Missing F-22 pilot identified

11/18/2010 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska – The pilot of the F-22 aircraft that crashed Tuesday night has been identified as Capt. Jeffrey Haney, assigned to the 525th Fighter Squadron. Capt. Haney’s current status is missing.

The aircraft lost contact with air traffic control at 7:40 p.m. Alaska time Tuesday, while on a nighttime training mission. Search and rescue teams discovered the wreckage of the F-22, assigned to the 3rd Wing at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Wednesday at 10:15 a.m.

Rescue teams from the 11th Rescue Coordination Center, Alaska Air National Guard, the 3rd Wing and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson continue to search the area, approximately 100 miles north of Anchorage.

The family was notified on Tuesday evening and continues to receive support from the JBER family and leadership.

“This is a very uncertain and difficult time for the family,” said Col. Jack McMullen, 3rd Wing commander. “We ask that the public continue to work with us to respect their privacy and keep them in your thoughts and prayers.”

Evidence at F-22 Crash Site Indicates Pilot Died

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Evidence found at the remote, rugged Alaska site where an F-22 Raptor crashed indicates the pilot died, an Air Force official said Friday evening.

Part of the jet’s ejection seat was found at the site, which means Capt. Jeffrey Haney of Clarklake, Mich., could not have survived the Tuesday night crash, Col. Jack McMullen said. Also found were pieces of the flight suit Haney had been wearing.

No body has been recovered. Haney’s single-seat fighter jet crashed during a training run about 100 miles north of Anchorage. He was assigned to the 525th Fighter Squadron at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

Searchers found the crash site Wednesday but had not previously been able to extensively inspect the hard-to-reach wreckage. Haney was married with two children. Officials said he joined the Air Force in 2003 and has been at the Anchorage base for 4 1/2 years.

The F-22 took off Tuesday from the joint Air Force and Army base for a training run. The jet and a second F-22 practiced “intercepts” and were nearing completion of the exercise when one aircraft disappeared from ground radar tracking and from communications with the other F-22 at 7:40 p.m. Tuesday. An air search had been ongoing, with searchers looking for any sign of a parachute or a fire the pilot might have started had he been able to eject from the plane.

Major AWACS upgrade begins

By Patty Welsh – 66th Air Base Group Public Affairs

11/19/2010 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. (AFNS) – The next step in the largest block upgrade in the history of the E-3 Sentry, or Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft occurred Nov. 18 at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., when the first aircraft receiving the block 40/45 modification was inducted by the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center.

New mission software will enhance tracking and combat identification capabilities, in addition to providing operators with a better picture of the battlespace.

“This modification replaces a mission computer system originally installed in the 1970s,” said Maj. Brett Johnson, the AWACS the 40/45 Production chief. “The new system will have an open, network-based architecture, enabling future net-centric modifications.”

The upgrade also allows for more sensor integration both on- and off-board the aircraft, improves the aircraft’s data link infrastructure, improves machine-to-machine interaction and compresses the timeline from threat engagement to neutralization.

“Think about technology thirty or forty years ago, or even five years ago, and compare it to the capabilities a smartphone has today,” Major Johnson said. “We need to give our warfighters improved technological capabilities so they can do their jobs more efficiently and effectively.”

The upgrades are being performed at the same time as programmed depot maintenance to minimize aircraft operational downtime.

“Doing a modification of this size during PDM has never been done before,” Major Johnson said.  “The scheduling, planning and coordination has been a key piece to get us to this event.”

Other program office planners are expressing interest in trying to do something similar for their modification efforts.

While Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center technicians are set to perform the upgrades, Electronic Systems Center officials are the lead integrators.

In late October, ESC officials awarded a contract to Boeing for $65 million to procure and manage the thousands of parts needed, and also provide on-site production and installation support throughout the upgrade.

“ESC’s role as lead integrator is to ensure all the pieces are in place, so before a wrench is turned, everything needed is there,” Major Johnson said.

This first aircraft is the centerpiece of low rate initial production, he said.

Modifications to the first aircraft are scheduled for completion by September 2011. During LRIP, six aircraft are scheduled to be upgraded by 2014.

“This first aircraft is critical,” the major said. “It puts us on the path to our full rate production decision, which is planned for 2012.”

All the aircraft in the AWACS fleet are scheduled to be at full operational capability by 2020, he said.

As a significant amount of the equipment being installed is commercial-off-the-shelf, ESC members are also thinking ahead with regard to technology obsolescence.

“Anyone who has bought a laptop computer over the last few years knows how quickly technology can change,” Major Johnson said. “We’re replacing all of the onboard computer work stations with laptops over the next several years, one aircraft at a time. In a modification of this complexity, laptops are only one of many components we are carefully watching.”

To accomplish that, ESC officials awarded a contract to Boeing for $15 million in September to support active management of diminishing manufacturing sources and materiel shortages.

“There are a lot of moving parts, and a lot of interdependencies to this upgrade,” Major Johnson said. “It has taken a lot of people from ESC, OC-ALC and Boeing to keep us on the right track.”

Mission
The E-3 Sentry is an airborne warning and control system, or AWACS, aircraft  with an integrated command and control battle management, or C2BM,  surveillance, target detection, and tracking platform.  The aircraft provides an accurate, real-time picture of the battlespace to the Joint Air Operations Center. AWACS provides situational awareness of friendly, neutral and hostile activity, command and control of an area of responsibility, battle management of theater forces, all-altitude and all-weather surveillance of the battle space, and early warning of enemy actions during joint, allied, and coalition operations.

Features
The E-3 Sentry is a modified Boeing 707/320 commercial airframe with a rotating radar dome. The dome is 30 feet (9.1 meters) in diameter, six feet (1.8 meters) thick, and is held 11 feet (3.33 meters) above the fuselage by two struts. It contains a radar subsystem that permits surveillance from the Earth’s surface up into the stratosphere, over land or water. The radar has a range of more than 250 miles (375.5 kilometers). The radar combined with an identification friend or foe, or IFF, subsystem can look down to detect, identify and track enemy and friendly low-flying aircraft by eliminating ground clutter returns that confuse other radar systems.

Major subsystems in the E-3 are avionics, navigation, communications, sensors (radar and passive detection) and identification tools (IFF/SIF). The mission suite includes consoles that display computer-processed data in graphic and tabular format on video screens. Mission crew members perform surveillance, identification, weapons control, battle management and communications functions.

The radar and computer subsystems on the E-3 Sentry can gather and present broad and detailed battlefield information.  This includes position and tracking information on enemy aircraft and ships, and location and status of friendly aircraft and naval vessels. The information can be sent to major command and control centers in rear areas or aboard ships. In time of crisis, this data can also be forwarded to the president and secretary of defense.

In support of air-to-ground operations, the Sentry can provide direct information needed for interdiction, reconnaissance, airlift and close-air support for friendly ground forces. It can also provide information for commanders of air operations to gain and maintain control of the air battle.

As an air defense system, E-3s can detect, identify and track airborne enemy forces far from the boundaries of the United States or NATO countries. It can direct fighter-interceptor aircraft to these enemy targets. Experience has proven that the E-3 Sentry can respond quickly and effectively to a crisis and support worldwide military deployment operations.

AWACS may be employed alone or horizontally integrated in combination with other C2BM and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance elements of the Ground Theater Air Control System. It supports decentralized execution of the air tasking order/air combat order. The system provides the ability to find, fix, track and target airborne or maritime threats and to detect, locate and ID emitters. It has the ability to detect threats and control assets below and beyond the coverage of ground-based command and control or C2, and can exchange data with other C2 systems and shooters via datalinks.

With its mobility as an airborne warning and control system, the Sentry has a greater chance of surviving in warfare than a fixed, ground-based radar system. Among other things, the Sentry’s flight path can quickly be changed according to mission and survival requirements. The E-3 can fly a mission profile approximately 8 hours without refueling. Its range and on-station time can be increased through in-flight refueling and the use of an on-board crew rest area.

Background
Engineering, test and evaluation began on the first E-3 Sentry in October 1975. In March 1977 the 552nd Airborne Warning and Control Wing (now 552nd Air Control Wing, Tinker Air Force Base, Okla.), received the first E-3s.

There are 33 aircraft in the U.S. inventory. Air Combat Command has 28 E-3s at Tinker. Pacific Air Forces has four E-3 Sentries at Kadena AB, Japan and Elmendorf AFB, Alaska. There is also one test aircraft at the Boeing Aircraft Company in Seattle.

NATO has 17 E-3A’s and support equipment. The first E-3 was delivered to NATO in January 1982. The United Kingdom has seven E-3s, France has four, and Saudi Arabia has five. Japan has four AWACS built on the Boeing 767 airframe.

As proven in operations Desert Storm, Allied Force, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, the E-3 Sentry is the premier C2BM aircraft in the world. AWACS aircraft and crews were instrumental to the successful completion of operations Northern and Southern Watch, and are still engaged in operations Noble Eagle and Enduring Freedom. They provide radar surveillance and control in addition to providing senior leadership with time-critical information on the actions of enemy forces. The E-3 has also deployed to support humanitarian relief operations in the U.S. following Hurricanes Rita and Katrina, coordinating rescue efforts between military and civilian authorities.

The data collection capability of the E-3 radar and computer subsystems allowed an entire air war to be recorded for the first time in the history of aerial warfare.

In March 1996, the Air Force activated the 513th Air Control Group, an AWACS Reserve Associate Program unit which performs duties on active-duty aircraft.

During the spring of 1999, the first AWACS aircraft went through the Radar System Improvement Program. RSIP is a joint U.S./NATO development program that involved a major hardware and software intensive modification to the existing radar system. Installation of RSIP enhanced the operational capability of the E-3 radar electronic counter-measures and has improved the system’s reliability, maintainability and availability.

General Characteristics

Primary Function: Airborne battle management, command and control
Contractor: Boeing Aerospace Co.
Power Plant: Four Pratt and Whitney TF33-PW-100A turbofan engines
Thrust: 21,000 pounds each engine
Rotodome: 30 feet in diameter (9.1 meters), 6 feet thick (1.8 meters), mounted 11 feet (3.33 meters) above fuselage
Wingspan: 145 feet, 9 inches (44.4 meters)
Length: 152 feet, 11 inches (46.6 meters)
Height: 41 feet, 9 inches (13 meters)
Weight: 335,000 pounds (151,955 kilograms)
Maximum Takeoff Weight: 347,000 pounds (156,150 kilograms)
Fuel Capacity: 23,000 gallons (104,560 liters)
Speed: optimum cruise 360 mph (Mach 0.48)
Range: more than 5,000 nautical miles (9,250 kilometers)
Ceiling: Above 29,000 feet (8,788 meters)
Crew: Flight crew of four plus mission crew of 13-19 specialists (mission crew size varies according to mission)
Unit Cost: $270 million (fiscal 98 constant dollars)
Initial operating capability: April 1978
Inventory: Active force, 33 (1 test); Reserve, 0; Guard, 0

US to Station F-16 Fighter Jets in Poland as of 2013

Novinite

The United States will station F-16 jet fighters and Hercules transport planes in Poland as of 2013, announced Polish Defense Minister Bogdan Klich.

Klich said Poland has decided to accept an US offer for the rotating stationing of F-16s and Hercules planes on its territory, reported BGNES citing radio TOK FM.

The US planes will be taking part in joint drills together with the Polish Air Force, and will be returning to the US.

According to Klich, the presence of the US military planes in Poland will be similar to the stationing of the American Patriot missiles that were placed on Polish territory earlier in 2010.

Poland, which is traditionally seeking ways to balance its location between Russia and Germany, has drown even closer to the United States with respect to defense coopeartion.

It’s Okay to Talk Raptor Again

Once taboo, talk has resurfaced about the possibility of buying more F-22s.

—John A. Tirpak

Air Force Magazine

Nov. 16, 2010—The Air Force has apparently gotten over one of its biggest taboos: talking internally about the possibility of buying more F-22s.

Until recently, USAF was under strict orders not even to think about it, but recent developments have caused the possibility to crop up in some “what if” PowerPoint slides.

Those developments include likely further slips in the F-35 strike fighter’s schedule and an upcoming defense acquisition board review of the F-35 expected to be fraught with bad news on cost.

That would come on the heels of various deficit-cutting proposals that already suggest cutting the F-35 buy.

Without F-35, Air Force fighter inventories will plummet below minimums in coming years as F-16s age out.

Extending F-22 production could be the dealmaker if F-35 foes carry the day and compel USAF to take mostly new-build F-16s instead.

The Raptors would provide the extra stealth force required to make the non-stealthy F-16s acceptable.

Also, if you’ve listened carefully, USAF has gone from saying it will retain a “portion” of F-22 production tooling to “most” and, most recently, to “all.”

Gen. William Fraser, head of Air Combat Command, acknowledged last week that Lockheed Martin is filming all F-22 tooling processes as the earliest parts of production shut down, so that it can go back to production of parts—ostensibly for repairs or service life extension—in the future.

Also last week, Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) said he might spearhead an effort to get more F-22s into the budget. But he acknowledged it could be a difficult task given pressures to rein in spending.

Gingrey complained bitterly that the Pentagon prematurely terminated F-22 production, centered in Marietta in his Congressional district, before Russia rolled out its own F-22 clone, the PAK FA, last year.

Related Links:

Chosun: China Practices Intercepting U.S. Stealth Fighters

AJC: GOP control of House could revive the F-22 fight

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