Tuesday, June 29, 2010

At War from a Virtual Cockpit

June 29, 2010

The Houston Chronicle features an airman who lives in Houston but spends his workday focusing on the fight in Southwest Asia. Remotely Piloted Aircraft, such as the Predator, are often flown from the U.S. while serving overseas.

The B-52: Still a central role

June 29, 2010

The Eisenhower-era B-52 bombers, far from retirement, are still central to Air Force operations and strategy. The aircraft is at once a Cold War symbol and a current fixture in U.S. defenses.

Above: A B-52H Stratofortress and aircrew from Barksdale Air Force Base, La., showcased the aircraft earlier this month in the Berlin Air Show. (Courtesy Photo released by USAF)

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Remembering the Berlin Airlift

June 26, 2010

On this day in 1948, the Berlin Airlift began. The historic achievement sustained Berlin for months, and showed the world a commitment to freedom during the Cold War. Two years ago, AFA joined the Air Force and the Berlin Air Show in celebrating the 60th anniversary of the event.

Above: Visitors line up to see the C-5 Galaxy during the 2010 Berlin International Aerospace Exhibition and Conferences Air Show June 8, 2010, at Berlin-Schonefeld Airport in Berlin. The C-5 is from the 9th Airlift Squadron at Dover Air Force Base, Del. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Julius Delos Reyes)

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Korean War began 60 years ago today

June 25, 2010

Above: A pilot takes off in an F-16 Fighting Falcon, May 7, 2010, from Misawa Air Base, Japan, for deployment to South Korea. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sergeant Araceli Alarcon)

On this day, 60 years ago, the Korean War began, lasting just over three years before an uneasy armistice. Six decades later, U.S. forces remain along the armed border with North Korea to maintain stability.

Read AFA's statement remembering the service of our Korean War veterans.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Will the B-1b survive budget slashing?

June 24, 2010

AIR FORCE Magazine's Daily Report today delves into the question of potential early retirements of the B-1b Lancer ("B1 Be Gone?"), despite the fact that the aging Air Force fleet has far older aircraft in the inventory, including the Eisenhower-era B-52 bomber and the KC-135 tankers. However, the ancient tankers are the only means of global reach and cannot be retired without replacements, and the B-52 has unique capabilities that are not replicated elsewhere and no replacement bomber is in the works. Facing mandated cuts, the Air Force has limited options.

Above: A B1B Lancer prepares to receive fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker above Northern New Mexico, Apr. 21, 2010. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Desiree N. Palacios)

AIR FORCE Magazine reports: The Air Force Council meets Thursday to evaluate a number of potential cost-saving moves under consideration to meet savings targets mandated by Defense Secretary Robert Gates (see Donley Aims to Protect Force Structure above). Options reportedly on the table include early retirement of all B-1B bombers. The Lancers have been worked hard with great effect in Afghanistan in recent years, and have received many capability upgrades. There's also talk of possible further reductions in fighter wings on top of the 250-aircraft cut already being made in Fiscal 2010. Air Force Secretary Michael Donley, asked Wednesday about such considerations during a Capitol Hill speech, declined to comment on specifics. "We’re still in the middle of our deliberations," he said. But he pointedly wouldn’t rule out further force structure reductions.

Father & Son Both Airmen in Iraq

June 24, 2010

A father and son from a U.S. Air Force family are both deployed at the same time in Iraq. Airman 1st Class Ryan Slifko, following in the footsteps of his father, Senior Master Sgt. C.J. Slifko, is also a vehicle mechanic at Sather Air Force Base. His father is the vehicle fleet manager for the 447th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron there.

Read more here.

AFA Recognized for Achievement in Aerospace Education

June 24, 2010

For the second time in a week, the Air Force Association has been recognized for efforts in aerospace education, one of AFA's primary missions.

The National Coalition for Aviation and Space Education (NCASE) announced today that it selected AFA as one of two recipients this year of the prestigious Dr. Mervin K. Strickler Aerospace Education Award, which recognizes outstanding achievements in the field of aerospace education.

The awards will be presented at the annual awards banquet of the National Aeronautic Association later this year in Arlington, Virginia. In 1995, NCAE established the Dr. Mervin K. Strickler Jr. Award to honor Dr. Strickler and recognize individuals or organizations that share his personal commitment and lifelong contributions to aerospace education. Dr. Strickler has promoted aerospace education for more than 50 years and is considered the “father” of aerospace education.

Here's what NCASE said about AFA in their press release:

The Air Force Association has supported and been a leader in aerospace education since its inception in 1946, beginning with AFA’s founding father, Gen. Hap Arnold, and its first president, Gen. Jimmy Doolittle.

The AFA is an independent, non-profit civilian education organization promoting aerospace education and public understanding of aerospace power and the pivotal role it plays in the security of the nation. The AFA has continued this long tradition by more recently initiating three exciting new aerospace education activities: the Billy Mitchell Institute for Airpower Studies; the Elementary Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Orientation Program; and CyberPatriot, the National High School Cyber Defense competition. AFA has shown consistent and enduring support for aerospace education for over 60 years and is aggressively pursuing new and innovative programs – today and for the future.

Earlier this week, AFA was also recognized with the 2010 Crown Circle Award.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Last Lakota Code Talker of World War II

June 23, 2010

The last Lakota code talker of World War II passed away recently. Clarence Wolf Guts was 86 years old, and served in the Pacific during the war. According to the article from the Rapid City Journal on June 18, he was one of 11 Lakota code talkers. The 450 Navajo code talkers are the most well known. He was honored by the U.S. Senators from South Dakota.

Thunderbirds announce new pilots

June 23, 2010

For 57 years, the Thunderbirds have represented the U.S. Air Force in aerial demonstrations. The Air Force has announced the officers who will continue this rich tradition in 2011.

Photo: The Thunderbirds fly over the graduation ceremony for the class of 2010 on May 26, at the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colo. (U.S. Air Force photo/Mike Kaplan)

AFA's Pitsenbarger scholarships announced; named for hero

June 23, 2010

The Air Force Association's Pitsenbarger scholarships for Spring 2010 help out 236 graduates of the Community College of the Air Force. This $95,000 in scholarship distribution is part of $1.5 million to support education this year for AFA.

The scholarship is named for Airman First Class William Pitsenbarger, whose heroism and ultimate sacrifice in Vietnam earned the Medal of Honor.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Remotely Piloted Aircraft flight hours soar

June 21, 2010

UPI reports that flight hours for Remotely Piloted Vehicles are still surging. In fact, nearly half of the five-year total flight hours (250,000 hours) were logged in the past year. The aircraft's ability to loiter has become increasingly valuable in operations in Afghanistan.

(U.S Air Force photo/Senior Airman Nancy Hooks) Members of the 451st Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron unit push an MQ-1 Predator toward a hangar for a routine maintenance inspection shortly after landing June 8, 2010, at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan.

AFA earns honor for aerospace education

June 21, 2010

The Air Force Association has received the 2010 Crown Circle Award, recognizing AFA's efforts in aerospace education. Promoting aerospace education is one of three key chartered missions for AFA. The award is presented by the National Coalition for Aviation Education.

Friday, June 18, 2010

7,000 miles per hour

June 18, 2010

The Air Force's hypersonic future.

The X-51A Waverider, launched from a B-52 on May 26, briefly reached speeds of over Mach 5 and remained hypersonic for more than two minutes in the most sustained flight yet using "scramjet" technology. The Air Force believes the technology opens a world of possibilities, including entry into space. In 2004, a NASA project reached some 7,000 miles per hour. Current Air Force testing is seeking to sustain the flights.

Russian sales pitch for new fighter

June 18, 2010

In this Reuters article, Russian President Prime Minister Vladimir Putin boasts that their new fifth-generation fighter will be superior to the American F-22 Raptor.

It is easy to shrug off the hype that the Sukhoi T-50 tops the F-22. On a plane-for-plane basis the Lockheed-built F-22 will almost certainly still be the best. But the Russian boasts do make several important points.

1) It may not be a plane-for-plane basis at all. The U.S. capped the F-22 at 186 total aircraft. The Russians are just moving theirs into production. We don't know how many they will build, but in addition to their own inventory, as long as there are buyers, they will build them.

2) American pilots will eventually face this Russian-made aircraft. This was a Russian sales pitch, and this airplane will be marketed far and wide to every country that can buy a few jets or a few squadrons. Russia has a long track record of selling military technology.

3) It doesn't have to be better than the F-22 to still be a capable, dangerous aircraft to engage. We know it has low-observable traits (stealth) and we know it is twin engine.

4) American and allied pilots that eventually encounter these fifth-generation rivals will most likely not have the advantage of flying the F-22. The vast majority of our airpower inventory is made up of fourth-generation (or fourth-plus with updated avionics) aircraft: the F-15, the F-16 -- many of them nearing 25 years old. These aircraft do not have the advantage of being low observable.

All of this is why building enough F-35s (the only U.S. fifth generation fighter in the works) takes on such importance in the years ahead.

(Air Force photo/by Angel DelCueto) One of two F-35A Lightning II joint strike fighters flying nonstop to Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., departed its final-assembly site in Fort Worth, Texas, May 17, 2010, as part of flight test operations.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

BERNARD K. SKOCH, CyberPatriot Commissioner

June 17, 2010

Retired Brigadier General Bernie Skoch has been named the Commissioner for the Air Force Association’s National High School Cyber Defense Competition, CyberPatriot. Skoch graduated from the University of Arkansas in 1974 with a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering and upon graduation was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Air Force. His 29-year Air Force career took him throughout the United States and on permanent and temporary duty in Europe, Asia, the Pacific, and the Middle East.

Skoch has more than 30 years experience in leadership positions developing, managing and implementing communications and information systems for the United States Air Force, the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), and the Joint Staff. He has served as the Principal Director for Customer Advocacy at DISA, as well as the Principal Director for Network Services. Within the USAF he served as Director of Mission Systems, Director of Communications Operations, and Director of Chief Information Officer Support where he was responsible for aligning information technology systems with business process improvements. While at the Joint Staff, he led development of the Global Command and Control System. He has developed and implemented defense policies for global telephone, video, radio, voice, data and satellite systems. Before joining CyberPatriot, Skoch was a defense IT industry consultant and was a candidate for the United States House of Representatives for the 3rd District of Arkansas.

Bernie and Debbie, his wife of 39 years, have six children and eleven grandchildren, all residing in Northwest Arkansas.

Wounded Warrior makes Air Force history

June 17, 2010

Staff Sgt. Shaun Meadows, who lost both legs in combat in Afghanistan, made Air Force history with a parachute jump from a C-17 Globemaster III.

Photo: Meadows takes a moment with his son after completing his historic jump earlier this week. Sergeant Meadows is assigned to the 22nd Special Tactics Squadron at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman Leah Young)

AFA Puts $1.5 Million Yearly into Education

June 17, 2010

Each year, the Air Force Association gives out nearly $1.5 million in educational scholarships to students and grants to teachers.

This year is no exception. Look on our website later this month for several more announcements of scholarship awards, such as yesterday's Air Force Excellence Scholarships.

Look here for more information about AFA's scholarships and how to apply.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Cyber Defense Careers

June 14, 2010

This CBS News report highlights the growing focus on cyber defense. Security lapses could have grave consequences for our nation's economy and military.

AFA's fast-growing CyberPatriot program is shining a national spotlight on this important career field. Through the CyberPatriot National High School Cyber Defense Competition, students gain firsthand knowledge of cyber security threats and solutions as they consider their direction for college studies. Signup for AFA's CyberPatriot III, presented by Northrop Grumman, is underway.
Above: Team Doolittle from Clearfield HS, Clearfield, Utah, ponders a problem with their network (from left: T.J. Boender, Eric Takacs, Adam Thurman, Jorge Lerma, and Robert Estrada Jr.)

Happy Birthday, Old Glory

June 14, 2010

Today is National Flag Day, the anniversary of the creation of the flag of the United States. On this day in 1777, the Continental Congress adopted a resolution creating the American flag. The unofficial holiday was often celebrated locally before President Woodrow Wilson first recognized it. President Harry Truman then signed the law in 1949 that made Flag Day a recognized day of celebration.

Over Old Glory's 233-year history, it's appearance has only changed with the addition of new stars for new states in the field of blue.

The national Air Force Memorial in Arlington, Virginia, held a special ceremony today commemorating Flag Day.

Happy Birthday, US Army

June 14, 2010

Happy 235th Birthday to the U.S. Army. On this day in 1775, the Continental Congress created ten companies of infantry riflemen from Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Social Media, Nunn-McCurdy, CPIII

June 13, 2010

Social media has taken over the internet and put people in close contact with each other. See how social media is being used to fight the war on terrorism and support our fighting forces in Afghanistan. Young Air Force analysts are showing how the Facebook generation's skills are being exploited - and paying dividends - in America's wars. You can find it here.

Recently Department of Defense officials have certified that six acquisition programs, including the F-35 Lightning II and the DDG-1000 destroyer, should continue under Nunn-McCurdy legislation. When a program grows more than 50 percent beyond the original estimate, legislation requires the DOD acquisition executive to certify to Congress "that the program is essential to national security, that there are no alternatives to the program which will provide acceptable capability." You can find it here.

We made two major announcements this week about our CyberPatriot National High School Cyber Defense Competition. The finals of CyberPatriot III will be at our new CyberFutures Symposium in Washington, D.C. We'll be announcing speakers for the event over the coming months. We also are proud to announce a stellar Board of Advisors for CyberPatriot, chaired by Dr. Paul Kaminski. It includes some great minds from the Air Force, academia and industry.

We also want to congratulate Gen. C. Robert Kehler, recipient of the General Thomas D. White US Air Force Space Trophy.

June 14 is Flag Day. Our national Air Force Memorial will have a special ceremony.

For Your Consideration,


Michael M. Dunn
Air Force Association

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Dr. Kaminski to Chair AFA's CyberPatriot Competition

June 10, 2010

AFA today announced the formation and initial composition of the CyberPatriot Board of Advisors, chaired by Dr. Paul G. Kaminski.

Dr. Paul G Kaminski is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Technovation Incorporated. He also is the Chairman of the Defense Science Board and the RAND Board of Trustees, and serves on the FBI Director's Advisory Board and President’s Intelligence Advisory Board, where he is leading a Cybersecurity review. In addition to numerous other Boards, Professional Societies and Advisory Panels, Kaminski served as Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Technology from 1994 to 1997. Prior to that position, he was a highly-decorated officer in the Air Force for 20 years.

“I am honored to be able to lead this exceptionally talented group of individuals in supporting CyberPatriot,” said Dr. Kaminski. “I can think of no more critical imperative today than securing our nation’s cyber infrastructure, and CyberPatriot will make a huge contribution toward that goal by attracting the talented people we need to do just that.”
CyberPatriot, entering just its second year as a national program, is expanding rapidly because of its unique model. It combines online education and preliminary competition rounds delivered over the internet, proceeding to in-person finals held in conjunction with AFA National Symposia. Designed to excite, educate, and motivate the next generation of cyber defenders and other technically educated students the nation so desperately needs, the goal for the 2010-2011 school year is 1,000 teams, reaching 100,000 students, culminating in the first-ever AFA CyberFutures Conference on 1-2 April 2011 at the Gaylord National Resort in National Harbor, MD.

The B-2 Spirit

June 10, 2010

In this article from the Los Angeles Times, readers get a glimpse of the complicated effort to maintain the B-2 bomber's ability to beat radar detection.

With just 20 of these vital bombers in the U.S. inventory, Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley this week visited a B-2 hangar at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, to keep pace with the B-2 mission. [Below: Air Force photo, June 8, 2010 by Airman First Class Carlin Leslie]

Gen Kehler earns Air Force Space Trophy

June 10, 2010

Gen. C. Robert Kehler, Commander, Air Force Space Command, has been awarded the 2010 Gen. Thomas D. White U.S. Air Force Space Trophy.

The honor will be presented in September ceremonies at the Air Force Association's Air & Space Conference in Washington, D.C.

Gen. Kehler
entered the Air Force in 1975. Headquartered at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado, he is responsible for organizing, equipping, training and maintaining mission-ready space and cyberspace forces and capabilities for North American Aerospace Defense Command, U.S. Strategic Command and other combatant commands around the world. General Kehler oversees Air Force network operations; manages a global network of satellite command and control, communications, missile warning and space launch facilities; and is responsible for space system development and acquisition. He leads more than 46,000 professionals, assigned to 88 locations worldwide and deployed to an additional 35 global locations.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Air Force Marketing Goes High Tech

June 9, 2010

Technology is front and center in the new outreach efforts of the Air Force and Army. From "sci fi" TV ads to game systems at kiosks and displays, the services are using eye-catching techniques, according to this UPI report.

Col. Michael Tillema, Air Force Recruiting Service's strategic marketing and communications division chief, said, "Technology changes the way we fly, fight and win, and by using cutting-edge technology like augmented reality, the Command Center Alpha tour is able to illustrate the high-tech nature of the Air Force."

Last Space Shuttle launch image from F-15

June 9, 2010

An image of the final mission of the Space Shuttle Atlantis was taken by an F-15E Strike Eagle, with another F-15 in the photo, released by the US Air Force and published with a story in the London Telegraph.

PAK-FA, Latam, Def spending, ROTC

Back in January I told you about the first reported flight of the Russian Federation's fifth-generation fighter, the PAK-FA. The 74 page briefing, dated 2 Mar 10, by David Markov and Andrew Hull is full of interesting pictorials, facts and figures. It's a large file (over 5 MB). And … all should know that it is gleaned from unclassified sources. I again repeat what I said last January. Do you think the Russians will stop at building 187? How many do you think they will sell to their customers?

Secondly, GEN (R) Barry McCaffrey has done a fascinating report on Latin America and the United States to be presented on 11 June at Ft. Benning. [You may recall that GEN McCaffrey was CINC SOUTH … as well as the "drug czar."] To interest you in the piece, the United States is more interdependent with the Americas than many Americans realize. We obtain more crude oil imports (52% of U.S. imports) from this region than from the Persian Gulf, which only provides 13%.

Retired Air Force Lt Col Arthur MacFadden, an AFA member, has written an op-ed that appeared in the Chattanooga Times Free Press regarding the competition between domestic and defense spending.

Finally, I have recommended an insightful, new website to you before and will do so again now. It's called Second Line of Defense.

I check the website for updates frequently as the Senior Editorial Advisor, Robbin F Liard, has deep experience in analyzing defense issues – with time at Center for Naval Analysis and Institute for Defense Analysis. A few of the pieces which caught my attention:

An interview with Mike Rinn, VP and Director, Airborne Laser Testbed.

An op-ed by Jack Wheeler calling for an end to the ban on ROTC at some of America's most elite universities.

A slide show depicting the C-17s carrying M-ATVs into Afghanistan.

An interview with LtCol Dehner, USMC, about the new helmet designed for F-35 pilots.

For your consideration.


Michael M. Dunn
Air Force Association

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Air & Space Power Journal

June 8, 2010

AFA members, several years ago, I recommended that everyone interested in understanding Airpower ought to read the Air & Space Power Journal. Today, I want to repeat that point … and draw your attention to an example that I receive by email for every issue. You can sign up following the instructions online.

For your consideration,


Michael M. Dunn
Air Force Association

Special Flag Day Ceremony at Air Force Memorial

June 8, 2010
The Air Force Memorial Foundation will host a noon Flag Day ceremony Monday, June 14, 2010, at the national Air Force Memorial.

This ceremony, which is open to the public, provides an opportunity for all Americans to pause and pay respect to our Nation’s great symbol, Old Glory!

For more information about this event, call the Air Force Memorial Office at 703.979.0674.

Get online directions here to the Air Force Memorial.

Read up on the history of Flag Day and learn more facts about the American flag.

AFA Announces New Symposium in Nation's Capital

June 8, 2010
Today, the Air Force Association announced the 2011 CyberFutures Symposium and Technology Exposition in Washington, D.C. The new symposium will be March 31 – April 2, 2011, at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center on the Potomac River, in National Harbor, across from Old Town Alexandria and minutes from downtown Washington, DC.

The Symposium and Exposition will also coincide with the championship round of CyberPatriot III, presented by Northrop Grumman, AFA’s unique National High School Cyber Defense Competition.

Watch the AFA website for more details about our newest Symposium, including schedule and speakers. Registration and Hotel Reservation will open at the beginning of December. For more information about the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, 201 Waterfront Street, National Harbor, MD 20745, call the Gaylord at 301-965-2000.