Showing posts with label Air-Force. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Air-Force. Show all posts

Sunday, July 23, 2017

JET/IA Patch Explainer

In my travels through Afghanistan I frequently came across a number of Air Force personnel wearing the "JET/IA" shoulder patch. For a few years I just wondered what the "JET/IA" stood for. Finally I started asking. Most of the Air Force dudes just didn't know. One Air Force guy finally offered up "Joint Expeditionary Tasking / Individual Augmentee". Well . . . . that tells me a lot. So it is good to read this recent news release explaining the "JET/IA" shoulder patch. Read "JET/IA Airmen support partners, Afghanistan", DVIDS, July 22, 2017.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

MAAS - Helping F-16 Pilots Stop on the Bagram Runway in Emergencies

If you are an F-16 Falcon pilot experiencing an emergency during a take off or landing at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan - how do you stop from careening down the runway (i.e. brake failure)? You can get help from the 455th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron! The 544th ECES sets up the Mobile Aircraft Arresting System (MAAS) on the runway at Bagram Airfield for exactly this type of event. The MAAS is a barrier used to catch the arresting hook of fighter aircraft in case of malfunction upon landing or take off. Watch a video on this topic by the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Air Power

Should We Unleash America's Airpower in Afghanistan? David Petraeus (former ISAF commander and CIA Director) and Michael O'Hanlon (a cheerleader for a deeper involvement of U.S. forces in Afghanistan) combined in this opinion piece to argue that we need to increase the air strikes in Afghanistan to help the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces until such time that their air force can get up to speed. They argue that while the U.S. Air Force, Navy and Coalition partners are conducting daily strikes to defeat (or degrade) the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria much less is being done in Afghanistan. Read more in "It's time to unleash America's airpower in Afghanistan"The Washington Post, January 14, 2016.

RoE for Air Support Too Restrictive? Eli Lake,  a columnist who writes on foreign affairs and national security, shares his view on tight Rules of Engagement (ROE) for use of airpower in Afghanistan in "U.S. Forces Tied by Old Rules in Afghanistan"Bloomberg View, January 12, 2016.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

C-130 Crash in Jalalabad

C-130J in Afghanistan (Photo by AFCENT Oct 2013)
A U.S. Air Force C-130J cargo plane crashed on very early on Friday morning in Jalalabad, Afghanistan. Six crew members and five contractors died in the crash. Two Afghan civilians were killed on the ground. The Taliban have claimed credit for shooting down the aircraft (naturally); however, Resolute Support spokespeople have denied this - saying the crash is under investigation. Two of the airmen were from the 66th Security Force Squadron based at Hanscom AFB, Massachusetts. Four of the airmen were from Dyess Air Force Base in Texas. Read more in "C-130 crash in Afghanistan was not enemy action, Air Force says", Air Force Times, October 2, 2015.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

A-10 Treason Patch

The A-10 Treason Bird Patch is now available for U.S. Air Force officers who wish to kiss their careers goodbye. The patch is now authorized for those officers who verbally express their support for the A-10 Warthog and who question the ability of the F-35 to provide adequate close air support to ground forces. The patch is available from Doctrine Man at the link below:

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Report - A-10 Retirement

Everyone knows that the A-10 retirement is a bad thing for ground troops but a good thing for helping the United States Air Force fund its not-quite-ready (see news report on the F-35's GAU-22 Gun System) and very expensive F-35. Read more about the A-10 retirement in Proposed Retirement of A-10 Aircraft: Background in Brief, by Jeremiah Gertler, Congressional Research Service (CRS), January 5, 2015. Report is posted on the Afghan War News website at the link below.

Expeditionary Wing's Mission in RS

Two Air Expeditionary Wings will operate in Afghanistan as part of Operation Freedom's Sentinel. The 438th AEW will be based in the capital of Kabul with personnel at other locations as well performing the 'train, advise, and assist' mission supporting the Afghan Air Force. Topics to be trained and advised include airlift, aeromedical evacuation, tactical reconnaissance, and close air support. The 455th AEW will be based at Bagram Airfield but will also have some satellite locations. It's primary mission will be to maintain a counterterrorism capability in Afghanistan targeting the remnants of al-Qaeda. It may also provide combat enabler support to the ANSF in limited operations to prevent detrimental strategic effects to the Afghan security forces. The Air Force personnel will account for about 20 percent of the 13,000 RS troops remaining in Afghanistan. Information is from "The Continuing Mission in Afghanistan", Air Force Magazine, January 7, 2015.

Monday, January 12, 2015

U.S. Airman helps Afghan Interpreter in U.S.

Afghan interpreters are a key part of the Coalition's success in Afghanistan. It is difficult to conduct combat operations, civil affairs projects, training or advising because of the language barrier. However, because of a few thousand brave Afghan interpreters this task became easier. It addition to the interpretation, Afghan interpreters functioned as cultural advisors and were an important part of the Force Protection plan for Coalition members. Now that the war for the U.S. and Coalition is winding down many of the interpreters employed for years by the U.S. military are in search of employment. In addition, some are at risk of retribution by the Taliban. Some Afghan interpreters have been fortunate enough to receive a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) from the U.S. State Department. A few of these interpreters have also benefited from the assistance of an American sponsor. Read the story of one interpreter and his family who are being helped out by a U.S. Air Force Master Sergeant in "Academy Airman helps Afghan interpreter start new life in US", U.S. Air Force, January 10, 2015.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

J-35 to Replace A-10? Let's Hope Not

The news just doesn't get any better for the use of the new J-35 as a close support aircraft for ground troops. The Air Force would like to replace the A-10 with a version of the J-35 but it seems the "top-of-the-line" aircraft can't see the battlefield that well. In fact, the technology designed for the J-35 is ten years behind that being used right now by legacy aircraft. Read more in "Newest U.S. Stealth Fighter 10 Years Behind Older Jets", The Daily Beast, December 26, 2014.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

McCain: A-10 to Stay Awhile

Senator McCain, the incoming Armed Services Committee chairman, says that the A-10 will be around for a little while longer. Certainly this is good news for the Army; which, although it wants to leave counterinsurgency fights behind it, will certainly find itself engaged in COIN efforts like Afghanistan in the future. The A-10, besides being an extremely effective tank killer, provides great close air support. This, of course, is bad news for the Air Force leadership. The Air Force likes their very expensive shiny new toy (F-35) and wants to free up funds buy a lot more of them. Read more in "McCain vows A-10 fleet has a long life ahead"The Hill, December 19, 2014.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

A-10 Retirement? Not Quite Yet!

Congress is fighting hard to save the highly valued (by ground troops if not the Air Force) A-10 Warthog. This close air support aircraft is considered by many to be the best ground support platform available - especially in a counterinsurgency fight. The Tactical Air Control Party Association has sent a letter to SECDEF Hagel stating that the ". . . F-15s, F-16s, and B-1s cannot replicate the CAS capabilities of the A-10 . . ." The Air Force wants to scrap almost 300 of the A-10s to save money to buy advanced fighter jets like the F-35. Unfortunately the F-35 comes out on the short end when you analyze the "quality vs. quanity" argument. Some A-10s are still in service in Afghanistan and recently A-10s deployed to the Middle East to engage in the fight against ISIS. Read more in "A-10 Warthog retirement debated after replacements role in 'friendly fire' deaths", The Washington Times, November 30, 2014.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

C-27s and the U.S. Air Force

The United States Air Force has a troubling past with the C-27 aircraft. The U.S. Army needed a good, dependable tactical aircraft to transport personnel and equipment in combat zones in a time-sensitive manner. There was an agreement between the Army and the Air Force to field C-27s to fill this void; the aircraft would perform a type of transport mission that the C-130 was too large to handle. However, one just has to look at how the USAF is treating the C-27 fleet and you get a feel for how they are supporting this critical mission for the Army. The USAF's C-27 fleet is being eliminated entirely. Efforts to keep the aircraft in the National Guard were stymied by the USAF. Reports indicate that USSOCOM will pick up a few of the C-27s and the Coast Guard may convert some over to their use. Knowing the background of the Air Force C-27 fleet elimination helps understand why the USAF scrapped 16 brand-new C-27s bought for the Afghan Air Force so that they could field three C-130s. The C-27s are what the U.S. Army needed and the C-130s are NOT what the Afghan Air Force needed. The basic issue is that the Air Force wants "efficient" airlift (keep expenses down and stay on a forecasted schedule) while the Army needs "effective and timely short-range, tactical airlift" that is ideal for a counterinsurgency mission. Learn more in "The USA's C-27J Joint Cargo Aircraft", Defense Industry Daily, November 19, 2014.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

MC-12W Liberty Aircraft to Army

The United States Air Force is getting rid of its MC-12W Liberty aircraft. These unique aircraft were extremely useful in providing intelligence for the Afghan counter-insurgency fight. The MC-12W was a key component of the F3EAD process and in "attacking the network". But since we have won (not) the counter-insurgency war in Afghanistan and it is hardly likely that the U.S. Air Force will never have to support U.S. ground forces in a counterinsurgency (supposedly COIN is dead!) the USAF is dumping these extremely useful aircraft that generated great intelligence for the Afghan counterinsurgency effort. Fortunately the Army is smart enough to get some of the MC-12W transferred to their inventory. (Now if we can just get a hold of the A-10s). Read more in "USAF outlines divestiture plans for MC-12W Liberty aircraft", IHS Jane's 360, November 10, 2014.

Monday, October 27, 2014

C-5M Super Galaxies Assist in Retrograde

The 18th Air Force has begun using C-5M Super Galaxies to move equipment out of Afghanistan. Most of the retrograde has been completed using C-17s; however the Operation Inherent Resolve (Iraq War) mission has cut into the availability of the C-17s for Afghanistan. The C-M5 is usually used in a strategic role (transatlantic flights) not in a tactical role (shorter flights into and out of war zones). Read more in "18th AF goes big on retrograde operations", Air Mobility Command, October 24, 2014.

Monday, October 13, 2014

C-5M Super Galaxy and Afghan Retrograde

Next to the Security Force Assistance (SFA) mission in Afghanistan the next biggest mission is retrograde. Getting personnel and equipment home to the United States as the troop commitment drops to 9,800 in December 2014. The c-5M Super Galaxy is playing a big role in the retrograde mission. Read more in "Airmen take retrograde operations to the next level", DVIDS, October 10, 2014.

Friday, October 10, 2014

U.S. Airstrikes Increase in Afghanistan

The air war in Afghanistan has been heating up. More airstrikes were conducted during the month of August than in any single month in the past two years. There are probably many reasons for this. ISAF is closing a lot of bases so the increase in convoys conducting retrograde of personnel and equipment required additional air support. July and August are typically the most active for the Taliban (something about fighting in hot weather) so the number of airstrikes to support ISAF and Afghan security forces would naturally be high. In addition, the Taliban (far from being defeated on the battlefield) were taking it to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) this year. 2014 saw a 30% increase in casualties for the ANSF. There were 436 weapon releases for August 2014 compared to an average of 150 in the previous seven months. Read more in "US intensifies Afghan airstrikes as drawdown nears", The Boston Globe, October 8, 2014.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Last AWACS E-3A Departs Mazar-e-Sharif

The last AWACS E-3A stationed at Mazar-e-Sharif departed on September 23, 2014 for its home station. NATO has stationed E-3As in northern Afghanistan (at Camp Marmal) for the past several years. The air field at MeS does not have the high-end radar systems to monitor and control multiple aircraft (helicopters, fighters, transports, contract aircraft, civilian aircraft, etc.) so the AWACS provided that ability. Now that ISAF is withdrawing and there are only a few NATO aircraft left in the north the E-3A is no longer needed. The E-3As were flown and staffed by NATO aircrews from across Europe. The primary function of the E-3A is airborne surveillance, command, control, and communications. The aircraft has an endurance of more than 8 hours and can be refueled in the air.

The following links provide information on the AWACS. You can visit the NATO AWAC E-3A Component website, get a virtual (online tour) about the E-3A here, see the NATO E-3A Component Facebook, view a video clip about the features of the plane, and view a video of an USAF E-3 Sentry mission over Afghanistan. (Photo by Wiel Borghans shows the last E-3A departing Mazar-e-Sharif airfield).

EC-130H Compass Call in Afghanistan

Photo by SSG Evelyn Chavez 455th Expeditionary Wing
There are all sorts of aircraft flying overhead in Afghanistan. Some are small and some very large and they all have specific missions. What those missions are is sometimes a mystery. Most everyone knows that an A-10 provides Close Air Support, a C-17 will be your ticket home, a Black Hawk will get you to that remote FOB (well, it used to - the small FOBs have or will be going away). But what does a EC-130H Compass Call plane do? Fortunately the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing located on Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan provides us with a little information on the EC-130H and the 41st Expeditionary Electronic Combat Squadron. The EC-130H Compass Call aircraft " . . . conducts electronic attack operations in order to deny, degrade or disrupt enemy communications". The aircraft can provide " . . . the ability to engage and receive real time target sets . . . " and helps to create a safe mission environment for the troops on the ground. Read the entire article in "41 EECS Scorpions execute theater electronic warfare", DVIDS, September 22, 2014.

Friday, February 14, 2014

MC-12W ISR Provides Find, Fix Capability to ISAF

The MC-12 W Liberty aircraft has been providing a find, fix, and finish capability to ISAF since December 2009 in Afghanistan. The MC-12 aircraft is well-suited for providing critical intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance for U.S. forces. The aircraft has tactical systems on board such as cameras and other sensors. In a counterinsurgency fight the development of intelligence to find and fix the enemy is key. Read more in "MC-12s find, fix and finish in Afghanistan", DVIDS, February 10, 2014. (Photo by Senior Airman Newman).

Monday, February 10, 2014

C-17 Globemasters Working Overtime for Afghan Retrograde

U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III aircrews are working around the clock to support Operation Enduring Freedom retrograde operations, airlifting equipment out of Afghanistan and fulfilling a vital role at one of U.S. Central Command's regional deployment and distribution operations centers, strategically located air, land and sea logistics hubs. Airmen of the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron fly multiple sorties a day to airlift mine resistant ambush protected vehicles out of Afghanistan. The MRAPs are airlifted out of Afghanistan to one of the transit locations where they are then loaded onto ships and sent on to the United States. Read the rest of the story in "Combat airlift role critical to retrograde operations", DVIDS, February 4, 2014. Photo from DVIDS photo libary.