Archive for March, 2009

Pentagon Brief Has a New Web Address

March 13, 2009

The Pentagon Brief blog has moved to www.pentagonbrief.blogspot.com

Overhauling the KC-135 Tanker

March 8, 2009

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It’s looking like the KC-135 fleet will need an expensive re-skinning circa 2018, says Air Mobility Command boss Gen. Art Lichte. The projection was actually made in 2000 by an independent study of airlifter longevity, but the study has proved remarkably prescient, he noted and added that the prediction still looks valid. As it is, the KC-135s need a $7 million depot maintenance every five years, but the cost and complexity of each visit is growing significantly, Air Force Magazine quotes Lichte. The re-skinning would be a “major re-build” and wouldn’t buy very much in terms of extra years of use, since other aspects of the aircraft would still be Eisenhower vintage. Stepping up the pace at which the new KC-X tanker is bought would diminish the number of re-skins necessary, but Lichte restated the Pentagon’s position that buying two different tankers at once—the only way to skip the re-skins entirely since the more aircraft would be available sooner—is unaffordable, reports Air Force Magazine.

Air Force Perils

March 8, 2009

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The perils of flying aging aircraft was an issue at last February’s Air Force Association Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Fla., and it remained on the mind of Gen. John Corley, Air Combat Command head, at this year’s event. During his presentation Friday, Corley reminded attendees that, this time last year, the Air Force was still in the midst of ascertaining what caused an F-15C to break apart in flight over Missouri in November 2007, and numerous F-15s remain grounded. This year, the rigors of age are continuing to plague the A-10 fleet, Air Force Magazine quotes the general. Corley said 108 A-10s—in a fleet of roughly 350—remain on the ground due to a systemic issue with wing cracks in the thinner winged variant of the aircraft. And, 53 more have yet to be inspected; probably 10 of those will end up grounded, too, he said.

First Woman Commands Special Operations Squadron

March 3, 2009

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An Airman from the 4th Special Operations Squadron became the first female flying squadron commander in Air Force Special Operations Command during a ceremony at Hurlburt Field, Florida on Feb. 20.

Lt. Col. Brenda Cartier assumed command of the 4th SOS, which employs the AC-130U Spooky gunship, from Lt. Col. Jim Rodriguez in a hangar packed with family, friends and colleagues.

“It’s a historic moment for us in AFSOC,” said Col. Dennis Pannell, 1st Special Operations Group commander, who officiated the ceremony.

Colonel Cartier is a fire control officer on the gunship with more than 4,000 flying hours, and previously served as the squadron’s operations officer under Colonel Rodriguez.

“She’s well prepared and well trained to take on this task, and we really look forward to her ability to lead this squadron in combat,” Colonel Pannell said.

Women at the front lines are no longer rare. For the story of some realy tough ladies, readThe Few. The Proud.: Women Marines in Harm’s Way

Colonel Rodriguez called the new commander his friend and confidant.

“She has tremendous patience, intellect and unending energy,” he said. “She will take this squadron on to new and greater things.”

Colonel Rodriguez served as commander for 22 months, during which time the squadron was constantly deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, added four operational aircraft and was named best flying squadron in AFSOC for 2007.

“Your leadership is clearly evident,” Colonel Pannell said. “While there is tremendous talent in the 4th [SOS], it takes steady and mature leadership to develop it. You’ve laid the foundation for many leaders of Spooky lineage.”

Colonel Rodriguez’s family members traveled from as far as Honduras to witness the ceremony. He received the Meritorious Service Medal for his tenure as squadron commander and operations officer.

Colonel Cartier said she was “very blessed” to take command of a squadron with such a rich history and such a relevant mission.

“When I arrived 12 years ago, the gunships were the newest weapons system, unproven in combat, but ready for action,” she said. “Today we are the longest continuously deployed AFSOC weapons system, and one of the most combat-experienced squadrons in Air Commando history.”

The 4th SOS has been deployed in support of Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom since Sept. 11, 2001, logging more than 1,800 accident-free combat sorties.

“We will continue to be challenged and called upon to support our nation’s efforts,” Colonel Cartier said. “I assure you I will give you the full measure of my commitment to ensure the 4th SOS remains the most feared and revered weapons system platform on the battlefield.”

Lauren Johnson

C-17 Aircraft Secures 30,000 Jobs

March 2, 2009

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Defense spending is a major contributor ro economic stimulus — and always has been. The C-17 Globemaster III strategic transport aircraft is a case in point.

The Air Force is now on contract to buy 15 more C-17s, bringing the planned inventory up to 205 airplanes. That means the new “last day” of C-17 production, barring further USAF orders, will be in late 2010, according to Jean Chamberlin, Boeing’s vice president for mobility programs.

Read the history of the Globemaster aircraft family
The company continues to spend its own money to “preserve an option” for the Air Force to buy more, based on the stated wishes of Congress, Chamberlin said at a Boeing briefing Feb. 17 in Arlington, Va.. Joining the defense-stimulus bandwagon, she said the C-17 is a good jobs program, employing 30,000 people in 43 states, mostly clustered in California, Texas, Missouri, and Connecticut. It puts $8 billion into the national economy and employs 650 supplier companies.

Continued USAF production is essential to keep the airplane attractive for export; 15 a year is the minimum economic quantity, Chamberlin noted. Countries that have expressed interest in buying the C-17, apart from those that have already acquired or ordered (Australia, Britain, Canada, Qatar, and a NATO consortium) include India, Japan, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, and the United Arab Emirates.