Tuesday, November 27, 2012

New Marine Corps F-35B Fighter Squadron Formed

The world's first operational squadron of F35B Joint Strike Fighters has been formed by the US Marine Corps at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma,Arizona.Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 was formally inaugurated at a November 20 ceremony.Its first F-35B aircraft had arrived on the 15th,and a second landed at the base on the 20th.There will ultimately be 16 of the ultra-sophisticated jets in the squadron,slated to arrive within a year's time.
The squadron had formerly flown the F/A-18D Hornet fighter jets for the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing.The first two members of the new squadron are veteran pilots of 3rd MAW who trained on the F35B at Eglin Air Force Base,Florida.
The Pentagon spent about 500 million dollars on improvements to MCAS Yuma for the new squadron,preparing facilities,hangars and runways for the advanced stealth aircraft.Some had questioned the new squadron's formation on concerns that the new aircraft's bugs had not been thoroughly worked out amid its schedule delays and cost overruns.Prime F35B contractor Lockheed Martin insists the propulsion and structural issues have now been resolved.
Speaking at the ceremony,one of the program's critics,Senator John McCain(R-Arizona),said he was encouraged that the overall program is moving in the right direction.It is finally set up to produce more achievable and predictable outcomes.
The short takeoff and vertical landing aircraft can be launched from smaller ships and land in more confined areas,giving it more tactical flexibility than conventional maritime fighter aircraft.It can be used on a wider variety of missions because of these advantages,as well as its stealthy,radar-evading airframe.
The commanding officer of the new squadron is Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey B. Scott.
Lockheed Martin(LMT)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Afghan War Casualty Report:Navy SEAL Killed

According to the Pentagon,as of November 12,2143 had died in the Afghan War,including 3 Department of Defense civilians and several killed in connection with the war in far flung locations from Guantanamo Bay,Cuba, to Yemen.Of the total,1701 died in hostile actions;442 died in non-hostile actions.
Killed in a hostile action on November 1 was Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew G. Kantor,22,of Gillette,New Jersey.He was a member of a Naval Special Warfare unit based in Virginia Beach,Virginia,and was killed in Zabul Province,Afghanistan.
The following US Army soldiers were also killed in hostile actions in Afghanistan this month:
Spec.Brett E. Gornewicz,27,of Alden,New York.
Spec.Ryan P. Jayne,29,of Campbell,New York.
Staff Sgt, Dain T. Venne,29,of Port Henry,New York.
They were members of 178th Engineer Battalion,412th Theater Engineer Command,based in Oswego,New York,and were killed in Paktia Province on November 3.
Also killed in Paktia Province was Sgt.Matthew H. Stiltz,26,of Spokane,Washington.He was a member of 1st Battalion,28th Infantry Regiment,4th Brigade Commbat Team,1st Infantry Division,based at Fort Riley,Kansas and was killed in a hostile action on November 12.
The following US Army soldiers also were killed in hostile actions from November 5-10:
Pfc.Brandon L. Buttry,19,of Shenandoah,Iowa,in Kandahar Province.
Capt.James D. Nehl,37,of Gardner,Oregon,in Ghazni Province.
Staff Sgt.Kenneth W. Bennett,26,of Glendora,California,in Kandahar Province.
Spec.Daniel L. Carlson,21,of Running Springs,California,died of non-combat injuries.
Your grateful nation remembers.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Marines Evolve Their Australian Presence

The US Marine Corps has established a presence in Australia.There are currently 250 Marines based there.General Joseph F. Dunford,Jr,Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps,said their presence has been a reinforcement of our already strong partnership with the Australians.They are a key ally,a trusted partner,and we've fought shoulder-to-shoulder with them in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Australia has some great training ranges in the north.Our current teaming effort involves combined training,enhancing our teamwork and building our partnership.
This includes training  and exercising with other nearby nations.We hope to gradually deepen our partnership at a pace both nations are comfortable with.While our training force today is infantry-centric,the desired end state is a Marine Air Ground Task Force,or MAGTF,that includes all elements-ground,air,logisitcs-that flows through this training environment on a rotational basis,General Dunford told Seapower magazine.
When constituted,the MAGTF will bring the total number of Marines in Australia up to 2500.General Dunford is now being considered by the US Senate for the post of commander of International Security Assistance Force Afghanistan,or ISAF.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Nature Note:The White-breasted Nuthatch

The white-breasted nuthatch(Sitta carolinensis) is basically a non-migratory bird,but is most visible in fall and winter,when it frequents bird feeders in wooded yards.Occurring from British Columbia east to Ontario and south to Mexico,this true forest bird nests in tree cavities and often flocks with other woodland types such as titmice,chickadees and woodpeckers in the colder months.
The white-breasted nuthatch scurries up and down tree trunks as it forages for insects or birdseed.Highly active and quick-moving,it has a blue-gray back,white breast and face and black cap.It doesn't eat nuts,despite its name.
This nuthatch is five inches long;by comparison,the American robin is eight-and-a-half inches long.It will snatch a sunflower seed from a feeder,then scurry away.