Tag Archives: US Air Force

U.S and Israel plan “limited surgical strikes” on Iranian enrichment facilities before presidential elections

David Rothkopf (DR), a former Clinton administration official has written an article on the Foreign Policy website stating that U.S. and Israel have decided on a limited surgical strike on the alleged Iranian enrichment facilities.

He quotes a close inside source as saying that the most likely action to be taken is a joint surgical strike as Israel cannot do it alone as it does not have the aircraft to carry the weapons needed to destroy the underground facilities (namely, the huge 30,000 lb Massive Ordnance Penetrator).

DR goes on to say that the strike would take only “a couple of hours” in the best case scenario and a couple of days in the worst case scenario and would be launched from the air using bombers with drone support.

Rothkopf points out that the U.S. Israeli administrations still have differing views on what would trigger the strike but it would seem progress has been made in what type of attack should take place.

The very limited strike would be more palatable for a war weary population in the U.S. (Iraq and Afghanistan) therefore would be less politically risky for the Obama administration which would also disarm some of the comments made by Obama’s political opponent in the lead up to the presidential elections.

The article does not give a time line for an attack but suggests that due to its limited nature, the strike is more likely to take place rather than something more elaborate and risky as a full scale air campaign.

There are rumours on websites that the attack will come before the Nov 6, day of presidential elections in the U.S.

Richard Clements for TheAviationist.com

Image credit: U.S. Air Force

Osprey tilt rotor aircraft crash has raised new safety concerns. But it might have been caused by human factor.

Recently, U.S. Department of Defense officials have had to organise a director level meeting with the Japanese Ministry of Defence and department of Foreign Affairs, to provide an update with regards to the MV-22 and CV-22 Osprey aircraft issues.

Pentagon press secretary George Little spoke to reporters and described the meeting as “An effort to address concerns about the aircraft by the governor of Okinawa” as the Department of Defence plans to base the MV-22, the Marine Corp version of the aircraft, to the Asia Pacific region.

Little also said “The Department of Defence takes the inquiries made by the Japanese government seriously and provided relevant information to the extent currently possible.”

“The Osprey is a highly-capable aircraft with an excellent operational safety record, which includes more than five years of worldwide deployments and 140,000 flight hours” Little said.

Image credit: U.S. Air Force

This came in light of another incident that involved a CV-22 Osprey that crashed on Eglin range in Florida on Jun. 13 2012 that has fueled once again concerns about the safety of the tilt rotor that, in spite of the Air Force and Marine Corps claims, has been much debated in the recent past.

However, the last episode could have had in the human factor its “root cause”. Indeed, AOL Defense’s Richard Whittle reported that the pilot in command of the Osprey that has recently crashed in Florida, was also the co-pilot of an AFSOC tilt rotor aircraft that crashed in Afghanistan on Apr. 8, 2010.

It’s not been disclosed whether the pilot Maj. Brian Luce or co-pilot Capt. Brett Cassidy were at the controls of the Osprey when it went down last June during a training exercise. All onboard suffered undisclosed injuries but were released from hospital a couple of days later.

The CV-22 was flying in helicopter mode along with another Osprey. Among the possible causes of the crash there is the possibility that it went into the rotor wash of the other tilt rotor aircraft: a powerful turbulence that can cause an unrecoverable “roll off”. Osprey crew members are warned to keep a safe distance to prevent this dangerous situation.

“The results of the Accident Investigation Board will guide our decisions, if there’s some misbehaviour on the part of the crew or if they performed in a way that was unsatisfactory, it’s too early to say whether they will or won’t face any disciplinary action” said 1st Special Operations Wing’s commander Col. James Slife in an interview with AOL Defense.

With an investigation still in progress, it’s too early to determine what will happen to Luce and Cassidy with regards to a disciplinary hearing or whether they will face penalties for the crash. However, in the meanwhile, Slice has relieved Lt. Col. Matthew Glover of command at the 8th Special Operations Squadrons since “philosophically” all the military services hold commanders responsible for what happens in the units, he said to AOL Defense.

The accident that Luce had been in previously in Afghanistan took place during a night raid against insurgents, where the Osprey had a “Hard Landing” and had caught its nose in a ditch when the nose wheel collapsed and flipped the Osprey onto its back killing 4 of the 19 occupants.

The crash investigators in that occasion found several contributing factors to the crash but none that could be singled out as the “root cause”. Among them: all from the crew being distracted as they pressed to make their landing zone, a 17 kts tailwind and a possible loss of engine power (although this was overruled by the commander of AFSOC, citing engineering studies that detected no evidence of power loss).

Noteworthy, about two months ago, a U.S. Marine Corps tilt rotor aircraft crashed in Morocco during African Lion joint exercise with two marines killed and two other severely injured in the crash.

Richard Clements for TheAviationist.com

B-52 "cart-start" and Minimum Interval Take-Off (MITO)

The rapid launch of 17 B-52 Stratofortresses, that was the highlight of Constant Vigilance exercise held at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, on Jun, 11, 2012 was just the last of a series of event that have the aim to test the U.S. Air Force heavy bomber force’s mission readiness.

As the following interesting video shows, in June 2009, Minot hosted a 15-ship 15 MITO (Minimum Interval Take Off) in support of Exercise Global Thunder.

You can see crew members and crew chiefs rush to the planes and then hear a series of “booms”, with white smoke, before the engines spool up. That’s the effect of “cart-starts”, small starter cartridges, coffee cup sized shotshells used to jumpstart the engines removing the need for ground power or air start.

Oriental Turboprops: U.S. C-130 Hercules cargo planes flying near Mt. Fuji, Japan

The following cool image shows a formation of U.S. Air Force C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft flying in formation on Jun. 5, 2012, as they return from the “Samurai Surge” training mission near Mount Fuji, Japan.

At 12,388 feet, Mount Fuji is the tallest mountain in Japan.

Image credit: U.S. Air Force

Thanks to the most recent upgrade B-1 bombers will be able to send, receive text messages and be programmed for war.

According to a U.S. Air Force release, B-1B strategic bombers are receiving advanced hardware and software upgrades as part of the Sustainment-Block 16 program.

Along with the Vertical Situation Display Upgrade, navigation, radar and diagnostic upgrades in the front station, five new color displays will equip the aft crew station, while weapon systems officers will receive full QWERTY keyboards and new controllers for the Integrated Battle Station software.

Within the upgrades foreseen in the Block 16, believed to give the U.S. Air Force “an entirely new aircraft”, there is also a new MIDS LVT-1 radio, that brings the B-1 into the Link-16 network, allowing the plane to send and receive text messages, imagery and mission assignments, allowing combat commanders the capability to send target sets directly to weapons onboard the B-1.

In this way, command and control assets will send the plane targets electronically, automatically linking into the aircraft system like some mobile phones do with V-cards (electronic business cards) received by means of SMS (Short Message Service), rather than manually entering the coordinates.

Quite soon three 337th Test and Evaluation Squadron aircraft will be modified with the new upgrades. Under the current plan, developmental testing for the entire Block 16 package is expected to begin in March 2013 while operational testing will take place in September 2013.

A recent upgrade package (worth 2 billion USD) brought a brand new email system on board the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber.

Image credit: U.S. Air Force