Posts tagged ‘Air Force’

FRIDAY FOTO: May 6, 2016

Eerie Viewing.

459AS sharpens their rescue capabilities

U.S. Air Force photo by Yasuo Osakabe

Night vision goggles cast an eerie green glow on the eye of Air Force Technical Sergeant Christopher Rector peers through them during a training flight over U.S. Army Garrison Yokohama North Dock in Japan last month (April 25, 2016).

The internal lights of his UH-1N Iroquois helicopter — known everywhere as a Huey — paint an equally eerie glow on his fearsomely decorated crash helmet. A lot of helicopter crewmen in the U.S. military decorate the front of their crash helmets to look like skulls or orcs — just like some NHL hockey goalies.

Rector is a special missions aviator evaluator assigned to the 459th Airlift Squadron, which frequently trains to stay prepared for potential real-world contingencies and operations.

May 6, 2016 at 2:43 am Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO: April 15, 2016

Now Boarding.

FRIFO 4-15-2016 pARATROOPERS c-17.

Air Force photo by Alejandro Pena

Paratroopers board and position their gear inside an Air Force C-17 Globemaster III aircraft before participating in a night jump at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, March 31, 2016.

To see what a night drop looks like, click here.

April 15, 2016 at 1:07 am Leave a comment

AIRCRAFT: New B-21 Bomber Unveiled

Name That Plane.

B-21 Bomber

New design and designation for the planned Air Force Long Range Strike Bomber: B-21 bomber. (U.S. Air Force photo: artist’s rendering)

The U.S. Air Force has revealed the design for its planned Long Range Strike bomber, to be officially designated the B-21, and is taking suggestions on what to call the new warbird.

Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James revealed the concept design last week at the Air Force Association‘s Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Florida. She said the official designation recognizes the stealthy aircraft will be the first bomber of the 21st Century.

She also said the Air Force will be taking suggestions from its own uniformed personnel on what to call the new plane. Meanwhile, some websites like Defense News have set up an unofficial poll, offering some interesting — and whimsical — names like Wraith, Ghost, Bomberang and Budget Buster.

If the initial design concept looks familiar, James said that’s because the B-21 shares some resemblance to the B-2 bomber. And that’s because the new bomber has been designed “based on a set of requirements that allows the use of existing and mature technology.”

We’re struck by how much this new design resembles one described by your 4GWAR editor for Air & Space Smithsonian magazine a while back. We asked several defense thinkers what futuristic technologies the LRS would need and what that might look like.

You can view that design here and judge how close they came to the real thing.

The next generation bomber is to be built by Northrop Grumman, which also built the B-2.

March 1, 2016 at 10:58 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (February 5, 2016)

Black Widow Falcon.

421st EFS 'Black Widows' provide combat airpower

Air Force photo by Tech. Sergeant Robert Cloys

U.S. Air Force Capt. Brad Hunt taxis to the runway in an F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft on Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan, February 1, 2016.

From this angle one can see how far out ahead of the wings the pilot sits. One can also see the mountains of the Hindu Kush in the background.

Hunt is a pilot assigned to the 421st Expeditionary Fighter Squadron. Known as the “Black Widows,” the 421st EFS began a six-month deployment in Afghanistan October 28, 2015.

 

February 5, 2016 at 12:10 am Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (January 15, 2016)

Cockpit Reach.

U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Corey Hook

340th EARS refuels A10s and B1U.S Air Force Major Steve Briones (left) and 1st Lieutenant Andrew Kim fly a an aerial refueling KC-135 Stratotanker over Turkey on January 6. Looks easy, doesn’t it?

Coalition forces fly daily missions to support Operation Inherent Resolve, the U.S. led air campaign against the so-called Islamic State terrorist group in Iraq and Syria.

January 15, 2016 at 1:37 am Leave a comment

AIR FORCE: Report Says Pentagon Rethinking Attack Plane’s Retirement

Warthog Reprieve.

A Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II flies over a 2014 joint bArmy-Air National Guard training exercise in Alaska in 2014. (U.S. Air Force photo by 2nd Lt. Michael Harrington)

A Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II flies over a 2014 joint Army-Air National Guard training exercise in Alaska in 2014. (U.S. Air Force photo by 2nd Lt. Michael Harrington)

According to a published report, the U.S. Air Force is halting immediate plans to retire the venerable A-10 Thunderbolt II attack jet — which is playing a major role in the U.S.-led bombing campaign against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.

The website, Defense One, reports Pentagon officials are saying plans to retire the heavily armored Cold War era jet known as the Warthog, have been put on hold. This policy shift will be laid out next month when the Pentagon submits its 2017 budget request to Congress, Pentagon officials told Defense One, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the spending plan before its official release.

The Air Force has been trying to eliminate the 40-year-old aircraft since 2014, because of budget constraints which threaten funding for newer aircraft like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and the planned long range strike bomber. Officials say the A-10 — called the Warthog because of its stubby appearance, punishment-taking air frame and lethal armament — is obsolete and vulnerable to modern air defense missile systems and fifth generation fighter jets.

They also said multi-role fighters like the F-35 could handle the Warthog’s main mission: close air support of ground troops. That claim is strongly denied by Warthog advocates, who include former A-10 pilots, members of Congress and Army and Marine veterans who say they were saved from being overrun in Afghanistan by the A-10’s fearsome Gatling Gun.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Willard E. Grande II)

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Willard E. Grande II)

Supporters say high speed fighter jets cannot linger over a battle zone and provide covering fire for an extended period of time like the low and slow-flying Warthog has. The photo above shows the A-10’s big gun (like a fat cigar clenched in its tiger shark teeth) the seven-barrel, rotating 30 milimeter GAU cannon. The gun, with a firing rate of over 4,000-rounds per minute, enables “hogs” to support ground troops by taking out enemy tanks and armored vehicles with its armor-piercing shells.

January 13, 2016 at 11:35 pm Leave a comment

SPECIAL OPERATIONS: SOCOM Leadership Changes; New Gunships Defense; SEALS and Women

Votel & Thomas.

The head of U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM), Army General Joseph Votel is likely to be the next chief of Central Command (CENTCOM), according to the Washington Post. And to replace Votel at SOCOM, the Post says Army Lieutenant General Raymond Thomas is the most likely candidate.

Votel, an Army Ranger and former head of the 75th Ranger Regiment, took over Tampa, Florida-based SOCOM as its 10th commander in 2014 from Admiral William McRaven, a Navy SEAL.

Word of Votel’s planned transfer to CENTCOM, was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

Army Gen. and U.S> SOCOM commander Joseph Votel. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Steve Cortez)

Army Gen. and U.S. SOCOM commander Joseph Votel.
(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Steve Cortez)

Special Operations Forces include Army Green Berets, Rangers and Special Ops aviators, Navy SEALS and Special Warfare Combatant-craft crews, Air Force Pararescue jumpers and combat air controllers, Marine Corps Corps critical skills operators and special operations combat services specialists.

Thomas, also an Army Ranger, is currently the head of Joint Special Operations Command, the SOCOM unit that oversees terrorist-hunting missions from North Africa to Afghanistan, according to the Post. CENTCOM, based in Tampa, Florida, is responsible for U.S. security interests an area consisting of 20 mostly Middle Eastern and Central Asian countries — Afghanistan, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, and Yemen.

*** *** ***

Radio Countermeasures.

U.S. Special Operations Command has ordered radio countermeasures equipment for its AC-130J and MC-130J gunship  variants.

Under a $32 million contract with Northrop Grumman, the company’s Land and Avionics C4ISR division will supply radio frequency countermeasures (RFCM) for the planes, according to the C4ISR&Networks web site.

Jeff Palombo, Northrop Grumman division vice president and general manager, said N-G’s solution “is designed to detect and defeat not only current radio frequency threats, but also to have the flexibility to protect our warfighters as the threat evolves.” In a Northrop Grumman press release, Palombio said the solution “is built upon our high confidence aircraft protection systems of today, coupled with an open architecture approach that enables our offering to grow to a multi-spectral, multi-function capability for the future.”

*** *** ***

Mabus VS. SEALS

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus is urging the Navy’s admirals to press forward with integrating women into the Special Ops Navy SEAL teams, over the concerns of Navy SEAL leaders.

140121-N-KB563-148 CORONADO, Calif. (Jan. 21, 2014) Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUDs) students participate in Surf Passage at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado. Surf Passage is one of many physically demanding evolutions that are a part of the first phase of SEAL training. Navy SEALs are the maritime component of U.S. Special Forces and are trained to conduct a variety of operations from the sea, air and land. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Michael Russell/Released)

Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUDs)
students participate in Surf Passage at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st
Class Michael Russell/Released)

As Naval Special Warfare hammers out a plan to start admitting women into their very rugged training, Mabus is urging Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson to forge ahead. Mabus rebutted some of the concerns Navy brass raised about roadblocks to integration, the Navy Times reported.

In the plan it submitted, NSW argued that allowing women to join direct ground combat units would not increase readiness, and could even distract from it, according to the memo obtained by Navy Times.

January 12, 2016 at 1:33 am Leave a comment

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