Air Force World

Jan. 1, 2012

New Deployment Model

To improve unit cohesion, the Air Force is changing the way it deploys airmen under the Air and Space Expeditionary Force construct.

Christened “AEF Next,” the new system will deploy airmen alongside their squadron commander as an “airpower team,” said Col. John Long, chief of USAF’s war planning and policy division. However, “for most airmen, the differences will be minimal,” he said. “We want to get the commander and immediate supervisors back into the deployment decision process. This will allow commanders to make key deployment decisions about their unit personnel rather than relying on functional managers at the major command or headquarters Air Force level to make those decisions.”

The new model will simplify the existing structure, giving leaders a better perspective on the stress level for individual career fields.

Deployment-to-dwell time ratios will likely stay around one-to-two, meaning airmen will deploy for six months and return home for at least a year before redeploying.

The Air Force expects to phase in the change over the next two years.

Balad Farewell

The 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing relinquished the United States’ second largest base in Iraq—Joint Base Balad—with the departure of the last airmen from the facility in early November.

The base once housed roughly 36,000 American troops and contractors. It passed to Iraqi government control Nov. 8. Known as al Bakr Air Base, the original airfield served the Iraqi Air Force before the US invasion in March 2003. After the US arrival, the base was split to become USAF’s Balad Air Base and Camp Anaconda, a major Army logistics hub. In 2008, the base was realigned under the stewardship of USAF’s 332nd AEW, becoming Joint Base Balad.

Boasting an 11,000-foot runway, Balad hosted USAF aircraft, including F-16s, MQ-9 Reapers, and MC-12 Liberty aircraft.

MOP Ready for War

The new bunker-busting Massive Ordnance Penetrator bomb is now available for combat on the Air Force’s B-2 stealth bomber.

Whiteman AFB, Mo.—home of the B-2 fleet—received its first batch of MOPs “ready for operational use” in September, according to Air Force acquisition officials.

Coupled with the stealthy, penetrating B-2, the 30,000-pound-class conventional weapon gives US planners a potent means of attacking even the most challenging hardened targets.

Previously, some targets were difficult, if not impossible, to reach with other bunker busters due to their depth beneath the surface and protective layers of earth, stone, and concrete.

There is “no other weapon that can get after those hard and deeply buried targets like MOP can,” said Brig. Gen. Scott A. Vander Hamm, commander of Whiteman’s 509th Bomb Wing.

AirSea Battle Bureau

The fledgling AirSea Battle concept gained new impetus with the creation of a designated Pentagon office to push Air Force and Navy integration of combat resources.

Chief among its tasks are influencing wargames, fostering development and integration of air and naval capabilities, and facilitating collaboration with joint forces, Pentagon officials said.

A minimum of two field-grade officers or civil servants of equivalent rank from the Air Force, Marine Corps, and Navy will staff the new office, which has a core staff of some 15 people.

Under AirSea Battle, the Pentagon hopes to make better use of its assets to guarantee freedom of action in potentially contested areas such as the Western Pacific.

Global Strike Gets the Bomb

The next step in consolidating the nuclear mission under Air Force Global Strike Command will be for the command to assume responsibility for USAF’s nuclear munitions support squadrons.

Nuclear-tasked squadrons will now report directly to wing commanders on base, replacing the centralized Air Force Materiel Command system, managed through the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center at Kirtland AFB, N.M.

Various munitions units at F. E. Warren AFB, Wyo.; Kirtland AFB, N.M.; Malmstrom AFB, Mont.; Minot AFB, N.D.; Vandenberg AFB, Calif.; and Whiteman AFB, Mo., now fall under AFGSC, though both AFMC and the AFNWC will continue playing a key role in nuclear sustainment and integration.

The Air Force is “continuing to strengthen the nuclear enterprise while seeking constant improvement and doing things the best way possible for safe, secure, and effective operations,” said Chief of Staff Gen. Norton A. Schwartz in signing the directive Nov. 20.

F-35 for Britain

Lockheed Martin recently completed assembly of the first F-35 strike fighter for Britain.

“This first F-35 for the first international program partner is symbolic of the proud partnership we share with the United Kingdom,” said Tom Burbage, Lockheed’s F-35 general manager of program integration.

Designated BK-1, the F-35B short takeoff and vertical landing variant left Lockheed Martin’s production line at Fort Worth, Tex., for the flight line on Nov. 20.

The F-35 is “ideally suited” to Britain’s combat needs since it “is capable of operating from both the land and our new Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier,” said RAF Group Capt. Harv Smyth, British national deputy for the F-35.

The aircraft was ordered, however, before Britain amended its procurement plan to buy only F-35C variants optimized for aircraft carrier operations. The UK will use BK-1 as an operational test and training airframe. There has also been talk of a swap of the aircraft for a US Navy F-35C to make the British aircraft’s test and checkout more applicable to its eventual fleet.

Lockheed Martin will deliver the aircraft later this year, following initial testing and checks.

Raptor Grand

An Air Force Reserve pilot has become the first in the service to log 1,000 hours in the F-22 Raptor.

Lt. Col. David Piffarerio broke the 1,000 flight-hour mark on a check flight from JB Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, in November. Piffarerio is commander of Air Force Reserve Command’s 302nd Fighter Squadron, an associate unit of the active duty 3rd Fighter Wing at Elmendorf.

“More important to me than this milestone is that the F-22 fleet is safely in the air and accomplishing the mission,” he added after the record sortie Nov. 4.

Piffarerio began flying the Raptor as part of USAF’s operational evaluation team at Nellis AFB, Nev., in 2002 after transitioning from the F-15E. He has subsequently served in a number of different roles with the Raptor.

USAF To SLEP F-16 Fleet

To bridge any gap in the fighter force ahead of the F-35 entering service, USAF announced the modernization of a significant number of its later-model F-16s.

Under the plan, the service aims to fit new avionics and structural improvements to between 300 and 350 F-16 Block 40 and Block 50s—with the potential to upgrade as many as 600 in a worst-case scenario.

Testifying before House lawmakers, Lt. Gen. Herbert J. Carlisle said he doesn’t expect the upper end number of life extensions to be needed, but cautioned that the F-35 is likely to miss its projected initial operational capability date of 2016 by more than two years.

“We’ve got work to do, but [the F-35 is] going to be a good airplane, and we have to have it,” he said.

Funding for research, development, and testing on the first three SLEP airframes, as well as avionics upgrade development, is anticipated in the Fiscal 2013 budget request, said Carlisle.

The Air Force is conducting full-scale fatigue tests on an F-16 and F-15 to determine the true structural life potential of its fighter fleet.

CHIRP Goes to Work

The first Air Force payload launched aboard a commercial satellite successfully completed performance testing on orbit and is performing to standards, paving the way for experimentation to begin.

Now that the Commercially Hosted Infrared Payload (CHIRP) completed diagnostics, “the next step is calibration, followed by execution of planned experiments,” said Col. Scott W. Beidleman, Space and Missile Systems Center development plans chief.

The sensor’s information-gathering ability will be tried under a full range of atmospheric and terrain conditions over nine-and-a-half months of demonstrations.

“Given the pathfinding nature of CHIRP, the Development Planning Directorate is gathering invaluable lessons learned on these technologies” as well as learning how to work aboard a civilian satellite, he added.

CHIRP was boosted into orbit aboard the SES-2 communication satellite in September and is the Air Force’s first focused wide-view infrared sensor.

Pole to Pickle Barrel

A B-2 bomber dropped four unguided BDU-38 practice bombs over the Edwards AFB, Calif., precision impact range following a flight to the North Pole and back. The dummy bombs are used to simulate B61 nuclear warheads.

The bomber demonstrated it could successfully navigate to the release point with its new computer upgrades, including communication and navigation equipment.

The 18-hour-plus mission was “the first time the B-2 has operated at this extreme of latitude before, and [I believe] the longest flight so far for this hardware and this software,” said Maj. Michael Deaver, 31st Test and Evaluation Squadron B-2 Extremely High Frequency Test director.

A KC-135 Stratotanker from Fairchild AFB, Wash., refueled the B-2 over Alberta, Canada, with a second tanker from Edwards supporting.

“We’ve proven the fact that they can get up into those [high] latitudes safely and effectively. That previously was a question mark,” said Maj. Andrew Murphy, a B-2 experimental test pilot assigned to the 419th Flight Test Squadron.

Temperature Control

Northrop Grumman received a $109 million contract in November to replace the fatigue-prone aft deck panels on the B-2 stealth bomber’s upper wing surface.

“The B-2 industry team is working closely with the US Air Force and the Defense Logistics Agency to improve aircraft availability,” said Gary Roehrig, Northrop B-2 program support director in a company release.

Stretching from the engine exhaust to the aircraft’s trailing edge, the recessed metallic panels shield the aircraft’s sensitive composite airframe from being scorched by hot engine gases, but routinely fail before scheduled depot maintenance.

After a rigorous structural and thermodynamic study, Northrop Grumman says it redesigned the decks to resist damage and fatigue, allowing USAF’s fleet of 20 B-2s to last through normal maintenance cycles without extensive intervening repair.

“Implementing a redesigned aft deck is an important part of guaranteeing the long-term viability of the B-2,” said Dave Mazur, Northrop’s B-2 program manager.

F-16 Rear-Ender

Pacific Air Forces investigators found “clear and convincing evidence” that pilot error caused a ground collision between two F-16 fighters at Kunsan AB, South Korea, last July.

Contributing factors in the collision were determined to be a “breakdown in [the pilot’s] visual scan, … task misprioritization, and channelized attention,” as well as pilot overconfidence. Ultimately, the pilot’s “failure to properly monitor his aircraft’s position relative to the aircraft in front of him” led to the mishap, according to report findings.

Fourth in line for takeoff during an operational readiness exercise, the pilot failed to note that the three fighters queuing ahead of him had paused on the taxiway for a routine preflight check. His aircraft struck the third fighter in line.

Though neither pilot was injured in the accident, the fourth aircraft sustained more than $2 million in damage while the third F-16 required some $590,000 worth of repairs.

Return to Fairchild

Two KC-135s left the first tire marks on a pristine 2.5-mile runway recently completed at Fairchild AFB, Wash.

The $43.6 million runway, which was finished ahead of schedule but over budget, was raised 12 inches over the previous surface to improve drainage.

Civil engineers narrowed the strip from 200 feet to 150 feet to match standard USAF parameters, recycling some 60,000 tons of concrete in the process.

For the first time since the 11-month project began, crews with the 92nd Air Refueling Wing landed a KC-135 at Fairchild, testing the new surface on a homecoming flight to the base Nov. 2.

Fairchild’s tankers and 1,342 personnel temporarily operated from nearby Spokane Airport and Grant County Airport during construction.

Allies in Pixel Skies

US and Canadian forces linked computers for North American Aerospace Defense Command’s first international real-time simulated air defense exercise late last fall. “These scenarios have always been executed in a US-only environment,” said Steve Boe, distributed mission operations simulator program manager. In one scenario, Canadian F-18 pilots were able to simulate intercepting a hijacked airliner and handing it off to US F-15s as the aircraft entered US airspace. The exercise “provided a multiregional realism we’ve never experienced before using DMO,” added Boe. Given the contiguity of Canadian and US airspace, “threats can easily transition from their area of operation to ours,” said Royal Canadian Air Force Brig. Gen. Christopher J. Coates, deputy commander of the Continental US NORAD Region. For the first time, the Nov. 17 exercise incorporated California Air National Guard pilots of the 144th Fighter Wing, flying simulators at their home in Fresno.

MALD Jammer Production

The Miniature Air Launched Decoy Jammer has been cleared to begin low-rate initial production. Raytheon is preparing to begin deliveries to the Air Force in 2012.

“MALD-J will save the lives of aviators because commanders will be able to use [it] … to conduct dangerous stand-in jamming missions instead of using manned aircraft to do the job,” said Harry Schulte, vice president of the company’s Air Warfare Systems product line.

MALD-J adds a radar-jamming capability to Raytheon’s MALD air launched decoy, which confuses enemy air defenses by duplicating the characteristics of US and allied aircraft.

Raytheon said the Air Force also exercised a contract option to convert Lot 4 production of the baseline decoy to the jammer variant.

BACN Baptized

Global Hawk remotely piloted aircraft equipped as Battlefield Airborne Communications Nodes have been officially designated EQ-4B in recognition of their specialized electronic mission, announced Northrop Grumman.

Earlier this year the Air Force designated its manned but similarly equipped Bombardier Global Express jet aircraft as E-11A.

“The new designation of the manned and unmanned BACN aircraft reflects a unique aircraft mix that provides theater commanders complementary capabilities to support the BACN missions,” said Claude Hashem, vice president and general manager of Northrop’s Network Communications Systems business.

“The E-11A business jets provide rapid tactical deployment options, while the EQ-4B unmanned systems provide long endurance and unsurpassed persistence.”

The Air Force awarded Northrop a $43 million, five-month contract extension in September to operate, support, and maintain the service’s two E-11As and the BACN payload, according to Northrop.

Only Raptors Solo

Five Air Force single-ship demo teams—A-10 East and West, F-16 East and West, and F-15E—will not perform this year, due to budget reductions at Air Combat Command. Only the F-22 will make single-ship flight demonstrations for the 2012 air show season.

The command said it will distribute the flying hours normally allotted to those five teams to combat wings.

This “will allow us to reallocate more than 900 sorties to our wings so they can maximize their flying hours for combat readiness training, offsetting some of the reduction we’ve seen in flying hours,” stated a December release. “Most importantly, reallocating those sorties will provide an increase in more than 25 combat-ready fighter pilots—that’s a very good thing for our nation and wise stewardship of our limited resources.”

The Thunderbirds air demonstration team is “set to complete a full season” for 2012, according to ACC.

New START Numerology

A total of 448 Air Force Minuteman III ICBMs stand in silos on operational status, based on an exchange of data between the United States and Russia under the New START arms control agreement. In addition, the Air Force holds 266 Minuteman III missiles on nondeployed status and maintains 58 nonoperational silos and six test silos, as of September.

The Air Force is moving forward with the task of eliminating a total of 100 deactivated ICBM silos and their associated alert facilities in accordance with the New START agreement. (See “Filling Holes,” p. 17.)

Bundle and Save

Air Force officials announced plans for four new active duty associate fighter squadrons, pairing active duty and Air Force Reserve Command airmen as a cost-saving measure.

“We partner active duty and Reserve airmen together and create a powerful synergy that is cost-effective and results in a force that performs both daily operations as well as strategic surges,” said Lt. Gen. Charles E. Stenner Jr., Air Force Reserve chief.

The new active associate units will share aircraft and equipment with existing Reserve fighter squadrons at Barksdale AFB, La.; Homestead ARB, Fla.; NAS JRB Fort Worth, Tex.; and Whiteman AFB, Mo.

AFRC squadrons at Barksdale and Whiteman will continue A-10 operations, with the addition of 128 active duty airmen, and F-16 units at Homestead and Fort Worth will gain 168 active posts.

While some AFRC personnel will be cut, units will be granted “time to adjust,” said Stenner.

Indonesian Vipers

The US will transfer 24 surplus F-16s to Indonesia under an agreement announced by President Barack Obama and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in November.

Unveiled during the Pacific leaders’ summit in Bali, Indonesia, this acquisition “provides Indonesia with a much-needed capability to protect its sovereign airspace and represents the largest transfer of defense articles in the history of the US-Indonesia bilateral relationship,” according to a Nov. 18 White House statement.

Upgraded with modernized radar and avionics, the regenerated F-16C/Ds will be capable of carrying advanced targeting pods and weaponry.

Indonesia also requested 28 refurbished engines and a stock of six airframes for use as spares. The United States will train at least 30 pilots Stateside and send teams to train Indonesian maintainers. Aircraft deliveries are set to begin in July 2014. Indonesia currently operates 10 F-16A/Bs.

Filling Holes

Air Force Global Strike Command officials announced Dec. 1 that environmental impact assessments are under way at F. E. Warren AFB, Wyo., and Malmstrom AFB, Mont., clearing the way for empty infrastructure to be imploded or filled with gravel rendering it useless.

The Air Force intends to get rid of 50 silos and five alert facilities at each of the two missile bases. At F. E. Warren, the service will eliminate former Peacekeeper missile silos and alert facilities once belonging to the 400th Missile Squadron.

On the books for elimination at Malmstrom are Minuteman III silos and alert facilities formerly used by the 564th Missile Squadron.

Under New START, the United States has until February 2018 to eliminate the infrastructure.

Globalizing Wideband

The Canadian Parliament recently authorized more than $464 million to secure that country’s place in the Air Force’s Wideband Global Satellite Communications project.

Canada’s experiences in Afghanistan and Libya have proved the necessity of reliable battlefield communications, prompting it to partner with the United States and Australia on WGS. Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and New Zealand have also expressed interest in joining WGS.

Three WGS spacecraft are already operating on orbit and the next satellite, WGS-4, arrived at Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla., in November for a late January launch.

Seeking Upgraded Igloos

The Air Force chose Lockheed Martin to upgrade Atmospheric Early Warning System radars throughout the US and Canada, according to a company release in November.

About $46.8 million worth of contract options cover initial planning and design work to modernize 29 AN/FPS-117 long-range surveillance radars, initially built by Lockheed in the 1980s under the Seek Igloo North Warning program.

Included in the contract are 15 radars in Alaska and 11 in Canada, as well as individual sites in Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and Utah.

The unmanned solid-state L-band radar sites are capable of continuous airspace coverage out to 250 miles, providing reliable service even in harsh Arctic climates.

Lockheed Martin expects a follow-on contract to update signal and data processing, extending the network life span through 2025.

The company already completed similar work upgrading sites in Germany, Kuwait, Romania, and the UK.

Remapping Mobility

Air Mobility Command is restructuring the US Air Force Expeditionary Center and units of 18th Air Force to wring greater efficiency from daily operations.

Slated for inactivation are headquarters for the 15th Expeditionary Mobility Task Force and headquarters, 615th Contingency Response Wing—both located at Travis AFB, Calif.—and the 21st Expeditionary Mobility Task Force headquarters at JB McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.

Subordinate units at both bases will remain in place under the control of the expeditionary center, as will air mobility operations wings at JB Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, and Ramstein AB, Germany.

“The reduction of 18th Air Force’s span of control allows for greater focus on its mission to present operational flying air mobility forces to US Transportation Command,” said Lt. Gen. Mark F. Ramsay, 18th Air Force commander. “Ultimately, it will allow the 18th Air Force to put greater focus on the flying mission while the expeditionary center focuses on our contingency response, expeditionary combat support training, en route and installation support, and building partnerships missions.”

Unburdening SOF

The Air Force is trying to ease the burden on its special operators by transferring some of their duties to the regular force.

“An important point to make when you look at this conventional versus the irregular warfare and special operators out there, is what can we do to take the burden off them,” said Brig. Gen. Jerry P. Martinez, operational capability requirements joint integration director.

Testifying during a House Armed Services panel on irregular warfare capabilities, Nov. 3, Martinez said, “Our country has asked a lot of our special ops forces.” That’s why the Air Force is trying to improve, in the “general populace,” language, regional, and cultural training—instruction once reserved for air commandos, he added.

Longest Serving Airman Retires

Maj. Gen. Alfred K. Flowers retired as the Air Force’s longest serving airman, ending his 46-year career as deputy assistant secretary for budget. Flowers enlisted in the Air Force at age 17, beginning his active duty career in 1965 as a supply warehouseman at Grand Forks AFB, N.D.

In 1968, he served as an air transportation specialist at Da Nang AB, South Vietnam. After 13 years in the enlisted corps, Flowers was commissioned as a financial management officer in 1978, serving as US Special Operations Command director of resources (2004-2006)and later as head of 2nd Air Force at Keesler AFB, Miss.

Flowers was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal by Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley in a retirement ceremony at JB Anacostia-Bolling, D.C., Nov. 16.

Hawker Beechcraft Lodges Protest

Hawker Beechcraft filed a protest against the Air Force with the Government Accountability Office after the service excluded its AT-6 platform from further consideration in the Light Air Support aircraft competition. Company officials said they were “confounded and troubled” by the Air Force’s decision, claiming that the service unfairly kept them in the dark as to why the company’s bid was barred.

In a release Nov. 21, Hawker Beechcraft said the decision “appears at this point to have been made without basis in process or fact.” Accordingly, “we are very interested in learning more about the decision and look forward to the results of the GAO’s review.”

The Air Force said it is going ahead with the competition to acquire 20 LAS platforms for the Afghan Air Force, with source selection due in early December.

The GAO has until Feb. 29 to issue its ruling in Hawker’s case.

Senate Passes Defense Authorization

By a vote of 93 to seven, the Senate approved its version of the Fiscal 2012 defense authorization bill, allocating $662 billion.

This includes $527 billion for baseline Pentagon activities, $117 billion for overseas contingency operations, and $17.5 billion for Department of Energy nuclear weapons and defense-related work.

Following passage of the House version in May which authorized $690 billion, the measure’s approval cleared the way for the House and Senate to hash out a single bill in conference before sending it on to the President for signing.

While the House version passed before enactment of the 2011 Budget Control Act, the Senate’s includes $27 billion in additional BCA cuts for Fiscal 2012.

Added were tough sanctions on Iran, in light of a recent International Atomic Energy Agency report that the country continues to develop nuclear weapons.

The Senate legislation also reaffirmed retaining captured terrorists in military custody, rather than handling them through the civil court system. President Obama threatened to veto the authorization if similar language found its way into the final bill.

Dover Morgue Mishandled Remains

Air Force investigators uncovered egregious mishandling of the remains of service members killed in combat—including lost body parts—by mortuary staff at Dover AFB, Del. At the behest of the US Office of Special Counsel, the inspector general’s office in June 2010 began investigating allegations of “serious misconduct” reported by several whistle blowers.

According to OSC, “In two separate incidents, body parts of service members killed while on active duty were lost by the port mortuary.” In another incident, OSC said that “a US Marine was dismembered with a saw in order to make the body fit inside a military uniform.”

“The mortuary for the United States military should boast the best conditions and best practices of any mortuary,” said Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner in the OSC release in November. “These events are deeply troubling, as is the Air Force’s failure to acknowledge culpability.”

Subsequent Air Force investigation found no evidence of intentional mishandling, though USAF officials acknowledged the “mortuary staff failed to maintain accountability while processing portions of remains.” OSC recognized USAF’s extensive overhaul of mortuary procedures to improve accountability, but asserted the service did not adequately discipline those responsible.

In direct reaction to the incidents, the Air Force disciplined the mortuary’s then-commander, issuing him a letter of reprimand, and demoted two civilian employees to nonmanagement roles.

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta appointed an independent assessment of overall mortuary operations at Dover. “None of us will be satisfied until we have proven to the families of our fallen heroes that we have taken every step possible to protect the honor and dignity that their loved ones richly deserve,” said Panetta.

As of press time, reports also surfaced that contractors had disposed of cremated remains in a Virginia landfill as recently as 2008—a practice the Air Force says it halted immediately upon learning of it, replacing the practice with procedures for burial at sea.

AFMC’s Risky Business Case

Air Force Materiel Command is risking the future of aircraft sustainment by centralizing management of its three air logistics centers to a single base, warned Rep. Robert Bishop (R-Utah).

Under a cost-cutting plan announced in November, command officials want to consolidate management of the Air Force’s air logistics centers where various aircraft fleets cycle through intensive scheduled maintenance.

Oklahoma City ALC at Tinker AFB, Okla., Ogden ALC at Hill AFB, Utah, and Warner Robins ALC at Robins AFB, Ga., would be overseen by a new Air Force Sustainment Center at Tinker.

AFMC Commander Gen. Donald J. Hoffman said instead of “thinking separately about research, test, acquisition, or sustainment in a center-by-center, base-by-base mindset, … the restructure will drive us to more standardized processes.”

“This is not a new idea. It’s been discounted in the past,” said Bishop, quoted by Salt Lake City’s Deseret News. AFMC officials “have not done their business case analysis to show us that this is the right thing,” Bishop said, adding that until they do, he is “very skeptical” of the plan.

Likewise, AFMC plans to consolidate management of its acquisition centers under a new Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio.

Overall restructuring would reduce AFMC centers from 12 to five—eliminating 1,051 civilian positions, while saving $109 million annually, by Air Force estimates. Previously announced Air Force-wide streamlining would reduce AFMC’s civilian installation-support workforce by another 1,088 positions.

Counterfeit Crackdown

The Government Accountability Office recently conducted a sting operation to pinpoint sources of counterfeit or substandard electronic components that find their way into US weapons systems.

During the investigation, GAO created a fictitious company to lure dubious suppliers—specifically in China, said Richard J. Hillman, head of the GAO forensic audits and investigative service, testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee in November.

In one instance, the vendor “misrepresented” the part, claiming it was nine years newer than it actually was. “Counterfeit parts—generally those whose sources knowingly misrepresent the parts’ identity or pedigree—have the potential to seriously disrupt the Department of Defense (DOD) supply chain, delay missions, affect the integrity of weapon systems, and ultimately endanger the lives of our troops,” stated GAO’s initial report.

“There is a flood of counterfeits and it is putting our military men and women at risk and costing us a fortune,” added Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the SASC, which also conducted its own investigation.

The SASC’s independent investigation found counterfeit components in systems including the C-27J and the Navy’s SH-60B helicopter and P-8A Poseidon aircraft, plus the Missile Defense Agency’s THAAD missiles.

Levin called on the Defense Department to change its acquisition rules to ensure the cost of replacing suspected fake parts falls on contractors. In the mean time, DOD must require part certification especially for parts originating from China, where the vast majority of fakes appear to originate, said Levin.

Rebalancing the Rated Pipeline

The Air Force needs to boost fighter pilot production to 278 pilots a year as it works to rebalance the rated training pipeline, said Chief of Staff Gen. Norton A. Schwartz.

To achieve the goal, the Air Force aims to pair active duty units with reserve fighter squadrons to crank out “significantly more” B-course students, Schwartz wrote in a Nov. 2 letter to the Air Staff and major commands.

In the future, the Arizona Air National Guard at Tucson will host fewer international F-16 students, in order to ramp up production of USAF F-16 pilots. Meanwhile Air Combat Command will reduce the required F-16 syllabus.

A-10 crew ratios will increase and more aircraft will be added to the flying training unit in an effort to produce more pilots, Schwartz explained. While the location is yet to be determined, USAF’s F-15C aggressor squadron will be converted to an FTU, and F-22 training output will be significantly increased.

Schwartz requested that ACC take the lead on most of the initiatives, to “rapidly implement” the various training plans.

In addition, USAF intends to “normalize” the MC-12 cadre to maintain pilot inventories at sustainable levels, while scrubbing rated requirements to fit “inventory realities,” wrote Schwartz.

Previously, instead of designating pilots specifically for the MC-12, as has been the case since the Liberty entered service, pilots from across the force rotated in to temporarily fill MC-12 slots, then returned to their assigned type.

The War on Terrorism

Operation Enduring Freedom


By Dec. 12, a total of 1,839 Americans had died in Operation Enduring Freedom. The total includes 1,836 troops and three Department of Defense civilians. Of these deaths, 1,467 were killed in action with the enemy, while 372 died in noncombat incidents.

There have been 15,040 troops wounded in action during OEF.

Bagram’s Blind Saviors

Dropping ordnance through solid cloud cover, Air Force strike aircraft staved off an intense assault on a US combat outpost in Paktika province, Afghanistan, in early November.

Unable to fly in the severe weather below the cloud deck, the F-16s and F-15Es relied on coordinates relayed by a combat controller at the outpost. “We are able to employ precision weapons through the weather, which is one of the benefits of having GPS weapons,” said Maj. Todd Dyer, an F-15E pilot from the 335th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron.

“It’s a very disciplined type of attack to get weapons on target efficiently. We weren’t able to use our targeting pods due to weather,” he added.

Augmented by F-16s from the 121st EFS, the combined strikes killed up to 70 insurgents, stemming the assault before the base could be overrun.

C-130s Drop Winter Supplies

A C-130 crew air-dropped a winter’s worth of provisions, including 18,000 pounds of fuel, to soldiers at a remote forward base in Afghanistan on Nov. 27.

Located at 8,700 feet above sea level, Combat Outpost Herrera is surrounded by mountains and trees, making airdrop difficult and convoy resupply dangerous and unreliable with the arrival of snowy weather.

The 772nd Expeditionary Airlift Squadron crew from Kandahar Airfield used the aircraft’s Joint Precision Airdrop System to guide the parachute bundles from an altitude of 17,000 feet—out of reach of enemy ground fire.

“Utilizing airdrops with the GPS guided parachutes allows us that avenue to use in case we can’t get resupplied by helicopters or vehicles by the road,” said Army SSgt. Denton Poe of COP Herrera’s 1st Platoon.

Senior Staff Changes

RETIREMENTS: Lt. Gen. Dana T. Atkins, Maj. Gen. Alfred K. Flowers, Maj. Gen. Harold W. Moulton II, Maj. Gen. Stephen T. Sargeant, Brig. Gen. Bryan J. Benson, Brig. Gen. Joseph T. Callahan III.

PROMOTIONS: To Lieutenant General: John W. Hesterman III, Robin Rand.

NOMINATIONS: To be Lieutenant General: John E. Hyten. To be Major General: Everett H. Thomas. To be Brigadier General: John D. Bansemer, David B. Been, Michael T. Brewer, Thomas A. Bussiere, Clinton E. Crosier, Albert M. Elton II, Michael A. Fantini, Timothy G. Fay, Edward A. Fienga, Steven D. Garland, Thomas W. Geary, Cedric D. George, Blaine D. Holt, Scott A. Howell, Ronald L. Huntley, Allen J. Jamerson, James C. Johnson, Mark D. Kelly, Scott A. Kindsvater, Donald E. Kirkland, Ricky J. LoCastro, Bruce H. McClintock, Martha A. Meeker, John E. Michel, Charles L. Moore Jr., Sean L. Murphy, Gregory S. Otey, Charles E. Potter, John T. Quintas, Michael D. Rothstein, Kevin B. Schneider, Scott F. Smith, Bradley D. Spacy, Ferdinand B. Stoss, Jacqueline D. Van Ovost, James C. Vechery, Christopher P. Weggeman, Kevin B. Wooton, Sarah E. Zabel. To be AFRC Brigadier General: John P. Currenti, Brian E. Dominguez, Peter R. Masciola.

CHANGES: Maj. Gen. Edward L. Bolton Jr., from Dir., Space & Cyber Ops., DCS, Ops., Plans, & Rqmts., USAF, to Dep. Asst. Secy., Budget, Office of the Asst. SECAF, Financial Mgmt. & Comptroller, Pentagon … Lt. Gen. (sel.) Ronnie D. Hawkins Jr., from Dep. Dir., C4 Sys., Jt. Staff, Washington, D.C., to Dir., Defense Info. Sys. Agency, Fort Meade, Md. … Lt. Gen. John W. Hesterman III, from Asst. DCS, Ops., Plans, & Rqmts., USAF, Pentagon, to Mil. Dep., Readiness to the USD, P&R, OSD, Pentagon … Maj. Gen. James M. Holmes, from Dir., Strat. Planning, DCS, Strat. Plans & Prgms., USAF, Pentagon, to Asst. DCS, Ops., Plans, & Rqmts., USAF, Pentagon … Brig. Gen. Veralinn Jamieson, from Dir., Intel., SOUTHCOM, Miami, to Dep. Commanding General, Detainee Ops., Combined Jt. Interagency Task Force-435, US Forces-Afghanistan, CENTCOM, Kabul, Afghanistan … Lt. Gen. Robin Rand, from Spec. Asst. to the Vice C/S, USAF, Pentagon, to Cmdr., 12th AF, ACC, Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz. … Maj. Gen. Darryl L. Roberson, from Cmdr., 455th Air Expeditionary Wg., ACC, Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, to Dir., Strat. Planning, DCS, Strat. Plans & Prgms., USAF, Pentagon … Maj. Gen. Anthony J. Rock, Cmdr., 321st Air Expeditionary Wg., ACC, Baghdad, Iraq, to Spec. Asst. to the DCS, Ops., Plans, & Rqmts., USAF, Pentagon.

SENIOR EXECUTIVE SERVICE CHANGES: John R. Bartley, to Dep. Dir., Acq., TRANSCOM, Scott AFB, Ill. … David R. Beecroft, to Dep. Dir., Log., DCS, Log., Instl., & Mission Spt., USAF, Pentagon … Deline R. Reardon, to Assoc. Dep. Dir., Log., DCS, Log., Instl., & Mission Spt., USAF Pentagon.