Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Air Force Security Forces Flunk Nuke Test-corrective action taken

It has recently come to light that last August,US Air Force Security Forces at Malmstrom Air Force Base,Montana,flunked a test of their ability to quickly regain control of a missile silo captured by the enemy.This fault resulted in the base flunking its entire safety and security inspection.According to an internal review obtained by the Associated Press,the forces failed to take all lawful actions to immediately regain control of nuclear weapons.
At the time,the Air Force said tactical level errors were committed in one phase of the inspection,without elaborating.The unit received a rating of "unsatisfactory." The review cited insufficient training resulting in a lack of familiarity with complex scenario exercises;unspecified shortcomings in leadership culture;and a lack of standardized simulations throughout the nuclear missile forces.The failure reportedly involved missing the mark by a matter of seconds.
Lieutenant General Jim Kowalski,who was at the time Commander,Global Strike Command,which oversees the nuclear missile and strategic bomber forces,denied that the incident means the safety of the nuclear missile arsenal is at risk,since the inspections are designed to be tough.The unit fumbled in this exercise.
The unit was tested again a few months later and passed.Nearly all the corrective actions proposed by the review have been accomplished,according to GSC.*
Malmstrom AFB is one of three Minuteman III bases,each housing 150 of the ICBMs.The other two bases are in North Dakota and Wyoming.Malmstrom defines its mission as being to defend America with safe,secure and effective nuclear forces and combat ready Airmen.The 341st Security Forces Group,including the Tactical Response Force,are critical to this effort.
In the Nuclear Advanced Designated Marksman program,members of the TRF are trained at Camp Guernsey,Wyoming for six weeks.They become adept at observing enemy forces unseen and engaging them when appropriate.They are trained in weapons accuracy,camouflage and the ability to sustain themselves in the field.
A few times a month,the TRF trains with the base's Huey UH-1N helicopters.They practice infiltration and exfiltration in order to achieve instant response capability anywhere on the base,to reassert control of captured convoys and launch sites.
The 341st Security Forces Group generally is entrusted with securing roads to and from launch sites on which nuclear weapons are transported;weapons storage facilities;launch control centers;and controlling access to Malmstrom AFB.*
LT GEN Kowalski is now Deputy Commander,US Strategic Command,of which Global Strike Command is a part.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Sikorsky/Lockheed Win Marine One Contract

The Sikorsky/Lockheed Martin team has been awarded a 1.24 billion US Navy contract for the next fleet of Marine One presidential helicopters.The contract is to modify,test and deliver an initial order of six Sikorsky S-92 helicopters:two engineering vehicles and four demonstrator aircraft;to be followed by 17 more in three groupings,beginning in 2019.
The process will be run as follows:
1.Build off-the-shelf S-92s,which are currently used for civil search and rescue,executive transport and offshore oil&gas operations,at the Sikorsky plant in Coatesville,Pennsylvania.
2.Modify them for presidential use at the Sikorsky headquarters plant in Stratford,Connecticut.
3.Install advanced communications and mission systems at Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Training in Owego,New York.
4.Install the cabin back at Stratford.
We stand ready to deliver the next Marine One,the world's most advanced executive transport helicopter,said Sikorsky president Mark Maurer.The helicopters will transport the President,Vice President and visiting heads of state.In April 2010,Sikorsky teamed with Lockheed Martin to develop a military version of its medium-sized S-92 helicopter.
The project will create or sustain about 200 jobs in Owego,New York,Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillebrand said.*
United Technologies(UTX),Lockheed Martin(LMT)

SIKORSKY S-92 HELICOPTER Chosen for Marine One

NORAD F-15 Air Alert

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Infantry Operations:US Marines Battle For Helmand Province

Although the Afghan National Army is taking over more and more bases and functions,American troops are still carrying out certain tasks by themselves even as their involvement trails off to nearly full withdrawal by the end of 2014.For example,US Marines of Bravo Company,1st Battalion,7th Marine Regiment conducted a mission in Tagrevshk Village in Helmand Province,Afghanstan on 1 May,2014,as documented in a Department of Defense photo essay.The Marines were inserted into the village by CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters.Their mission was to disrupt suspected Taliban militants in the area.It's a show of force,a security sweep and an intellgence operation.
Several of the Marines went down on one knee to provide security,while an automatic rifleman secured the mission by assuming a prone position with his weapon.Platoon commander 1ST LT Robert Key,Jr. knelt on one knee while he established radio communications with his headquarters.
Under a fire team leader,some of the Marines patrolled the perimeter of the village.Assisted by an interpreter,SGT Warren Sparks gathered intelligence from a village elder.A biometric enrollment and screening device,which is applied to the forehead,was used by a corporal to check out an Afghan man who wore a camouflage vest.
At the conclusion of the mission,a yellow M18 Colored Smoke Grenade was set off to mark the landing zone and two Super Stallions extracted Bravo Company from Tagrevshk Village.Besides marking landing zones,the grenades are used for ground-to-ground or ground-to-air signaling;target marking;and as a screening device for unit manueuvering.The grenades come in red,green,yellow and violet smoke and produce clouds of smoke for 50-90 seconds.
The CH-53E is primarily an assault support helicopter that lifts heavy weapons and materiel such as Humvess,howitzers and general support cargo,but can also transport up to 55 troops.It is armed with two XM-218 and one GAU-21 .50-caliber machine guns.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Still Making News:The Vital U-2 Spy Plane

Nearly 57 years since it entered service on 1 August 1957,the U-2 spy plane is as relevant today as ever.Despite repeated attempts to schedule its retirement,the US Air Force cannot seem to rid itself of this remarkable Lockheed Martin achievement.
The U-2S is an all-weather tactical reconnaissance aircraft.Designed for minimal weight,this very aspect makes it difficult to fly.The pilots must also wear a partially pressurised space suit that delivers oxygen and protects from a loss of cabin pressure.An hour before takeoff,they must breathe pure oxygen to prepare for the rigourous flight.It's still one of the most exciting rides around.*
The US Air Force 9th Reconnaissance Wing,based at Beale Air Force Base,California, has a fleet of 32 U-2Ss scattered among bases in California;South Korea;Cyprus;and the UAE.Their classified missions may take them to altitudes in excess of 70,000 feet,where they can simaltaneously collect signals,imagery and air samples.The imagery is captured by wet film,electro-optics or radar.A ground view is provided to the pilot by an off the shelf Sony digital video cam,replacing the old periscope.*
The essence of the U-2's usefulness is its superior sensor package that can be targeted at short notice,unlike even the best satellites,coupled with unmatched all-weather capability.The proposed replacement,the expensive RQ-4 Global Hawk UAV drone,just hasn't measured up to the old Dragon Lady yet,pushing her retirement ever farther into the distance.The last projected date for the phaseout to begin was 2016,but Congress isn't happy about that one,either.*
NASA has its own fleet of white U-2s called ER-2s that fly out of the Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards,California.They conduct atmospheric,celestial,terrestrial and oceanic research.*
A U-2 flying over the Los Angeles Basin at high altitude last Wednesday apparently confused the FAA's new air traffic control software at the Los Angeles Air Route Traffic Control Center in Palmdale,California.As a result,some 500 flights out of Los Angeles International Airport had to be grounded for up to an hour while engineers worked the problem.The FAA says mitigation measures have been put in place and software changes will be made to prevent a reoccurrence.The Air Force denies that any signals were being emitted by the spy plane at the time.*
Lockheed Martin(LMT),Sony(SNY)

U-2 spy plane landing at Beale AFB U2 raw video from chase car of TU-2S 2-seat trainer

Modern U-2 Spy Plane Landing at Undisclosed Location