Saturday, August 31, 2013

Theodore Roosevelt Returns to Norfolk as a Ready for Tasking Carrier

NORFOLK (NNS) -- Aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) returned to its homeport, Naval Station Norfolk, Aug. 29, after conducting Sea Trials following an extensive four-year refueling and complex overhaul (RCOH).

Sea Trials are a multi-day underway period to test the carrier's systems and overall mission readiness. Theodore Roosevelt conducted Sea Trials after departing from Huntington Ingalls Industries - Newport News Shipbuilding (HII-NNS) shipyard at Newport News, Va.

"I can't tell you how proud I am of this ship and crew," TR's commanding officer Capt. Daniel Grieco told the crew. "You've done a fantastic job putting the ship through her paces, testing every system and ensuring TR is a ready for tasking aircraft carrier and asset to Naval aviation. Enjoy the holiday weekend, then come back rested and ready to show the fleet that the 'Big Stick' is back and ready to be the pride of the fleet."

Throughout the ship, Sailors were excited to have their ship become operational, as some have spent most of their time aboard while in the shipyard.

"Heading to Norfolk means that we are going to be underway a lot, which is fun for me because I am in the Navy, and this is what I like to do," said Aviation Support Equipment Technician 3rd class Anna T. Brightwell.

Theodore Roosevelt is the fourth aircraft carrier to have successfully completed 25 years of service and to undergo RCOH. Next, TR begins focusing on additional training and certifications to once again become deployment ready.

Friday, August 30, 2013

California Guard Deploys Predator to Support Firefighters

California National Guard Airman 1st Class Allan Polzin, 163d Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, conducts pre-flight checks on the MQ-1 Predator while in communication with the pilots prior to a training flight at Southern California Logistics Airport in Victorville, Calif. (Air National Guard photo/Master Sgt. Julie Avey)
By Donna Miles,  American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON - With wildfires continuing to rage around Yosemite National Park, the California National Guard has deployed a remotely piloted aircraft that improves the incident commander's ability to monitor conditions on the ground.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel approved the use of an MQ-1 Predator to support firefighters battling the Rim Fire that has expanded to more than 160,000 acres, Air Force Lt. Col. Thomas Keegan, California National Guard public affairs officer, reported.

The California Air National Guard's 163rd Reconnaissance Wing deployed the Predator yesterday, and it is being flown in direct support of the incident commander under the command and control of Army Maj. Gen. David S. Baldwin, California's adjutant general, Keegan said.

The aircraft, flying from the Southern California Logistics Airport in Victorville for up to 22 hours without landing, will capture and deliver real-time 24/7 information on remote portions of the wildfire.

"The impact of this will be significant," Keegan said. "It will identify where fire activity is located and how it is moving, as well as where it has been controlled."

The aircraft also will identify safe routes of retreat for firefighters on the scene and verify new fire created by lightning strikes or floating embers. This, Keegan explained, will help the incident commander stay on top of the changing situation on the ground and make the best use of available resources.

Keegan emphasized that the images will be used only to support firefighting operations.

The aircraft's pilots, located at March Air Reserve Base in Riverside, Calif., will remain in constant contact with Federal Aviation Administration air traffic controllers from takeoff to landing and fly over unpopulated areas whenever possible, he said. The flight path generally will be limited to 30 nautical miles of the Rim Fire area, and whenever it flies outside the restricted airspace for the fire, a manned plane will escort it.

Meanwhile, nearly a dozen aircraft and crews from the California Air and Army National Guard are battling wildfires across Northern California.

California Army Guard helicopter crews and California Air Guard air tanker crews are working in coordination with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and U.S. Forest Service firefighting crews to battle the American, Swedes and Rim fires, Keegan reported.

In addition to two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters supporting operations at the Rim Fire, three Black Hawks are battling the American Fire and two Black Hawks and one CH-47 Chinook helicopter are flying in support of the Swedes Fire, Keegan said.

Another Black Hawk -- with a specialized crew and a hoist for extracting injured personnel from rugged terrain -- is staged in Redding, Calif., on call for medical evacuation support throughout Northern California.

At the Rim Fire alone, the helicopter crews have completed 905 drops, releasing more than 450,000 gallons of water and fire retardant since the crews were activated Aug. 17, Keegan said.

In addition, Air National Guard crews are using two C-130J Hercules air tankers to fight the Rim Fire. Both aircraft are equipped with the Modular Airborne Firefighting Systems II and are capable of discharging 3,000 gallons of water or retardant in less than five seconds. Since their activation Aug. 13, the air tankers have completed 122 drops, releasing more than 333,000 gallons of retardant, Keegan said.

"In times of crisis, it is imperative we pull together as a united front against the threat of wildfires in our state," Baldwin said, noting that the California Guard regularly trains for the mission.
"Working together in a climate of cooperation with [state officials], our soldiers and airmen are committed to preserving the lives and property of our neighbors who are threatened by this emergency," he said.

The Rim Fire is not the first in which California has used remotely piloted aircraft technology to support firefighting. In 2007, NASA piloted a similar unmanned aircraft in response to a request from the California Office of Emergency Services and the National Interagency Fire Center.

Those flights were conducted during daytime hours, complemented by nighttime imaging flights from NIFC's Cessna Citation and an Air Force Global Hawk, both equipped with an earlier-generation infrared camera. Pilots in a ground control station at NASA Dryden controlled the flights via satellite links.

NASA conducted additional remotely piloted aircraft missions in 2008, to monitor wildfires in Southern California, and in 2009, to assess fire damage in Angeles National Forest.
The current mission, officials said, is the longest sustained mission by an unmanned aircraft in California in support of firefighters.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

15th Wing opens runway to Navy aircraft

A Navy P-3C Orion aircraft lands on the flightline at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Aug. 23, 2013. The aircraft is assigned to Patrol Squadron Nine at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, which will operate temporarily out of JBPH-H while the MCBH runway undergoes renovations. During the 60-day renovation, the unit will continue to perform its primary mission of anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Terri Paden)

Last aircraft departs as N.D. Air National Guard ends flying mission, transitions to intelligence mission

Tech. Sgt. Scott Hovda, a crew chief with the 119th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, gives hand signals as he assists pilots Col. Kent Olson, 119th Wing commander and Col. Brad Derrig, 119th Wing vice-commander, as they prepare to take off from the North Dakota Air National Guard Base in Fargo, N.D., in the unit's last C-21A Learjet, Aug. 27, 2013. The departure of the unit's last C-21A brings to a close 66 years of flying history in the North Dakota Air Guard as the 119th Wing transitions to a non-flying intelligence mission. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. David H. Lipp)

FARGO, N.D. - The North Dakota Air National Guard's last C-21A Learjet aircraft has left the base. The last of eight C-21s flown by the 119th Wing-better known as the Happy Hooligans- took off just after 11:30 a.m. Tuesday ending 66 years of flying history.

The North Dakota Air National Guard was organized in January 1947 and its first aircraft - the P-51 Mustang - flew into Fargo the following month. In the decades that followed, the Airmen flew and maintained aircraft and racked up numerous national and international awards.

"We stand here today at the end of an era and the beginning of a new life for the (North Dakota) Air National Guard," said retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Alexander Macdonald, former adjutant general of the North Dakota National Guard, during the event, stressing the high standards that unit members always reached for.

"Whenever the goal was set, and then reached, the men and women of the organization set loftier ones, and time and time again these goals were achieved," he said, adding that the unit received numerous air defense readiness and maintenance awards over the years.

He went on to share recollections and list some of the many high points from throughout the past 66 years, such as the first air-to-air rocket firing over Lake Superior.

"We had the first deployed alert to Seymour Johnson (Air Force Base in North Carolina)," Macdonald. "We were the first to go on nuclear alert. The first to reach 100 percent strength. The first deployment overseas for an active NATO air-defense mission. The first air defense aerial refueling and the list of awards and firsts goes on and on."

When the fighter mission ended in 2007, the Hooligans transitioned to the C-21A, which was intended to serve as a "bridge" mission to keep pilots and maintainers of the unit active and relevant until the anticipated new flying mission of the C-27J Spartan arrived. The final decision to divest that mission from the Air Force was made earlier this year, prompting the North Dakota Air National Guard to begin a transition to an intelligence mission, a mission that does not include aircraft.
Many details of that new intelligence group mission are still uncertain. In the meantime, North Dakota is now the only state in the nation without an Air National Guard manned flying mission.
"USA Today once called the Happy Hooligans the 'godfathers of air superiority,' noting that they are the 'best air-to-air combat fighters in the world,'" said Army Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, adjutant general of the North Dakota National Guard. "I'd rather say that, quite simply, they're the best in the world. It's not about the mission. It's not about the aircraft. It's about the people behind the mission. That's what has made the Hooligans the very best for all of these years, and what will continue to make them the best for years to come."

Air Force Col. Kent Olson, commander of the 119th Wing, and Air Force Col. Brad Derrig, vice commander of the wing, along with Air Force Lt. Col. Jerrad Krapp, commander of the 177th Airlift Squadron, flew the wing's last C-21A, to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio. It will become the first C-21A added to the collection at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force there.
The Happy Hooligans experienced success with C-21 during the past six-and-a-half years. Olson spoke of that achievement and the hard work that went into creating such a success.

When the C-21s arrived in Fargo in January 2007, "they were about two dozen years old and had just been saved from a final trip to the boneyard," Olson told the audience. "Let's think about that for the moment: Eight aircraft that the Air Force was going to send to the boneyard, they sent to us. So we received them, and what did we do? We did what our maintenance group does the best: They got the jets in such good condition that they are still, by the way, the best maintained C-21s in the Air Force inventory."

Prior to receiving the C-21s, which were manufactured in 1983, only contracted civilian maintenance personnel had worked on the planes. The North Dakota Guardsmen worked to develop a maintenance program that incorporated Federal Aviation Administration guidance with Air Force procedures and training. That program was put to the test during an overseas mission that brought the Happy Hooligan's C-21s to Iraq, Afghanistan, Djibouti and other areas. Despite the intense heat and dust, the C-21's never missed a take-off.

Later that year, the 177th Airlift Squadron earned the title of Joint Operational Support Airlift Center Squadron of the Year.

With the departure of the last aircraft, the North Dakota Air National Guard has achieved more than 175,340 Class A mishap-free flying hours. More than 17,000 of those hours were in a C-21.

USS Harry S. Truman and CVW 3 Support OEF

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Chase C. Lacombe
ARABIAN SEA (NNS) -- Carrier Air Wing 3 flew its first fixed-wing aircraft sorties from the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) as part of its regularly scheduled deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) Aug. 27.

"For over a year, we have been training hard as a carrier strike group and with our air wing at sea," said Capt. Bob Roth, Harry S. Truman's commanding officer. "The first flight represents the payoff of all the hard work and is a reflection of the effectiveness of our fleet response training plan. It showcases the great capability of the carrier strike group to provide air power from the sea until the last day [troops] are on the ground [in Afghanistan]. Today's flights represent the culmination of all our training."

Marine Lt. Col. Joseph Reedy, commanding officer of the "Checkerboards" of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 312, was the first pilot to launch from Harry S. Truman in support of OEF this deployment.

"It was a great honor to be the first pilot to fly in support of OEF during this deployment," said Reedy. "I'm excited to support the Marines, Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen on the ground in Afghanistan. Our training prior to this deployment has proven invaluable to provide the necessary support so we can accomplish our mission."

In addition to training, Roth cited teamwork as a key to Team Truman and Team Battle Axe's success.

"I think our training was perfect," said Roth. "We started with the basics of operating the ship at sea as we integrated with our air wing and other surface combatants that comprise our strike group. Our biggest key to success has been teamwork. None of us can accomplish the mission alone. We are firing on all cylinders and teamwork has brought us to this point."

Roth said he is very thankful for the personal dedication of all the Sailors and Marines and also for the support of their families.

"I want to thank the Sailors and Marines on the deckplates who work the long hours to get the job done and do it willingly with a smile as they recognize the importance of our mission and sacrifice," said Roth. "I want to also thank the families back home because without their strong support, we would not be able to fully dedicate ourselves to our mission while we serve at sea."

Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group Assumes the Watch in the Navy's 5th Fleet

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Chase C. Lacombe, USS Harry S. Truman Public Affairs
ARABIAN SEA (NNS) -- The Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group (HST CSG) relieved the Nimitz CSG in the Arabian Sea Aug. 26, assuming the duties as Commander, Task Force (CTF) 50.

CTF 50 is responsible for conducting maritime security operations, supporting theater security cooperation efforts in the region and providing support for Operation Enduring Freedom.

"We are now providing direct support to OEF in Afghanistan," said Rear Adm. Kevin Sweeney, commander, HST CSG. "Every day, we will be supporting troops on the ground. Secondly, we are enhancing maritime security operations through our presence and interaction. Our ships throughout the region are conducting exercises and patrols with coalition navies. Ultimately, we are building trust and confidence in the region."

Cmdr. Jason Darish, Harry S. Truman's combat direction center officer, said HST CSG is ready to perform the mission.

"Part of what we are doing is supporting the forces on the ground in Afghanistan with our air wing," said Darish." If there are Soldiers, Marines or NATO coalition forces on the ground who need our support, we will be there to assist their effort. We as a CSG are also here to support counter-piracy efforts throughout the region."

HST CSG participated in several exercises during the year leading up to the deployment to prepare. The strike group deployed July 22.

Darish said the training has thoroughly prepared the Sailors and Marines for any mission they may be tasked with while deployed.

"I think the work-ups and all the training we have accomplished has more than sufficiently prepared us to operate in this area of the world," said Darish. "I feel the training did a great job to set us up for success during this deployment."

Air Traffic Controller 3rd Class (AW/SW) Steven Doyel, from Harry S. Truman's operations department, said he feels prepared to do his job and is ready to serve.

"This is what we were trained to do," said Doyel. "We are as ready as ever to take the fight to the enemy. I feel the culmination of our training has prepared us to do our job. Being deployed out here is what a carrier strike group does, and it's what the Navy does."

Sweeney said the strike group is fully trained and prepared to accomplish the Navy's mission in 5th Fleet.

"It's an environment where we'll continue to work with our coalition partners, train and operate throughout the region, and maintain presence to enhance security and stability," he said.

HST CSG consists of the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) along with embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 3 and its squadrons: Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 32 "Swordsmen," VFA-37 "Ragin' Bulls," VFA-105 "Gunslingers," Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 312 "Checkerboards," Airborne Early Warning Squadron 126 "Seahawks," Electronic Attack Squadron 130 "Zappers," Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 7 "Dusty Dogs," and Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 74 "Swamp Foxes;" the embarked staffs of Carrier Strike Group 10 and 1st Combined Destroyer Squadron; guided-missile cruisers USS San Jacinto (CG 56) and USS Gettysburg (CG 64); and guided-missile destroyers USS Bulkeley (DDG 84) and USS Mason (DDG 87).

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

RED FLAG: Never leave an Airman behind

Two U.S. Air Force HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopters from the 210th Rescue Squadron, Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, arrive to rescue a simulated downed pilot during RED FLAG-Alaska 13-3, Aug. 22, 2013. A-10 Thunderbolts from the 163rd Fighter Squadron, Indiana Air National Guard, Ft. Wayne, Ind., located the pilot and protected the area while pararescuemen performed the rescue. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Shawn Nickel)

Air National Guard civil engineers team up to move radar equipment

by Air Force Maj. Gary Arasin,  National Guard Bureau

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Air National Guard civil engineers team up to move radar equipment
By Air Force Maj. Gary Arasin

National Guard Bureau

ARLINGTON, Va. - Air National Guard civil engineers are teaming with their communication and network engineer counterparts to move radar equipment from Antigua Air Station, Antigua to H.E. Holt Naval Communications Station in Australia.

As part of a joint effort between the United States and Australia to enhance and expand situational awareness in space, the team will install the C-band radar that will be a dedicated sensor in the Space Surveillance Network. The radar provides highly accurate tracking of objects in space to improve overall space flight safety and situational awareness.

Following a 2011 request from the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center, the joint team developed a proposal and cost estimate to renovate an existing building at the future radar site, construct a new antenna support structure, and conduct setup at the new location.

The project offered the team a chance to show its skills and save the government about $20 million, said Chief Master Sgt. Stephen Thorenz, the relocation Engineering Installation lead project manager.

"To reinvent the engineering and installation processes, as well as civil engineering, into a solid methodical work force, is a challenging and rewarding effort," said Thorenz, a member of the New York Air Guard. "Our composite team has been driven by the need of the customer and our desire to display our vast capabilities within our ANG workforce."

The engineering team sees this as a potential template for future projects, said Tennessee Air Guard's Lt. Col. Craig Bradford, Air Guard Civil Engineer project manager.

"In these days of shrinking budgets, a project like this demonstrates to the DoD how valuable an asset they have in the civil engineering community," he said.

EI squadrons from New York, Pennsylvania and Oklahoma are providing experts to this project, while a variety of states will be providing specialties such as electrical, heating, ventilation and air conditioning, construction, transportation and medical support.

The first CE team will deploy to Australia in August to begin site preparation, and the first EI team will deploy to Antigua in January 2014 to being disassembling and packing the radar for shipment to its new location.

Continuous bomber presence exemplifies Global Vigilance, Global Reach, Global Power

Airmen from the 2nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron prepare to launch a B-52H Stratofotress on Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Aug. 26, 2013. Aircrew and their crew chiefs deployed to Anderson AFB, Guam, to support the continuous bomber presence in the Pacific. The crew chiefs deployed to provide maintenance support for the B-52. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Micaiah Anthony)

by Staff Sgt. Katherine Holt,  2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs
BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La.  -- Barksdale aviators, maintainers and B-52H Stratofortress aircraft deployed to Andersen AFB, Guam, this week to demonstrate the United States' continued commitment to stability and security in the Asia-Pacific region.

Air Force Global Strike Command's deployment of bombers to Andersen AFB not only showcases the command's ability to conduct its mission, but also exemplifies commitment to providing global vigilance, reach and power.

"Our main mission is to deter and assure," said Capt. Michael Lopez, 20th Bomb Squadron pilot. "We are there to provide support to our allies in the region and to provide combat capability, if needed, for the Pacific Air Forces and Pacific Command."

Movement of U.S. Air Force bombers into the Western Pacific has been ongoing since March 2004, as the U.S. Pacific Command regularly adjusts its force posture to maintain a prudent deterrent capability within the region.

"As we know, the United States has done a strategic pivot toward the Pacific," said Lt. Col. Scott Maytan, 20th BS commander. "Strategic continuous bomber presence is part of that. It is a way for B-52s to augment military forces that we have in the theater."

The continuous bomber presence showcases the 2nd Bomb Wing's ability to operate aircraft within the Pacific and support exercises, operations, and contingencies as required.

"We own 50 percent of the responsibility for this, it is shared across the B-52 community, so that's a big piece for the 2nd BW to support," Maytan said. "It's a full spectrum effort--we've got aircrew, airplanes, maintenance support and other operations support personnel that go out to make sure we are able to do the mission just like we would do it with the resources we have here at home."

The Air Force's nuclear and conventional precision strike forces can credibly threaten and effectively conduct global strike by holding any target at risk and if necessary, disabling or destroying it promptly--the key to Global Vigilance, Global Reach and Global Power.

"What we do day to day with this presence mission is show our ability to fly our airplanes around the Pacific theater and support whatever contingencies we might be asked to do," Maytan said. "The continuous bomber presence maintains long-range strike capability in theater, so our national decision makers have assets that they can use should they ever need to."

CBP also allows bombers the opportunity to integrate into joint and coalition training exercises in the Pacific.

"We are going to go out there and continuously sharpen our skills," Lopez said. "We will have local training missions to continue training on all of our different combat capabilities. In addition, we will also be out there working with our partners training with them in different exercises throughout the region."

Aircrews also plan to take advantage of being in close proximity to other U.S. services, along with the opportunity to work on aviation and combat concepts.

"It is a great opportunity for us when we go out there and work with all different players in the region," Lopez said. "Going out there we get to integrate with them to assure the Pacific."

Though they have been to Guam numerous times, Lopez says every time is a little different than the last, and they never lose the enthusiasm.

"We are excited to go out there to provide this force capability from the Pacific," he said. "We are there to provide the security that is needed; and if called upon, use the firepower we provide to the nation."
A B-52H Stratofortress takes off from Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Aug. 26, 2013. Barksdale aviators, maintainers and B-52s deployed to Anderson AFB, Guam, demonstrating continuing U.S. commitment to stability and secuirty in the Asia-Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Micaiah Anthony)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Vigilant Eagle continues closer U.S.-Russian cooperation

WASHINGTON (AFPS) -- Beginning Aug. 27, fighter jets from the North American Aerospace Defense Command and the Russian air force will scramble to track and intercept "hijacked" aircraft during an air defense exercise viewed as a steppingstone toward closer military-to-military cooperation in additional areas.
Vigilant Eagle 13 kicked off Aug. 26, with scenarios that present the United States, Canada and Russia with a common enemy: terrorist hijackers, Joseph Bonnet, director of joint training and exercises for NORAD and U.S. Northern Command, said during a telephone interview with American Forces Press Service.
The exercise is the fifth in a series, based on a 2003 agreement between the sitting U.S. and Russian presidents to strengthen the two militaries' relationship and their ability to work together. The threat of international hijackers served as a foundation to help advance that effort, resulting in an exercise program that addresses a recognized threat, Bonnet explained.
Vigilant Eagle began in 2008 as a command post exercise. At Russia's request, it now alternates between CPXs that test out principles and procedures in a computer-based setting and "live-fly" exercises that apply those principles and procedures the following year.
This year's exercise is the third in the series to incorporate actual aircraft, Bonnet reported. A Russian Tupolev and a commercial aircraft contracted by the United States will simulate commercial airliners seized by terrorists. The U.S. Air Force's Airborne Warning and Control System and Russia's A-50 Beriev will serve as command-and-control platforms.
Live fighter jets -- Canadian CF-18 Hornets and Russian Sukhois -- will track, identify, intercept and follow the hijacked aircraft, and both Canada and Russia will conduct air-to-air refueling operations. The Canadian air force has been integral to past Vigilant Eagle exercises, but is contributing aircraft for the first time this year, Bonnet said.
In addition, the Federal Aviation Administration and its Russian equivalent are participating.
The scenario involves two "hijacked" commercial aircraft that challenge participants on the ground and in the sky to provide a coordinated response, Bonnet explained. The first flight, to originate tomorrow from Anchorage, Alaska, will travel into Russian airspace. The following day, a Russian aircraft will take off from Anadyr, Russia, toward U.S. airspace.
When the aircraft fail to respond to communications, NORAD, the U.S.-Canada command that safeguards U.S. skies under Operation Noble Eagle, and the Russian air force will move into action. Both will launch or divert fighter jets to investigate and follow the suspect aircraft headed toward each other's airspace. At that point, they will hand off the missions to each other to complete.
Working together in Anchorage and Anadyr and at the NORAD headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colo., participants will cooperate in escort and handoff procedures using two distinct communications, command-and-control and air traffic control systems, Bonnet said.
Vigilant Eagle has become more ambitious and valuable with each iteration, Bonnet said, noting that this year's exercise will be no different.
"This is the culmination of everything that has gone on in previous exercises, and we expect it to continue to mature," he said. "Like us, the Russian Federation air force is eager to expand the scope and complexity of the exercise, and to look into other areas," such as related search-and-rescue and airfield operations.
Bonnet called continuation of Vigilant Eagle, particularly at a time when budget costs have caused the cancellation of many other exercises, a success in itself. With fewer than 100 people directly involved from the United States, Vigilant Eagle offers tremendous "bang for the buck," he said.
"This is a small, relatively inexpensive exercise with a huge payoff," he said. "It doesn't cost any of the countries a lot of money, but it is building things that have immediate value for all of them. When you have procedures and a means of communicating information between both sides, that has a lot of value."
Another big success, Bonnet said, is that the exercise has transcended leadership changes both in the United States and in Russia, as well as recent political tensions between them.
Both countries recognize the importance of continued cooperation to keep their international borders safe, he said.
"It is one of the biggest single areas where the Russian Federation, U.S. and Canada can truly cooperate," he said. "All three countries share a common objective in thwarting, combating and cooperating against terrorism."
As their militaries work together to confront terrorist hijackers, Bonnet said, they are laying the foundation for future cooperation in other areas.
"What we are trying to do is continually build and expand the exercise and use this as a basis for moving the relationship forward," he said. "That, to me, is the biggest value of Vigilant Eagle."

Warplanes spotted in Cyprus as tensions rise in Damascus

The UK Guardian is reporting signs of advanced readiness at likely hub of air campaign as UN inspection team comes under fire near site of alleged chemical attack.

Warplanes and military transporters have begun arriving at Britain's Akrotiri airbase on Cyprus, less than 100 miles from the Syrian coast, in a sign of increasing preparations for a military strike against the Assad regime in Syria.

Two commercial pilots who regularly fly from Larnaca on Monday told the Guardian that they had seen C-130 transport planes from their cockpit windows as well as small formations of fighter jets on their radar screens, which they believe had flown from Europe.

Residents near the British airfield, a sovereign base since 1960, also say activity there has been much higher than normal over the past 48 hours.

If an order to attack targets in Syria is given, Cyprus is likely to be a hub of the air campaign. The arrival of warplanes suggests that advanced readiness – at the very least – has been ordered by Whitehall as David Cameron, Barack Obama and European leaders step up their rhetoric against Bashar al-Assad, whose armed forces they accuse of carrying out the chemical weapons attack last Wednesday that killed many hundreds in eastern Damascus.

Read the complete story at

Blog Editor Note: With the UK military involved and the RAF Cyprus Base in the mix, here are the latest primary UK Military Flight Watch Support HF frequencies.

United Kingdom (TASCOMM)
Voice Call Sign: ARCHITECT
Frequency (USB): 4742.0 5702.0 9031.0 11247.0 13257.0 18018.0 kHz

Voice Call Sign: HAVEN
Frequency (USB): 4742.0 9031.) 11247.0 kHz
NOTE: Flight Watch available for notified flights.

Voice Call Sign: CYPRUS
Frequency (USB/kHz):
Channel 1 - 4742 (a)
Channel 2 - 9031
Channel 3 - 11247
NOTE: (a) H+15 weather broadcasts, when active.

Mount Pleasant (MPA)
Voice Call Sign: VIPER
Frequency (USB): 4742 (a) 11247 (a)
NOTE: (a) H+35 weather broadcasts when active.

1. Flight Watch available for notified flights.
2. Aircraft not fitted with ALE are to scroll through the frequencies in order to select the best reception. Transmissions are to be made at 15 sec intervals before changing to the next guard frequency.

RAF Akrotiri, Cyprus (LCRA)

ATIS  125.000 MHz
Approach Control  123.600 235.050 362.300 (discrete) MHz
Director 123.600 123.300 (discrete) 264.850 MHz
Tower 130.075 339.850 257.800 (discrete) MHz
Ground  122.100 396.850 MHz
Operations  234.050 MHz

Watch this blog for any additional frequencies involved with the Syrian military crisis.

Crisis in Syria - Monitoring the Syrian Domestic Broadcast Services

A new article Crisis in Syria - Monitoring the Syrian Domestic Broadcast Services has just been posted to the Shortwave Central Blog at and on the Btown Monitoring Post

If additional broadcast information becomes available, we will post updates on the SW Central blog and on our companion twitter feed for real time updates at @QSLRptMT

I will also post any utility related frequencies as they become available here on the MilcomMP  and you can follow our real time updates on the @MilcomMP twitter feed.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Milcom Blog Logs - COTHEN 25 Aug 2013

Another day with a HF rig here on the radio ranch on the CBP/CG COTHEN network. Below are the results of that monitor session. Best freq during the 24 hour period was 5732.0 kHz.

Intercepts By Frequency (kHz)
Modes included ANDVT/USB Clear Voice/ALE

  5732.0 702 706 715 KCM LNT N15 NLP OMNI PAC SLP TSC VGS
  5909.5 706 715 K62 KCM N15 PAC
  7527.0 004 715 ICB K38 LNT N15 P30 PAC
  8912.0 003 82M 706 715 ICB LNT LUV N15 NZ1 PAC TSC
10242.0 BCQ ICB
11494.0 004 715 LNT N05 N10 NZ1 T5Q
12222.9 07Z LNT N03 N05 N10 N15 T5Q VGS
13312.0 004 07Z D48 J43 LNT N03 N05 N10 N15 PR1
13907.0 004 D48 ICB LNT N10 T5Q
14582.0 004 715 EST N05 PAC TSC
15867.0 715 PAC
18594.0 715 D48 J27 K62 N05 N15 NZ1 PAC
20890.0 D48 T5Q WST
24838.5 004 D48

Stations Monitored Milcom MP Cumulative List

003    USCG CG 2003 HC-130J CGAS Elizabeth City NC
004    USCG CG 2004 HC-130J CGAS Elizabeth City NC
07Z    USCG District 7 Miami, FL (Voice call Miami Ops)
19E    Unknown
82M   Unknown
702    USCG CG 1702 HC-130H CGAS Sacramento CA
706    USCG CG 1706 HC-130H CGAS Clearwater FL
715    USCG CG 1715 HC-130H Listed as Kodiak but may be in the SE US now
A47   CBP 82-23747 UH-60A El Paso AU TX
BCQ  USCG USCGC Bertholf (WMSL-750)
D08   CBP N808MR Bombardier Q400
D45   CBP N145CS Buno 155299 "Blue Eagle" Jacksonville AMB FL
D48   CBP N148CS/Buno No. 154575 P-3B AEW&C Corpus Christi AMB TX
EST   CBP AMOC Regional Communications Node Eastern US
F05    USCG CG 2105 HU-25D CGAS Corpus Chriisti (NAS Corpus Christi) TX
ICB    USCG USCGC Forward (WMEC 911) (NICB)
J02     USCG CG 6002 MH-60J CGAS Cape Cod (Otis ANGB) MA
J09     USCG CG 6009 MH-60J CGAS Cape Cod (Otis ANGB) MA
J21     USCG CG 6021 MH-60J Unknown
J27     USCG CG 6027 MH-60T ATC Mobile, AL
J42     USCG CG 6042 MH-60J CGAS Cape Cod (Otis ANGB) MA
J43     USCG CG 6043 MH-60T CGAS Elizabeth City NC
K09   USCG CG 6509 MH-65C CGAS Detroit MI
K38   USCG CG 6538 MH-65C CGAS Houston, TX
K62   USCG CG 6562 MH-65D CGAS Savannah GA
K82   USCG CG 6582 MH-65C CGAS Borinquen PR
KCM  CBP COTHEN Remote Communications Transmitter Raleigh NC
L06    USCG CG 6606 MH-65C CGAS Miami (Opa Locka Executive) FL
LUV   CBP COTHEN Remote Communications Transmitter Lovelock NV
N03   USCG CG 2303 HC-144A CGAS Cape Cod (Otis ANGB) MA
N05   USCG CG 2305 HC-144A ATC Mobile, AL
N10   USCG CG 2310 HC-144A CGAS Miami (Opa Locka Executive) FL
N15   USCG CG 2315 HC-144A CGAS Cape Cod (Otis ANGB) MA
NLP  Unknown
NZ1  CBP Unknown location probable grnd stn/remote
OMNI  CBP COTHEN Remote Omnidirectional Transmitter, Omaha NE
OPB  CBP OPBAT Services Center Nassau, Bahamas Voice Call Panther
P30  USCG CGAS Remote Command Console CGAS Houston TX (tentative ID)
P31  USCG CGAS Remote Command Console Detroit, MI
PR1  CBP COTHEN Puerto Rico HF Omni Directional Remote Punta Salinas (Islote) PR
SLP  Unknown
T5Q  Unknown Trigraph
TSC  CBP Customs National Law Enforcement Communications Center -- Technical Service Center
          Orlando FL Voice Call Service Center
VGS  CBP COTHEN Remote Communications Transmitter Logandale NV
WST  CBP AMOC West Regional Communications Node March ARB CA Hammer AICC
Z14    USCG Sector Remote Communications Consoles St. Petersburg FL
Z15    USCG Sector Remote Communications Consoles San Juan PR

Hagel: Defense Department Has Options on Syria

USS Barry launches a cruise missile (US Navy Photo)

By Cheryl Pellerin, American Forces Press Service

ABOARD A MILITARY AIRCRAFT – Shortly after takeoff on the first leg of his second official trip to the Asia-Pacific region, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel joined a video teleconference  that focused on the deadly situation in Syria.

In the latest tragedy in the stricken nation, more than 1,000 men, women and children died in what may have been a chemical weapons attack on its own citizens by the government of President Bashar Assad. The United Nations and others are investigating the attacks.

After leaving Hawaii, the first stop on his trip, Hagel spoke today with reporters who are traveling with him to Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei and the Philippines.

“The president has asked the Defense Department for options. {As] always, the department is prepared, has been prepared, to provide ranges for all contingencies for the president of the United States, and we’ll continue to do that,” Hagel said.

“We’re dealing with a very serious issue,” the secretary added. “We are working with our international partners, the international community [and] the United Nations. We are looking at every option.”

“The Defense Department has a responsibility to provide the president with options for all contingencies, and that requires positioning our forces [and] positioning our assets to be able to carry out whatever options the president might choose,” Hagel said.

“On the specific option of military use or force in response to what we will determine at some point here very shortly what did happen, and we’re still assessing that,” he added. “I think the range of military options is always part of the range of options the president has.”

Hagel said he thinks the international community is moving quickly to get the facts and the intelligence right about what happened in Syria so a decision can be made swiftly about how to respond.

“If, in fact, this was a deliberate use and attack by the Syrian government on its own people using chemical weapons, there may be another attack coming,” he said. “A very quick assessment of what happened and whatever appropriate response should be made.”

According to a press report in the UK Telegraph, Royal Navy vessels are being readied to take part in a possible series of cruise missile strikes, alongside the United States, as military commanders finalize a list of potential targets.

Any retaliatory attack would be likely to be launched from the sea as the Syrian air force is judged to be strong enough to shoot down enemy jets.

A Royal Navy nuclear-powered submarine is said to be in the region while a number of warships recently left Britain for exercises in the Mediterranean.

Commanders may also need to make use of the RAF base at Akrotiri, Cyprus for air support.
If military action is approved, the first wave of missiles could start within a week.

America’s Sixth Fleet currently has four guided missile destroyers in the area, each of which could join the attack.

The Royal Navy also has its rapid response task force in the Mediterranean. The group includes two frigates and the helicopter carrier HMS Illustrious

Roosey Underway after 4 years in Yards

USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) departs Newport News Shipyard August 25, in Newport News, Va. The air craft carrier is underway for the first time in four years, conducting Sea Trials, following Refueling Complex Overhaul (RCOH). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Cory Asato/Released)

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Russian Air Force 8895 KHz CW - W Markers Update 25 Aug 2013

8895 kHz is a very interesting Russian Air Force CW frequency. The W beacons have been around for years and now UDXF monitors have found that these beacons may be related to Russian AF Tupolev TU-95MS Bear aircraft activity.

Update: A regular contributor to the MilcomMP Ron Perron in Maryland sends along the following regarding the Russian Bear Net.

Whenever the 8895 kHz marker is active in CW, I usually hear the TU-95s in USB voice on 8909.0 kHz. The use their bort numbers as call signs and send the same type of 3-figure formatted reports.

In the past they also have used 5833.0 (night), 8131.0, 11223.0 & 11370.0 kHz.

Ground controller callsigns I've noted are:
AKUSTIK- assocw/Russian Strategic Forces
SYMPATIA- assoc/RussianStrategic Forces
NABOR- assocw/Russian Strategic Forces
SHPORA- assocw/Russian Strategic Forces
GAZELLE- assocw/Russian Strategic Forces
SHLAGATA-assocw/Russian Strategic Forces
MASKA-assocw/Russian Strategic Forces
PROCELKA-assocw/Russian Strategic Forces
SAKSOFON-assoc/Russian Strategic Forces
OCHITSKA- assoc/RussianStrategic Forces?poss Moscow
MIDYALKA-assoc/Russian Strategic Forces
NEZYANKA-assoc/Russian Strategic Forces
KANSEK-assoc/Russian Strategic Forces
Original article Posted 13 Aug 2013:

Recent activity monitored on this frequency listed below is courtesy of the Numbers and Oddities newsletter 190 July 2013, courtesy of Ary Boender and other UDXF reports from several monitors.

“Bear net” on 8895 kHz, 25-07, 1800-2100 UTC:
“W” markers at 1800, 1820, 1900, 1920, 1940, 2040, 2100 UTC.
TV6P R 547 ??? ??? 069 K
(TV6P) RPT K @
Z7NG DE TV6P R = 474 286 812 550 K
SHNE DE TV6P. TV6P QRV. TV6P R = 883 671 284 610 613
FEQ6 DE TV6P. TV6P QRV. TV6P R = 989 549 500 210. TV6P R = 989 549 500 910

Russian Air Force “Bear net” on 8895 kHz:
23-07: "W" markers at 1940-1942, 2000-2002, 2040-2042, 2100-2102 UTC
26-07: “W”markers at 0240, 0300, 0340, 0400, 0420 UTC
30-07: "W"-markers at 0600, 0620, 0640, 0800 UTC
30-07: "W"-marker followed by a short voice call. Location over the Mediterranean Sea, between Sardinia and Alger.
05-08: "W" markers at 1800-1802, 1820-1822, 1840-1842, 1900-1902, 1920-1922, 1940-1942, 2000-2002, 2020-2022, 2040-2042, 2100-2102 UTC
12-08: "W" markers at 1820-1822, 1840-1842, 1900-1902, 1920-1922, 1940-1942, 2000-2002 UTC

Looks like an interesting real world net to check from time to time.

Milcom Blog Logs - COTHEN 24 Aug 2013

Ran a HF rig on the CBP/CG COTHEN network yesterday afternoon, evening and overnight. Below are the results of that monitor session.

PC-ALE Scan STARTED Aug-24-2013 15:13 Eastern Standard Time

Intercepts By Frequency (kHz)
Modes included ANDVT/USB Clear Voice/ALE

5732.0 07Z 706 J09 N10
5841.0 J09
5909.5 K09 P31
7527.0 702 D48 F05 J02 K82 N15 PAC
8912.0 J09 J21 LNT N05 N10 OFR OPB Z15
10242.0 706 F05 N03 N10
11494.0 702 706 J21 LNT N03 N10 OPB
12222.0 J02 J09 L06 LNT N03 N05 Z14
13312.0 D48 J21 LNT N10 N15 OFR Z15
13907.0 702 D48 J21 N03 N10
14582.0 D45 D48
18594.0 19E D08 D48 EST J42 T5Q
19131.0 D48
20890.0 D48
24838.5 D48

Stations Monitored
07Z USCG District 7 Miami, FL (Voice call Miami Ops)
19E Unknown
702 USCG CG 1702 HC-130H CGAS Sacramento CA
706 USCG CG 1706 HC-130H CGAS Clearwater FL
A47 CBP 82-23747 UH-60A El Paso AU TX
D08 CBP N808MR Bombardier Q400
D45 CBP N145CS Buno 155299 "Blue Eagle" Jacksonville AMB FL
D48 CBP N148CS/Buno No. 154575 P-3B AEW&C Corpus Christi AMB TX
EST CBP AMOC Regional Communications Node Eastern US
F05 USCG CG 2105 HU-25D CGAS Corpus Chriisti (NAS Corpus Christi) TX
J02 USCG CG 6002 MH-60J CGAS Cape Cod (Otis ANGB) MA
J09 USCG CG 6009 MH-60J CGAS Cape Cod (Otis ANGB) MA
J21 USCG CG 6021 MH-60J Unknown
J42 USCG CG 6042 MH-60J CGAS Cape Cod (Otis ANGB) MA
K09 USCG CG 6509 MH-65C CGAS Detroit MI
K82 USCG CG 6582 MH-65C CGAS Borinquen PR
L06 USCG CG 6606 MH-65C CGAS Miami (Opa Locka Executive) FL
N03 USCG CG 2303 HC-144A CGAS Cape Cod (Otis ANGB) MA
N05 USCG CG 2305 HC-144A ATC Mobile, AL
N15 USCG CG 2315 HC-144A CGAS Cape Cod (Otis ANGB) MA
N10 USCG CG 2310 HC-144A CGAS Miami (Opa Locka Executive) FL
OFR USCG USCGC Cushing WPB-1321 (NOFR) my first log of this cutter
OPB CBP OPBAT Services Center Nassau, Bahamas Voice Call Panther
P31 USCG CGAS Remote Command Console Detroit, MI
T5Q Unknown Trigraph
Z14 USCG Sector Remote Communications Consoles St. Petersburg FL
Z15 USCG Sector Remote Communications Consoles San Juan PR

Saturday, August 24, 2013

US Coast Guard Takes Delivery of 15th HC-144A Ocean Sentry Aircraft

Seville, Spain – Members of the Coast Guard’s acceptance team were on hand to accept delivery of the 15th HC-144A Ocean Sentry. Later this year, the aircraft will become the third of four planned Ocean Sentries operating from Air Station Cape Cod, Mass. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Blog Editor Note: While running a PC-ALE scan of the COTHEN HF network today, I spotted the Coast Guard's newest HC-144A (CG 2315/N15) sounding in the network. This aircraft is the third of four Ocean Sentry's to be based at CGAS Cape Cod, MA

EADS North America Delivers 15th HC-144A Ocean Sentry to U.S. Coast Guard

The U.S. Coast Guard took delivery of its 15th HC-144A Ocean Sentry maritime patrol aircraft from prime contractor EADS North America. The Ocean Sentry is based on the Airbus Military CN235 tactical airlifter, more than 230 of which are currently in operation by 29 countries.

The latest aircraft delivered on-time and on-budget, will join a fleet of Ocean Sentries performing in a range of different roles from Coast Guard Air Stations in Cape Cod, Mass., Mobile, Ala., and Miami. With the ability to remain airborne for more than ten hours, the Ocean Sentry is performing a wide range of maritime patrol missions for the Coast Guard, including drug and migrant interdiction, disaster response, and search and rescue.

"In today's tight budget environment, the U.S. Coast Guard needs programs that deliver what's been promised," said Sean O'Keefe, EADS North America Chairman and CEO.

"EADS North America and Airbus Military are proud to be working with the USCG to field this capability consistently on schedule and on cost, and will continue to support this mission."

The United States Coast Guard operates fourteen HC-144A Ocean Sentry Maritime Patrol Aircraft and has three additional planes on order scheduled for delivery in 2013 and 2014. The Coast Guard plans for a fleet of 36 Ocean Sentries. The HC-144A achieved initial operational capability with the Coast Guard in 2008.

Coastal Riverine Squadron 8 Conducts Field Exercises at NAVSTA Newport

NEWPORT, R.I. (Aug. 21, 2013) Navy Reserve Sailors from Coastal Riverine Squadron (CRS) 8 prepare to launch their 34-foot Sea Ark patrol boats from Stillwater Basin into Narragansett Bay to perform high speed maneuvering exercises as part of their annual training at Naval Station Newport, R.I., Aug. 12-23. The two-week training tested the unit's readiness to fulfill their worldwide missions that include harbor and homeland defense, coastal surveillance and special missions. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Cmdr. Jonathan Sym/Released)

By Lt. Cmdr. Jonathan Sym, Coastal Riverine Squadron 8   
NEWPORT, R.I. (NNS) -- Three-hundred Navy Reservists from Coastal Riverine Squadron (CRS) 8 conducted training and field exercises at Naval Station Newport, R.I., Aug. 12-23, as part of their annual training.

The two-week training tested the unit's readiness to fulfill its worldwide missions that include harbor and homeland defense, coastal surveillance and special missions.

"We can provide anti-terrorism/force protection for Navy assets anywhere in the world," said Capt. Guy Vilardi, commanding officer of CRS 8. "Our annual training is critically important to our ability to execute any assigned mission, and we are grateful for Naval Station Newport's tremendous efforts to support us."

As one of the largest commissioned Reserve units in the Navy, members of the squadron were engaged in waterside and landward security training that included tactical field care and evacuation of injured personnel, port and harbor security as well as tactical day and night operations in the bay, launched from Stillwater Basin.

"To immediately put into practice what we learned, in and out of the classroom, was an outstanding experience during the annual training," said Master-at-Arms 1st Class Christopher Hebert, assigned to CRS 8. "It was also great to have the opportunity to exchange ideas and best practices with my fellow shipmates in my rate."

CRS 8 is a Navy Reserve unit based at Naval Station Newport, R.I., with companies in Newport; Annapolis, Md.; and Groton, Conn. Coastal Riverine Force Sailors conduct port and harbor security, high value asset protection, offensive combat operations and maritime security operations in rivers, harbors and coastal waterways.

Carrier Air Wing 5 Departs George Washington

PHILIPPINE SEA (Aug. 22, 2013) Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) 1st Class Katrina Vong, from Seattle, directs an F/A-18E Super Hornet from the Dambusters of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 195 on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73). George Washington and its embarked air wing, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, provide a combat-ready force that protects and defends the collective maritime interest of the U.S. and its allies and partners in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Paolo Bayas/Released)
By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ricardo Guzman
PHILIPPINE SEA (NNS) -- The U.S. Navy's forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS George Washington's (CVN 73) embarked air wing flew off the ship, Aug. 22, after two months at-sea.

Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, based at Naval Air Facilities Atsugi, accumulated 5,800 flight hours, 3,003 sorties, and 2,500 successful traps during the first half of its 2013 patrol.

"I'm very pleased with the air wing's performance during the first half of the patrol," said Command Master Chief Jason Eckard, CVW 5's command master chief. "We accomplished a lot of good training for both aircrew and maintainers. I'm grateful for the outstanding support that George Washington has provided the air wing."

CVW5 participated in exercise Talisman Saber (TS), a biennial training exercise aimed to improve Australian Defence Force nd U.S. combat readiness and interoperability as a Combined Joint Task Force.

"Working with the Australians was extremely productive and it gave us an opportunity to operate in areas that are new to us," said Lt. Cmdr. Adam Klein, a pilot assigned to the "Diamondbacks" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 102. "We usually operate in the islands of Guam or Okinawa where there isn't a lot built up. Working in an unknown area gave us some challenges but it allows us to employ our latest and greatest tactics."

This patrol also marked the first time the "Golden Falcons" of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 12 and the "Saberhawks" of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 77 have gone underway with the strike group since joining CVW 5.

"It's been great coordinating with the new air wing," said Lt. Michael Feay, a pilot and the personnel officer from HSC 12. "We got a great amount of training done. We've been able to assist the fixed-wing squadron in their bombing runs, and strafing runs and we've trained our pilots and aircrew to be fully mission-capable."

CVW 5 consists of HSC 12, HSM 77, VFA 102, the "Royal Maces" of VFA 27, the "Eagles" of VFA 115, the "Dambusters" of VFA 195, the "Shadowhawks" of Electronic Attack Squadron 141, the "Liberty Bells" of Airborne Early Warning Squadron 115, and the "Providers" of Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 30, Detachment 5.

"It's been a very successful patrol thus far and I'm looking forward to the second half," said Eckard. "There's definitely going to be a lot going on during the upcoming months and we're going to have some great training opportunities."

George Washington and CVW 5 provide a combat-ready force that protects and defends the collective maritime interest of the U.S. and its allies and partners in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Airlifters enable jump week

by Airman 1st Class Soo C. Kim,  374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- The C-130 Hercules shakes with turbulence as it hits a thermal updraft. The seats are packed with adrenaline-soaked Soldiers fully equipped in gear and parachutes.

"Ten minutes!" A jumpmaster yells out over the aircraft noise. "Ten minutes!" Soldiers reply as they prepare themselves for the aircraft's drop zone entry. When given the order, they hook into the zip-line and line up ready to take the dive.

Time seems to fly by as the aircraft steadies its route. "Five minutes!" is announced and soon after comes the call, "Two minutes!"

The loadmaster opens the troop door, letting in blinding light that shines on the Soldiers' determined faces. Beyond the door is nothing but a free-fall to earth.

The aircraft enters the drop window and a voice announces over the radio, "Green light, green light! Go, go, go!"

The paratroopers leap out the door, their C-9 parachutes rapidly deploying behind them. Olive drab canopies open above them, and the Soldiers steer into the wind toward the landing zone.

From Aug. 21-23, 2013, Army Special Forces paratroopers participated in joint jump training with aircrews from the 36th Airlift Squadron at Yokota Air Base, Japan.

"We conduct airborne operations training in order to maintain proficiencies for any possible future combat airborne operations," said Army Staff Sgt. Adrian Colon, 1st Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group.

During the week, the Soldiers participated in multiple jump sorties aboard three C-130 Hercules assigned to the 374th Airlift Wing.

"We had number of people conducting combat jumps, jumping with their combat equipment and we also had people conducting sustainment jumps, with just their parachute and no equipment," said Army Capt. Robert Shumaker, the Headquarters Support Company commander.

The training began with mission briefings, gear checks and run throughs of multiple jump scenarios on the ground before taking to the air.

"The training was a success," Shumaker said.

According to Army Staff Sgt. Emerson McArthur, lead jumpmaster, this training was a rare opportunity for him and his fellow jumpers.

"Today we had three birds following each other for combat mass attack operations," McArthur said. "Normally we don't get to do that, but the 374th provided the support for us."

Not only was the training beneficial to maintain proficiency for the jumpers, but it was also a step necessary for the jumpers to advance into higher ranks.

"(Today's) jump was required to advance to senior jump master status," McArthur said. "(This type of jump) doesn't happen often and we appreciate the support we received today."

Stratotanker, Stratofortress tandem continue half a century of Asia-Pacific partnership

by Airman 1st Class Marianique Santos,  36th Wing Public Affairs
ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- America's involvement in the Vietnam War continued to escalate in 1965, and on June 18, 27 B-52 Stratofortresses broke the threshold of Guam's airspace toward the open skies of the Pacific to conduct the first Arc Light mission. At the same time, 27 KC-135 Stratotankers departed Japan to rendezvous with the bombers in the Philippines to refuel them for a 4,500 nautical mile round trip.

Ever since its first sortie, the KC-135 has played an important role in extending the reach of the B-52's airpower and lengthening the duration of its hovering capabilities -- capabilities that are crucial to a region surrounded by water.

"The relationship between the KC-135 and B-52 is one that has grown over the years and is now ideally suited to the Pacific Air Forces area of responsibility," said Lt. Col. Harry Dyson, 36th Operation Support Squadron commander.

"Andersen is one of the critical bases here in the Pacific because it's close enough to all our allies and our adversaries, while still being outside of immediate threat range," he continued. "The distances involved in the PACAF region are so great, and the ability to employ from Andersen is achievable because of the KC-135s and B-52s that rotate here regularly."

A B-52 Stratofortress and a KC-97 Stratotanker take a slow dive during an aerial refueling in the 1950s. The B-52 had to slow down, drop its flaps and tires in order for the KC-97 to keep up with its speed and altitude. (Courtesy photo)
The B-52 started flying in 1952, while the first KC-135 was first delivered to the Air Force in 1957. Though the tanker was a little behind on the delivery, it was built to cater to the in-flight capabilities of the B-52's speed and operational altitude. Prior to the delivery of the KC-135s, The Air Force relied on the KC-97 Stratotanker for in-flight refueling, which was less than ideal for the Stratofortress' speed and operational high operational altitude.

As the U.S. Air Force started using the KC-135 more and more, the B-52 and KC-135 tandem was pivotal in historical combat operations stretching from the War in Vietnam to present day conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

According to an article written by U.S. Air Force (Ret.) Col. Walter Boyne, a combat veteran, aviation historian and author, during Arc Light, KC-135s were used to keep the bombers in the air during missions that lasted for 12 hour or longer. Though some tankers stayed in the Philippines to be on stand-by for tactical aircraft during the span of Linebacker and Linebacker II, one tanker was always assigned to one bomber during inbound portions.

"That was pretty much the case for every mission," Meyer said. "Even when they started making the G and the H models for the Stratofortress, which actually fly a little bit further, the KC-135s were still important to accomplishing the bomber missions."

By 1972, there were 195 KC-135s stationed in the Asia-Pacific region to support the 155 B-52s on Andersen's ramp and other combat aircraft spread all throughout the region.

After the Vietnam War, the tandem also conducted missions that forwarded or launched from the Pacific. Meyers said that multiple operations required aerial refueling capabilities in order to get the B-52s to their destination and back.

A B-52 Stratofortress tries to connect to a KC-135 Stratotanker in order to execute aerial refueling over the Pacific Ocean, Aug. 10, 2012. The B-52 and KC-135 tandem has been used in pivotal wars, including historical combat operations during the War in Vietnam to present day conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Marianique Santos/Released)
The duo was always ready on Andersen  when it was a Strategic Air Command base during the Cold War and continued to be used in the Middle East during operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

"During Operation Desert Shield in 1991, the bombers utilized Andersen as a forward base to get to an expeditionary location where they launched for attack," he continued. "Two B-52s launched from here in 1996 for Operation Desert Strike and conducted a 33-hour to drop conventional bombs in Iraq as a warning."

Today, the partnership lives on with the 506th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron and the expeditionary B-52 bomb squadrons that rotate in and out of Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, to support U.S. Pacific Command's Continuous Bomber Presence and continue a partnership that has proven itself through history.

Boxer Amphibious Ready Group to Depart for Deployment

The amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4) transits San Diego Bay as it gets underway. The Boxer Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) is underway off the coast of Southern California completing a certification exercise (CERTEX). CERTEX is the final evaluation of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (13th MEU) and Boxer ARG prior to deployment. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Ryan Valverde/Released)

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- The Boxer Amphibious Ready Group (BOXARG) is scheduled to depart Aug. 23 for a deployment to the 5th and 7th Fleet areas of responsibility.

The BOXARG, which includes USS Boxer (LHD 4), USS New Orleans (LPD 18) and USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49), will focus on maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts. BOXARG is fully capable of amphibious assault and Special Forces operations, humanitarian missions and non-combatant operations.

"We've had a very rigorous training cycle to prepare us to execute any mission when called upon," said Capt. Malcolm Potts, commander, Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 1 and commander of BOXARG. "I am awed and impressed by the ingenuity, creativity, and industriousness of the 4,200 dedicated Sailors and Marines that serve on our ships."

The ships will embark approximately 2,400 Marines from the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU). The MEU is capable of conducting conventional amphibious operations and selected maritime special operations at night or during adverse weather conditions from the sea, by surface or by air.

U.S. 3rd Fleet leads naval forces in the Eastern Pacific from the West Coast of North America to the international date line and provides the realistic, relevant training necessary for an effective global Navy.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Submarine USS Albuquerque Returns from Deployment

By Petty Officer 1st Class Anthony Walker
NAVAL BASE POINT LOMA, Calif. (NNS) -- Friends and family of Sailors aboard the Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine USS Albuquerque (SSN 706) welcomed home Albuquerque's crew Aug. 21 following a seven-month deployment to the Western Pacific.

The deployment supported the nation's Maritime Strategy, which includes maritime security, forward presence, sea control, and power projection.

During the deployment, Albuquerque executed missions vital to national security and participated in U.S. and multinational naval exercises. The ship visited Yokosuka, Thailand, Sasebo and Saipan while traveling more than 30,000 nautical miles during the course of its deployment.

"I'm tremendously proud of what the crew accomplished over the last seven months," said Cmdr. Chris Cavanaugh, Albuquerque's commanding officer. "We have demonstrated the full range of submarine capabilities and participated in several exercises with our Japanese and Thai allies. We also had several memorable port visits and special events, including the ship's 1,000th dive and 30th birthday."

Albuquerque was commissioned May 21, 1983. Measuring more than 360 feet long and displacing more than 6,900 tons, Albuquerque has a crew of nearly 140 Sailors. Albuquerque is capable of supporting various missions, including anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface ship warfare, strike, surveillance, and reconnaissance.

6th Fleet Flagship Mount Whitney Departs France

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Collin Turner,  USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20) Public Affairs Office 
THEOULE-SUR-MER, France (NNS) -- U.S. 6th Fleet flagship, USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20), concluded a 4-day port visit to Theoule-sur-Mer, France, after taking part in several events honoring the 69th anniversary of the liberation of Provence, Aug. 17.

"This year is the 69th anniversary, and I was fortunate enough to be in southern France as a lieutenant to recognize the 50th anniversary many years ago," said Capt. Craig Clapperton, Mount Whitney's commanding officer "This has been Mount Whitney's third consecutive year in Theoule-sur-Mer, and the city and the ship have developed a great friendship."

During the visit, Sailors hosted ship tours and an on board reception, took part in wreath-laying ceremonies, marched in a parade, attended a reception at city hall and a participated in a military ceremony at the Rhone American Cemetery.

Sailors also participated in a parade from the pier to the center of the city and attended a formal reception at Theoule-sur-Mer's town hall, hosted by Mayor Daniel Mansanti.

"Meeting the mayor was great," said Information System's Technician 1st Class Danny Suarez. "I never in my life would have imagined being in the French Riviera and having the chance to meet the mayor."

The last event was a full military ceremony at the Rhone American Cemetery and Memorial in Draguignan. Charles Rivkin, United States Ambassador to France and Monaco and Clapperton were the guests of honor.

The event started with the presentation of colors by Mount Whitney's color guard, followed by the playing of the U.S. and French national anthems by the U.S. 6th Fleet band.

"It was fantastic taking part in the remembrance ceremony at the Rhone Cemetery today," said Ship's Serviceman 3rd Class Cequita Edmond, a member of the color guard. "Being able to present our national colors during the event was truly a humbling experience."

Mount Whitney, homeported in Gaeta, Italy, is the U.S. 6th Fleet flagship and operates with a combined crew of U.S. Sailors and civil service mariners. The civil service mariners perform navigation, deck, engineering, laundry and galley service operations, while military personnel aboard support communications, weapons systems and security.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

California National Guard air resources battle wildfires

MAFFS 6, a C130J from the 146th Airlift Wing in Port Hueneme, Calif., drops a line of retardant over the trees in the mountains above Palm Springs July 19, 2013. The 146th Airlift Wing was activated July 18 to support CAL Fire and CAL OES on the Mountain fire and other potential wildfire activity throughout the state. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Nicholas Carzis/Released)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Nearly a dozen aircraft and crews from the California Air and Army National Guard are battling wildfires across Northern California.

Currently, nine California Army National Guard helicopters and two California Air National Guard airtankers are working in coordination with CAL FIRE and U.S. Forest Service firefighting crews to battle the American, Swedes and Rim fires. In total the aircraft have dropped more than 250,000 gallons of water or retardant since the first crews were activated on Aug. 13.

As of Tuesday, Guard units were also involved in fighting fires in Idaho, Nevada, Oregon and Utah.
"We train for this fight every year," said Maj. Gen. David S. Baldwin, adjutant general of the California National Guard (CNG). "Our ongoing coordination with CAL FIRE and CAL OES ensures that the right people, with the right training, are in the right place when the lives and property of our fellow Californians are on the line."

Three UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters are battling the American Fire, two Black Hawks are dropping on the Rim Fire, and a team of two Black Hawks and one CH-47 Chinook helicopter are flying in support of the Swedes Fire. Meanwhile, one Black Hawk is staged in Redding on call for medevac support throughout Northern California.

Each Black Hawk is equipped with a 660-gallon water bucket, while the Chinook's bucket has a 2,000-gallon capacity. The medevac helicopter is equipped with a specialized crew and a hoist for extracting injured personnel from rugged terrain. The helicopters have completed more than 229 drops, releasing about 111,500 gallons of water since their activation on Aug. 17.

The two C-130J airtankers are fighting the Rim fire. Both aircraft are equipped with the Modular Airborne Firefighting Systems II (MAFFS) and are capable of discharging 3,000 gallons of water or retardant along the leading edge of a fire in less than five seconds, saturating an area one-quarter of a mile long by 100 feet wide.

Since their activation Aug. 13, the airtankers have completed more than 53 drops, releasing about 142,000 gallons of retardant.

As a member of the state's mutual aid system, CNG aircraft and specially trained personnel are routinely used and deployed by the Governor's Office of Emergency Services (OES) to respond to a wide range of emergencies including wildfires, search and rescue missions and other disasters throughout the state." This multi-agency coordination and resource sharing effort provides an efficient and effective way to combat the state's most difficult wildfires.

Airmen accomplish airlift surge

C-130 Hercules fly during a training mission above Yokota Air Base, Japan, Aug. 19, 2013. Seven C-130s flew in formation practicing airlift tactics and procedures. (U.S. Air Force photo by Osakabe Yasuo)

by Tech. Sgt. Christopher Marasky,  374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- Twenty-eight powerful T56 turboprop engines sit on the flightline, idling as they prepare to generate over 125,000 horsepower to lift seven C-130 Hercules into the air in a coordinated take off.

That was the sight as Yokota Air Base conducted a large formation training operation Aug. 19, 2013. Seven C-130's took off in the surge formation to practice the 374th Airlift Wing's capability to maintain and launch multiple aircraft at once.

Members of the 374th Maintenance Group and the 374th Operations Group worked together over the weekend to ensure all of the aircraft were ready to fly.

"We are working with the crew chiefs and assisting them with everything they need," said Airman 1st Class Nathan Judd, 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron electrical and environmental apprentice. "We make sure everything looks right and works correctly, ensuring all of our systems are top notch."

Judd said working with the other units on the large number of aircraft and in the timeframe provided was a unique and challenging opportunity for young Airmen.

"This has been a great experience for a young Airman," he said. "Normal day to day operations feel like training, but when you get to something like this, it feels real. We have a high pace tempo and turn more aircraft, so it's been a great experience and a lot of fun."

Along with the maintainers and operators, many other units around Yokota had the opportunity to practice and showcase their capabilities during the surge event, including the 374th Operations Support Squadron.

"These events really increase our ops tempo, and we look forward to them every time," said Tech. Sgt. Richard Price, 374th OSS tower watch supervisor. "These surges prevent us from becoming complacent, and they showcase our ability to launch and control multiple aircraft outside of the normal."

While the tower has only a small piece of the overall mission during the surge, they highlighted how every piece has to come together to make the event work according to Price.

"Our part might be small in the big picture, but if the aircraft are late taking off, it will throw off the entire schedule," he said. "So we're a small, but important part of the mission."

One member who got a chance to see how it takes a team to accomplish the mission was Senior Airman Jason Cotton, a 374th Maintenance Operations Squadron aerospace propulsion journeyman, who had the opportunity to fly in one of the C-130's in the formation.

"The flight made me realize that every part of this operation is important," he said. "My shop can build engines all day long, but we aren't the ones who put them on the aircraft, and we don't inspect the plane before the flight. I realize now that it takes more than the props shop to make it go, so I see what it's all about now."

Cotton said the experience also helped him understand the importance of what he does and his role within the mission.

"It showed me how all of the hard work pays off," he said. "The whole thing makes you realize a little bit more how important this job is."

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Washington Army National Guard's Sherpa takes final flight from base

By 2nd Lt. Justin Patterson, Washington National Guard

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. - The C-23 Sherpa airplane has served an interesting role in the modern military.

As the only currently used fixed-wing aircraft in the Washington Army National Guard, it has served an integral role in Washington military operations both domestically and overseas.
Those days came to an end Aug. 13, when the last Sherpa in the Washington Army Guard took its final flight away from Gray Army Airfield on Joint Base Lewis McChord.

First Sgt. Mark Logan, Sgt. First Class Stanley Hudson and Staff Sgt. Brian Brazell, all of Headquarters Company, 1-168 General Support Aviation Battalion, have been flight engineers for this aircraft since it was brought to the Washington Guard in 1996.

"These aircraft were originally a [commercial] airline version called the Shorts 330, but they were converted for military use. The Army had 44 of them at one time but now that we're turning them all in, those numbers are dwindling" Logan said..

This Sherpa, a C-23B+ model, has been used for the movement of more than 50 million pounds of cargo, 30 thousand passengers in theater and has been all over the world with the Washington Army Guard.

Serving as a cargo aircraft stateside and overseas, a vessel for Special Operations missions and a platform for paradrops of both personnel and equipment, this Sherpa has served in many different facets in the Washington Army Guard.

In fact, Brazell called the aircraft"the yellow cab of Iraq" for their deployments.

Chief Warrant Officer 4 Wayne Sparks, a pilot for the Sherpa, has been around for some of the more interesting uses of the aircraft, including piloting for military free-fall parachuting operations."I hate seeing the aircraft go," he said."I've enjoyed flying it. I have probably over half of my flight hours in this airframe."

Hudson, one of the original flight engineers on this aircraft in 1996, just wrapped up his 40th year in the Guard and will be retiring in the coming months. He said it was a good time to retire, going"out with a bang - with the plane."

The plane had also served as a"Sherpa Shuttle," moving Guard personnel to and from western and central Washington at scheduled times to shuttle troops for training while simultaneously maintaining flight hours on the aircraft.

After the aircraft fired up its twin engines and took off for the last time on Washington soil, the pilots of the C-23 took a circle around the airfield, coming down low over the airstrip and waved its wings' goodbye, a symbolic gesture of farewell. While the Sherpa is fading out of service with the Washington Guard, it will forever be a part of its legacy.

Fighting Falcons over Alaskan skies

A formation of F-16 Fighting Falcons assigned to the 100th Fighter Squadron, Dannelly Field, Ala., waits to refuel over the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex during RED FLAG-Alaska 13-3 Aug. 19, 2013, Eielson Air Force Base Alaska. The JPARC airspace covers more than 67,000 square miles and is the largest military air-ground training complex in North America. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Miguel Lara III/Released)

Operation Northern Strike Highlights Michigan Capabilities

A C-130 Hercules from the 182nd Airlift Wing, Illinois Air National Guard, takes off from the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center, Aug. 13, 2013, as two Airmen from the 127th Wing, Michigan Air National Guard, talk in front of an A-10 Thunderbolt II. The aircraft were both flying at Alpena in support of Operation Northern Strike, a joint military exercise that involved military personnel from more than a dozen different states and was centered around Alpena and the Camp Grayling Maneuvering Training Center, both in northern Michigan. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by MSgt. Denice Rankin/Released)

by TSgt. Dan Heaton,  127th Wing Public Affairs

SELFRIDGE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Mich. -- In one of the most comprehensive displays of military might in the modern history of the Great Lakes region, Operation Northern Strike brought together Soldiers, Airmen and other military personnel for two weeks of intense operational training at locations across northern Michigan in August.

The second annual exercise showcased not only the integrated combat capability of the Michigan Air and Army National Guard, but also highlighted the state's primary training facilities at Camp Grayling Joint Maneuver Training Center and the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center, both located in northern Lower Michigan. Units and personnel from Selfridge Air National Guard Base and the Battle Creek Air National Guard Base also participated in the operation, along with support from Army, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Air Force units from around the state and Great Lakes region. The exercise also featured an international flavor with a half-dozen combat controllers from Latvia - one of Michigan's two State Partnership for Peace partner nations - and from Canada participating in the exercise. In all, 29 different units from 16 states, plus the two international partners, participated in the exercise.

The exercise allowed the various units of the Michigan National Guard to train on joint operations between air, land and sea units - even including coordination with a U.S. Navy frigate off the Virginia coast, said Col. Michael T. Thomas, 127th Wing commander at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, which provided both A-10 Thunderbolt II attack aircraft and KC-135 Stratotanker refuelers to the exercise.

"The Michigan National Guard continues to develop tools to jointly project air power anywhere in the world," Thomas said. "Our Air National Guard units, facilities and synergies lead the way in becoming the eyes and ears of the warfighter, presenting and processing information for the entire team in unprecedented ways."

During the exercise, 127th Wing personnel launched aircraft from both Selfridge and from Alpena. A variety of Michigan Army National Guard helicopters also utilized the same runways to participate in the exercise. Utilizing the same base infrastructure for the various aircraft from multiple units makes the exercise cost-efficient for the taxpayer, said Col. Bryan Teff, commander of the Alpena CRTC.

"Northern Strike 2013 will establish the framework for future joint multi-dimensional operations at Camp Grayling and the Alpena CRTC allowing for progression in complexity, integration and dept," Teff said. "This event will validate the necessity of joint forces training in sustaining a ready Michigan Army and Air National Guard that has regional focus and global agility."

Units participating in the exercise included infantry, cavalry, field artillery, aviation, special operations elements of the Michigan Army National Guard; Air National Guard and Air Force Joint Terminal Attack Controllers and F-16s Fighting Falcon, C-130 Hercules and B-52 StratroFortress aircraft in addition to the A-10s and KC-135s from Selfridge; Marines from the 2nd Division, and a new player to the exercise, the Coast Guard's ice breaker USCGC Mackinaw and rescue helicopters from Traverse City. In addition to Michigan, National Guard personnel from Illinois, New York, Indiana and Georgia participated in the exercise.

The exercise featured more than 700 air sorties, many of which included "live fire" evolutions at the Grayling Aerial Gunnery Range or personnel extractions during search and rescue operations.

The Michigan Air National Guard is comprised of the 127th Wing at Selfridge Air National Guard Base and the 110th Air Wing at Battle Creek Air National Guard Base. The MI-ANG also operates the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center and the Grayling Aerial Gunnery Range in northern Michigan.