Archive for the ‘U.S. Air Force’ Category

U.S. Air Force Seeks More Aviation Wonders To Assist War Effort

November 3, 2008

In the fight against the Taliban and al-Qaeda, the U.S. Air Force is seekeng a few good men.  Well, birds, really.  Birds of prey are being sought.  And that usually means falcons and the tough folks that manage them: falconers.

Abobe: A potential Air Force recruit: an eagle huntsman in Karakol, Kyrgyzstan.

By Walter Pincus
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, November 3, 2008; Page A01

The U.S. Air Force, a high-tech wonder of precision missiles and pilotless surveillance drones, is looking for a few good falcons.

Live falcons, that is, ones with feathers and talons, the kind that hunt mice and small birds.

U.S. aircraft at the sprawling Bagram air base in Afghanistan are coming under increasing attack — not from al-Qaeda or Taliban fighters but from “many small songbirds, pigeons, Magpies, Hawks and Black Kites,” according to a bid request for a “bird control services” contract issued by the Army last month.

Previous attempts at controlling the birds have failed. Personnel have shot “bangers and screamers” at the birds — rockets that can travel hundreds of yards as they give off a siren-like noise, followed by a loud bang. Shotguns have been tried, too.

There were 125 bird strikes against aircraft taking off, landing or taxiing at Bagram from January through Nov. 1, a sharp increase from the 78 recorded in the same period last year, according to officials at the base. So now the military is seeking a private contractor to provide “personnel, equipment, tools, materials, supervision, falconry and other items and services necessary to perform Bird Control Services at Bagram.”

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Above: This lady should have no trouble getting into the Air Force….


After Eight Boom Years, Defense Spending Likely to Slow

October 13, 2008

ByBy Dana Hedgpeth
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, October 13, 2008; Page D01

At the Walter E. Washington Convention Center last week, Army soldiers, Pentagon weapons buyers and defense company representatives milled about a cavernous trade show floor for a look at the latest military equipment and gadgets.
Huge tanks sat beside armored trucks and machine guns. In one aisle, a stack of fake sandbags were arranged around a free cappuccino stand sponsored by KBR, one of the biggest government contractors in Iraq.

The annual exposition — put on by the Association of the United States Army — is one of the largest industry shows of its kind in the country, and the bustling convention floor was a testament to the success of an industry that has enjoyed steadily rising sales over the past eight years.

But the mood at the show was hardly celebratory. Rather, Topic A was whether those good times would continue.

Many assumed they would not.

Attendees worried that a new administration may be forced to cut back on defense spending as the nation strains under a global economic crisis and as presidential contenders talk about the eventuality of bringing troops home. Major weapons systems built by the likes of Falls Church-based General Dynamics or Lockheed Martin of Bethesda are likely to face new scrutiny — potentially dealing a blow to an industry that has helped insulate the region from deeper economic pain.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty out there,” said Kevin G. Kroger, president of Pura Dyn, a small Boynton Beach, Fla., company, who came to the trade show to pitch the Army on buying more of its oil filters for armored trucks. “We’re not sure where the budgets are going and what’s going to get funded. It leaves us nervous.”
Uss Zumwalt.jpg
Above: ZUMWALT Class destroyer

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Two F-22A Raptor in column flight - (Noise reduced).jpg
Above: F-22 Raptor

Donald Blakeslee; World War II Combat Fighter Commander

October 13, 2008

By May 1, 1944, his group had become the first in the European theater to record 500 kills, the most in American fighter group history. The group destroyed 207 German planes in one month alone. By the end of the war, Col. Blakeslee and his men had destroyed 1,020 enemy aircraft, 550 shot out of the air and 470 hit while on the ground….

By Joe Holley
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, October 13, 2008; Page B06

Donald J.M. Blakeslee, 90, commander of the first American fighter squadrons to reach Berlin during World War II and one of the most successful combat fighter commanders in the history of the Air Force, died Sept. 3 of congestive heart failure at his home in Miami.
Col. Donald Blakeslee receives the Distinguished Service Cross from President Dwight Eisenhower. Col. Blakeslee was commander of the first American fighter squadrons to reach Berlin during World War II.

Above: Col. Donald Blakeslee receives the Distinguished Service Cross from President Dwight Eisenhower. Col. Blakeslee was commander of the first American fighter squadrons to reach Berlin during World War II. (Courtesy Of The Eighth Air Force Historical Society)

Over the years, he shunned would-be biographers and publicity of any kind, said his daughter, Dawn Blakeslee of Miami, his only immediate survivor. She said she did not announce her father’s death last month because of his reluctance to call attention to his wartime heroics.

On Jan. 1, 1944, the Ohio native was named commander of the 4th Fighter Group of the 8th Fighter Command. He assumed command at a time when the German Luftwaffe ruled the skies over Europe.

Roy Heidicker, the 4th Fighter Group historian, recalled that Col. Blakeslee’s message to his pilots was simple and straightforward: “We are here to destroy the Luftwaffe and shoot the Germans out of the sky, and that’s what we’re going to do.”

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Col. Blakeslee flew Spitfires early in World War II

Gates says Air Force not doing enough in Iraq war effort

April 21, 2008

WASHINGTON (AP) – Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Monday the Air Force is not doing enough to help in the Iraq and Afghanistan war effort, complaining that some military leaders are “stuck in old ways of doing business.”

Gates said in a speech at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., that getting the Air Force to send more surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft to Iraq and Afghanistan has been “like pulling teeth.”

The US Air Force Thunderbird team performs in 2004. A US air ...
The US Air Force Thunderbird team performs.
(AFP/File/Kim Jae-Hwan)

Addressing officer students at the Air Force’s Air University, the Pentagon chief praised the Air Force for its overall contributions but made a point of urging it to do more and to undertake new and creative ways of thinking about helping the war effort instead of focusing mainly on future threats.

“In my view we can do and we should do more to meet the needs of men and women fighting in the current conflicts while their outcome may still be in doubt,” he said. “My concern is that our services are still not moving aggressively in wartime to provide resources needed now on the battlefield.”

He cited the example of drone aircraft that can watch, hunt and sometimes kill insurgents without risking the life of a pilot. He said the number of such aircraft has grown 25-fold since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

He said he has been trying for months to get the Air Force to send more surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft, like the Predator drone that provides real-time surveillance video, to the battlefield.

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Only in America: Boundless Technology; Brilliant Youth

February 22, 2008

“Never have so many owed so much to so few.”
–Winston Churchill

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
Friday, February 22, 2008

Wednesday, USS Lake Erie’s sailors launched an SM-3 Missile that streaked into space to hit an errant U.S. spy satellite exactly as planned: right amidships of the 1,000 pound toxic hydrazine fuel tank.

The satellite was at about 133 miles in altitude and traveling at 17,000 miles per hour or 24 times the speed of sound.

In the twinkling of an eye, America demonstrated new, or at least unknown and unproven, technology and capability. The United States, for the first time, exploded a satellite in shallow space or just before reentry using tactical systems: ships and missiles and men trained to fight “in the air” were reaching into space: for the first time ever.

My Vietnam-born bride said, “Only in America.” Then she said, “The sailors did it.”

As she so often does, my wife Lien was making a huge statement with the fewest of words. She, in one breath, extolled the wonders of American technology as well as the devotion, care and brilliance of our American people: especially our often maligned American youth.

The next day, Serbian youths ransacked the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade and several other Embassies that violated their ideas about what was right and wrong about Kosovo.

I don’t recall America’s youth rioting to this extent for a while.

Sailors love, cherish, care for and maintain their ships and often high-tech and high-cost equipment with the greatest precision and detail. They are devoted, driven and professional.  They are both hard working and delightful.

If you have troubled kids or a dim view of American youth: visit a U.S. Navy ship.

I’ll extend this line of thinking to U.S. Army soldiers, U.S. Marines and U.S. Air Force airmen. I’m no Ollie North but I’ve been around the U.S. military and around the globe.

I have one unshakable conclusion: our young Americans are serving superbly.

We are a nation at war.

The war is a war of ideas.  We oppose no nation, no people and no religion.  Yet the people with other ideas are armed and dangerous: they use improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and women and children and the mentally infirm with bombs wrapped around them. 

We are using about one percent of our population to fight, with arms, the war against terror.

“Never have so many owed so much to so few.”

That one percent is sacrificing life and limbs, and I mean arms and legs are lost every day, for You.

I am reminded every day of Sir Winston Churchill: “Never have so many owed so much to so few.”

I am moved by the wonders of the U.S. Navy reaching into space and the dichotomies of this nation.

Some geniuses at the Pentagon, as they prepared to blast a satellite to smithereens and then watch the chucks or, as military analyst John Pikes calls them, “gravel,” of the space debris reenter the Earth’s atmosphere and burn up; said: “We need a toxic debris clean up team!”

But of course.

America needs a “Toxic Space Debris Clean Up Team.”

Never mind that junk in the form of meteors have been hitting the Earth for centuries and that satellites and their parts have been crashing to Earth since the 1950s without incident.

America needs a “Toxic Space Debris Clean Up Team.”

Funny, I don’t recall China’s “Toxic Space Debris Clean Up Team” when they blew up a satellite last year.  Do you?

They have 1.3 Billion people.  We Americans have a 0.3 Billion.  That is about 300 Million.

We stand, in terms of history and population, in China’s margin.

My wife submitted this commentary. “Only in America.”

So, with haz-mat suits at the ready, a quick response team stood on alert Thursday, the day after the satellite was destroyed, to head anyplace on Earth that the pieces of a lame satellite shot down by the U.S. Navy might fall.

And for the ultimate dichotomy: inside the “Toxic Space-Only Rocket Fuel Mop Up Kit” do you know what you’ll find?

Kitty litter.

Only in America.

Next time you have a cat stuck in a tree or sewer or a hunk of burning space debris smoldering on your lawn, dial 911.

Only in America.

American has ambulances almost everywhere.  In India, they pack you into the back seat of a taxi and hope for the best.

My friends in the world community will forgive me for this.  Others will castigate me.  But I believe in the wonder and wonders of America.

I live in a land of Boundless Technology and Brilliant Youth.

It might not always be so.

But for now, as my wife says, “Only in America.”

F-15 grounding strains U.S. air defenses

December 27, 2007
By SCOTT LINDLAW, Associated Press Writer
December 27, 2007 

FRESNO, Calif. – The grounding of hundreds of F-15s because of dangerous structural defects is straining the nation’s air defense network, forcing some states to rely on their neighbors’ fighter jets for protection, and Alaska to depend on the Canadian military.

The F-15 is the sole fighter at many of the 16 or so “alert” sites around the country, where planes and pilots stand ready to take off at a moment’s notice to intercept hijacked airliners, Cessnas that wander into protected airspace, and other threats.

The Air Force grounded about 450 F-15s after one of the fighters began to break apart in the air and crashed Nov. 2 in Missouri. An Air Force investigation found “possible fleet-wide airworthiness problems” because of defects in the ….

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Flaw may permanently ground 160 jets, Air Force general says

Pentagon Eyes High-Speed Missiles for Stealth Aircraft

December 24, 2007

By Robert Wall and Douglas Barrie
Aviation Week and Space Technology
December 23, 2007

The U.S. military is increasingly interested in developing a new generation of high-speed air-to-surface missiles that could be integrated into stealth aircraft to attack an enemy’s radar sites or fleeting targets.

U.S. Air Force planners are anxious about enhancements in air defense technology, worrying that as powerful computer processing becomes more ubiquitous and network cabling becomes cheaper, adversaries can link radar systems of different types to raise their chances of spotting and potentially shooting down even low-observable aircraft.

Although the military is putting much effort into using directed-energy and network attack tools to thwart such threats, the kinetic kill approach hasn’t fallen out of favor entirely. One reason is that the initial generation of directed-energy systems will still require aircraft to get comparatively close to a threat, while missiles can be launched at greater stand-off ranges. The missiles themselves could also be candidates for directed-energy warheads.

There has been frustration among weapon developers that the U.S. and Europe have not done more to push high-speed technology, with a few exceptions such as the European rocket/ramjet-powered Meteor air-to-air missile. Russia has ramjet-powered air-to-surface weapons in its inventory, and China and India are also pursuing this area aggressively, bemoans a European industry official.

But the situation may be changing. One emerging project, for instance, is a Raytheon initiative to design a ramjet-powered version of the AGM-88 High-Speed Anti-Radiation Missile (HARM), according to a company official. Raytheon has been exploring various options for a ramjet motor, which would be paired with an enhanced HARM front end.

The ramjet concept now undergoing more detailed systems analysis at Raytheon would use an asymmetric intake configuration, with the two ducts on opposite sides of the missile body. The motor would be paired with a standard 10-in.-dia. missile frame, says a European industry official.

In addition to the anti-radar role, the weapon would be aimed to meet the Pentagon’s persistent requirement for higher-speed strike weapons to eliminate time-sensitive targets, which can move quickly and often prove elusive. A HARM coupled with the high-speed motor would likely feature guidance enhancements enabling it to strike coordinates even if a target is not emitting.

Raytheon is working with Diehl Defense to try to interest the German government in the HARM Destruction of Enemy Air Defenses Attack Module (HDAM), an upgrade of the basic weapon which includes an inertial measurement unit/global positioning system for enhanced precision. Germany at one point funded Diehl to develop its own ramjet-powered anti-radar missile, Armiger, but the military ran out of funding.

HARM’s 10-in. diameter would be an integration problem on smaller stealth aircraft, but one U.S. official suggests the effort could be aimed at long-standing U.S. Air Force interest in integrating such a weapon on the B-2 bomber.

The F-22 and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter might potentially be outfitted with reduced-diameter weapons. But they would require much smaller missiles because of the limited space in their internal weapons bays. Even a 7.5-in.-dia. missile could have fit problems because of the inlet ducts and control surfaces, says one industry official who has looked at the problem.

An electronics upgrade slated for the F-22 will give it enhanced ground-emitter location capability, which would significantly boost the aircraft’s capability to destroy enemy air-defenses. But with its current array of air-to-surface weapons, the fighter would have to fly well inside the layered engagement zones of systems such as the Almaz Antey S-400 (SA-21 Growler).

Even though the F-22’s stealth features and ability to fly supersonic without afterburner greatly increase survivability, weaponry with additional stand-off range is seen as important to the fighter’s long-term future. Russia is working on upgrades and follow-on development to the S-400 partly driven by the ability to combat stealth. S-400-derivative systems will also probably begin to proliferate during the coming decade.

One option to deal with this threat would be internal carriage on the F-22 and the F-35 of a 7-in.-dia. version of HARM now being worked on by Raytheon.

However, Alliant Techsystems, which builds the latest upgrade to HARM, the AGM-88E Advanced Anti-Radar Guided Missile (Aargm), also has its eyes on trying to address the emerging market and the internal carriage problem. Aargm has a sophisticated millimeter-wave seeker and an INS/GPS and passive radar detector. The company is exploring various options, including fitting the Aargm front end with an enhanced Amraam air-to-air missile motor. Amraam is smaller than HARM and is a baseline weapon for both the F-35 and F-22, so the integration would not be an issue.

Another option being studied would marry the Aargm seeker with the ramjet-powered Meteor missile. There’s already an agreement with MBDA because of Italian interest in the AGM-88E. The air-to-air Meteor is a candidate weapon for the U.K.’s F-35. Another set of fit check trials were due to be carried out in mid-December on a slightly revised missile configuration to provide adequate clearance in the aircraft’s internal bays.

Leadership Lessons from the Movies: “Fail Safe”

November 17, 2007

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
November 18, 2007

“Fail Safe” is the major motion picture that gives one of the best depictions of the awesome might the United States and Soviet Union arrayed against each other; and how the mistakes of men and machines could cause the President of the United States to destroy one of his own cites with nuclear weapons.

The film was released in the autumn of 1964, just about a year after the death of President John F. Kennedy. Lyndon Johnson was president and the war in Vietnam was ramping up as U.S. troops began to arrive in greater numbers. But the big issue of the day was the standing nuclear forces of the U.S. and U.S.S.R. and the tensions of the Cold War.

“Fail Safe” was directed by the master Sidney Lumet, based on the 1962 novel of the same name by Eugene Burdick and Harvey Wheeler. The film portrays a fictional Cold War nuclear crisis, and the US President’s attempt to end it.

“Fail Safe” features Henry Fonda as President, Walter Matthau as Professor Groteschele (a kind of mastermind of nuclear war) and a youthful Larry Hagman as the president’s Russian language translator (14 years before he starred as “J.R.” in “Dallas.”)

The core of the film is the great tension leaders sometimes find themselves under. In the film, a U.S. Air Force colonel loses his cool and orders others to disobey the president. The president is dealing by the “hot line” phone with a mercurial and distrustful Soviet leader, and U.S.A.F. pilots and air crews carry out their nuclear attack mission to the letter: even after the president tells them the attack order was mistakenly generated – because they were trained that Russians would attempt to mimic the president’s voice.

The film’s scenario features an errant aircraft probably from the Soviet Union that puts the U.S. airborne nuclear arsenal moving toward “hold” or “fail-safe” locations to await final attack orders. The original perceived “threat” to the U.S. is proven to be no threat at all, and recall orders are issued to the American bombers. However, due to a technical failure, the attack code (rather than the recall order) is transmitted to Group Six, which consists of six Vindicator supersonic bombers.

B-58 Hustler

B-58s like this one were the “actors” portraying
“Vindicator” bombers in “Fail Safe.” 

Colonel Grady, the head of the group, tries to contact mission control in Omaha to verify the fail-safe order (called Positive Check), but due to Soviet radio jamming, Grady cannot hear Omaha. Concluding that the fail-safe order and the radio jamming could only mean nuclear war, Grady commands the Group Six crew towards Moscow, their intended target for the day. At this point, a series of disastrous fail-safe orders come into play: the bomber crews are trained that upon receiving an attack code on the fail-safe box, there is virtually no way to supersede it; they are trained to ignore all communicated orders, on the assumption that once an attack is directed, any attempts to stop it must be Soviet trickery.

At meetings in Omaha, the Pentagon, and in the fallout shelter of the White House, American politicians, military leaders  and scholars debate the implications of the attack. Professor Groeteschele suggests the United States follow this accidental attack with a full-scale attack to force the Soviets to surrender. The move shows the heightened tensions and differences of character of many kinds of men. In this film you’ll find men ready to go to nuclear war and you’ll find men trying their hardest to end the mess peacefully and without nukes exploding.

If you see “Fail Safe” in your cable TV directory or find it on the internet, you’ll have an opportunity to see a chilling and thrilling nail biter worth every second of your time.

This is the 22nd essay in our series “Leadership Ideas from the Movies,” a series our readers have responded to very positively. Thank you for the feedback!


Leadership Lessons of the Movies: You’ll Never guess Which One (Number Twenty-One)

Leadership Lessons from The movies (You’ll Never Guess which One) ( Number Twenty)

Leadership Lessons From the Movies: You’ll Never Guess Which One (Number Nineteen)

Leadership Lessons of the Movies: You’ll Never Guess Which One, Number Eighteen

Meet “Bud” Day; Read His Medal Of Honor Story

November 6, 2007

By John E. Carey

George E. “Bud” Day served the United States through three wars. After quitting High School he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps for World War II. He served 30 months in the South Pacific. After the war, he used his GI Bill benefits to become a lawyer and a pilot.

During the Korean War he served two tours flying F-84 fighters.

USAF F-84E Thunderjet

During the Vietnam War he was shot down, captured by the Communists, escaped, and lived for two weeks off the land and in the jungle before he was captured again.

Bud’s Medal of Honor Citation reads:“On 26 August 1967, Col. Day was forced to eject from his aircraft over North Vietnam when it was hit by ground fire. His right arm was broken in 3 places, and his left knee was badly sprained. He was immediately captured by hostile forces and taken to a prison camp where he was interrogated and severely tortured. After causing the guards to relax their vigilance, Col. Day escaped into the jungle and began the trek toward South Vietnam. Despite injuries inflicted by fragments of a bomb or rocket, he continued southward surviving only on a few berries and uncooked frogs. He successfully evaded enemy patrols and reached the Ben Hai River, where he encountered U.S. artillery barrages. With the aid of a bamboo log float, Col. Day swam across the river and entered the demilitarized zone. Due to delirium, he lost his sense of direction and wandered aimlessly for several days. After several unsuccessful attempts to signal U.S. aircraft, he was ambushed and recaptured by the Viet Cong, sustaining gunshot wounds to his left hand and thigh. He was returned to the prison from which he had escaped and later was moved to Hanoi after giving his captors false information to questions put before him. Physically, Col. Day was totally debilitated and unable to perform even the simplest task for himself. Despite his many injuries, he continued to offer maximum resistance. His personal bravery in the face of deadly enemy pressure was significant in saving the lives of fellow aviators who were still flying against the enemy. Col. Day’s conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Air Force and reflect great credit upon himself and the U.S. Armed Forces.”

Col. Day in dress uniform.

Bud Day is one of my American heroes. He is among a special class of people some Americans can never understand. To me, Bud Day is one of those Americans we can never thank enough.

We honor every single man and woman who ever wore the uniform of the United States on Veterans’ Day. We honor those now gone and those still living. But in one way, I think of Veterans’ Day as “Bud Day Day!”

But Bud is humble and would never hear of it. In fact, he may be a tad embarrassed by this essay.

But Bud teaches us never to give up. This is a most precious gift to many in life. By telling ones self to “Always Persevere,” the largest challenges in life can be overcome.

Bud is the most highly decorated U.S. serviceman since Douglas MacArthur. Because he always persevered.

I interviewed Bud and his wife of fifty-seven years, Doris, for this Veteran’s Day tribute.

When George Day strapped himself into his F-100 on 26 August 1967 for a mission over Vietnam, he had no idea he was about to start a six year odyssey of a prisoner of war.

F-100A with the original short tail fin.

He was a 41 year old veteran of combat in World War II and Korea.

He was in the Vietnam War by choice: at his age and with his experience he could have retired or taken a desk job.

“I went because it was my duty,” Bud told me. “That’s where I needed to be. I had more flying hours than anyone in Southeast Asia. I needed to be there.”

Doris still recalls that day, the day a chaplain, a U.S. Air Force notification officer and a woman from the base Family Services organization notified her that Bud had been shot down. “They were very nice, very professional.”

Among veterans and military people there are so many Bud Day stories, all of them true, that there isn’t room to publish all of them here. One of my favorites is this.

In February, 1971 Bud and several other prisoners at the Hoa Loa camp gathered for a religious service, which was forbidden. The guards burst into the group, carbines at the ready. Bud Day stood calmly and began to sing “The Star Spangled Banner”, our National Anthem. Commander James Bond Stockdale, the highest ranking prisoner, joined in. The entire camp erupted to the singing of “The Star Spangled Banner.”

Later Stockdale would write, “Our minds were now free and we knew it.”

Fittingly, five years later, the President of the United States presented the Medal of Honor to Bud Day and his friend James Stockdale in one ceremony.

Mr. Carey is a retired military officer and the former president of International Defense Consultants, Inc.

This was first published in:
The Washington Times
Veterans’ Day November 11, 2006