Friday, March 20, 2015

T-X, future T-38 jet replacement, requirements released

By Capt. Jason Smith, Air Eeducation and Training Command Public Affairs / Published March 20, 2015

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas (AFNS) -- Air Force officials released requirements for the T-X trainer aircraft family of systems that will replace the T-38 Talon, March 20.

The release is the first under the service’s new ‘Bending the Cost Curve’ initiative and follows Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James’ emphasis on increased dialogue with industry to build affordability into the acquisition process.

“The industry dialogue will help guide Air Force evaluation of threshold and objective requirements, producing better informed cost-capability decisions,” James said.

“The T-X requirements are being released approximately 10 months earlier than under the normal acquisition process and is part of an ongoing effort for more deliberate and open engagement with industry,” said Brig. Gen. Dawn Dunlop, the director of plans, programs and requirements at Air Education and Training Command.

The initial draft requirements were released in 2012, allowing industry to make more informed, early design decisions, Dunlop said. Ultimately, the collaboration will shape a more capable and affordable pilot training system for the Air Force.

The T-38 is no longer a practical trainer to prepare Air Force pilots for newer, more advanced aircraft, Dunlop said. Currently, 12 of 18 advanced pilot training tasks can’t be completed with the T-38, relying on fighter and bomber formal training units to complete the training at a much greater cost.

“Cockpit and sensor management are fundamentally different today in 4th- and 5th-generation aircraft than it was when the T-38 was built in 1961,” Dunlop said. “While the T-38 has been upgraded to a glass cockpit, the inability to upgrade the T-38’s performance and simulated sensor capability presents a growing challenge each year to effectively teach the critical skills essential to today’s military pilots.”

A second issue for the T-38, according to Dunlop, is aircraft sustainment. The T-38s assigned to AETC have not met the command’s requirement for 75-percent availability since 2011, meaning many are not mission capable and unavailable for training.

The T-X requirements identify three key performance characteristics for the advanced pilot training mission: sustained G, simulator visual acuity and performance, and aircraft sustainment. While there are just over 100 requirements in all, these were the most critical to ensure the T-X Family of Systems closes training gaps and creates strategic agility for the future.

A highlight in the requirements is embedded training with synthetic sensors and data link. Significant progress has been made the past decade in synthetic training that very closely approximates the real system. Currently, nine partner air forces already have advanced pilot training systems that take advantage of these increased capabilities.

The Air Force plans to award a contract for 350 T-Xs to replace the 431 AETC T-38s in the fall of 2017, with initial operational capability by the end of 2023. The service will accept proposals for currently fielded and clean-sheet designs to meet the Air Force’s undergraduate pilot and introduction to fighter fundamentals training needs.

One requirement not part of the release is for the T-X to serve in a “red air” or adversary role, during live-fly exercises. The fiscal year 2016 budget includes approximately $40 million across the Future Year Defense Plan in Stores-Aircraft Interface funds as a wedge to provide future planning or development options related to T-X.

“The money for the Stores-Aircraft Interface project should be considered separately from the Advanced Replacement T-X program,” said Gen. Robin Rand, the commander of AETC. “A T-X variant is just one option for red air if we decide there’s a requirement for it.”

The requirements released March 20 were shaped by cross-talks between major command leaders, program office discussions and partner buy-in, Rand said.

“The T-X offers the right capabilities to train our Air Force pilots well into the future,” Rand continued. “It’s designed to meet our nation’s needs, reduce inefficiencies, and increase effectiveness while keeping the cost as low as possible.”

Airmen fired up for friendly fight

by Staff Sgt. Armando A. Schwier-Morales
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

3/19/2015 - CAMPIA TURZII, Romania -- The skies above Campia Turzii, Romania, would look calm to anybody on the ground, but above the clouds was a thunderstorm of fighter pilots, shouting -- "he's on my six, shake him, pull up, pull up, nice -- lets get them, missile lock, missile one, away."

At the end of the day, all the jets in the sky landed on the runway safely, but the thrill of what they went through still excited and surprised these  pilots, even after 15 years of experience.

"We just had a once-in-a-life-time opportunity to fly against the Romanian MiG-21 fighter pilots today," said Lt. Col. David Berkland, 480th Fighter Squadron commander.

Berkland, an F-16C Fighting Falcon pilot, and three other U.S. pilots shook hands with four Romanian MiG-21 pilots and talked about the lessons learned after landing.

"Hopefully it was just as rewarding for the Romanian pilots," said Berkland. "We all have a lot of learning to do. We debriefed and talked about what we saw, what we did and what we could have done better in fighter pilot fashion -- always trying to make each other better."

The 480th FS from Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, alternated between aggressor and defender with the Romanian Airmen. The dog fight was one of many partnership building events during Dacian Warhawk, a bilateral training mission between U.S. and Romanian Airmen. For one F-16 pilot with little more than 2 years flying time, the opportunity to train with Romanian wingmen is an experience that has a permanent place in his memory.

"It was an unforgettable training experience," said 1st Lt. Andrew Taylor, 480th FS electronic combat officer. "Being able to fly with the Romanian pilots and to be able to train against different aircraft, other than the F-16, was amazing. The F-16 has some pretty incredible capabilities and we were able to do well."

While the mission was designed to provide lessons learned, build interoperability, and make each other better to keep the skies over Romania and Europe safe, both nations also gained a better understanding of their own capabilities through the friendly competition.

Eagle Resolve Exercise Draws Worldwide Participation

U.S. Central Command

TAMPA, Fla., March 20, 2015 – Improving interoperability is often touted by exercise organizers and senior leaders as one of the benefits in bringing together a cross-section of militaries.

With about 5,500 troops from 29 nations taking part in exercise Eagle Resolve in Kuwait this month, according to a U.S. Central Command news release issued today, there are many opportunities to increase the ability of militaries to work together.

“Everybody brings something different to the fight, but it's only effective if you know how to use their skills and expertise,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Rick Mattson, U.S. Central Command's director of exercises and training and the U.S. exercise director for Eagle Resolve.

Militaries Gather From Many Regions

Since its inception in 1999, Centcom’s release said, Eagle Resolve has been a venue for the U.S. and Arabian Gulf countries to partner with militaries from North and South America, Europe and Asia -- all regions are represented at this year's exercise -- and address their collective security concerns in a relatively low-risk environment. The current exercise began March 8 and concludes March 31.

In addition to Kuwait and the United States, the other 27 nations taking part in Eagle Resolve include: Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Argentina, Australia,

Bangladesh, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Jordan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Poland, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Turkey and the United Kingdom.

Eagle Resolve products, including video of a simulated hostage rescue and other tactical demonstrations, are available from the Defense Video and Imagery Distribution System, linked below.

Tuning in with a daily forecast

by Senior Airman Keenan Berry
509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

3/20/2015 - WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- Weather is unpredictable in its nature; aircraft missions, traveling and recreational activities bend to its will. Daily decisions are made by everyone from family members to operators based on the forecast.

That's why it's important to maintain a steady flow of information. The 509th Operations Support Squadron weather flight assumes this mission and aims to provide accurate forecasts at all times.

"The dedicated warriors in the weather flight are here to deliver accurate and effective environmental intelligence," said Staff Sgt. Franklin Kapuchuck, 509th OSS weather forecaster. "This helps shape the global battlespace and enhance the availability of the nation's most feared weapon system."

The weather flight develops mission execution forecasts for the airfield and pilots traveling over long distances.

"We produce a 24-hour forecast every 8 hours, which lets our aviators know exactly what to expect within five miles of the airfield for their local flying operations," Kapuchuck said. "Any time we have an aircraft departing from the local area, the pilots will come into our office to receive a specialized briefing according to their mission."

Briefings consist of weather guidelines for local takeoffs and landings, and en route hazards, such as icing, turbulence or thunderstorms. This information lets the pilots know how to deviate as necessary and avoid these hazards.

The weather flight also reviews airfield weather updates to other bases to brief pilots before their departure. Icing is a constant threat for aircraft flying through clouds in freezing temperatures, thousands of feet above the surface of the earth. Most planes are not equipped with de-icing and must be informed of the conditions prior to takeoff.
They also play a dual role in the Whiteman mission. The flight provides weather information for the installation in addition to briefings they give to pilots.

"If we have any severe weather such as heavy snow and thunderstorms, we must do our best to ensure the base populace is informed," said Master Sgt. Aaron Downing, 509th OSS NCO in charge of mission services. "Whenever there are severe weather outbreaks, we increase the number of Airmen on shift to ensure we analyze each cell and other installation's update the information in a timely manner."

In addition, the weather flight relies on the joint environmental toolkit to issue severe weather watches and warnings. Once they are issued, it makes automated phone calls to other agencies on base.

The weather flight also records surface observations every hour, which entails going outside to view weather conditions. If weather constantly changes, they will go outside often in order to maintain a consistently updated weather report.

Unceasing vigilance and readiness are key to preventing weather discrepancies from happening.

"We conduct training to ensure we are prepared before each severe weather season begins," Downing said. "We review our past information on the upcoming season so we know what kind of severe weather to expect. This allows time to organize briefings and prepare so we aren't caught off guard by severe weather."

Although ensuring pilots and the base populace are informed of weather changes can be challenging, Airmen from the weather flight remain up to the task. 

"Every day there is something different in our career field," Downing said. "We are always dealing with something new and in turn, it motivates us to be more effective in what we do. There is always something to learn about this job."

The weather flight maintains a Facebook page that is continually updated Monday - Friday.

FTAC: An Airman's first experience

by Airman 1st Class Sahara L. Fales
Minot Air Force Base Public Affairs

3/20/2015 - MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- When an Airman arrives to their first base, starting over again can be frightening. Being placed in an environment where they don't know anyone or what to expect can make it difficult to focus on learning the job.

Pushing through approximately 700 Airmen a year, the first term Airman's course was designed to help alleviate nervousness and guide Airmen through their transition from technical training to the operational Air Force.

"When I first took over, the first term Airman's course was seen as massive in-processing that gave units their Airmen back ready to go to work," said Master Sgt. Daniel Mueller, 5th Force Support Squadron career assistance advisor.

During the five day course, Airmen receive briefings from organizations such as Sexual Assault Prevention and Response, Equal Opportunity and the Airman and Family Readiness Center, where they learn about the rules of the base, resiliency, budgeting, and the many opportunities the base has to offer.

"What I love the most about FTAC is just realizing the various options you have on base," said Airman 1st Class Sheena Subido, 5th Security Forces Squadron member. "Everything from volunteering to the free and inexpensive things provided to single Airmen. There's always something to do."

Knowledge of the base and assistance with in-processing is still the number one intent of FTAC, Mueller said.

However, another main goal is to put Airmen at their first base with other Airmen who are in a similar situation and have them make connections with people from different jobs.

"It was nice getting to meet someone other than the Airmen from tech school," Subido said. "I met maintainers, crew chiefs, and medical and services personnel; I had no idea there were so many other jobs here in Minot."

For Mueller, who attended the course approximately 15 years ago, the most important thing is the long term friendships that help get you through anything.

"They're going to go through the hardships of being at their first base, learning their job and being away from home, but they will produce these long-lasting friendships," Mueller said. "I still talk to at least five people I met when I went through FTAC at Canon Air Force Base, New Mexico."

Aside from the first-term Airmen, a senior airman is assigned to the course as well to hold the position of FTAC team lead. This provides them the opportunity to lead the class and interact with the Airmen.

"There are few opportunities for Airmen on an installation to do something similar to a special duty assignment," Mueller said. "Through this they get leadership experience; meet the commanders and command chiefs; and send e-mails base-wide to every first sergeant. These skills are invaluable."

The current FTAC team lead, Senior Airman Elijah Perryman, has been at Minot for over two years. With his usual job being an Electro Mechanical Team technician at the 91st Missile Maintenance Squadron, this opportunity to try something different has allowed him to receive experience he normally wouldn't get.

"Through this experience I've learned to better myself from a professional standpoint," Perryman said.

Although he has already taken FTAC, Perryman said he is still able to benefit from being involved with the course. Most importantly, he gained knowledge that he can pass on to his peers.

"Things change over time, so every day I learn something new," Perryman said. "Next time someone asks me a question I can give them information or point them to the right people."

Aside from the plethora of pamphlets and informative briefings, Airmen now have a face to put with a name for anything they may need in the future.

"I hope after they get all of their briefings, if they take nothing else from this, I want these Airmen to recognize that the Air Force has invested time and money to ensure they have resources for anything that they could need," Mueller said. "It's all about them knowing that they joined an organization that truly cares about their well-being."

Kadena Airman awarded Airman's Medal

by Airman 1st Class Zade C. Vadnais
18th Wing Public Affairs

3/20/2015 - KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- A Kadena Airman was awarded the Airman's Medal at a ceremony here March 20.

First Lt. Dayton Gilbreath, 18th Contracting Squadron contracting administrator, was awarded the medal for rescuing an Airman who jumped overboard from a sailing ship in the Adriatic Sea July 3, 2012. The Airman's Medal is awarded to service members of any country or branch who, while serving in any capacity with the U.S. Air Force, distinguish themselves by heroic actions in a non-combat environment.

Following his graduation from the U.S. Air Force Academy, Gilbreath, his lacrosse teammates and several other USAFA athletes rented a 52-foot boat and began sailing from port to port in the Mediterranean region. As the only passenger with sailing experience, Gilbreath often helped the skipper with two-man jobs such as raising and lowering the sails.

One morning as the boat sailed through the Adriatic Sea, a storm rolled in, creating high winds the group hoped would get them to their destination quicker than expected.
As Gilbreath helped the skipper raise the sails, he saw an Airman who had been acting strangely for most of the trip take a running leap off of the vessel.

"Myself and the skipper were the only ones who saw him run off the back of the boat," Gilbreath said. "I looked at the skipper, and there was just straight fear in his face. I told him I was going in after him, and I dove in."

Gilbreath swam up to the Airman, who promptly dove underwater in an attempt to drown himself. After retrieving his unconscious body, Gilbreath returned to the surface only to discover that the boat hadn't turned around for them.

Panicking, Gilbreath tried to calm himself down while keeping both his head and the larger, unconscious Airman's head above water.

As the Airman in his arms regained consciousness, Gilbreath knew he would need to think of a way to get both of them back to the boat. Since dragging one of the largest Airmen on the trip through crashing waves against his will would likely not work, Gilbreath had to get creative.

"He was in a couple of my classes, but I didn't know anything about him besides that he's a football player, so I thought he must be competitive," Gilbreath said. "I said 'I'll race you to the boat,' and sure enough he took off swimming toward the boat."

The pair took off swimming toward the boat. After a few minutes, the Airman stopped about 20 feet from Gilbreath and began rambling incoherently. Determined to end his life, he dove underwater a second time, prompting Gilbreath to dive after him and pull him to the surface once more.

Luckily, the boat had lowered its sails and turned around by this point and was close enough to toss a life saver to Gilbreath, which the Airmen onboard used to pull him and the other Airman onto the safety of the boat's deck.

Once onboard, the Airman ran into the cabin and grabbed a knife, intending to stab himself. The remaining 10 passengers on the boat wrestled it from his hands and, at Gilbreath's suggestion, tied him up to prevent him from hurting himself or anyone else.

When the boat reached shore about two hours later, Gilbreath chose to accompany the Airman to a hospital in the Croatian city of Split instead of continuing the trip with his friends.

"I thought I was going to die," Gilbreath said. "It was a very humbling, surreal experience, and I'm very happy with the way things turned out. Last I heard from him, he's doing well."

Brig. Gen. James B. Hecker, 18th Wing commander, presented the medal and took the opportunity to recognize the significance of Gilbreath's actions.

"There are not a lot of people who can say 'hey, I saved a life,'" Hecker said. "To do it the heroic way he did it makes it that much more special."

While happy with the outcome of the situation, Gilbreath humbly dismisses the notion that his actions were heroic, insisting he was just doing what he thought to be the right thing.

"He was from the academy; we're all family," Gilbreath said. "There was no thought, it's just something you do."

Nuclear Leadership Development Center to focus on deliberate development of nuclear Airmen

y Carla Pampe
Air Force Global Strike Command Public Affairs

3/20/2015 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- Air Force Global Strike Command initiated the creation of a new Nuclear Leadership Development Center, which will focus on nuclear and leadership education, and professional development.

"The center will have several lines of effort designed to increase nuclear knowledge and leadership across the force," Col. H.B. Brual, deputy director of the Strategic Plans, Programs, Requirements and Analysis Directorate, said.

The creation of the NLDC was driven in part by reports both before and after Global Strike Command's standup that noted a declined focus on the nuclear mission, with a lack of developmental opportunities for career nuclear personnel, Brual said. In addition, the reports identified gaps in the development of leaders and critical thought within the Air Force's nuclear enterprise as a whole.

"The creation of this center will allow us to address those gaps and bring a nuclear focus back to the command's education and professional development programs," Brual said.

Capt. Reed Elsbernd, NLDC Leadership Education Officer, said the center is not designed to compete with other education and professional development programs in the Air Force, but rather to complement them. This will leverage and capitalize on leadership development from other sources, while ensuring a nuclear focus.

"This is a different focus than traditional professional military education and professional development," Elsbernd said. "We want to create a culture that inspires transformational leaders and make them nuclear experts."

He added that while part of the NLDC is education focused, the other part is dedicated to deliberate development of nuclear professionals, including ensuring they get the right training at the right time in their careers, and identifying assignment opportunities to maximize their potential.

The center is developing curriculum for officer education and professional development, and will subsequently move to the enlisted and civilian force. The team is currently meeting with some senior enlisted members to chart touch points for the enlisted career life cycle.

"Over time, the NDLC will increase capacity," Brual said, "but to make sure we get it right, we're focusing on one segment of the force right now."

Minot Airman selected for AF cross country team

by Airman 1st Class Sahara L. Fales
Minot Air Force Base Public Affairs

3/17/2015 - MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- It all started with wanting to get into shape. He used to watch members of the cross country team running after school, wishing it was him. Then one day, he wasn't just watching anymore. He was pounding the pavement alongside them.

At only 12 years old, Airman 1st Class Augustin Sloan, personnelist from the 5th Force Support Squadron, began something that would soon open many doors in his life -- running.

"Like anything else, when you're first starting off at something, you're going to be at the bottom," Sloan said. "But as the years go on, you'll eventually work to the top. That's what happened to me."

By his junior year of high school, Sloan was competing on the varsity team, where he was able place at the state level.

During his high school career, Sloan also lettered -- to earn notoriety in a particular academic area -- three years in track and field and three years in cross country, allowing him the opportunity to receive a college scholarship.

Sloan declined the scholarship and signed up for the Air Force instead.

"I wanted to better myself, and I believed I was capable of achieving something greater," Sloan said. "I was in the recruiter's office 24 hours later."

Now, approximately 500 miles away from home, the Montana native decided to take running to the next level, the Air Force level.

"I knew the Air Force had many extracurricular activities to offer," Sloan said. "I decided to apply for the Air Force Cross Country team."

The application process for the Air Force Cross Country team requires Airmen to submit their 5K, half marathon, and other distance times to determine if they are eligible. With a 5K time of 15 minutes, 49 seconds and the ability to finish a half marathon in 1:18:35, Sloan was able to make the team.

"I've always had that strive to compete," Sloan said. "More than anything, I love to be in a situation where I'm able to demonstrate my talents for my team."

Being a part of the team means that he would have to take a temporary duty assignment to travel and participate in races all over the country.

"Managing a military career while training to be a competitive runner is a daunting task, but he takes it on with the utmost dedication and effort," said Senior Airman Hayden Thomas, 5th Security Forces installation entry controller, and Sloan's running partner. "We met during a 5K when he was at Lackland Air Force Base and I was in tech school. Since we've both been stationed at Minot, we have logged many miles together."

Although he has been running for a while, he still finds room for growth. In September, he participated in the Bomber Run held on base. It was the first half marathon he's ever competed in, and he was awarded first place.

"It was quite a good experience for me," Sloan said. "It's got me addicted to marathons now."

To maintain his talent and remain prepared for the team, Sloan makes time to run every day. He alternates between running long distance indoors during the winter and variations of sprinting exercises outdoors during the summer.

"I get a run in two times a day, seven days a week," Sloan said. "If I take a day off in a week, that's pretty rare."

"It isn't uncommon for myself or another security forces member to be patrolling base during all hours of the day and see him running, even in the harshest of Minot weather," Thomas added.

Even though he made the team based on his run times, he was unable to compete this year because he didn't participate in enough races throughout the year to be eligible. However, with the following season approaching next February, Sloan intends to put forth his best efforts to make both the Air Force Cross Country and Track and Field teams for 2016.