival suit and a partial name tag bearing his name. The remains were identified by the Armed Forces’ Medical Examiner’s Office using DNA and forensic tools. The remains have been returned to his family for burial.
Leonard was an intelligence specialist from LaGrande, Ore., and joined the Air Force Reserve Command rescue unit in July 1991.
Japanese Boomers Come to Travis
Three members of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force completed a four-month training program at Travis AFB, Calif., in November, making them the first tanker boom operators in the JASDF.
MSgt. Randy Kawasaki, MSgt. Etsuro Mizokami, and TSgt. Masaaki Takahashi were picked from the JASDF headquarters for the assignment, due to their previous experience as aircraft loadmasters and language skills. After a six-month course in English at Lackland AFB, Tex., they completed a three-week basic boom operators course at Altus AFB, Okla. The three Japanese airmen then went to Travis for KC-10 boom operator basic qualification work.
Japan will soon get KC-767Js, but Kawasaki said the aerial refueling procedures and essence of boom operating skills are the same as with the KC-10. Japan is not scheduled to get its own boom simulator until 2009 and plans to send more than 12 future operators for training at Travis.
Poland Receives Advanced F-16s
Gen. William T. Hobbins, head of US Air Forces in Europe presided over ceremonies marking the delivery of advanced new F-16s to Poland in November.
The rollout ceremony of the F-16 Block 52 aircraft took place at Poznan. The F-16s are being provided under the Peace Sky foreign military sales program.
Hobbins said acquisition of the new fighters cements the relationship between the US and Polish Air Forces. Polish officials said the F-16s will improve efforts to transform the country’s old Soviet-era inventory into one more interoperable with the advanced systems in Europe and NATO.
Poland will use the F-16s to fulfill its alliance obligations in air policing and as part of the NATO Response Force. As the F-16s are delivered, they will replace Soviet-era MiG-29s.
Polish pilots and maintainers are in training with the 162nd Fighter Wing of the Arizona Air National Guard, and the Air Force is assisting with rotating mobile training teams to assist with aircraft maintenance.
Under the Peace Sky program, Poland will get 36 single-seat F-16Cs and 12 two-seat F-16Ds. The first four include three single-seat and one tandem version. The remainder of the Polish fleet is scheduled for delivery through 2008.
|Vietnam War Pilot Identified
The Pentagon announced Nov. 9 that the remains of an Air Force officer missing in action from the Vietnam War had been identified and returned to his family for burial with full honors.
Col. Charles J. Scharf of San Diego was buried Nov. 30 at Arlington National Cemetery.
Scharf and a fellow crew member, based at Ubon AB, Thailand, were lost in October 1965, when their F-4C Phantom II was shot down over North Vietnam. Two other aircraft reported seeing a parachute, but there was no further communication from the crew. Subsequent searches turned up nothing.
In 1990, the government of Vietnam gave information to US officials about two men buried near the crash site. A joint US-Vietnamese team interviewed three witnesses to the crash and located scattered wreckage. In 1992, an excavation of the site yielded human remains and personal effects.
After more excavations in 1993 and 2004, additional evidence, including a metal captain’s insignia and life support artifacts, were found.
Using DNA from envelopes sent by Scharf during the war, JPAC scientists were able to match it with the remains and confirm Scharf’s identification.
|Air Force Forges New Command for Cyber-War
Senior Air Force leaders announced in November that they are taking formal steps to establish a Cyberspace Command.
The new organization would be a major command comparable to Air Combat Command and Air Force Space Command. It would be charged with providing forces to ensure freedom of access to the cyber world. A four-star summit on the subject was convened two weeks after the announcement.
Secretary of the Air Force Michael W. Wynne, speaking at a defense industry conference in Arlington, Va., praised the work of the Chief of Staff of the Air Force Cyberspace Task Force, led by Lani Kass, special assistant to the CSAF, Gen. T. Michael Moseley. The panel has been gathering data with the aim of defining the new command’s mission.
It is a mission already being handled by USAF personnel. Initially, 8th Air Force at Barksdale AFB, La., will function as the lead agency for the cyber command. Its commander, Lt. Gen. Robert J. Elder Jr., will develop a framework for the new major command over this year. The 8th has a primary bomber mission but also has conducted information operations since 2000.
It provides both types of forces to US Strategic Command.
Kass said Cyber Command will handle offense, defense, and management of the infrastructure of cyberspace and other aspects of the electromagnetic spectrum.
Kass and Elder emphasized that the command would be a warfighting command prepared to defeat any enemy attacking US and allied computer networks. No types of networks would be off-limits to Cyber Command’s portfolio.
The Nov. 16 “cyberspace summit” was the latest in Moseley’s round of four-star meetings. (See “Aerospace World: Moseley Wants Frequent Gatherings of Generals,” November 2006, p. 15.) The meeting focused on strategic planning for the cyberspace command’s implementation.
|“Constant Peg” Declassified
One of the Air Force’s oldest “open secrets” was declassified in November, when the service revealed that it acquired, tested, and flew Soviet-designed fighters during the Cold War.
The program’s code name was “Constant Peg,” and it ran from 1977 to 1988. The Air Force said its 4477th Test and Evaluation Squadron, nicknamed the “Red Eagles,” flew MiG-17, MiG-21, and MiG-23 aircraft from various bases in Nevada, including Tonopah Test Range, home of the then-secret F-117 stealth fighter.
The program provided intimate knowledge of MiG design and capabilities. The MiGs were flown against US fighters, toward developing better tactics. They also participated in “Aggressor”-style programs like Red Flag.
The Air Force declined to say how it had obtained the MiGs, offering only that they were “communist built.” Some are known to have been provided by Israel, which captured them during various conflicts. USAF officials have privately confirmed that some were also provided by Egypt and Pakistan.
Since 1988, though, the Air Force has acquired more advanced Russian-designed aircraft. In 1997, the US openly purchased 21 MiG-29s from Moldova. As recently as 2003, in Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Air Force acquired MiGs captured in Iraq—some of which had been buried to hide them from US aerial attack.
The Air Force wouldn’t say whether the April 1984 death of Lt. Gen. Robert M. Bond was connected with Constant Peg. Bond was killed on the Nevada Test Range in an aircraft USAF has never officially identified. Rumors at the time had Bond flying a secret stealth aircraft, but USAF officials later said Bond was killed in a MiG-23 accident. At the time of his death, Bond was vice commander of Air Force Systems Command.
|Boeing Wins CSAR Contract, but Competitors Protest
The Air Force on Nov. 9 selected Boeing to build the next combat search and rescue helicopter, known as the CSAR-X, in a program potentially worth up to $15 billion.
In the competition, Boeing offered the HH-47, a variant of the twin-rotor CH-47 Chinook flown by the Army. The basic design has been in service nearly 50 years.
Lockheed Martin and Sikorsky protested the choice, triggering a Government Accountability Office review of the USAF award. Lockheed offered a version of the EH-101, recently selected by the Navy as the new Presidential transport aircraft. Sikorsky proposed the HH-92 Superhawk.
GAO will provide a finding in February.
Lockheed said it protested “with reluctance” but wants “the opportunity to more fully understand the reasons for the decision that was made.” Sikorsky said it wanted to make sure government officials properly evaluated its aircraft.
The Air Force said it selected the HH-47 because Boeing’s proposal offered best value and fastest delivery, not necessarily the most advanced design. Sue C. Payton, USAF’s acquisition chief, said Boeing will deliver the HH-47 “several months earlier” than would be the case with the other two CSAR-X competitors. She said the best value criteria included cost and schedule factors.
She went on to say that the Air Force discounted platforms offering more advanced designs in favor of one that didn’t “hold us hostage” to technology that has not matured and could take longer to deliver. There was no attempt, she said, to seek out “the most elegant, grand solution.”
With the HH-47, Payton said, USAF would “vastly improve what we have today in the HH-60 helicopters, but we have some growth potential in the future.” She added, “What was proposed by Boeing met that [need] better than any other proposal.”
With Boeing, the first production HH-47 would arrive in 2011. USAF wants 141 aircraft, along with training and logistics support. Initial operational capability with 10 aircraft is forecast for the end of 2012. If the first 10 aircraft prove satisfactory, full production would continue through 2019.
Boeing would use its Ridley Park, Pa., facility to build the aircraft.
Gen. T. Michael Moseley, Air Force Chief of Staff, lauded the Boeing aircraft as the better choice because it had superior range and payload, which is “the soul of an air force.” The HH-47 “exceeds our requirements in both areas,” he said.
He said the modernized Chinook would be capable of flying faster, over longer ranges, and at higher altitudes. It could do this during day or night and in poor weather, while carrying loads bigger than those carried by today’s HH-60 Pave Hawk.
|Air Force Expanding Aggressor Operations to Alaska
The Air Force’s cadre of dedicated “Red Air” adversaries is preparing to expand operations by standing up another squadron at Eielson AFB, Alaska. It is part of an overall increase in the spectrum of threats simulated in Red Flag-Alaska. (See “Washington Watch: Exercises on the Rim,” December 2006, p. 10.)
Col. Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy—the 57th Adversary Tactics Group commander—told reporters in November that Red Flag-Nellis and the newly renamed Red Flag-Alaska at Eielson will field complementary and compatible aggressor squadrons to train US and allied forces in all aspects of aerial combat.
The new squadron at Eielson will get F-16C Block 30 aircraft for its Red Flag operations, said Brig. Gen. David J. Scott, commander of the 354th Fighter Wing at the base. In the future, there might be opportunities to bring Nellis F-15 aggressors to Eielson and Eielson’s F-16s to Nellis, but not until operations begin in 2008.
Eielson aggressors will be more operations-oriented and will work at the tactical level, while Nellis will be responsible for the strategic operations for the Red Flag exercises, Scott added.
As for the kinds of threats being simulated in the air, O’Shaughnessy noted that a full range of air to air threats can be modeled by both squadrons—from Flankers to some of the older MiG-21s—and not all aircraft are the same.
“It might be an older airplane with newer avionics, and we try to replicate that,” he said. Aggressor pilots are able to use the F-16 very handily and can be “handcuffed” to simulate many different aircraft configurations.
Eielson’s aggressor squadron plans to be operational by March 2008, Scott said. Despite the expansion, O’Shaughnessy added that there are no plans to take the aggressor training on the road.
The 57th ATG also is working on diversifying the simulated threats in its Red Flag exercises. “We want to present threats in a very integrated fashion,” O’Shaughnessy said, noting that the 57th ATG is working on expanding training aggressors in ground threats, space, cyberspace, and information operations.
|Buying Air Force Equipment on Time, on Cost, and Faster
The Air Force, in a review of the way it buys equipment, is thinking about adding a new step to ensure the systems will come in on time and at the expected cost. It also wants to cap development time at six years between contract award and delivery of a usable asset.
The ideas were unveiled at an industry day held by the Air Force in November.
The first new concept, called “time certain development,” would demand that once a system is chosen from among several competitors, it would have to pass a preliminary design review before advancing to full development. As it stands now, system development and demonstration—SDD for short—begins as soon as a winner is chosen.
The change would give higher confidence in program cost and schedule, and better identify areas of risk, according to Maj. Gen. Mark Pillar, of the office of the Air Force’s assistant secretary for acquisition.
Service officials also said the change would help curb requirements creep, assure that technology was ready to progress to the manufacturing stage, and give contractors a clear understanding of what is expected of them.
Other initiatives planned to speed up the acquisition process include standardizing the buying process across the various USAF commands, improving the training of source-selection teams, and making cost realism a prime consideration at every step in the process, Pillar said.
The Air Force may also shift the way it pays incentive fees on contracts, reducing rewards for merely adequate performance.
|Missing in Action
Missing World War II Airman Identified
The Pentagon announced Nov. 8 that the remains of four servicemen missing from World War II had been identified and returned to their families for burial with full honors.
The identified airmen are SSgt. Joseph A. Berube, of Fall River, Mass.; 2nd Lt. Robert L. Hale of Newtonville, Mass.; SSgt. Glendon E. Harris of North Monmouth, Maine; and 1st Lt. Robert H. Miller of Providence, R.I. All were in the US Army Air Forces.
On an October 1943 bombing run over Rabaul, the B-25 in which the men were flying was attacked by Japanese fighters and shot down. Crews from other aircraft said they saw the B-25 crash near a plantation at Kabanga Point. There were no survivors.
In 1946 and 1947, Australian teams recovered some of the crew’s remains from the site, but identifications were not possible at the time and remains were buried at the Manila American Military Cemetery in the Philippines. The Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command led a team back to the crash site beginning in 1999, eventually discovering wreckage, human remains, and personal effects. In 2004, a JPAC anthropologist exhumed the graves in Manila where the remains buried in the 1940s were recovered.
|The War on Terrorism
Operation Iraqi Freedom—Iraq
As of Dec. 14, 2006, a total of 2,933 Americans had died in Operation Iraqi Freedom. This total includes 2,787 troops and seven Defense Department civilians. Of those fatalities, 2,357 were killed in action by enemy attack, and 576 died in noncombat incidents.
There have been 22,229 troops wounded in action during OIF. This includes 12,257 who returned to duty within 72 hours and 9,972 who were unable to quickly return to action.
Air Strike Takes Out IED Cell
A coalition air strike killed three terrorists in Yusifiyyah, Iraq, during a Nov. 13 operation that tracked an improvised explosive device cell in the city.
Coalition forces had tracked the terrorists’ movement on a dirt road on the outskirts of the city, according to a statement by the Multinational Force-Iraq. Based on intelligence linking one of the terrorist vehicles to a local IED network, aircraft in the area engaged and destroyed the vehicle with precision munitions.
The operations will “significantly disrupt” vehicle-borne IED production in the Baghdad region, MNF-Iraq officials said.
Nonlethal Checkpoint Technology
A competition to find an effective and nonlethal way to stop vehicles approaching military checkpoints was held in Arizona in November.
Two six-person teams from the Air Force Research Laboratory, members of which have five or less years’ experience, competed to offer a winning technology solution in the competition.
The two teams each had six months to develop their ideas. One team was from Kirtland AFB, N.M., and the other was from Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio.
Violence at checkpoints has been a major issue for US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan because of uncooperative drivers and passengers.
Maj. Gen. Ted F. Bowlds, AFRL chief, put out a call to resolve the checkpoint problem by using new, nonlethal methods. The competition was aimed at giving younger AFRL staff a chance to voice their ideas. It was called Junior Workforce Challenge Project.
Operation Enduring Freedom—Afghanistan
As of Dec. 14, 2006, a total of 352 Americans had died in Operation Enduring Freedom, primarily in and around Afghanistan. The total includes 194 troops killed in action and 158 who died in nonhostile incidents such as accidents.
A total of 1,066 troops have been wounded in Enduring Freedom. They include 426 who were able to return to duty in three days and 640 who were not.
USAF Takes Over Bagram Hospital Operations
The Air Force took over operations at the biggest US hospital in Afghanistan in December, toward providing seamless care from the battlefield to Stateside recuperation.
The combat support hospital in Bagram had been run by the Army, but since the Air Force is in charge of caring for patients for the rest of the trip home, through Ramstein AB, Germany, to Stateside bases, it made sense for USAF to take over the hospital operations.
The freshly built $24 million facility opened its doors in December. It has 83,000 square feet of space and a staff of up to 200 doctors, nurses, and medical support personnel. The hospital has an intensive care unit, three operating rooms, an emergency room, CT or CAT-scan x-ray equipment, a radiology lab, blood bank, and other facilities.
The Air Force also runs the theater hospital at Balad AB, Iraq, which is the largest hospital supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. By comparison, Balad’s hospital has approximately 377 personnel and is growing to about 100,000 square feet.
Weapons Releases Up Fourfold
The pace of air attacks in Iraq and Afghanistan spiked sharply in October, compared with the same month in 2005, according to US Central Command Air Forces. Aircraft flying close air support sorties in Operation Enduring Freedom made 397 weapons releases in October, up fourfold from the 86 releases reported in October 2005. Coalition and NATO International Security Assistance Force troops have been calling for more close air support than ever before.
By Marc V. Shanz , Associate Editor
- Air Force B-52 bomber crews and the Navy’s Mobile Mine Assembly Unit 8 in early November completed a week-long joint sea-mine-laying exercise off the coast of Guam. It was the largest number of weapons released by B-52s since the current bomber rotation arrived at Andersen Air Force Base in August. The 10-sortie exercise featured release of 92 Mk 62 mines and four Mk 56 moored mines into a pair of three-mile-long training mine fields over the Marianas Trench off Guam.
- The Air Force Office of Special Investigations, working with the government of Thailand, in November captured its most wanted fugitive—a former Air Force sergeant suspected of killing his pregnant wife in 1994. The joint effort produced the arrest of Saner Wonggoun, 59. He was based at Travis AFB, Calif., in 1994 and disappeared soon after his wife’s body was found dumped along a deserted road in Marin County, Calif. Authorities got a break when Thai officials were tipped off to Wonggoun’s location. The tip came after announcement of a reward for information.
- Lt. Gen. Stephen G. Wood on Nov. 6 assumed command of 7th Air Force. In the change of command ceremony at Osan AB, South Korea, Wood took over from Lt. Gen. Garry R. Trexler. Trexler retired Jan. 1. Wood most recently had served as Air Force deputy chief of staff for strategic plans and programs at the Pentagon.
- Brig. Gen. Douglas H. Owens, the new commander of the 36th Wing at Andersen AFB, Guam, told the Pacific Daily News in November that officials from Pacific Rim countries have been invited to Guam and Hawaii to observe an early 2007 demonstration of the Global Hawk UAV. The first of Guam’s permanently stationed Global Hawks will arrive in 2009, said Owens.
- The Air Force in late October processed about 700 households through the evacuation center at Osan AB, South Korea. The drill was part of Courageous Channel 06-2, a noncombatant activity that tested all aspects of US Forces Korea’s evacuation programs. The average processing time for evacuees was 15 minutes. In all, 1,470 evacuees were processed and more than 60 percent were handled on the first day. The exercise helped test the response time and preparedness level of every evacuee, from in-processing to the actual evacuation process.
- Unified Engagement 2006—one of the largest multiforce, multinational wargame simulations of the year—wrapped up Nov. 9 at the US Army’s Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. More than 300 troops and civilians from five countries gathered at the Command Battle Training Center to take part in a scenario set 12 to 15 years into the future. The exercise featured cooperation between the Air Force and services from Australia, Britain, and Canada. Military leaders exchanged ideas and put them to work in various scenarios such as terrorist attacks, natural disasters, and humanitarian emergencies.
- Boeing has received a $78.2 million contract from Northrop Grumman Mission Systems to deploy a replacement environmental control system for more than 550 Minuteman ICBM launch, alert, and training facilities. The ECS regulates climate and ensures that electronics and ground support equipment are maintained at specified preset temperatures. The contract calls for work completion in 2011.
- Five former Army Air Forces members who took part in the legendary Doolittle Raid on Japan in early 1942 traveled to Washington, D.C., in November to participate in Veterans Day events, including wreath laying ceremonies at the Air Force and Navy Memorials. The Doolittle Raiders also met with service members at the Pentagon and Bolling AFB, D.C. During a wreath laying ceremony at the Air Force Memorial, Secretary of the Air Force Michael W. Wynne paid tribute to the raiders. Of the 80 original airmen who took part in the raid, 16 survive today.
- Boeing has received a $299.8 million contract from the Air Force to produce the fourth Wideband Gap-filler System satellite( now renamed Wideband Global System)—the first option to be exercised on the WGS Block II contract finalized in October. The Block II contract is valued at $1.067 billion if all options are exercised. WGS-4 will be similar to the three Block I satellites, but will have a radio frequency bypass capability to support airborne intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance platforms. WGS-4 is expected to launch in early 2011.
- BAE Systems has been selected by the Air Force to produce electronic attack pod testing equipment to protect F-15, F-16, and A-10 aircraft. The $3.3 million contract for the Electronic Attack Improved Avionics Intermediate Shop transitions a full-scale tester to a production ready station to test ALQ-131 and ALQ-184 electronic attack pods. The pods provide protection for aircraft and aircrews against radio frequency threats such as radar-guided missiles. The EA-IAIS is a portable tester designed for rapid deployment and helps provide fast repairs of electronic warfare pods. The work on the testers will be preformed at BAE’s San Diego facility through 2008, with the next phase of the program to produce up to 100 testers.
- Travis AFB, Calif., firefighters came out on top for the third consecutive time at the World Firefighter Combat Challenge in Henderson, Nev., in November. Attracting hundreds of US and Canadian municipal fire departments from more than 25 locations, the competition encouraged firefighter fitness with a range of tasks such as tower climbing, hoisting and chopping, dragging hoses, and rescue techniques. In addition, participants have to wear full-bunker gear, including an air-breathing apparatus.
- As part of consolidation efforts related to the “superbase” merging of McGuire Air Force Base and Ft. Dix, N.J., the 305th Medical Group Clinic physical therapy department recently joined with Ft. Dix—marking the first joint physical therapy clinic where Air Force and Army therapists are located under the same roof. The troop medical clinic on Ft. Dix will be relocating to the 305th Medical Group in 2007 and will enable the Air Force and DOD to save $880,000 in physical therapy referrals to civilian providers. Once all programs are collocated in the McGuire clinic, savings are projected at $2.4 million a year.
- Air Force and Singapore officials are in the process of working out a deal to bring up to 10 Singapore F-15 Eagles to Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, to establish a training squadron. Pending the completion of an environmental analysis and negotiations between the air forces, a decision is expected by March 2007. Mountain Home is slated to lose its fleet of F-16s and F-15Cs, and will gain F-15E Strike Eagles from Elmendorf AFB, Alaska. No date has been proposed for the standup of the squadron, according to Mountain Home officials.