Military News

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Face of Defense: Flying Crew Chiefs Keep Aircraft Airborne

By Air Force Lt. Col. Bill Walsh
315th Airlift Wing

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii, Jan. 9, 2013 – When a $200 million military aircraft breaks down in remote places like Afghanistan or Colombia, pilots can call on their flying crew chief, who, as most aircrew members are aware, knows everything.


Click photo for screen-resolution image
Air Force Tech. Sgt. Mark Graveline performs an operational check on a C-17 Globemaster III, Jan. 1, 2013, at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. U.S. Air Force photo by Lt. Col. Bill Walsh
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Flying crew chiefs perform missions worldwide. They are the mechanics of the sky and a pilot's best friend.

"These guys have saved many, many missions," said Air Force Lt. Col. Jeffery Smith of the 300th Airlift Squadron. "They make our job of flying the airplane much easier."

Flying crew chiefs are specially trained maintenance personnel who attend a six-week maintenance special operations course in addition to the hundreds of hours of training it takes to become a premier aircraft maintainer.

"We have to know everything about the aircraft," said Air Force Tech. Sgt. Mark Graveline of the 315th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.

From fueling the aircraft and checking the oil, to troubleshooting a major system malfunction, these flying mechanics earn their stripes every day. According to Smith, keeping the mission moving is critical to its success and a trained maintainer prevents small things from becoming big problems.

When an aircraft maintainer flies a mission, he has to have access to an enormous amount of maintenance information. Thanks to today's digital technology, maintenance publications are contained in a laptop featuring hundreds of pages of diagrams, part descriptions and numbers, instructions and more to keep the giant C-17 Globemaster III in the air.

Maintainers also carry a toolbox containing things like specialized wrenches, tire pressure gauges and more.
"You never know what you will need when it comes to a fix," Graveline said.

In his trademark green flight suit, Graveline routinely climbs under the Globemaster to inspect its tires and undercarriage. Carefully and methodically he covers every inch of the outside of the jet -- even taking note of rivets in the tail towering five stories above.

"We look for cracks, leaks and any sign of trouble," he said.

"These folks are specialists in many maintenance fields and save the day sometimes," Smith said. "They're even more important in places where there is no support."

Wherever the mission, the flying crew chief goes with it to ensure that the aircraft is safe and ready to fly 24 hours-a-day.

Military, Civilian Blood Donors Provide ‘Gift of Life’

By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 9, 2013 – January is National Blood Donor Month and Defense Department employees are encouraged to “roll up their sleeves and give the gift of life,” said Air Force Col. Richard McBride, Armed Services Blood Program director.

The military blood program also celebrates its 60th anniversary this year, with “60 Years of Donors -- We Thank You,” as its theme, McBride said.

The program coordinates support between the military services and the combatant commands to ensure sufficient blood products and services exist wherever troops serve, McBride explained.

The blood program is a tri-service effort involving the Army, Navy and Air Force, he said.

“Without the three services’ support, we wouldn’t have a military program,” McBride said.

The military’s blood program began during the late 1940s, when organizations such as the Red Cross supplied blood to wounded warriors during World War II, he said.

“We realized we needed a program to support the military,” McBride said. “As the population increased, it became more difficult to support the civilian and military [sectors]. The military began its own blood program so civilian blood supplies would not be compromised.”

In the past 60 years, blood donors have helped save wounded warriors in the Korean and Vietnam conflicts, and Operations Desert Storm, Desert Shield, Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom and New Dawn, McBride said.

Both civilian and military programs comply with the same federal regulations, test for infectious diseases and process, manufacture, store and distribute blood wherever it’s needed. DOD has the added mission of supporting wounded warriors and DOD beneficiaries worldwide, McBride said.

“If there’s a doctor and a nurse [who] need blood, it’s our responsibility to make sure they have it,” he said. “We have a tremendous record and now have the highest survival rate in the history of modern American warfare, which is a testament to the impact our blood program has had in bringing wounded warriors back to their loved ones.”

And 2012 was one of the program’s most successful years in the history of military medicine, he said.
“Approximately 150,000 units of blood were collected,” McBride said. “That’s a record.”

The need for blood at military hospitals around the world always exists, he said.

Potential donors must be at least 17 years old and free of medical conditions or diseases that would prevent them from donating, McBride said, adding that donors can contribute blood every 56 days. Blood is perishable and only considered safe to use at a maximum of 42 days by law, he added.

McBride offers a good reason to donate blood to those who are unsure.

“If you have anyone who’s a wounded warrior, a loved one, or anyone who’s been in the military and has received medical care, that blood comes from people like you,” he said.

For people who cannot donate blood, volunteers always are needed to help advertise blood drives, and to take care of donors before and after their blood is drawn, McBride said.

“We always need people in leadership positions to encourage troops to go out and donate,” he said.
McBride says some donors have contributed blood for years.

“We call them our ‘gallon donators,’” he said.

McBride told about a young Army lieutenant who recently received more than 500 units of blood from his point of injury through his recuperation and convalescence.

“That’s a tremendous testament to the impact blood has had on wounded warriors,” McBride said. “It’s not just the blood -- it was the dedicated service of the doctors, nurses and medics who helped him, but we’d like to think those 500 units played a big role.”

This Day in Naval History - Jan. 09

1861 - Union steamer Star of the West is fired on by the Confederates in Charleston Harbor.
1918 - The Naval Overseas Transportation Service is established to carry cargo during World War I.
1945 - Carrier aircraft begin a two-day attack on Japanese forces at Luzon, Philippines.

Language Corps Members Employ Skills for Nation


By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Srvice

WASHINGTON, Jan. 9, 2013 – A man translates the deposition of a Somali pirate for the FBI.
A woman who speaks Mandarin Chinese works with the Coast Guard aboard a cutter off the African coast to monitor Mandarin fishing vessels.

A federal agency requests humanitarian help following the outbreak of a disease in a small, foreign village, which quickly garners a group of volunteers who speak the language of the community.
These translators are among the 4,000-member National Defense Language Corps. They volunteer their second-language skills and cultural knowledge when the need arises across the Defense Department and the federal government, said Dr. Michael Nugent, director of the Defense Language National Security Office and National Security Education Office.

Nugent said the corps’ language assistance is one of the largest innovations in the federal sector. Agencies foreign and domestic that have sought the corps’ capabilities include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Peace Corps, the Department of Labor, and Interpol.
The volunteer members of the corps, a DOD organization, fill needs for any one of 260 languages and cultural knowledge, he said.

“If you are a combatant commander, you cannot have on hand 260 linguists who speak all those languages. It’s just too cost prohibitive [and] it’s very difficult to find those resources,” Nugent said.
“We at the Department of Defense, plus the rest of the federal government, have an incredible need for language skills and these skills are enduring,” he said. “The language corps provides a way to augment our federal service in times of need through [the use of] volunteers.”

The volunteers in the program must be at least 18 years old. None are full-time employees but are on call to report for work, which could last anywhere from a few hours to a couple of months, Nugent said, adding that most volunteers work a week at a time. He added the corps is seeking nonfederal workers, to augment the federal sector.

Volunteers receive training and are compensated for their services by becoming temporary federal employees during the time they travel and work.

Once partially a pilot program, the corps has become permanent, following President Barack Obama’s Jan. 2 signing of the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act.

Many volunteers have grown up in other countries or have heritage language skills spoken at home, Nugent said, noting some are retired military linguists.

And with 4,000 volunteers, Nugent expects the corps to boast 15,000 members as the program is ramped up to further complement the federal sector.

The volunteers’ cultural knowledge of the languages they speak is crucial, Nugent said.

“[By] growing up in another country or speaking another language, there are different ways of doing things in different countries, and what these folks bring with them is an understanding of how things are done in other … cultures,” Nugent explained.

Having people with those cultural and language skills makes a big difference, he said.

“In these times when we are drawing down a lot of capabilities, the corps offers an opportunity to retain a lot of language capability,” Nugent noted. “It’s hard to create that capability in-house; it’s costly. The corps gives us an opportunity to retain that capability and draw upon it in times of need. That’s one of the most important aspects of the corps.”

Nugent said members of the corps sign up for one particular reason.

“They want to volunteer and serve the nation,” he said. “They’re not trying to make money out of this. They’re trying to give back to the country.”

Naval Hospital Bremerton Earns Meritorious Unit Commendation

By Douglas H Stutz, Naval Hospital Bremerton Public Affairs
BREMERTON, Wash. (NNS) -- Naval Hospital Bremerton (NHB) was formally presented the Meritorious Unit Commendation (MUC) by the commander of Navy Medicine West and Naval Medical Center San Diego Jan 8.

The presentation highlighted Rear Adm. C. Forrest Faison III's two day visit to Naval Hospital Bremerton and associated Branch Health Clinics at Naval Base Kitsap - Bangor, Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Naval Station Everett.

"This commendation just documents what we already know. The MUC recognizes a great team. It is a real privilege to see such an incredible team provide medical help to our Sailors, Marines and families. Every day you rise to the occasion. I am so incredibly proud of you. On behalf of all those you help, thank you," said Faison.

Faison also held several all-hands Admiral's calls, dined with approximately 20 recently returned Individual Augmentee staff members, and met with current residents in NHB's Puget Sound Family Medicine Graduate Medical Education program. He also met with NHB Sailors and civilians of the quarter and year.

Capt. Christopher Culp, NHB commanding officer notified NHB staff members last month on receiving the command's second commendation. The initial MUC was awarded for meritorious service from Dec. 1, 1996, to Dec. 31, 1999, for providing timely compassionate care in Navy Region Northwest as well as meeting readiness mission needs while deployed to Haiti with Fleet Hospital 5.

"As we haul down the previous MUC that has flown for the past 10 years, it has transcended time and become part of the fabric of the command. The command itself has maintained the personality and presence that encompasses what the MUC stands for, and this MUC is a direct reflection of Capt. (Mark) Brouker's tenure and accomplishments," said Culp.

The Meritorious Unit Commendation for Naval Hospital Bremerton covered the period July 1, 2008 through Sept. 30, 2011, which was during Navy Medicine West Chief of Staff Brouker's previous tour and 3-year tenure as NHB's commanding officer from July 18, 2008 to Aug. 4, 2011.

The current MUC covered all staff assigned to all active duty component unit identification codes (UIC) within the hospital. The citation, signed for the Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus by Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert, recognized personnel of NHB consistently demonstrated exceptional patient and family centered care, graduate medical education, and fleet support while meeting its readiness mission. The citation also cited exceptional performance in multiple areas including dental readiness, graduate medical education excellence, fleet support, tsunami support, environmental excellence and patient care.

Newly-revised Basic Combat Skills Level I Course Available on Navy e-Learning

By John Pine, Naval Facilities Engineering Command Public Affairs
PORT HUENEME, Calif. (NNS) -- The First Naval Construction Division (1NCD) announced Jan. 9 the activation of the Basic Combat Skills (BCS) Level I online training course on Navy e-Learning (NeL) via Navy Knowledge On-Line (NKO).

This self-paced course includes six lessons that enable Seabees and Civil Engineer Corps (CEC) officers to learn combat skills or refresh their skill-sets. The lessons encompass the Naval Construction Force (NCF) and The Laws of Armed Conflict; Medical Procedures and Personal Hygiene; General Military Tactics; Field Communications; Force Protection; and Combat Equipment and Weapons.

"The official release of the BCS electronic training provides our Seabees another tool to attain critical mission skills and knowledge at the time that is convenient for them," said Capt. Stephanie Jones, 1NCD assistant chief of staff for training.

Construction Electrician 2nd Class Tex Mitchell, a and 31st Seabee Readiness Group military skills instructor, noted that the BCS course will increase the combat readiness for the entire NCF.

"This is a great course," said Mitchell. "The interactive learning environment prepares personnel new to the NCF for more advanced courses like BCS Level II and fire team leader."

Until its launch on NeL, the BCS course had only been available in an instructor-led classroom environment. Designed to enhance individual and team decision-making and combat effectiveness, the e-learning course supplies up-to-date information to Seabees using the latest technology.

Project manager, Chief Builder Petty Officer Jason Verneris, training specialist for the Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Training Support Agency, stressed that it is vital to the the Seabee mission for personnel to stay abreast of the latest combat technology in order to ensure Seabees deploying around the world are prepared for present day challenges.

"The intent of this course is to allow the user to be able to train and become familiar with the NCF and its capabilities," said Verneris. "Navy e-Learning facilitates a self-paced interactive learning environment, anywhere - anytime."

This online training tool is designed to support personnel reporting to NCF commands and students attending the CEC Officer School (CECOS) Basic class, and "A" School courses. Each lesson takes an average of two to five hours to complete; upon successful completion of the six lesson assessments, the program generates a completion certificate and updates the member's Sailor/Marine American Council on Education Registry Transcript (SMART) and is reflected in the Fleet Training Management and Planning System (FLTMPS). The SMART update can take up to two weeks to appear while FLTMPS is generally updated nightly.

The BCS course includes hyperlinks to up-to-date references, a glossary, an acronym/definition list, and displays graphic images of commonly used forms and documents.

To enroll, visit https://wwwa.nko.navy.mil/portal/home/ and select the LEARNING tab> Navy e-Learning>Online Courses> Browse Categories> Department of the Navy (DON) Training> Naval Construction Force Training> Basic Combat Skills> Basic Combat Skills - Level I.

For more information about the First Naval Construction Division, visit http://www.navy.mil/local/1ncd/.

Surface Combat Training Command's CSADD Chapter Selected as 2012 Shore Chapter of the Year

By Lt. Carl Densing, Fleet Anti-Submarine Warfare Training Center, and Kimberly M. Lansdale, Center for Surface Combat Systems
SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Fleet Anti-Submarine Warfare Training Center (FASWTC) announced Jan. 9 that its chapter of the Coalition of Sailors Against Destructive Decisions (CSADD) was selected as the 2012 Shore Chapter of the Year.

Chief of Naval Personnel, Vice Adm. Scott Van Buskirk announced the selections via Navy Administration (NAVADMIN) message. FASWTC's Commanding Officer Capt. Richard Thomas said that FASWTC's CSADD chapter was selected from a field of fierce competitors and had "set a pace for all commands to emulate."

"Being recognized for this award is a remarkable achievement for our CSADD chapter," said Thomas. "I'm proud of its members and advisors who make it a top priority to ensure newly-minted Sailors receive a positive orientation before they head out to the fleet. This recognition attests to their hard work and dedication."

CSADD is a peer-mentoring program that promotes positive decision making and helps build leadership skills in junior Sailors. The program seeks to educate and aid them in tackling issues, such as alcohol misuse and reckless driving, and prevent destructive decision making.

Chief Sonar Technician Chris Salisbury, CSADD advisor, said he is honored to have been given the opportunity to guide and support the group of young leaders.

"Selflessness and dedication to their peers and Navy core values contributed greatly to this chapter's success," said Salisbury. "These Sailors make me proud each and every day with their tireless efforts to make a positive and significant impact on their shipmates."

To help convey the message of good decision-making and their commitment to fostering a positive relationship with the city of San Diego, the CSADD chapter also participated in ongoing community service activities around the San Diego area.

"This year, we supported Wreaths Across America (laying Christmas wreaths on graves at the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery) and numerous beach clean-ups," said Sonar Technician 1st Class Kyle LaFlamme, CSADD advisor. "These activities had a significant impact on increasing the positive image of the Navy in the local community. The young, committed Sailors of our CSADD chapter epitomize the best qualities of the 21st century Sailor."

Each year, one sea and shore chapter is selected as the CSADD Chapter of the Year based on strong leadership support, encouragement of Sailors to lead through CSADD participation, and the measured impact the program has made on its Sailors and command mission success.

"We look forward to another successful year of shipmates helping shipmates," said Salisbury.

The CSCS headquarters' staff oversees 14 learning sites, which includes FASWTC. FASWTC provides tactical, technical and military training to develop anti-submarine warfare and combat direction and control professionals who are able to operate and maintain systems as part of their command combat teams.

EOD Trains Stennis Sailors with Unique Qualifications

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Daniel Schumacher, USS John C. Stennis Public Affairs
USS JOHN C. STENNIS, At Sea (NNS) -- Personnel assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 3 are training non-EOD Sailors in special operations tactics aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74).

Once a week, Sailors selected by their division meet in the hangar bay for hands-on training for the naval special warfare basic roper qualification.

"I want to offer something new for the hard working Sailors trying to better themselves and experience something unique they can tell their friends and family about," said Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician 1st Class Aaron Rickel, from Ketchikan, Alaska. "I want this to prove that doing more than what's expected of you and being professional will pay off."

Rickel began teaching the course with the assistance of other EOD technicians and plans to continue providing training until every division aboard the ship gets an opportunity to attend.

"It was an amazing experience," said Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Lindsay Frizzel, from Westchester, N.Y. "I'm glad I had the chance to try something like this underway."

Rickel begins his training by teaching Sailors to rappel using a harness. With this method, another Sailor, called a belay, uses his own body weight as a counterbalance to the descending Sailor.

"[Rickel] was very patient with everybody and worked with each of us individually until we were comfortable enough to continue the training," said Aviation Ordnanceman 3rd Class Daniel Borboa, from Sierra Vista, Ariz. "I had a blast going through the training."

After Rickel is confident a Sailor is able to descend proficiently and safely, the Sailor will be offered training in more advanced methods, including fast-roping.

The final step in the naval special warfare basic roper training and qualification is to perform all of the techniques from a helicopter in mid-flight and, once qualified, the Sailor will be eligible to participate in any non-operational rappelling or fast-roping exercises.

The John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group (JCSCSG), consisting of Stennis, Carrier Air Wing 9, Destroyer Squadron 21, and guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG 53) are forward deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet Area of Responsibility to strengthen regional partnerships, sustain maritime security, and support combatant commander requirements for assets in the area.

Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 41 Celebrates 170,000 Mishap Free Flight Hours

By Seaman Christopher Pratt, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West
SAN DIEGO, Calif. (NNS) -- Sailors assigned to the Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 41 "Seahawks" celebrated 170,000 operational flight hours without a Class A mishap Jan. 8.

A Class A mishap is defined as an incident with a total cost of more than $1 million, destroyed aircraft, fatal injury or total disability. HSM-41, which began service as Helicopter Anti-Submarine Light 41 in 1983, has accumulated the hours over the course of the fleet replacement squadron's lifetime.

HSM-41's Sailor of the Year, Aircrew Survival Equipmentman 1st Class Cole Lindsay, spoke about the significance of the milestone.

"There are four mishap classes with Class A being the most severe you could have," Lindsay said. "It's amazing that we've flown that exorbitant amount of hours without any serious problems for the amount of time that we have been commissioned. Not many commands get that milestone."

Sailors at HSM-41 work on the MH-60R, an anti-ship, anti-submarine helicopter, keeping them flight ready for any mission they may be tasked with.

"We train all of the replacement pilots and aircrewman for the fleet and then we send them out to their corresponding squadrons," said Lindsay. "We also do search-and-rescue. If there is a ship in distress, somebody in the water, a canyon rescue, or overland rescue, we will go and pick them up."

Lindsay said that his squadron places a huge emphasis on safety and attention to detail, and identified training as a top priority for the squadron's future success.

"It takes everyone here training our junior personnel to do their jobs to keep heading in the right direction," Lindsay said. "As long as we train our replacements the right way, we are going to be successful."

Aviation Machinist's Mate Airman Apprentice Adriane Curran takes pride in the work that she does contributing to the safe flight operations of her squadron.

"I deal directly with all the moving parts of the helicopter that make it fly so it's really incredible to me," said Curran. "It really makes me proud and I hope that I can contribute to the next 10,000 mishap free flight hours."

174th Attack Wing First in Northeast to Get Mobile Emergency Operations Center

by Staff Sgt. Chris Ewsuk
Hancock Field Public Affairs Office


1/8/2013 - Hancock Field Air National Guard Base, Syracuse, New York -- The 174th Attack Wing introduced its new, state-of-the-art Mobile Emergency Operations Center (MEOC) during its January unit training assembly. The MEOC will be used to provide command and control capabilities for emergency responders during natural disasters and is the first such emergency center to be assigned in the Northeast.

"We are excited about the opportunity to have such important new community asset staged here at the 174th Attack Wing," said Senior Master Sgt. Kevin Scanlin, Hancock Field Base Emergency Manager. "Interoperability among various responding organizations is the key during any emergency response, and this new mobile center will greatly enhance the ability to effectively work together."

The MEOC will be deployed wherever it is needed in the northeast region, providing command capabilities for emergency response situations similar to those of hurricanes Sandy and Irene. When deployed, the MEOC will provide the hosting location with news and weather information, as well as communication to all military assets needed. The MEOC assigned to Hancock Field is a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Region 2 asset and will cover emergency response in New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

Currently, the 174th MEOC is the only one of its kind in the northeast United States, with the next closest located in Maryland. Funding has been approved for 20 MEOCs, eventually providing at least one to each FEMA region. Upon request, the MEOC can be deployed wherever it is needed in the northeast region in a short amount of time to provide support for emergencies and natural disasters. The 174th Civil Engineering Squadron is currently undergoing training with the MEOC, and are able to get it up and running in as little as 15 minutes.

Hancock Field personnel have repeatedly participated in emergency response missions in the northeast region in the past, including disaster relief for Hurricanes Sandy and Irene. Hancock Field's proven capabilities and location made it an ideal candidate for having one of the new MEOCs stationed at the base. Now, the unit will be able to provide the capabilities of a full Emergency Operations Center at any forward location, and with a smaller footprint.

The MEOC has room for up to eight (8) workstations, a conference room, and several monitors which display weather and news information. The new command center has its own weather and Direct TV satellites, providing the emergency response command team with both weather and up to date news broadcasts. The command Center has all radio capabilities needed to communicate with all military assets including ground troops and helicopters aiding in emergency operations.

Hancock Field will continue to provide support as needed for emergency response in the northeast region, and the new MEOC will aid in these missions to come.

19th CSAF portrait unveiled

by Staff Sgt. David Salanitri
Air Force Public Affairs Agency


1/9/2013 - WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- A portrait painting of retired Gen. Norton Schwartz, the 19th Air Force chief of staff, was unveiled Jan. 8, 2013, at the Pentagon.

Artist Michele Rushworth was commissioned to paint the portrait.

"When I heard that I was chosen to paint this portrait, I was thrilled and immediately began my research to find out more about General Schwartz, his background and his career," said Rushworth, who has been painting portraits from everyone from ambassadors to baseball players for more than 25 years.

According to Rushworth, the intent of a portrait is much more than an official photo hanging at the entrance of a government building. Every paint stroke is made with purpose -- to capture a person's life and character.

"As I painted the portrait itself, my main goal was to convey something of the spirit of General Schwartz," she said. "Any photo can tell us what he looks like, but a portrait painting is supposed to aim for something deeper, something of the inner character of the person -- a feeling that lies beyond the visible. I try to capture the essence of the subject's character."

After the portrait was unveiled, Schwartz reflected on what it meant to him and his wife, Suzie.
"The Air Force has given us both a home," he said. "And now a portrait in the Arnold Corridor will be a lasting symbol that in America, and in America's armed forces, remarkable things are still possible no matter who you were, or where you came from. Indeed, the United States Air Force will always be our home. And we hope our service will always be considered worthy."
During the unveiling, Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley recognized Schwartz for his contributions and impact on the Air Force.

"Our nation must never take for granted the selfless service, dedication, and sacrifice of public servants and military leaders like Norty Schwartz," Donley said. "The record will show that through this service you earned a place in Air Force history."

Schwartz retired last year after 39 years of service in the Air Force, with the previous four as the service's senior uniformed leader.

Air Force Announces KC-46A Candidate Bases

The Air Force announced today Altus Air Force Base, Okla., and McConnell Air Force Base, Kan., as candidate bases for the KC-46A formal training unit (FTU). 

Altus Air Force Base, Okla.; Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash.; Grand Forks Air Force Base, N.D.; and McConnell Air Force Base, Kan., are candidate bases for the first active-duty led KC-46A main operating base (MOB). 

Forbes Air Guard Station, Kan.; Joint-Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.; Pease Air Guard Station, N.H.; Pittsburgh International Airport Air Guard Station, Pa.; and Rickenbacker Air Guard Station, Ohio, are candidate bases for the first Air National Guard led KC-46A MOB.

“The KC-46A will have enhanced refueling capacity and capabilities, improved efficiency, and increased capabilities for cargo and aeromedical evacuation as compared to the KC-135R, making it a vital component to maintaining our global reach for years to come,” said Gen. Mark Welsh III, Air Force chief of staff.

The major commands will conduct detailed, on-the-ground site surveys of each candidate base.  They will assess each location against operational and training requirements, potential impacts to existing missions, housing, infrastructure, and manpower.  Additionally, they will develop cost estimates to bed down the KC-46A for each candidate base.  Once the site surveys are completed, the results will be briefed to the secretary of the Air Force and chief of staff of the Air Force to select preferred and reasonable alternatives for the FTU and two operating locations.  The Air Force plans to announce KC-46A preferred and reasonable alternatives and begin the Environmental Impact Analysis Process (EIAP) in spring 2013.

“Bringing the KC-46A online is an important step in recapitalizing a tanker fleet that has been a leader in air refueling for more than five decades,” Welsh said. “This new age aircraft will achieve better mission-capable rates with less maintenance downtime, improving our ability to respond with rapid, global capability to assist U.S., joint, allied and coalition forces and better support humanitarian missions.”

Welsh went on to explain that the 179 planned KC-46A aircraft are just the first phase of a 3-phase effort to replace more than 400 KC-135 and 59 KC-10 aircraft.  The first phase of tanker recapitalization will complete deliveries in fiscal 2028.  He went on to emphasize the importance of continuing KC-135 modernization efforts.

“I want to stress that the KC-135 units not replaced with the KC-46A will continue to fly the KC-135R for the foreseeable future," Welsh said.  “Throughout tanker recapitalization, the Air Force is committed to ensuring continued support of combatant commander requirements.” 

“We are committed to executing a deliberate, repeatable and standardized basing process,” said Kathleen Ferguson, Air Force principal deputy assistant secretary for installations, environment and logistics.  “In this process, the Air Force uses criteria-based analysis and military judgment in its decision making.”

Ferguson added “We look forward to the next phase when preferred and reasonable alternatives are announced and our candidate base communities have an opportunity to participate by providing input for the environmental impact analysis.”

The KC-46A will provide improved capability, including boom and drogue refueling on the same sortie, world-wide navigation and communication, airlift capability on the entire main deck floor, receiver air refueling, improved force protection and survivability, and multi-point air refueling capability.

The FTU and active duty MOB will begin receiving aircraft in fiscal 2016.  The Air National Guard MOB will receive aircraft in fiscal 2018.

For more information, please contact Ann Stefanek, Air Force Public Affairs at 703-695-0640 or ann.stefanek@pentagon.af.mil .