Air Force–Does it Make a Person Proud?

This is not really something I want to track, but the Air Force strikes me as a threat.

Not me. I think assassinating people by remote control is both unethical and cowardly. Apparently, some of the leaders of our Air Force aren’t too comfortable with that they’ve been doing, either.

Air Force officer in Alaska dies in likely suicide


ELMENDORF AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska (AP) — The officer who commands an air force wing in Alaska has died of a gunshot wound that likely was self-inflicted, authorities said Monday.


Tinsley was named base commander in May 2007. He had served as an F-15 instructor pilot, F-15C test pilot, wing weapons officer, exchange officer and instructor with the Royal Australian Air Force.

His previous 22-month assignment was executive officer to the Air Force chief of staff, Gen. T. Michael “Buzz” Mosely, who resigned in June under pressure in an agency shake-up.


Walberg said Tinsley was not under investigation or undue stress.

Actions speak louder than words.

No stress here either. After all, trucks don’t experience stress.

Air Force truck carrying rocket booster overturns


BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A truck carrying a rocket booster for an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile tipped over on a northwestern North Dakota road on Thursday, but no one was injured and there was no threat to the public, an Air Force official said.


The booster rocket, which is 66 feet long and weighs 75,000 pounds, was being hauled in an enclosed trailer, and a convoy of security personnel was escorting the truck, Burg said.

The booster rocket and the transport rig likely will remain in the ditch at least until Friday, he said.


Trucks end up in ditches and planes crash–all by themselves. Even in the Jerusalem Post.

Pilot killed as F-15 crashes in Nevada during US Air Force training


A pilot was killed and another injured on Wednesday when an F-15 jet crashed in the Nevada desert during a US Air Force training exercise.

Air Force spokesman Andrew Dumboski said the two-seater plane went down at about 11:30 a.m. on the Nevada Test and Training Range outside of Goldfield, Nevada.


Doing stuff on the ground does seem safer. But who picks up the pieces?

Air Force Looks to Laser-Proof Its Weapons

By Noah Shachtman July 30, 2008 |

Real-life laser weapons aren’t here, yet. But they’re getting closer. Which is why the Air Force is starting to look for ways to laser-proof its bombs and missiles — with spray-on coatings, no less.

A new Air Force request for proposals asks researchers to come up with ways to find “retrofittable laser protection for weapons.” In tests, U.S. and Israeli ray guns have shown the ability to melt holes in all kinds of munitions.

If you watch the video, you’ll probably notice that the controllers of the laser are sitting at consoles in, likely, air-conditioned comfort. These are not, however, armchair warriors.

Neither are the pilots who are going to be trained at Crew Training International.

Crew Training International announced Wednesday that the U.S. Air Force has chosen the Memphis-based company to provide contract training to pilots of Predator drone aircraft, a deal worth $60 million-$80 million.

CTI beat out 17 other corporations which put in bids for the contract.

CTI will add 50 new employees to help handle the increased workload, with the majority of the new jobs to be located at U.S. Air Force bases in Nevada and New Mexico. ….

Besides the Predator training contract, the deal will also put CTI on the ground floor to provide future training programs for other Air Force drones, called Unmanned Aircraft Systems by the military, which Mullen believes will play a big part in the military’s future….

This must be an example of taking “industrial base concerns” into account, as the Congress is about to require in the Boeing tanker award. It’s also an example of the continued privatization of our military.

However, it seems that civilian rules of conduct are being left behind as consoles directing robots replace boots on the ground.

Now, this may just be wishful thinking, but it should give us pause….

Intimate Ground Support

August 1, 2008: As U.S. ground combat forces are withdrawn from Iraq over the next few years, the U.S. Air Force is planning on taking over the task of providing a lot more of the protection for the American troops still down there.

The air force plans to replace the quick reaction teams with air power. This will consist of armed UAVs, that can quickly sort out the situation by providing live video to army commanders, and precise firepower in the form of Hellfire missiles and 500 pound smart bombs. There are even smaller missiles, than the 107 pound Hellfire, available for UAVs, and these will be used to minimize civilian casualties.

It is expected that, for many years to come, there will still be Islamic radicals in Iraq, and that these groups will seek to kill or capture Americans.

Of course, they can’t do that, if there aren’t any there. But, that’s another matter. As are the civilian casualties. Turns out that these UAVs rely on GPS.

NTSB investigates Raytheon Cobra crash at US Air Force Academy

By John Croft

A Raytheon Cobra unmanned air vehicle crashed at the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado on 28 July as school administrators evaluated the platform for use in its advanced airmanship course for cadets.

According to the NTSB, the Raytheon team had surveyed the athletic fields before the flight and had programmed the GPS waypoints for a rectangular course using the Cobra’s ground control station. After a normal autopilot take-off and route, the single-engined UAV was returning to the road for landing when it undershot the turn from base leg to final.

Operators commanded the aircraft to make another approach, upon which the Cobra overshot the turn from base leg to final. Rather than take over manual control, the operators elected to let the Cobra automatically correct its path, but in the process, it struck the light pole.

No doubt a well-lighted athletic field that wasn’t actually in use for athletics at the time. UAVs dispatching hellfire missiles in the middle of Baghdad are, doubtless, much more accurate. And when they crash in Iraq there’s no picky NTSB to investigate.

New UAV control system may cut Predator losses

By Chris Pocock

June 18, 2007


By the time the U.S. Air Force took delivery of its 120th Predator unmanned air vehicle, nearly half of them (56) had been destroyed–some to enemy fire, but most to accidents. No pilots were harmed in the making of this statistic, of course. But at $4 million per Predator, that’s $224 million, a cost that cannot be ignored. And other UAVs have had similar problems.

Raytheon believes that its newly designed universal control system (UCS) will dramatically reduce the loss rates of unmanned systems. The company’s Intelligence and Information Systems (IIS) business took note of the substantial research that blames human factors for many UAV accidents. Raytheon then hired two former Predator operators, put them together with its own systems engineers and came up with a “cockpit” that revolutionizes operator awareness and efficiency, according to the company.

“The Predator ground station displays are ike an engineering diagnostics station, with complicated menus, and “M-keys” with functions that are easily confused,” Katie Heilner, technical support engineer with Raytheon IIS, told Aviation International News. As a former sensor operator on Predators with the U.S. Air Force, she should know. “Aircrews today need superior control interfaces and situational awareness,” said Michael Keaton, also with Raytheon IIS. He, too, is an experienced UAV operator, having commanded a Predator squadron with the USAF.

The UCS is a total redesign of the way unmanned systems are controlled, even down to the ergonomically designed chairs for the operators. They include inflatable bladders that can be individually adjusted, and a memory stick so that each operator can preserve his or her own comfort settings. The same chairs are used by emergency telephone operators in the U.S.

I was going to skip this, but the title is just too good to pass up:

Tanker trash talk

With the Pentagon perhaps just a week or so away from sending out a request for proposals on the Air Force tanker, the ongoing war of words between Boeing and Northrop backers has turned more ugly.

You can hear the audio here…