Posts tagged ‘Air Force’
Changing of the Guard
A U.S. Air Force F-15 Strike Eagle fighter jet piloted by Col. John York leads an F-16C Fighting Falcon flown by Lt. Col. Sean Navin on the Falcon’s final mission for the 144th Fighter Wing of the California Air National Guard in Fresno, California.
The F-16s have been transferred to the 162nd Fighter Wing in Tucson, Ariz., after the 144th Fighter Wing received the F-15 as its new airframe. York is the 144th Operations Group commander. Navin is the commander of the 194th Fighter Squadron.
Check Engine Light
Staff Sgt. Ryan Brehm, 354th Maintenance Squadron propulsion flight dock chief, inspects an engine while it is tested at the “Hush House” at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska.
Airmen from the 354th MXS propulsion flight rebuild the engines from F-16 Fighting Falcons used during RED FLAG-Alaska and training. They rebuild an average of nine General Electric F-110-100 engines in a year. Their record is 13 in a single year.
Red Flag-Alaska is an annual U.S. Air Force-sponsored combat training exercise. In addition to all five U.S. armed services, the militaries from numerous nations — ranging from Australia to Norway have taken part in the multi-national exercises. The aircraft have included attack jets, bombers, fighters, cargo airplanes and helicopters.
The F-16s play the role of enemy “aggressor” aircraft in the aerial wargames. The first Fighting Falcon, the F-16A, became operational in 1981. They have seen action in Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan. Some of the older aircraft are being converted to autonomous drones, designated QF-16s, to train future jet fighter pilots in air-to-air tactics.
USAF, Est. 1947
On this day (September 18) 66 years ago, President Harry Truman signed into law the National Security Act of 1947 which created the U.S. Air Force as a separate branch of the U.S. armed forces. Before that, the Air Force was a part of the U.S. Army. The photo above shows the Air Force Memorial in Arlington, Virginia.
Today is also the final day of the Air Force Association’s 2013 Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition across the Potomac River at National Harbor, Maryland. Click here to see numerous features from the conference website including speeches by USAF leaders on the state of the Air Force, its triumphs and the future challenges it faces in an era of budget constraints and a strategic shift by the Defense Department to the Asia-Pacific region.
SHAKO is an occasional 4GWAR posting on military history, traditions and culture. For the uninitiated, a shako is the tall, billed headgear worn by many armies from the Napoleonic era to about the time of the American Civil War. It remains a part of the dress or parade uniform of several military organizations like the corps of cadets at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, New York.
Red Stars in Arctic Skies
U.S. and Russian leaders may be engaged in diplomatic tussling over what to do about Syria or rogue NSA contractor Edward Snowden, but the militaries of both countries are still working together on solutions to terrorist threats.
Here we see Russian Federation air force Su-27 Sukhois intercepting a simulated hijacked aircraft entering Russian airspace during Vigilant Eagle 13, a trilateral exercise operating out of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska.
The four-day exercise kicked off Aug. 26 with scenarios requiring the United States, Canada and Russia to respond to simulated terrorist hijackings of commercial aircraft. Both NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) — a U.S.-Canadian bi-national command — and Russia, had to scramble fighter jets to track and intercept the jetliner as it crossed international boundaries.
To see a Defense Department slideshow of the exercise including Royal Canadian Air Force fighter jets, click here.
To see a DoD video explaining the exercise’s purpose, click here.
To our way of thinking this is a job that requires a lot of skill, flexibility and confidence– that the aircraft is secure and can’t be fired up. Exhibiting all those traits here is Senior Airman Nate Hall as he conducts a post-flight inspection on a U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan.
Hall is an aircraft maintainer assigned to the 451st Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. He’s inspecting the aircraft for leaks, cracks or anything that may jeopardize its integrity.
We apologize for the delayed posting of this week’s Friday Foto until today. Technical difficulties (network problems) foiled our attempts to file it from Aspen, Colorado until this morning.
Catching White Elephants
By now you’ve probably heard or read about the $34 million military headquarters building at Camp Leatherneck in southern Afghanistan that probably won’t ever be used by U.S. troops.
But maintaining the 64,000-square foot, air conditioned windowless building – equipped with modern office space, work stations and an auditorium — is probably too expensive for the Afghans to handle so the brand new building may be demolished by departing U.S. forces.
But wait, there’s more. Less than four months after the Army asked Congress to fund the huge command center, the local Marine Corps commander said it wasn’t needed and made a request – in May 2010 – to cancel the project. In February 2011, however, the Air Force issued a construction contract to build the facility, which Uncle Sam took possession of in November 2012, according to the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR). SIGAR is a government agency created by Congress to prevent and detect waste, fraud and abuse in Afghanistan reconstruction programs.
“Based on these preliminary findings, I am deeply troubled that the military may have spent taxpayer funds on a construction project that should have been stopped,” Special Inspector General John Sopko, wrote in a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel; the commander of U.S. Central Command – which includes Afghanistan; and the top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan.
Sopko said he was also troubled by the options of either “destroying a never-occupied, never-used building or turning over what may be a ‘white elephant’ to the Afghan government that it may not have the capacity to sustain.” You can read his letter here.
Meanwhile, another special inspector general for reconstruction – this time in Iraq – has a recommendation to avoid future money-wasting boondoggles. In testimony before a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Tuesday (July 9) Stuart Bowen Jr., urged creation of a U.S. Office for Contingency Operations (USOCO) to concentrate authority over relief and reconstruction efforts into a single office that would report to both the secretaries of Defense and State – as well as the president’s National Security Advisor.
Now there is no executive branch department with the primary responsibility for carrying out relief and reconstruction activities, Bowen said, noting that Congress has appropriated $60 billion for Iraq’s reconstruction over the last 10 years and his office has recovered more than $200 million through waste and fraud investigations. Instead of a single office, the stabilization operations are just add-ons to the work already being done by the departments of State, Defense, Justice and Treasury, as well as the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
“Current geopolitical events make the need for a reform like USOCO quite compelling,” Bowen said in written testimony for the Middle East and North Africa subcommittee, adding “a number of fragile states, including Syria, could soon require integrated stabilization and reconstruction assistance.”
A bill that would create USOCO and assure that the government is preparing for the next stabilization and reconstruction operation ahead of time has been introduced in the House by Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Texas).
Avoiding Nasty Surprises
The uproar over the National Security Agency’s wide-ranging cell phone and Internet surveillance revived a national debate about the necessity of intelligence gathering and what the federal government does with what it learns.
But the accumulation of “Big Data” – millions and millions of phone calls, text messages and emails — whether by government agencies or private corporations, underscores the urgency of acquiring intelligence that can be acted upon in real time. This is especially true in an era when the United States is confronted by near peer competitors like China and Russia, hostile nation states such as North Korea and Iran and non-state, violent extremist networks like al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.
Actionable intelligence is simply that: information gleaned from a range of sources that enables decision makers – from political leaders to field commanders – to take appropriate and timely action when faced with a security threat like an imminent terrorist attack or the shipment of weapons of mass destruction.
The bottom line: preventing nasty surprises.
Two U.S. airmen conduct a security check around a disabled C-130 Hercules aircraft on Forward Operating Base Shank in Afghanistan’s Logar province, June 6, 2013. The two sentinels are part of the 376th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron Fly Away Security Team. They are forward deployed from Manas Air Base, Kyrgyzstan.
Next Gen GPS Satellite
U.S. defense contractor Lockheed Martin announced today (June 5) it has successfully completed final functional integration tests of the network communications equipment going on the next generation Global Positioning Satellite system known as GPS III.
GPS is a navigation system provided by two dozen medium earth orbit satellites maintained and operated by the U.S. Air Force. GPS allows users — both civilian and military — to track where they are on the Earth’s surface to within a couple of meters. The ageing system, first created during the Cold War, is to be replaced by the newer, more accurate GPS III satellites being built by a Lockheed Martin-led team. In addition to being more accurate, the new GPS satellites are said to be more resistant to signal jamming, a growing concern to the military and commercial air and maritime businesses.
Your 4GWAR editor recently completed a magazine article on technologies to improve or even replace satellite-based navigation. The piece will be in the July issue of Unmanned Systems magazine, published by the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI).
The Lockheed Martin team also successfully tested how the the spacecraft bus that will carry the GPS equipment and other payloads into space will integrate with other equipment on the satellite. That testing of the GPS III space vehicle — known as SV 1– assures that all the systems on the part of the space craft that carries mission payloads are functioning normally and ready for final integration with the satellite’s navigation system.
The systems that were tested include: guidance, navigation and control, command and data handling, on-board computer and flight software. The SV 1 satellite’s network communications equipment also passed all tests.
The successfull completion of the latest SV 1 testing “validates that the spacecraft is now ready to begin the next sequence of payload integration and environmental testing,” said Keoki Jackson, vice president of Lockheed Martion’s Navigation Systems mission area.
The satellite remains on schedule for flight-ready delivery to the Air Force in 2014, company officials said.. Lockheed Martin is under contract for production of the first four GPS III satellites and advanced procurement funding for certain components of satellites five through eight.
Isn’t that a Flying Car?
This airdrop took place over Malamute Drop Zone followed by paratroopers at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. The soldiers are assigned to the 25th Infantry Division’s 425th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team.
For more photos of this operation, click here.