Friday, March 16, 2012

Air Force Magazine Daily Report

From AFA:

Daily Report

Friday March 16, 2012
Widow of F-22 Pilot Sues Aircraft Maker: Anna Haney, the widow of F-22 pilotCapt. Jeffrey Haney, who was killed when his aircraft crashed in Alaska in November 2010, is suing Lockheed Martin and several other contractors for her husband's death. The 153-page complaint, filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Ill., alleges that the aircraft was "unreasonably defective," citing failures with the onboard oxygen-generating system, environmental control system, and other life-support systems meant to provide breathable oxygen to the pilot. The suit also alleges that the aircraft was "designed, manufactured, distributed, and sold in a dangerous and defective condition," because such failures were overlooked. Lockheed Martin spokeswoman Stephanie Stinn told the Daily Report that the Haney's accident was "a tragic event" and that the company "sympathizes with the family for their loss." However, she said, "We do not agree with those allegations and we will respond to them through the appropriate legal process." The Air Force, which is not listed as a defendant in the lawsuit, declined to comment. Air Force investigators determined that Haney's failure to initiate a timely dive recovery was the most direct cause of his fatal crash. The Pentagon's inspector general is currently reviewing those findings to determine whether the investigation followed proper procedures. (Anna Haney's complaint; caution, very large-sized file.)
Out of the Shadow Emerges the Commando II: AirForce Special Operations Command has changed the name of its new MC-130J aircraft. Gone is Combat Shadow II. In its place is Commando II, announced command officials Thursday. "This name best reflects the multi-mission role of the aircraft and the units that will fly them," said Lt. Gen. Eric Fiel, AFSOC commander. It also "embodies the broader linage of special operations force aircraft," he said. The Air Force's original Commando was the C-46 transport that served from World War II until the late 1960s. Before settling on Commando II, AFSOC officials said they also considered Combat Arrow and Combat Knife. The MC-130J is designed to fly low-visibility, low-level air refueling missions for special operations helicopters and tiltrotor aircraft. It's also configured to infiltrate and exfiltrate politically sensitive or hostile territories in order to support special operations ground forces. Commando IIs are replacing AFSOC's aging fleet of previous-model MC-130s. (Hurlburt report by Ashley M. Wright)
Final Raptor Takes Flight: The Air Force's final F-22 Raptor—tail number 4195—conducted its first test flight in Marietta, Ga., this week, announced manufacturer Lockheed Martin. Company test pilot Bret Luedke flew the aircraft during Wednesday's sortie. This aircraft—the last of 187 production F-22s built on the company's Marietta assembly line—is slated to complete flight tests by the end of May. At that point, the company will formally deliver it to the Air Force, which plans to assign it to the 3rd Wing at JB Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. Raptor 4195 rolled off of the assembly line in mid December, some 15 years after the first F-22. (For more on Raptor 4195, read The Last Raptor from Air Force Magazine's February issue.)
US, Turkish Pilots Demonstrate New Level of Interoperability: US and Turkish pilots successfully synched their communications for the first time using the Link 16 airborne network during the Anatolian Falcon 2012 exercise that concluded on Thursday in Konya, Turkey. "To be on the system with the Turkish air force was a tremendous success," said Lt. Col. Aaron Piepkorn, director of operations for the 480th Fighter Squadron at Spangdahlem AB, Germany. More than 250 Spang airmen deployed to Konya with their machines to participate in the bilateral exercise. Before Tuesday's interoperability breakthrough, aircraft of the two nations operated separately with Link 16, not able to share digital data. "Having our coalition partners on the link definitely increases our capabilities," said Capt. Ryan Gaffaney, 480th FS pilot. He added, "We can see each others' positions, know what we're targeting, and understand what the entire force is doing—a picture is worth a thousand words." (Konya report by SSgt. Daryl Knee)
Arctic White Paper Approved: Army Gen. Charles Jacoby, US Northern Command boss, and Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Bob Papp signed the Arctic capability assessment working group white paper that outlines potential US security requirements for the region. "We've done a capabilities gap assessment principally in the areas of communications, domain awareness, infrastructure, and presence," Jacoby told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday when discussing the document. He and Papp signed the white paper later that same day in Washington, D.C. Jacoby said the document contains recommendations "that might lead to prudent investments to position us for [the] eventual opening of the Arctic." Under the Pentagon's newest unified command plan, NORTHCOM is the advocate for Arctic capabilities. Jacoby said the "Arctic is a unique domain" requiring the US military to possess "special capabilities and capacities" to operate there effectively. "With the opening of the Arctic, there is sure to be commercial and economic interests," he told the committee. "Historically, those are followed closely by security interests and we will seek to stay ahead of the challenge . . . and make sure that the Arctic is explored and the resources exploited in a collaborative, peaceful way." (Jacoby's prepared testimony)

Air Frame: A newly manufactured MC-130J special-mission aircraft arrives at Kirtland AFB, N.M., from Lockheed Martin's production facility in Marietta, Ga., March 13, 2012. This aircraft is the second MC-130J delivered to Kirtland's 58th Special Operations Wing, a training unit. (Lockheed Martin photo by Todd McQueen) (Click on image above to reach wallpaper version.)
Veterans' Unemployment Rate Falls: The unemployment rate for veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has fallen to 7.6 percent, below the overall national unemployment rate that now stands at 8.3 percent, said Defense Secretary Leon Panetta Thursday. The current veterans' unemployment rate is significantly lower than last year's high of 12.5 percent, and that trend is encouraging, said Panetta in Kabul to reporters traveling with him on his official visit to Afghanistan. Panetta said the need for veterans finding employment in the mainstream economy will only increase as the services look to cut end strength. "I have to commend the private sector, because they really have put together… [a] public campaign" to raise awareness of this issue, he said. However, as more troops leave active duty in search of civilian jobs, "it's very important that we … [help] give them the ability to find a job, education, [or] start a business," he added. Panetta said efforts by President Obama and the Veterans Affairs Department have helped improve the situation. (AFPS report by Karen Parrish)
Spartans, Instruct!: Air Force advisors from Laughlin AFB, Tex., are flying C-27A airlift missions alongside Afghan air force crews, simultaneously mentoring the Afghans, organizing the Afghans' new unit, and conducting combat support from Kabul airport. "On one level, we are teaching the Afghan members how to set up and run a traditional, western-style airlift squadron," said Maj. Allen Smith, who is deployed to Kabul from Laughlin's 86th Flying Training Squadron. An Air Force instructor pilot and loadmaster advisor fly along on each mission, providing one-on-one tutoring of the Afghan crews in the course of everyday support operations in theater. "Some of the Afghan pilots we fly with have been flying for years, but they were trained in very unorthodox ways," making instructor experience invaluable, explained Capt. Mathew Bruckner, deployed from Laughlin's 47th Operations Group. (Laughlin report by SrA. Scott Saldukas)
A Gift of Safety: Four officers of the Burundian air force studied US Air Force flight and ground safety methods on a five-day visit to Ramstein AB, Germany. Sponsored by US Africa Command and the State Department, "the visit was focused around the ways we stay safe at the wing and Air Force-wide," said Capt. Dennis Napier, head of flight safety for Ramstein's 86th Airlift Wing. Among their takeaways, the African officers learned about the Air Force's standards for driving on the flight line and for preventing foreign object damage to aircraft during their March 5-9 visit . "We just want them to go back home with some ideas," explained Lt. Col. Thomas Ulmer, 86th AW safety boss. "Prevention of an accident is a powerful tool that can save both lives and money," he added. Exchanges like this one "get the ball rolling and allow for improved flight safety for everyone," said Ulmer. (Ramstein report by SSgt. Travis Edwards)
No Fun in the Shade: Air Combat Command investigators determined that a sun shelter on the flight line at Nellis AFB, Nev., collapsed in high-winds last September due to missing and damaged braces needed to secure the structure. Maintenance personnel secured aircraft and equipment on base ahead of the storm, according to the findings of ACC's accident investigation board. Wind gusts of up to 56 knots reduced airfield visibility to near zero, states the report. Ground crews were loading 10 F-16s and two A-10s with weapons for live-fire exercises when the structurecollapsed on the aircraft on Sept. 8, 2011. Eight of the 40 personnel on scene sustained minor injuries. Additionally, nine vehicles and 21 pieces of airfield equipment were damaged, states the report. Explosives ordnance disposal personnel were dispatched to secure the weapons, including four damaged AIM-120 air-to-air missiles, according to the report. The total cost of repairing or replacing aircraft, vehicles, and equipment was pegged at $7.4 million. (ACC release) (AIBreport; caution, large-sized file.)

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