C-17 Line Imperiled
The Pentagon requested $389.6 million in its 2007 budget plan to end production of the C-17 advanced airlifter. Unless Congress intervenes, the line will shut down in 2007.
The move would signal the closure of Boeing’s Long Beach, Calif., C-17 assembly plant.
Both the Senate and the House included provisions in their separate 2006 defense authorization bills to allow the Air Force to buy 42 more C-17 aircraft, bringing the total number of Globemaster IIIs to 222, a figure the Air Force had previously touted as its minimum requirement.
However, the service recently has backed away from that figure, agreeing with the conclusion of a new Pentagon lift analysis that a fleet of 180 C-17s is sufficient. (See “Rising Risk in Air Mobility,” p. 28.)
In their bill, lawmakers said they want further analysis of the C-17’s role in intratheater lift, and they want the C-17 production capability intact until it can be determined whether a C-5 rehabilitation program will work as expected.
Feds Sue American Airlines
The Department of Justice in January filed a class-action lawsuit against American Airlines, claiming that the airline denied benefits to three of its pilots during their service with the Naval Reserve and Air National Guard.
The dispute arose when American allegedly denied the pilots credit toward paid vacation and sick leave while they were on military duty.
“No reservists … should ever be punished or discriminated against for answering the call of duty,” said Wan J. Kim, assistant attorney general for civil rights.
DOJ filed the lawsuit at the US District Court in Dallas on behalf of Naval Reservists Capt. Mark Woodall and Cmdr. Michael McMahon and Lt. Col. Paul Madson with the South Dakota Air National Guard.
The lawsuit was filed under the 1994 Uniformed Services Employment and Re-employment Rights Act.
Services Push LCA Deal
The Air Force and Army by the end of April will sign a deal specifying how they will jointly acquire a new Light/Future Cargo Aircraft.
The new aircraft will carry out a variety of missions, ranging from support of widely dispersed ground troops to ferrying gear from naval bases to units ashore. It has not been decided if the aircraft will be fixed-wing, rotorcraft, or tilt-rotor type. It will replace the C-23 Sherpa, now flown by the Army National Guard.
Brig. Gen. Stephen D. Mundt, head of the Army Aviation Task Force, told reporters that the Army had already firmed up its requirements and was giving the Air Force a chance to do the same. The Army wants 145 new aircraft.
The Air Force had challenged the Army’s plan to replace the Sherpa, arguing for a joint effort that would meet the needs of both services. The Air Force performs the vast majority of the airlift mission for the armed forces.
Raptor Declared Mission Capable
The Air Force declared the F-22A Raptor mission capable in early January after the aircraft successfully completed follow-on test and evaluation.
The FOT&E testing was conducted mainly at Nellis AFB, Nev. The F-22 was rated based on deployability, sortie generation, and ability to employ the Joint Direct Attack Munition. It passed on all counts.
Tactics development and future FOT&E testing will be conducted at Nellis.
The mission capable designation is part of Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center’s new rating system for programs under test. The new system is intended to be more real-world, operationally focused than system evaluations in the past.
Airmen Pass Four Million Miles
Airmen truckers recently logged their four millionth mile of Iraq convoy operations.
The 732nd Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron, deployed to Balad AB, Iraq, reached the milestone on Jan. 7.
When war-weary Army forces were stretched thin in 2003, airmen stepped in to take over some of their duties, such as driving convoys of supply trucks to far-flung outposts in Iraq. (See “The Expeditionary Force Under Stress,” July 2005, p. 30.) Airmen from the 732nd ELRS have kept supplies moving on some of Iraq’s most dangerous highways since June 2004.
Besides combat convoy driving, the airmen have supported the Army by filling slots as gunners and security forces. In December, the first group of airmen graduated as Army interrogators. (See “Aerospace World: Army Gets USAF Interrogators,” February, p. 21.)
England Targets F-35 Engine
The Pentagon may soon cancel a program to develop an alternative engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
Now in danger is the proposed F136 power plant. The team of General Electric and Rolls Royce has been developing it for possible use in the JSF. (See “The F-35 Steps Out,” April 2003, p. 46.)
If the alternate engine goes down, the F-35 fighter would be totally dependent on the Pratt & Whitney F135, a derivative of the F119 engine on the F-22.
Competition between the two power plants would be expected to drive down prices and raise quality. The model for this was the “great engine war” of the 1980s and 1990s, between the Pratt F100 and the GE F110, to power the Air Force’s F-15s and F-16s. The initial multiservice requirement for the F-35 totals over 2,400 aircraft, with many more expected to be exported.
There have been no reports of problems with the alternative engine program.
Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England wants to kill the program as a way to free up $1.7 billion through 2011, according to his Dec. 20 memo ordering the termination. The GE-Rolls team was working under a $2.47 billion contract to ready the engine in time for series production of the JSF in 2012.
Congress has to approve the move, however, and may not.
Airman Dies in Training Flight
First Lt. Jason Davis died Jan. 10 during a training flight aboard a T-39 Sabreliner in Walker County, Ga.
Davis was a student navigator with Training Squadron 86 at NAS Pensacola, Fla. He was one of four killed in the crash, along with Navy Lt. Jason Manse, Ensign Elizabeth Bonn, and Dave Roark, a civilian contract pilot.
A search began immediately after the aircraft failed to return to NAS Pensacola on Jan. 10. The downed aircraft was located Jan. 11. The cause of the accident is under investigation.
ANG Unit Gains Predator
The Air National Guard’s 163rd Air Refueling Wing at March ARB, Calif., will be the first of several ANG units to take on the Predator unmanned killer scout aircraft mission, the Air Force announced on Jan. 4.
Located near Riverside, the unit will be renamed the 163rd Wing and will get MQ-1 Predators as part of USAF’s Total Force initiatives. The unit will train Predator operators and maintainers, as well as conduct operations.
The move is meant as a way to provide a new mission for Guardsmen giving up old systems in California.
Predators are long-endurance, medium-altitude unmanned aircraft systems for surveillance and reconnaissance. More than half of Predator’s 130,000 flight hours have been during combat deployments to the Balkans, Southwest Asia, and the Middle East.
Poland Acquires C-130s
Poland’s Air Force in late 2007 will take possession of and begin operating the first of five used USAF C-130E transports.
The Polish Defense Ministry announced the move in January. The five aircraft will be delivered through August 2009.
Neither Poland nor the US specified the cost of the purchase, but Poland will be given $82.9 million in financial aid as part of the deal.
The aircraft will be used for troop and equipment transport, as well as rescue and humanitarian aid missions, in Poland and abroad.
The Hercules C-130E, made by Lockheed Martin, can carry 92 soldiers, 64 paratroopers, or 21 tons of cargo.
QDR Gets 10-Month Lease on Life
Despite the February release of the Quadrennial Defense Review, Pentagon officials think some issues need more work and will give them another 10 months of scrutiny.
Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England called for a new analysis, dubbed 2005 Quadrennial Defense Review Execution Roadmaps, in a Jan. 5 memo to senior DOD leaders. The analysis will concentrate on eight areas that “warrant a greater degree of attention in execution,” England wrote.
The new analyses will frame deliberations on the Fiscal 2007 budget and the 2008-13 Future Years Defense Program.
The eight new QDR roadmaps are: DOD Institutional Reform and Governance; Building Partnership Capacity; Sensor-Based Management of the ISR Enterprise; Irregular Warfare; Authorities; Locate, Tag, Track; Joint Command and Control; and Strategic Communications.
$1.1 Billion T-6A Contract Let
Raytheon Aircraft Co. of Wichita, Kan., received a $1.1 billion contract for logistics support of the T-6A training aircraft used by the Air Force and Navy, the company announced in January.
The contract was awarded as part of the Joint Primary Training System (JPATS) program, which calls for nearly 800 aircraft to be delivered through 2015.
Raytheon awarded a subcontract to L-3 Communications’ Vertex Aerospace Division for parts management and support of the T-6A program. L-3 Vertex will be responsible for buying, transporting, storing, and issuing all aircraft parts, equipment, and engines.
Competition in Space Launches
Boeing and Lockheed Martin were still awaiting Pentagon and Federal Trade Commission approval in mid-February to form United Launch Alliance, a joint venture to provide launch services for the US military. At issue is whether the deal would lock out competitors.
Kenneth Krieg, the Pentagon’s acquisition, technology, and logistics chief, told reporters at a February press conference that he’s in favor of competition, and for bringing “nontraditional suppliers into the marketplace.” However, “it’s got to be competition for which there is real competition,” meaning a qualified alternate provider.
Northrop Grumman wasn’t happy with the arrangement, according to the Wall Street Journal, and sought antitrust protection against what it viewed as a Boeing-Lockheed monopoly in rocket launches. Northrop is a fledgling rocket maker and fears that the ULA merger could lock out other competitors in the space and launch services field.
Boeing and Lockheed, traditionally bitter rivals, set aside their differences in an attempt to salvage both of their struggling rocket-launch divisions.
The FTC was expected to follow the Pentagon’s recommendation.
EADS Can Compete for Tanker
European Aeronautic Defense and Space Co. (EADS) can compete to supply the Air Force with aerial tankers, now that a “Buy American” clause has been withdrawn by Congress.
The Buy American language inserted by Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, was previously approved by the House to help US contractor Boeing by barring military equipment made by EADS. Hunter agreed to remove the clause in December due to pressure from the Pentagon to keep foreign competition open.
The House bill sought to exclude foreign defense contractors that receive government subsidies. European jet maker Airbus—80 percent owned by EADS—receives subsidies from European governments.
Northrop Grumman has plans to team up with EADS for the Air Force tanker contract, potentially worth $20 billion. Last year, EADS said it would build a manufacturing plant in Mobile, Ala., if it won the contract. (See “Aerospace World: EADS Chooses Alabama Site,” August 2005, p. 18.)
President Bush was expected to approve the rewritten law.
E-8 Gets “Blue” Tracking System
The E-8 Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System now has a better means to tell friend from foe on the battlefield.
The Joint STARS will be fitted with the Army’s Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below system, more commonly referred to as a blue-force tracking system. FBCB2 sends digital updates on unit locations to a local Army Tactical Operations Center that then rebroadcasts the information to friendly units. Now, Joint STARS aircraft will be able to receive the data as well.
Five of the systems were installed in January at Robins AFB, Ga. The data will be presented on Joint STARS operator work stations. When the information is relayed to the operators, they can narrow down potential targets with more confidence, reducing the chances of fratricide.
All FBCB2 installations on Joint STARS are scheduled to be completed in September.
England Orders Two Satellites
The Pentagon wants to buy two more Wideband Gap-filler System communication satellites, increasing the number to five. Three already are on contract.
The two new satellites were called for in a Dec. 20 memo from Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England.
The satellites supplement the existing military secure satellite communications system, adding channels to handle voice, data, and video transmissions, the demand for which has risen sharply in recent years. (See “What Is a Wideband Gap-filler?,” p. 22.)
If approved by the White House Office of Management and Budget, Boeing would get $203.9 million for the two satellites, according to Bloomberg.com.
Original plans called for the $1.8 billion program to produce its first satellite launch in 2004, but that has now been delayed until June 2007, largely because of problems with fasteners used to make the satellite.
Retired Lt. Col. Horace E. “Sally” Crouch, a member of the Doolittle Raiders who flew the first US bombing mission over Japan in World War II, died Dec. 21 in Columbia, S.C., at the age of 87.
Crouch was bombardier-navigator aboard one of 16 B-25 bombers during the Doolittle raid of April 18, 1942.
The mission, led by Lt. Col. James H. Doolittle, was considered highly successful at building US morale after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. After launching from the aircraft carrier Hornet and bombing Japanese targets, the Army Air Corps bombers made for landings in China, but most ran out of fuel before reaching their intended airfields, forcing them to bail out or crash.
Three of the 80 raiders died during the mission and eight were captured. Three of the captives were executed by the Japanese. As of Jan. 20, 2006, there were 16 surviving members of the group.
Crouch was a 1940 Citadel graduate. After retiring from the Air Force, he became a high school teacher. He was inducted into the South Carolina Hall of Fame in 1998.
|England, in Recess Appointment, Becomes Deputy Defense Secretary
It took a Presidential recess appointment, but Gordon England on Jan. 4 finally became the official deputy secretary of defense. He had been the acting deputy for more than half a year.
President Bush acted during the most recent Congressional recess. The appointment allowed England to take the new title without going through the usual Senate confirmation process.
England served as both Secretary of the Navy and acting deputy defense secretary since May 2005. His nomination to be deputy defense secretary had been put on hold by Senators who questioned his impartiality in decisions related to military contractors.
England replaced Paul D. Wolfowitz, who vacated his post in April 2005 and now serves as head of the World Bank.
England twice served as Navy Secretary, from May 2001 until January 2003 and again from October 2003 until Dec. 29, 2005. He relinquished his post to Donald C. Winter, who was sworn in as Navy Secretary on Jan. 3. Between his Navy terms, England was the first deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.
Before joining the Bush Administration, England was executive vice president of General Dynamics from 1997 to 2001.
|Air Force Gets Gas Money
Air Force budget accounts got a break in January due to Program Budget Decision 723, a Pentagon budget directive that allocated $1.1 billion in new funding to the service, mostly to cover fuel costs. The directive, approved by Pentagon officials right before the 2007 budget was completed, will boost Air Force accounts from FY06 through FY11.
The Air Force received extra funds in part due to a request from Lt. Gen. Stephen R. Lorenz, who was USAF’s deputy assistant secretary for budget until October. Lorenz addressed the need for gas money in September at the Air Force Association’s Air and Space Conference in Washington, saying that the Air Force budget was $800 million short due to increasing fuel costs. (See “Aerospace World: Fuel Run-Up Hits USAF Accounts,” November 2005, p. 21.)
Just for fuel costs, PBD 723 earmarks $430 million in FY07, $301 million in FY08, $225 million in FY09, $512 million in FY10, and $1.07 billion in FY11, according to InsideDefense.com.
The shift in funds also will help pay for C-130 upgrades, NATO-operated AWACS aircraft upgrades, and the Joint Single Integrated Air Picture program.
The budget document also directs the Air Force to move $112 million to US Strategic Command accounts to combat enemy weapons of mass destruction.
|Aggressors Come Back With F-15s
The 65th Aggressor Squadron, inactive for 17 years, is back in the saddle with a new mount: the F-15C Eagle.
The unit was inactivated in 1989 due to cost-cutting and last flew with Northrop F-5E Tiger IIs that were iconic of the aggressor mission. The 65th resumed operations with camouflaged F-15Cs on Jan. 12 at Nellis AFB, Nev. The squadron stood up with nine Eagles, but eventually will have 24 aircraft as they become available from Air National Guard units under Base Realignment and Closure actions.
The 65th will share ramp space at Nellis with the other adversary unit, the 64th Aggressor Squadron, which flies F-16s.
“The 65th and other aggressor units will provide realistic adversary training,” according to Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley. The unit’s reactivation is a nod to the fact that foreign air forces now employ advanced aircraft more closely simulated by the F-15.
The squadron’s heritage goes back to 1940 when it was known as the 65th Pursuit Squadron. In World War II, it became the 65th Fighter Squadron, flying P-40s and P-47s. The unit earned three Distinguished Unit Citations for missions in North Africa, Tunis, and Italy.
|Airman Keeps Military Working Dog
After special intervention from Congress, an airman has been allowed to adopt her military working dog.
TSgt. Jamie Dana adopted her bomb-detecting dog Rex after President Bush signed special legislation in December permitting the animal to go home with his handler.
Dana and Rex were both injured in Iraq on June 25 when an improvised explosive device detonated and hit their Humvee during a convoy patrol in Kirkuk. Dana was evacuated to Balad Air Base with severe injuries and internal bleeding. She required 19 blood transfusions.
Rex also survived the attack, and Dana asked permission to adopt him. However, laws prohibited the adoption of animals still considered useful to the military.
Due to the nature of the incident, the Congressional defense committees changed the law in 2006 defense legislation, allowing military working dogs to be adopted by their handlers following a traumatic event.
Dana plans to leave the military and attend veterinary school.
|Col. Edward N. Hall, 1914-2006 |
Col. Edward N. Hall, USAF (Ret.), who was director of the Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missile program and developed solid-fuel rocket technology, died Jan. 15 in Torrance, Calif., at the age of 91.
Hall’s knowledge of rocket propellants helped the Air Force develop its first solid-fuel ICBM, the Minuteman, in the late 1950s, decades ahead of the Soviet Union and China. The solid-fuel technology made missiles smaller, less expensive, and easier and safer to deploy.
Hall’s work led to the development of engines for many US liquid- and solid-fuel missiles, including the Atlas, Titan, and Thor.
The first 10 Minuteman ICBMs were installed in underground silos at Malmstrom AFB, Mont., just weeks before the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. There are now 500 Minuteman rockets in silos in the United States.
Hall enlisted in the Army Air Corps in September 1939 and, after being commissioned, served in England supervising repair of aircraft engines. At the war’s end, he studied German rocket-propulsion equipment and worked on liquid-fueled rocket engines. At Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, Hall worked on solid and liquid rocket power plants.
After retiring from the Air Force in 1959, he worked for United Aircraft Corp. for 14 years. In 1999, he was awarded the Air Force Space and Missile Pioneers Award and was inducted into the Air Force Space Command Hall of Fame.
|What Is a Wideband Gap-filler?
Even by the standard of military satellite names—Defense Support Program, Military Strategic and Tactical Relay, Global Positioning System—the name Wideband Gap-filler is dull. What is it
The Wideband Gap-filler System (WGS) is a constellation of five satellites that will improve communications and intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance for combatant commanders and troops in action.
It is designed to meet the ever-increasing demand for bandwidth created by modern warfare and its push for reachback—that is, the ability to tap into remote databases and command systems through the military internet.
The WGS supplements the existing Defense Satellite Communications System (DSCS) III. It’s considered a leap ahead in satellite communications, in that it can relay messages with enough power to penetrate building walls, and the frequency is more resistant to jamming.
WGS also provides 1,900 channels to military users, 10 times more than what’s available under DSCS III. In fact, the first WGS satellite will provide more channels than the entire DSCS III constellation.
Once launched, the WGS unfurls to 135 feet long and 30 feet wide. It is positioned at geosynchronous orbit, 22,300 miles above the Earth’s surface. Its coverage area can range from northern Russia to Cape Horn.
Boeing is the WGS prime contractor. The first satellite in the system is to be launched next year.
|The War on Terrorism
Operation Iraqi Freedom—Iraq
By Feb. 9, a total of 2,267 Americans had died in Operation Iraqi Freedom. This total includes 2,122 troops and six Defense Department civilians. Of those fatalities, 1,776 were killed in action by enemy attack, and 491 died in noncombat incidents.
There have been 16,653 troops wounded in action during OIF. This includes 8,947 who returned to duty within 72 hours and 7,706 who were unable to quickly return to action.
DOD Identifies Airmen Killed
TSgt. Jason L. Norton, 32, of Miami, Okla., and SSgt. Brian McElroy, 28, of San Antonio were killed Jan. 22 near Taji, Iraq. The airmen were conducting convoy escort duties when their vehicle struck an improvised explosive device. Both were deployed to Southwest Asia from the 3rd Security Forces Squadron at Elmendorf AFB, Alaska.
Air Strikes in Iraq
An Air Force Predator UAS provided close air support for coalition troops under attack from anti-Iraqi forces in the vicinity of Tikrit, Iraq, on Jan. 22. The Predator fired a precision guided munition and hit a vehicle armed with an IED.
On Jan. 21, USAF F-16s provided close air support to coalition troops fighting anti-Iraqi forces in the vicinity of Baqubah, Iraq. An F-16 fired a precision guided munition and hit an enemy target.
Operation Enduring Freedom—Afghanistan
By Feb. 9, a total of 256 Americans had died in Operation Enduring Freedom, primarily in and around Afghanistan. The total includes 130 troops and one Defense Department civilian killed in action and 125 who died in nonhostile incidents such as accidents.
A total of 685 troops have been wounded in Enduring Freedom. They include 278 who were able to return to duty in three days and 407 who were not.
US Drops Cold Weather Gear
US forces dropped eight bundles of cold weather supplies near Bamian in Central Afghanistan to help hundreds of Afghan families survive the harsh winter, the Air Force reported in early January.
The bundles included winter clothing, beans, rice, cooking oil, tarps, health kits, tool kits, and blankets.
“The delivery of these items to Bamian allows our forces in that area to ensure that numerous families would be safe from the elements as the winter months move on,” said Lt. Col. Josh Jose, deputy chief of operations for Combined Joint Task Force 76.
US reconstruction teams in the area distributed the supplies with the help of local Afghan officials.
- Former First Lady Nancy Reagan helped dedicate a C-17 Globemaster III in honor of former President Ronald Reagan on Jan. 13 at March ARB, Calif. Named Spirit of Ronald Reagan, the aircraft was the eighth C-17 to join the 452nd Air Mobility Wing, the first Air Force Reserve Command unit to fly its own C-17s.
- US Central Command headquarters at MacDill AFB, Fla., will undergo a $180 million renovation and expansion, due to failing infrastructure and tight quarters. Plans call for the renovation to expand the facility to 330,000 square feet from its present 187,000. Construction is slated to begin at the end of the year.
- The Civil Air Patrol received the American Society of Association Executives’ 2006 Associations Advance America Award of Excellence for hurricane disaster relief. CAP racked up 35,495 man-hours for relief efforts for Katrina, Ophelia, and Rita. Civil Air Patrol also was named to the association’s Honor Roll for its 2005 hurricane media campaign and disaster response efforts.
- Scott AFB, Ill., will get 1,593 homes, at no cost to the service, through a new 50-year privatization deal signed by Air Force officials in early January. The deal will provide airmen with homes at local base housing allowance rates and will save the Air Force billions in construction and renovation costs. The Scott deal will bring the number of privatized USAF homes to more than 16,000, with an additional 18,200 expected to be built or renovated at 19 Air Force bases by the end of 2006.
- Raytheon was awarded a $268 million contract to build 54 T-6A trainer aircraft as part of the Joint Primary Aircraft Training System program, the primary pilot training program for the Air Force and Navy. The 54 aircraft are scheduled to be delivered through 2009. The contract exercises the 13th of 19 planned option years. To date, 283 T-6As have been delivered—234 to USAF and 49 to the Navy.
- Texas Air National Guard crews assisted firefighters in Texas and Oklahoma in battling wildfires that burned more than 600,000 acres in New Mexico. The Texas National Guard deployed personnel as well as several UH-60 Black Hawk and CH-47 Chinook helicopters carrying buckets of water to douse the flames.
- The Air Force Research Laboratory has been working with the Indy Race League and US Air Force Academy boxers. The drivers and boxers have been wearing earplugs with “mini accelerometers” to capture data from the head during an impact. AFRL hopes to gather information that will lead to safety advances for aircrews. AFRL also wants to develop an even better sensor—one that does not require batteries and recorders—and expand this effort to help develop protective gear to limit blast effects from such things as improvised explosive devices.
- A radar system, recently transferred from Uzbekistan to Afghanistan, provides better airspace control for the military in and around Kabul and Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. The radar system, previously at Karshi-Khanabad Air Base in Uzbekistan, allows the military to fly with more visibility and flexibility during combat operations and poor weather conditions.
- USAF gave permission to International Launch Services, a Lockheed Martin and Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center joint venture, to launch a military weather satellite built for the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program on an Atlas V vehicle from Vandenberg AFB, Calif. The satellite, designed to collect meteorological, oceanographic, and solar-geophysical information, is slated to launch in late 2007.
- The 309th Commodities Maintenance Squadron at Ogden Air Logistics Center, Utah, upgraded the pylons for F-16 Fighting Falcons in January. The 309th maintainers removed the wiring harness, machined the pylons to accept the new, larger harness, and then put the pylons through electrical tests. The upgrade allows the F-16s to use more precise weapons and limits collateral damage on the battlefield, USAF said.
- Little Rock AFB, Ark., received two C-130J aircraft on Dec. 21, the last of Little Rock’s seven assigned new Hercules aircraft. Lockheed Martin announced that the last two C-130Js had longer fuselages, strengthened cargo ramps, and an improved airdrop system.