Air Force World

Oct. 1, 2008

F-15 Crash Kills Pilot

Lt. Col. Thomas Bouley, commander of 65th Aggressor Squadron at Nellis AFB, Nev., died July 30 when the two-seat F-15D he was flying crashed at the Nevada Test and Training Range.

Bouley had been participating in a Red Flag air combat training exercise. He had served for 20 years and amassed 4,500 flying hours in the F-15, T-38, and Royal Air Force F-3.

The second pilot, a Royal Air Force exchange officer assigned to USAF’s 64th AGRS, survived but was hospitalized. The Air Force said it would not release his identity until the conclusion of its accident investigation.

Predator Fleet Hits 400,000 Hours

The Air Force’s MQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicle force surged past 400,000 flight hours during an Aug. 18 mission over Southwest Asia.

While it took 12 years for the Predator fleet to amass the first 250,000 flight hours—a feat accomplished in June 2007—it required only 14 months to accumulate the next 150,000 combat flight hours since then, Air Force officials said.

Predators are flying about 14,000 hours a month, according to Col. Christopher Coombs, commander of the 703rd Aeronautical Systems Group at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, where Aeronautical Systems Center procures the MQ-1. Since 1998, it has brought in 165 Predators to meet ever-increasing demand.

ISR Aircraft Surge to Wars

Congress in August approved DOD’s request to reprogram $1.2 billion this year for intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance purposes. The money will be used to rapidly bolster overhead ISR in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The reprogramming recommendation came from the ISR task force that Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates established to ensure that the Pentagon was doing everything possible to support the forces in combat.

Some of the money will be used to purchase 21 Beechcraft C-12 manned turboprop aircraft with advanced surveillance sensors. It will also go toward procuring additional Air Force MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper UAVs and Hunter, Raven, ScanEagle, and Shadow UAVs used by the other services, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said Aug. 7.

Gates approved another task force recommendation for a follow-on package in Fiscal 2009 to sustain the extra assets, procure 30 additional C-12s, and pay for additional intelligence analysts.

Bomb Wing Passes Inspection

The 5th Bomb Wing at Minot AFB, N.D., passed a mid-August nuclear surety inspection held to assess its ability to conduct its nuclear mission. The inspection was a retest of the B-52H unit, which had come up short in a previous evaluation.

“I can tell you the 5th Bomb Wing performed in an exceptional manner during this reinspection,” Brig. Gen. Joseph Reynes Jr., ACC inspector general, said Aug. 15.

Thirty-five inspectors from ACC and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, plus observers from US Strategic Command and the Air Force Inspection Agency, scrutinized the wing.

The unit had been under the microscope since its role in a Bent Spear incident in August 2007. In that event, the Air Force conducted an unauthorized transfer of six live nuclear cruise missiles from Minot to Barksdale AFB, La.

CSAR-X Decision On for Fall

Air Force officials, as of mid-August, still anticipated that the service would announce a winning entry this fall for the Combat Search and Rescue Replacement Vehicle program.

“We have got warfighters out there that need this capability and they need it soon, and so we are working hard on the acquisition side to make that happen,” Maj. Gen. David S. Gray, director of global reach programs in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, told reporters Aug. 19.

Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Sikorsky are competing for the rights to build up to 141 new helicopters to replace aging HH-60G Pave Hawks under work estimated to be worth up to $15 billion.

The Air Force wants the first squadron in the field no later than September 2014.

Osprey Deployment Nears

Air Force Special Operations Command anticipated sending the first of its CV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft into Southwest Asia by late September or early this month on their first combat deployment, Brig. Gen. Bradley A. Heithold, the command’s requirements chief, said in an Aug. 11 interview.

“We are finding out that it is a transformational weapon system, … so we are in a hurry to get it into the fight,” he said. Heithold said the 8th Special Operations Squadron at Hurlburt Field, Fla., had five CV-22s with six full crews, as of August, with more assets and personnel coming.

Congress has been receptive to US Special Operations Command and Air Force requests to accelerate delivery of the CV-22 fleet. With additional funding provided in the Fiscal 2008 war supplemental, AFSOC now anticipates the delivery of the 50th airframe by Fiscal 2015 instead of Fiscal 2017 to complete the current program of record.

Holloman Gets UAV Training

Air Combat Command announced Aug. 18 that it intends to establish a formal training unit for its MQ-1 and MQ-9 unmanned aerial vehicles at Holloman AFB, N.M. Currently the service has only one FTU—at Creech AFB, Nev.—for these much-in-demand UAVs.

Pending successful completion of the environmental impact review, ACC said it would like to start training operations at the New Mexico facility next year. The new mission would be implemented in two phases. First, ACC would create an MQ-1 FTU squadron, with about 17 Predator UAVs and some 300 airmen, including students, as early as January 2009; second, it would form another MQ-1 squadron, an MQ-9 Reaper squadron, and the FTU wing staff later in 2009.

All told, the addition would bring another 750 personnel and 28 Predators and 10 Reapers to the base.

B-1B Uses Sniper in Combat

A B-1B bomber deployed to Southwest Asia from the 34th Bomb Squadron at Ellsworth AFB, S.D., used a Sniper targeting pod over Afghanistan on Aug. 4 to strike enemy combatants with a 500-pound Joint Direct Attack Munition, marking the first time that the B-1B employed a weapon in combat with the help of the Lockheed Martin-built pod.

Equipping B-1Bs with the Sniper was the top priority of the combined forces air component commander in Southwest Asia. The pod’s features allow the bomber’s aircrew to detect and identify targets from standoff distances; designate targets for laser guided bombs; generate targeting coordinates for Global Positioning System guided weapons, such as the JDAM; share live, streaming video images with joint terminal attack controllers; and quickly assess battle damage.

Missing World War II Pilot Identified

The remains of 2nd Lt. Howard C. Enoch Jr., an Army Air Forces pilot from Marion, Ky., missing since World War II, have been identified, the Pentagon announced Aug. 13.

Enoch went missing on March 19, 1945 when his P-51D fighter crashed while engaging enemy aircraft about 20 miles east of Leipzig, near the village of Doberschuetz, Germany.

In 2004, a DOD team surveyed a possible P-51 crash site near Doberschuetz and found aircraft wreckage. Two years later, another DOD team excavated the site and recovered aircraft wreckage and human remains that forensic analysis proved to be those of Enoch.

USAF Signs Energy Deals

Air Force officials signed four memoranda of understanding with the governor of New Mexico July 24 to pursue renewable energy projects that would yield up to 245 megawatts of power in the state for use at Cannon, Holloman, and Kirtland Air Force Bases.

New Mexico state agencies and the cities of Alamogordo, Albuquerque, and Clovis will work with the Air Force on new clean energy projects, the service said. The agreements deal with: USAF’s intention to purchase green power in the state; a solar power initiative for Holloman; the creation of a plant to utilize New Mexico’s abundant dairy waste; and a wind power project.

These agreements are the first of their kind between the service and a state. The Air Force is already the largest purchaser of renewable energy in the federal government.

Longer Reserve Tours Cleared

More than 1,600 Air Force Reservists were expected to receive a waiver to stay on active duty after Sept. 30, Air Force Reserve Command said in August. As of early August, AFRC headquarters said it had received more than 2,200 requests from Reservists wishing to stay.

Reserve airmen through the rank of colonel received permission under legislation enacted in Fiscal 2005 to serve up to 1,095 man-days of the previous 1,460 days in a rolling four-year calendar. But a waiver is required to serve for more than 1,095 days within that period.

Airmen Receive Bronze Star Medals

The Air Force on July 25 awarded Bronze Star Medals for meritorious service to Maj. Patrick O’Rourke and SSgt. Jose Cervantes for their actions while deployed from Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., to Afghanistan from May 2006 to May 2007. O’Rourke, a combat rescue officer, and Cervantes, a pararescueman, both faced hostile fire during recovery operations for personnel aboard a CH-47 helicopter that crashed.

Maj. Chris Hermann and Maj. Joe Wildman, both from RAF Mildenhall, Britain, received Bronze Star Medals on July 30 and Aug. 1, respectively, for their activities in Iraq.

And on Aug. 14, four airmen from the 819th RED HORSE at Malmstrom AFB, Mont., received Bronze Star Medals for their actions while deployed to Southwest Asia. They are: Capt. Glenn Cameron, Capt. Josh Aldred, CMSgt. Gary Stuckenschmidt, and MSgt. Todd Pederson.

Minuteman Squadron Closes

The Air Force inactivated the 564th Missile Squadron at Malmstrom AFB, Mont., on Aug. 16, about three weeks after the unit’s 50th and final Minuteman III ICBM was pulled from its silo.

These actions capped an effort begun in June 2007 to divest Malmstrom of 50 of its Minuteman IIIs under a policy established in the 2005 Quadrennial Defense Review to reduce the Minuteman fleet from 500 to 450. The squadron’s launch and missile alert facilities will be in caretaker status in case the US decides at some future point to increase the size of the ICBM fleet.

The reduction leaves Malmstrom’s 341st Missile Wing with three ICBM operations squadrons and a total of 150 missiles, like the 90th MW at F. E. Warren AFB, Wyo., and the 91st MW at Minot AFB, N.D.

Elmendorf F-22 Force Grows

The 525th Fighter Squadron at Elmendorf AFB, Alaska, is on track to get all of its F-22 Raptor fighters by November, Lt. Col. Orlando Sanchez, the unit’s director of operations, said in an interview July 25. Like the Air Force’s other F-22 operational squadrons, the 525th will have a complement of 20 Raptors.

As of late July, the unit had 11 aircraft on the ramp at Elmendorf, with about two a month arriving from Lockheed Martin’s assembly plant, he said. The squadron anticipates having all of its pilots in place by mid-2009.

The unit planned to participate in a Combat Archer air-to-air training exercise in August at Tyndall AFB, Fla., and is expected to take part in this month’s installment of the Red Flag-Alaska air combat training exercise, Sanchez said. The 525th FS is the second F-22 unit behind the 90th FS to stand up at Elmendorf.

First of 18 B-52Hs Retired

The Air Force on July 24 sent the first of the 18 B-52H bombers that it intends to phase out of service to Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., for placement in recallable storage. This aircraft, built in 1961 and assigned to the 2nd Bomb Wing at Barksdale AFB, La., was the first H model to be decommissioned.

Air Combat Command planned to fly one of the selected B-52Hs every two weeks to Davis-Monthan, alternating between aircraft assigned to Barksdale and to the 5th BW at Minot AFB, N.D., the Air Force’s other B-52 unit.

The drawdown will leave the Air Force with 76 B-52Hs. “It’s not like the aircraft are all rusted or corroded; it’s just that the selected 18 are not as airworthy as the first 76,” said Lt. Col. Bill Stahl, deputy commander of the 5th Maintenance Group.

With the 76-aircraft fleet, ACC plans to activate a second operational B-52 bomber squadron at Minot.

USAF Leases Launch Complex

The Air Force agreed in August to grant the state of Florida access to Space Launch Complex 36 at Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla., for use as a commercial launch site to place commercial satellites into orbit. The agreement, which is subject to completion of an environmental impact evaluation, calls for an initial term of five years.

Gen. C. Robert Kehler, Air Force Space Command commander, said in an Aug. 7 release that he supported the proposal, noting that it “encourages, facilitates, and harnesses entrepreneurial space achievement.” Florida officials said the deal boosts the state’s efforts to create a commercial launch zone on the East Coast and attract and sustain national and international aerospace business in Florida.

The Air Force used the complex for launching Atlas rockets from 1961 to 2004; thereafter, it deactivated it.

Hill Gets Research Park

The Air Force on Aug. 13 signed a development agreement with a private developer Sunset Ridge Development Partners for a $1.5 billion aerospace research park called Falcon Hill on the grounds of Hill AFB, Utah.

Sunset Ridge will finance, build, and manage eight million square feet of office space, including supporting restaurants and two hotels, on 550 acres of land on the west side of the base under a 50-year lease.

Developers expect the park to attract thousands of aerospace industry jobs to the area. In return, Hill will receive up to 1.6 million square feet of free office space to use for Air Force projects. Construction will begin this year, with completion of the initial phase anticipated in 2010.

Warren Grove Resumes Ops

New Jersey Gov. Jon S. Corzine authorized the New Jersey Air National Guard’s 177th Fighter Wing to resume “limited” flying operations on the Warren Grove Gunnery Range, starting Oct. 1. The wing had been prohibited from using the range since a May 2007 fire ignited by a flare dropped by one of its F-16s during target practice. The fire caused widespread damage to the surrounding area, including residential areas.

In an Aug. 15 release from the governor’s office, Corzine restricted range use initially to the 177th FW, so the unit can verify new safety procedures. Following that validation, use of the range would be opened to other units on Nov. 1. However, Corzine said, “The resumption of operations will be predicated on the thorough education of all units” on the new rules.

Re-engined C-5 Test Ends

Lockheed Martin announced Aug. 18 that it had “successfully completed” developmental flight testing of the three C-5 test aircraft that underwent performance upgrades and received new engines under the C-5 Reliability Enhancement and Re-engining Program. Next up for these aircraft is operational testing by the Air Force, slated to begin in the third quarter of 2009.

George Shultz, vice president for C-5 modernization at Lockheed, said the three aircraft “performed great throughout the test program, demonstrating consistent and reliable performance.”

The Air Force plans to install the new engines and reliability upgrades on its 47 remaining C-5Bs and two C-5Cs by around the middle of next decade. These aircraft are also getting revamped cockpits under the C-5 Avionics Modernization Program. The service’s 59 remaining C-5As will receive only the AMP upgrade. Already 43 C-5s in the 111-aircraft fleet have the AMP mods.

USAF Assigns ANG C-27s

The Air Force in July and August formally assigned the new C-27 transport aircraft that it plans to field next decade to the North Dakota Air National Guard’s 119th Wing and the Ohio ANG’s 179th Airlift Wing, according to lawmakers and press reports.

North Dakota’s Congressional delegation—Sen. Kent Conrad (D), Sen. Byron L. Dorgan (D), and Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D)—welcomed the news regarding the 119th Wing in a joint release on July 29, calling it a “strong statement” by the Air Force that the unit will “keep playing a central role in military operations around the world.” The wing currently flies C-21 VIP shuttle aircraft, in addition to their new unmanned aerial vehicle mission, and will continue to fly C-21s until the C-27s arrive.

The 179th AW is expected to get its C-27s around 2012, according to an Aug. 2 report in the News Journal of Mansfield, Ohio. The wing will lose its eight C-130 transports in 2010 under BRAC 2005, but will operate the C-21s until its C-27s arrive, the newspaper reported.

Spooky Gun Swap Canceled

Air Force Special Operations Command has abandoned a project to put two 30 mm Bushmaster guns on each of its 17 AC-130U Spooky gunships in place of the platforms’ current 25 mm Gatling gun and 40 mm Bofors cannon.

Brig. Gen. Bradley A. Heithold, AFSOC’s director of plans, programs, requirements, and assessments, said Aug. 11 the effort was canceled due to problems with the Bushmaster’s accuracy “at the altitude we were employing it” in tests. There were also schedule considerations that drove the decision, he said.

Georgia Mission Launched

An Air Force C-17 transport aircraft spearheaded the US military’s humanitarian relief mission to the Republic of Georgia by flying in 16 pallets of supplies, including medicine, clothing, sleeping bags, cots, and other essential items from Ramstein AB, Germany, to Tbilisi Airport on Aug. 14.

President George W. Bush on Aug. 13 directed the US military to commence a “vigorous” humanitarian relief mission for the people of Georgia in the wake of Russia’s military incursion there earlier in the month. As of Aug. 19, C-17s and C-130s, along with a US Navy C-9, had delivered more than 200 short tons of relief supplies, according to US European Command.

T-38C Gets New Wing Levers

The Air Force announced in August plans to replace the same type of wing lever in all of its T-38 Talon trainer aircraft that was identified as the cause of a Talon crash at Columbus AFB, Miss., on April 23. The crash killed the two pilots.

Gen. Stephen R. Lorenz, commander of Air Education and Training Command, said Aug. 11 the service would install new, stronger levers in the T-38s as soon as they are manufactured and available. The April crash involving the broken lever—identified as a part of the right aileron—is the first known instance of this part failing.

But since there is the “very small chance” that the part may fail again, the Air Force made the decision to replace them, Lorenz said. In the interim, T-38 flying operations will continue since AETC deemed the risk acceptable after consulting with subject matter experts, he said.

RAF To Get Rivet Joints

The Air Force will convert three KC-135R tanker aircraft starting in Fiscal 2010 to RC-135 Rivet Joint signals intelligence platforms for the British Royal Air Force, an Air Mobility Command spokeswoman confirmed in early August.

The RAF will use the Rivet Joints to replace its Nimrods which have passed the end of their service lives. Making them available to the British “will be a significant step to relieve stress in this vital mission area, improve interoperability, and improve overall warfighting capability in our coalition operations,” she said.

To make up for the three fewer tankers, the Air Force will temporarily allow a higher utilization rate on remaining KC-135Rs, assign more crews, and adopt some “efficiencies” in the KC-135R schoolhouse.

NYANG Unit Starts Mission

Members of the New York Air National Guard’s 174th Fighter Wing are now embarking on the transition to a new mission—operating the MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle—after arriving home in August from their final overseas deployment while flying F-16 fighters.

The Syracuse-based wing will be the first ANG unit to operate the MQ-9—courtesy of BRAC 2005, which strips the wing of its F-16s and ends its 61 years of flying fighters, and the Air Force’s Total Force game plan. Although the transition is commencing this fall, unit members are not expected to actually begin training on the MQ-9s until 2010 and to receive their own MQ-9s in 2011.

Engine Makers Settle Dispute

The Justice Department announced Aug. 1 that Pratt & Whitney and its subcontractor PCC Airfoils LLC had agreed to pay more than $52 million to settle allegations of selling defective jet engine parts for F-15 and F-16 fighters.

DOJ’s investigation found that the two companies “knowingly sold defective turbine blade replacements” designed by P&W and cast by PCC between 1994 and 2003. This defect was identified by the Air Force as the cause of the June 2003 crash of an F-16 from Luke AFB, Ariz.

AFSOC Sets Sights on AC-27J Gunship

In what appears to be a significant departure from previously announced intentions, Air Force Special Operations Command now eyes the AC-27J, a weaponized version of the C-27J transport, as its next gunship and wants to field it starting early next decade.

AFSOC chose this path after an analysis of alternatives completed earlier this year, Brig. Gen. Bradley A. Heithold, AFSOC’s director of plans, programs, requirements, and assessments, said in an Aug. 11 interview. Heithold said the command now sees the AC-27J as the solution to fulfill the requirements for the notional AC-XX concept meant to replace the Air Force’s aging and extensively used AC-130 gunships.

“The analysis of alternatives has pointed us to the C-27 as the most appropriate aircraft to use for this,” he said. AFSOC has 17 AC-130U Spooky and eight AC-130H Spectre gunships in service. They need new avionics and many of them require new centerline wing boxes; thus there is urgency in getting a new platform on the ramp.

The AC-27J, now dubbed the “Stinger” as an homage to the Vietnam-era AC-119K gunship, will be a multimission platform, equipped with full-motion video cameras and capable of covert infiltration-exfiltration as well as armed support from above, Heithold said.

In prior years, AFSOC officials said the command was interested in a future gunship capability that would represent a radical improvement over the AC-130s and was examining synergies with the Air Force’s next generation bomber that is eyed for service around 2018. Therefore it was not inclined to pursue nearer term options. But for now, Heithold said acquiring the AC-27J is seen as the path ahead.

The Air Force has programmed funds in its Fiscal 2010 program objective memorandum for the new gunships. The proposed program of record calls for nine aircraft, with the first to be purchased in Fiscal 2011, but efforts are under way to expand that number to 16 and accelerate their delivery, Heithold said.

New Air Force Leadership Debates Personnel Plans

The Air Force’s two new leaders say they intend to assign more airmen to priority mission areas such as nuclear operations, ISR, and perhaps aircraft maintenance.

USAF will be able to do this with additional forces that become available as a result of decisions to keep active duty end strength at 330,000, said Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, USAF Chief of Staff, and Michael B. Donley, Acting Secretary of the Air Force.

Schwartz and Donley spoke to reporters at an Aug. 12 press briefing.

“I can tell you that we are going to put [them] where we need them most,” said Schwartz. He said these decisions were “yet to be finalized.” But “the bottom line,” he added, was that the issue “certainly has the Secretary’s and my personal attention.”

Donley emphasized that the additional manpower was “a pretty important change” for the service, which was scheduled to draw down to about 316,000 by Fiscal 2009 based on plans drafted several years ago, but later judged to be overtaken by events.

“The main thing for us,” Donley continued, “is not just the number, but obviously the mix, in terms of what new missions need to be covered and new requirements need to be covered in that [330,000].”

As of May, active duty end strength stood around 324,000 as the drawdown was still in effect. But in June, Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates put the brakes on the reductions, shortly after the purge of the service’s then-leadership, Gen. T. Michael Moseley and Michael W. Wynne, over what Gates claimed were shortcomings in the Air Force’s stewardship of nuclear weapons.

In Wake of Upheaval, Air Force Rethinks Cyber Plans

The Air Force in August placed its plans to establish a major command to oversee its cyberspace activities on hold to reassess the situation and give the new service leadership time to plot the best path forward. Service officials said at the time that the Air Force was not abandoning plans to establish a lead command. However, the planned Oct. 1 start of Air Force Cyber Command’s initial operations was deferred.

The Air Force said in a statement Aug. 13 that it remained committed “to providing full-spectrum cyber capabilities to include global command and control, electronic warfare, and network defense.” The pause, it said, would “allow ample time for a comprehensive assessment of all AFCYBER requirements and to synchronize the AFCYBER mission with other key Air Force initiatives.”

During a Pentagon press briefing on the previous day, Acting Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley said AFCYBER will go forward. “The issue,” he said, “is in what context and what form and in what national framework.” He continued, “This is not just Air Force. It has to fit with [US] Strategic Command, has to fit with the broader national security community.”

As word spread of the cyber pause, concern grew in the states and communities across the nation vying to host AFCYBER’s permanent headquarters, which the Air Force planned to announced in the fall of 2009. For example, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), in whose state resides AFCYBER Provisional at Barksdale Air Force Base, cited the Russian military incursion into Georgia on Aug. 8 and the accompanying Internet attacks as “a stark reminder that the threat of cyber terrorism and warfare is very real.”

In an Aug. 13 statement, she said, “These attacks in Georgia should put the new Air Force leadership on notice that the time for the US to act on a strong cyber defense command is now, and any transitional delay must be extremely limited.”

Operation Iraqi Freedom—Iraq


By Sept. 15, a total of 4,158 Americans had died in Operation Iraqi Freedom. The total includes 4,147 troops and 11 Department of Defense civilians. Of these deaths, 3,377 were killed in action with the enemy while 781 died in noncombat incidents.

There have been 30,634 troops wounded in action during Operation Iraqi Freedom. This number includes 17,121 who were wounded and returned to duty within 72 hours and 13,513 who were unable to return to duty quickly.

Reaper Drops First Bomb In Iraq

An MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle dropped a 500-pound laser guided bomb against an enemy target in Iraq on Aug. 16, marking the platform’s first weapon engagement in Iraq since its introduction there in July.

Air Force officials said the Reaper strike destroyed a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device that was discovered during an overwatch mission over southeast Iraq. “This was a great example of the Reaper’s unique capabilities,” said Lt. Col. Micah Morgan, commander of the 46th Expeditionary Reconnaissance and Attack Squadron at Joint Base Balad. “We searched for, found, fixed, targeted, and destroyed a target with just one aircraft.”

Reapers began flying combat sorties in Iraq out of Balad on July 18, joining the MQ-1 Predator in patrolling the skies to aid coalition forces.

Balad C-130 Unit Marks Passenger Milestone

The 777th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron at Joint Base Balad marked a milestone on Aug. 5 when one of its C-130s airlifted the unit’s 200,000th passenger during a sortie from Ali Base to Balad.

Lt. Col. Chris Cantu, the unit’s commander, was the navigator for the flight. He and the other crew members presented Army Spc. Steven Nix, the passenger of note, with a flag, squadron coin, and certificate to commemorate the milestone.

Members of the 777th EAS, deployed from Little Rock AFB, Ark., were nearing the end of a two-month rotation to Balad when they reached the milestone.

Operation Enduring Freedom—Afghanistan


By Sept. 15, a total of 587 Americans had died in Operation Enduring Freedom. The total includes 586 troops and one Department of Defense civilian. Of these deaths, 375 were killed in action with the enemy while 212 died in noncombat incidents.

There have been 2,443 troops wounded in action during Operation Enduring Freedom. This number includes 882 who were wounded and returned to duty within 72 hours and 1,561 who were unable to return to duty quickly.

Insurgent Attack on Major US Installation Foiled

A group of Taliban militants on Aug. 18 assaulted Forward Operating Base Salerno near the Afghan border with Pakistan, but failed to penetrate the base, which is the second largest US military installation in the country.

The militants launched waves of attacks on Salerno, located in Khost, just before midnight on Aug. 18, firing mortars and rockets at the base while suicide bombers attempted to gain entry near the base’s airfield. Coalition forces observed the attackers about 1,000 yards outside the perimeter and opened up with small-arms fire and requested air support, which came quickly.

An Afghan commando unit surrounded the suicide team approaching the airfield and engaged in a fierce firefight. Six suicide bombers were killed in the fight or blew themselves up, according to NATO accounts. Coalition fighter aircraft and helicopters helped chase the attackers in retreat, while ground troops gave chase.

A day earlier, a suicide bomber detonated a car bomb killing 10 civilians and wounding 13 just outside the base’s gates.

News Notes

  • The National Board of the Civil Air Patrol elected CAP Maj. Gen. Amy S. Courter in August to be national commander. She will serve both as a member of the Board of Governors and National Board and will lead CAP’s volunteer force of some 56,000.

  • Ecuador’s Foreign Ministry formally notified the United States in July of its decision not to renew the lease that allows US Southern Command to use Eloy Alfaro Air Base in Manta, Ecuador, as a forward operating location for counternarcotics surveillance aircraft.

  • The Air Force successfully launched a Minuteman III ICBM on Aug. 13 from Vandenberg AFB, Calif., to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. This was a routine test to ensure the Minuteman fleet’s continued reliability and accuracy.

  • The American College of Emergency Physicians on Aug. 1 recognized Maj. James Eadie as a “hero of emergency medicine.” He is vice chair of emergency medicine, medical director, and flight commander at Wilford Hall Medical Center in Texas.

  • An instructor pilot’s failure to execute proper emergency procedures caused the fatal crash of a T-38C trainer aircraft on May 1 at Sheppard AFB, Tex., the Air Force said Aug. 6. The crash claimed his life and the life of a student pilot.

  • Lockheed Martin announced Aug. 5 that it has handed over control of HEO-1, the first on-orbit Space Based Infrared System sensor payload, to the Air Force. The service is expected to commence formal operations with it before the end of the year for detecting ballistic missile launches.

  • An eight-alarm fire on Aug. 16 destroyed 167 uninhabited housing units and damaged another 11 on the grounds of Travis AFB, Calif. The fire lasted about 12 hours and raged over more than 12 acres before firefighters brought it under control, base officials said.

  • The Montana Air National Guard’s 120th Fighter Wing in August received the first of the 18 F-15s slated to replace its F-16s under changes mandated under BRAC 2005. The F-15s are coming from the Missouri ANG and from Eglin AFB, Fla.

  • The 410th Flight Test Squadron at Plant 42 in Palmdale, Calif., was inactivated on Aug. 1. It was the unit responsible since 1980 for flight-testing the F-117A stealth fighter, which USAF retired in April.

  • Eielson AFB, Alaska, is one of several Air Force locations under consideration to host a coal-to-liquid-fuel conversion facility, service officials divulged in July. The facility would cost between $3.5 billion and $6 billion to build and produce up to 40,000 barrels per day, depending on its size.