Is Sequester to Blame?

Is Sequester to Blame?

Air Force Magazine Daily Report    1 July 2013

 

The budget sequester that compelled the Air Force to slash flying hours 30 percent this summer is making it tougher to maintain safety, but it’s too soon to say whether a recent spike in aircraft crashes is a direct result of the situation, Air Combat Command chief Gen. Mike Hostage said in a June 27 interview. There have been 14 class A aircraft mishaps—meaning more than $1 million each in damage—so far in Fiscal 2013, including five that involved F-16s, said Darlene Cowsert with the Air Force Safety Center. The latest F-16 crash occurred on June 26 just outside Luke AFB, Ariz. Both pilots ejected safely and were not hurt in that accident. “Clearly,” Hostage said, the sequester “exacerbates our challenge of safe, effective operations. Any time you reduce the amount of flying time that these youngsters get, that reduces their proficiency; you run a higher level of risk.” ACC is studying any potential correlation, he said, and while “I’d love to be able to tell you, yeah, sequester is the cause of this [and] we’ve got to stop it right now…I can’t do that, yet,” he said. Although he’s not ready to say that the flying standdowns are “costing us airplanes and costing us lives…We may have that kind of data at some point downstream,” he added. Aircraft accidents are now the primary cause of combat-related deaths in Afghanistan now that fighting is winding down, reported McClatchy in May.

 

Crisis Call-Ups

Air Force Magazine Daily Report    1 July 2013

The Air Force would have to call up the Guard and Reserve in any armed conflict beyond those its already fighting because of sequestration, Air Combat Command boss Gen. Mike Hostage said in a July 27 interview. Hostage said he’s got just enough ready Active Duty forces available to meet existing and near-term combat needs in “named operations” such as Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and the nuclear mission, but no more. “Where I’ve taken a risk is a contingency,” he said. “If Syria…Iran…or North Korea blows up, I don’t have a bunch of excess forces I can immediately shift to that conflict. I’m going to have to pull them from other places.” He explained that the Air Force is “looking at using mobilization authority to have greater access to Guard and Reserve forces. The problem is, that’s very expensive, and if sustained over a long period of time, we’ll likely have some political and economic ramifications that may make it hard to continue that.” However, “we’re going to give it a try because I fundamentally don’t have enough Active Duty operational forces to meet the requirement, given the sequester.”

 

Sequestration Slows Down Repairs

Air Force Magazine Daily Report    1 July 2013

Engine repair work has slowed down at Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, now that maintainers have a limited number of parts left to work with, states a June 27 base release. “Right now we still have work, but with sequestration, there are a lot of parts ordering constraints,” said SSgt. James Root, aerospace propulsion journeyman with the 366th Component Maintenance Squadron. “We have engines in the back shop that are ready to be fixed, but we can’t get the parts to fix them.” One Mountain Home fighter squadron is deployed, but the other has stooddown as part of Air Combat Command’s new tiered readiness model. Instead of using the time to catch up on repair work, Mountain Home maintainers are spending their time completing training or participating in team-building exercises. “Our job is to make sure there are no leaks [and] everything runs well. … We try to make it so the engines can stay in the jets for a couple years at a time,” said MSgt. Chad Jacobsen, section chief for the 366th CMS engine test cell. “We are the last line to make sure the engine is serviceable before it goes into the jet.”

Hagel Considering Cuts To F-35 Program For Short-Term Savings

AIAA Daily Launch   1 July 2013

The Wall Street Journal (6/29, Barnes, Subscription Publication) reported Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is purposefully considering delaying the F-35 program in order to realize a short-term cost savings. This was reportedly one option presented to Hagel by the Pentagon’s Strategic Choices and Management Review. If this tactic is adopted, analysts believe it would delay full production past 2015. However, analysts warned that this could have long-term consequences that could add more costs to the program over time.

 

Huerta Upset With Lawmakers Over Sequestration

AIAA Daily Launch   1 July 2013

 

The Los Angeles Times (6/28, Martin) reported on budge sequestration challenges to “the Federal Aviation Administration’s $40-billion overhaul of the nation’s air control system” set to be in place “in the next seven years.” The article quoted FAA Administrator Michael Huerta in a speech he gave, where he “slammed lawmakers for failing to reach an agreement on future spending plans,” as saying, “Because of the financial uncertainty, we can hope for the best, but we have to plan for the worst … This is not a sustainable course of action, and it’s no way to run a government.”

NextGen Funding Put At Risk Due To Sequestration

AIAA Daily Launch   1 July 2013

 

The Los Angeles Times (7/1, Martín) reports that due to sequestration cuts, funding for NextGen projects could be in jeopardy. The Times notes that NextGen is expected to cute delays by 41% by 2020, save 1.6 billion gallons of fuel, and cut 16 million tons of CO2 emissions. However, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta recently said, “Because of the financial uncertainty, we can hope for the best, but we have to plan for the worst. .. This is not a sustainable course of action, and it’s no way to run a government.”

 

 

Saudi F-15s Fielding Greater Capability
Air Force Magazine Daily Report    30 May 2013

Boeing’s F-15 work for Saudi Arabia is showing that the F-15 design has a great deal of life in it, according to company officials who briefed reporters in Arlington, Va., on Wednesday. The Saudis are acquiring new-build F-15s in the “SA” configuration and also upgrading F-15s already in their inventory to that standard. In addition to advanced electronically scanned array radars, the new F-15s will feature digital fly-by-wire technology, which is not available on earlier Eagle variants, said Steve Winkler, director of Boeing’s F-15 business development. This includes the Air Force’s F-15Cs. FBW allows for greater control and maneuvering of the aircraft and the ability to utilize weapons stations one and nine—hard points previously not utilized due to flight-control concerns, according to the company. This means four more air-to-air or two additional air-to-ground carriage points for the fighter. F-15SA deliveries are slated to begin in 2015. Winkler noted during the May 29 briefing that there are several other unidentified foreign nations interested in the advanced F-15 variant.

 

NASA Signs Deal For New SLF Operator

AIAA Daily Launch   1 July 2013

Florida Today (6/29, Halvorson) reported under a new deal announced Friday, XCOR Aerospace will conduct test flights from the Kennedy Space Center’s Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF) in 2015. XCOR had been conducting the negotiations with Space Florida to use the SLF even as NASA is negotiating with Space Florida for that agency to take over “maintenance, operation and development of the landing facility.” KSC Director Robert Cabana said this deal is “key to our future. It’s really important.”

 

 

Shock Wave From Russian Meteorite Circled The Globe Twice

AIAA Daily Launch   1 July 2013

 

ABC World News (6/30, story 9, 0:25, Muir) broadcast as part of its “Instant Index” segment that scientists calculated the meteorite that exploded over Russia earlier this year created a shock wave that circumnavigated the Earth twice, making it the “biggest impact from space in more than a century.”

Discovery News (6/29, O’Neill) reported the calculations was made using the International Monitoring System (IMS) network operated by the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization.

 

 

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