Friday, July 31, 2009

USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Returns from Deployment

NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- Thousands of family and friends gathered at Naval Station Norfolk, July 30 to welcome home Sailors from the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) (Ike) following a five-month deployment supporting Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and maritime security and coalition operations in the 5th Fleet and 6th Fleet Areas of Responsibility.

"I could not be more proud of the men and women embarked on Dwight D. Eisenhower as part of the Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group. They have performed magnificently this entire deployment," said Capt. Dee L. Mewbourne, commanding officer, USS Dwight D. Eisenhower. "Safely operating both in the air and on the sea over the past five months, often in arduous conditions, they supported coalition forces on the ground in Afghanistan with utmost professionalism while providing regional security and stability. Without question, their service made a difference."

During the deployment, Ike and embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 7 conducted more than 4,600 flight sorties totaling more than 16,000 hours with a 99% sortie completion rate. Of those operations, 2,010 were combat sorties supporting American and Coalition forces on the ground in Afghanistan.

CVW-7 squadrons – Strike Fighter Squadrons (VFA) 143, 131, 103, and 83; Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 121; Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 140; and Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (HS) 5 all returned to homeport earlier in the week.

In addition to carrying out the Navy's mission, Ike made a historic visit to the Kingdom of Bahrain. It marked the first time a nuclear powered carrier pulled pierside in Bahrain. The last conventional carrier to pull pierside in Bahrain was USS Rendova in 1948.

Ike hosted His Majesty the King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain; the first U.S. Naval Officer appointed as the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, Admiral James Stavridis; the Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization; the Prime Minister of Lithuania and dignitaries and military officials from Libya, Poland, Algeria, and France.

Nearly 4,500 Sailors from Ike proudly carried on the Navy's tradition of ambassadorship during overseas port visits to Bahrain, Dubai, Marseilles, France and Lisbon, Portugal. Over 280 Sailors contributed 1,715 hours of international community service ashore.

With the deployment completed, Ike Sailors will enjoy some well deserved time off before heading out to sea again for an upcoming work up cycle.

"We set out to accomplish three goals: to do it right, to do it safe, and make America proud. I think we've met those goals and now I'm anxious to get back and be with my wife and son," Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class(SW/AW) Daniel Flood.

Ike Stops at Mayport After Successful Deployment

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Elisha Dawkins, Navy Public Affairs Support Element Detachment Southeast

MAYPORT, Fla. (NNS) -- USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) (Ike) and embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 7 stopped at Naval Station Mayport to drop off members of Helicopter Anti-submarine Squadron (HS) 5 and to pick up family members for their transit back to Naval Station Norfolk July 28.

The ship is returning to its homeport following completion of a successful five-month deployment.

"This is my seventh deployment and first with HS-5" said Cmdr. Mark Leavitt. "This is my first time on Eisenhower. The Sailors kept me very busy; it was a great experience."

Ike and the other units assigned to Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 8 deployed to the 5th and 6th Fleet Areas of Responsibility in support Operation Enduring Freedom
conducting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation operations.

"I think everyone had a fulfilling deployment; it was challenging at times and difficult to operate where we were at in the North Arabian Sea," said Leavitt. "The temperature was extremely hot; the humidity was extremely high, and the Sailors on the flight deck routinely were in a heat index over 115 and 120 degrees. But they worked very hard and should be very proud of what they did."

While deployed, CVW 7 provided combat support to coalition troops on the ground in Afghanistan flying, more than 4,700 combat sorties and 17,000 combat flight hours.

"I couldn't be more proud of the nearly 6,000 men and women of the Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group," said Rear Adm. Kurt W. Tidd, commander, Carrier Strike CSG 8. "Our Sailors have upheld the timeless traditions of our Navy when called upon. They delivered, providing persistent U.S. naval power, in perfect partnership with our joint and allied partners, delivering security and stability in uniquely important and remarkable parts of the world."

USS Bainbridge (DDG 96) and USS Halyburton (FFG 40) also assigned to CSG 8, assisted in the rescue of Capt. Richard Phillips, the master of U.S. Motor Vessel Maersk-Alabama, following a pirate attack on board.

"I'm getting all choked up; I am very proud of my son and all the guys on the trip. We just don't know the price of freedom," said Ralph Balcom, father of Chief Warrant Officer Michael Balcom.

Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group participates in military operations around the world in support of building partnerships with other navies and countries in an effort to maintain freedom of the seas.

Ships Arrive in Seattle for Seafair, Sail in Parade of Ships

The Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Shoup (DDG 86) arrives in Seattle for the 60th Seafair celebration. Sailors will have the opportunity to experience the sights of downtown Seattle, while the public will have the chance to tour the ship and meet Sailors. Shoup is homeported in Everett, Wash. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Chantel M. Clayton/Released)

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Chantel M. Clayton, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West Det. Northwest

SEATTLE (NNS) -- The citizens of Seattle, along with high-ranking Navy and Coast Guard officials and dignitaries, gathered along Elliot Bay for a parade of ships, marking the fleet's official arrival for Seattle's 60th Seafair celebration.

Alongside the hundreds of people who turned out to see the parade of ships was the Navy's top leader, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead.

"I'm here for Seafair. It's always great to come back to Seattle and to spend some time with the Sailors and people," said Roughead. "This gives me an opportunity to visit with Sailors here, and to thank the people of Seattle for their hospitality.

"I think everyone has a great time. Our Sailors love Seattle, and I hope that the citizens of Seattle enjoy meeting our Sailors and jump on the opportunity to tour the visiting ships. I think it's terrific that the people of Seattle can see their Navy, because it is their Navy. I can't be more proud of our folks, and I know that they will enjoy it."

As the Navy Band Northwest played in the background, people from the Seattle area, both young and old, came out to witness the parade of ships, as ships from the United States Navy, Coast Guard and Canadian Navy sailed in Elliot Bay. For many, this was the first time they had witnessed such a display.

"I read about it in the newspaper and wanted to come out here and see the ships. I thought it was really awesome to watch them come in, and it was an awesome experience," said Gay Beckman, a citizen of Puyallup, Wash. "I lived in Washington since 2005, and this is my first time experiencing Seafair. Even though it was hot today, it was worth it to come out."

For Rear Adm. James A. Symonds, commander, Navy Region Northwest, Seafair is an opportunity for Sailors to interact with the people of Seattle, while citizens show their appreciation for what Sailors do for the country.

"Seafair really means a lot to all of us here in the Puget Sound area," said Symonds. "This is a tremendous partnership. The great citizens of Seattle show their support every year not only during Seafair but throughout the year to our young Sailors. For ships like the Momsen and Shoup, who are stationed up in Everett, it means a lot to them. Every day it means a lot to them when they are on deployment on foreign shores."

Vice Adm. Richard Hunt, commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet, urged the citizens of Seattle to take advantage of the opportunity such as Seafair to meet Sailors.

"I think people should come take a look at the ships, get to know our Sailors and see what they do. It's all about our Navy; it's all about our Sailors and how we contribute to maritime security," said Hunt. "Our Sailors are doing a phenomenal job up here, and we appreciate the opportunity to showcase them and what they as individuals and working as a team contribute to our Navy."

Seattle Seafair is an annual celebration, which takes place during the month of July. The U.S. Navy, along with the Canadian navy and U.S. Coast Guard, participate in the annual event, during which selected ships sail into Seattle for the public to see. Sailors have the opportunity to experience the sights of Seattle, and citizens have the chance to meet Sailors and tour the participating ships. The U.S. Navy ships participating this year are the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers USS Momsen (DDG 92) and USS Shoup (DDG 86), both homeported in Everett, Wash.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

HS-2 to become HSC-12

The “World Famous Golden Falcons” of HS-2 to become HSC-12

On August 6th, 2009 the Navy’s oldest HS squadron will officially be redesignated HSC-12. Since the squadron’s establishment in 1952, it has flown six different models of helicopters, most recently the SH-60F and HH-60H, which are now being retired as the squadron accepts MH-60S armed helicopters. The squadron will lose the Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) mission but Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron TWELVE (HSC-12) will continue to focus on the core mission areas of Search and Rescue (SAR), Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR), Naval Special Warfare (NSW), Anti-Surface Warfare (ASUW) and Logistics.

Possessing a long and distinguished history, spanning fifty-seven years, HS-2 has been at the forefront of tactical proficiency, technological innovation, and humanitarian service among Naval Rotary Wing Aviation. The men and women of HSC-12 will carry on that legacy, ever mindful of the historical roots from which they came.

The transition ceremony will be held on August 6th 2009 at 1000, in the squadron’s hangar space (Bldg 1456) onboard Naval Base Coronado

NMCB 133 Pioneers Tactical Communications

By Electronics Technician 3rd Class Andrew Brieno and Electronics Technician 2nd Class (SCW) Brandi Chopie

GULFPORT, Miss (NNS) -- Communications personnel from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 133 recently completed a four-day communications exercise (COMMEX) designed to test the battalion's ability to establish and maintain communications in a field environment.

Electronics technicians (ETs) and information systems technicians (ITs) from NMCB 133's S6 (communications) shop led the charge, supported by personnel from NMCB 133's communications platoon. The proper setup of antennas, phone networks, tactical data networks and satellite communications were only a few aspects of communications that were under the microscope during COMMEX. Throughout the exercise the battalion was divided into two main personnel groups, Main Body and Air Detachment.

Each unit was evaluated on its ability to communicate with the other as well as with higher commands. To further challenge NMCB 133, the Air Detachment was redeployed twice and each time tasked with re-establishing communications with Main Body and higher. The Main Body was also redeployed once and tasked with sending multiple detachments or groups of personnel into the field, all while maintaining communications to higher echelon commands.

"The exercise was very demanding and pushed our people hard… but with dedication and skill we succeeded, I'm very proud of how everyone performed," said Chief Information Systems Technician (SW/AW) Michael Pittenger, NMCB 133's S6 chief.

COMMEX 2009 also saw the first use of a new concept in battalion communications, spearheaded by NMCB 133. In the months leading up to COMMEX, NMCB 133's S6 personnel were busy setting up a 20-foot container for use as a mobile antenna farm.

"The box," as it has come to be known, is framed in with two by four wall studs and sheeted with plywood. Electrical outlets and lighting were set up in the box, as well as built-in shelves for the storage of communications gear and racks for storage of Vehicle Radio Communications radios (VRC) 90 and VRC 92s. Cables and components were pre-connected so that communications could be established quickly in the field. The phone switchboard and Tactical Data Network server were also housed in the box. An air conditioning unit was installed to keep all the gear from overheating.

"The box takes all of the communications gear out of the muck and into a controlled environment," said Electronics Technician 1st Class (SW/SCW) Jeffrey Brink, NMCB 133's ET Shop's leading petty officer. "It allows us to be ready to establish communications immediately rather than waiting to set up a tent. It makes communications overall much more reliable."

NMCB 133 performed exceptionally well on COMMEX 2009 and will soon apply their knowledge, skills and new assets on the Battalion's upcoming Field Training Exercise.

Navy Rolls Out Joint Strike Fighter

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Rebekah Blowers, Chief of Naval Operations Public Affairs

FORT WORTH, Texas (NNS) -- The chief of Naval Operations (CNO) welcomed the Navy's
first Joint Strike Fighter, the F-35C Lightning II, to the fleet in a ceremony July 28.

The F-35C is the Navy's first stealth fighter and enables the Navy to decrease the time from threat to response at sea. The aircraft possesses uncompromised carrier suitability and low-maintenance stealth materials designed for long-term durability in the carrier environment.

Adm. Gary Roughead, CNO, said this aircraft adds tremendous capability to the fleet.

"Our Sailors will never be in a fair fight because this airplane will top anything that comes its way. It will give our Sailors and pilots the tactical and technical advantage in the skies and it will relieve our aircraft as they age out," Roughead said.

CNO said the pace of operations has not been easy on Sailors, Soldiers, Airmen, and Marines, nor on the ships and aircraft they rely on. He said the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is essential to addressing the Navy, and more importantly the nation's, strike fighter needs.

"It is most exciting for me to think about the young men and women who look to this uniform, who look to naval aviation and see a fulfillment in their lives and an excitement in their lives that is unmatched in any other profession in the world," Roughead said. "I thank you for what you have done and thank you for what you are going to do. It is indeed a great honor to be here."

The F-35C is on schedule to meet the Navy's initial operational capability in 2015, and combines stealth with supersonic speed and high agility. The Lightning II employs the most powerful and comprehensive sensor package ever incorporated into a fighter.

Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Gary Roughead participates in the rollout ceremony for the F-35C Lightning II, the Navy's first-ever stealth fighter. The aircraft will enable the Navy to possess 5th generation fighter capabilities at sea, extending America's reach and reducing the timeline from threat to response. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Tiffini Jones Vanderwyst/Released)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

First C-130 Squadron Arrives at NAS Jacksonville

A C-130 Hercules from the Nomads of Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VR) 62 arrives at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla. VR-62 is the first C-130 squadron to be based at Naval Air Station Jacksonville home since the base was established Oct. 15, 1940. The move is part of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure commission's decision to close Naval Air Station Brunswick, Maine. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Elisha Dawkins/Released)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (NNS) -- The Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 62 (VR-62) "Nomads" arrived at their new home base, Naval Air Station Jacksonville (NAS) July 25, along with the first of four C-130T Hercules aircraft, opening a new chapter in the base's history.

The base was established Oct. 15, 1940, and this is the first time a C-130 squadron has been homeported Jacksonville. The move is part of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure commission's decision to close NAS Brunswick.

"There are a lot of resources here at NAS Jax, and Florida is a year round playground," said VR-62 commanding officer Cmdr. Christopher Thomson. "Maine was nice for skiing but there were four months of bitter cold that many families didn't enjoy."

Monica Gillespie, wife of Naval Air Crewman (Mechanical) 2nd Class (NAC) Brian Gillespie, said she looks forward to going to the beach and building sand castles with her family.

The Navy Air squadron is comprised of 85 active-duty Sailors and 130 Reservists. "One of the biggest pushes we have right now is recruiting new Reservists," said Thomson. "Many Sailors decided to stay behind and we need to replenish the squadron."

The Nomads earned their title by moving to four different homeports in four years.

"We are scheduled to continue the reallocation process throughout the end of August," said Aviation Electronics Technician 1st Class (AW) Mary Hipkin, the squadron's command career counselor is a Reservist recently mobilized to active duty.

"The transfer has been difficult for many crew members and the closure of NAS Brunswick has left no Navy aviation opportunity in the surrounding communities. This has caused many of our Sailors to join our counterparts like the Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve and Coast Guard in an effort to stay local," said Hipkin.

The squadron is responsible for transporting personnel and cargo all over the world. They will deploy on a three-month detachment to Naval Air Station Sigonella, Italy in support of 6th Fleet operations late this summer. VR-62 also supports 5th Fleet operations in Bahrain and 7th Fleet operations in Atsugi, Japan as well as Naval Air Logistics Office flights.

Boxer Amphibious Readiness Group, 13th MEU Returning Home

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- The Boxer ARG/MEU left Southern California in January in support of global maritime security as the nation's force in readiness within the Pacific and Central Commands. During the deployment, the Boxer ARG/MEU spent three months conducting maritime security operations (MSO) with coalition partners to provide security in international waters.

The mission included counterpiracy operations in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean while assigned to Combined Task Force (CTF) 151. Sailors and Marines also supported community service projects during port visits.

ARG/MEUs provide a variety of expeditionary mission capabilities, including rapid, projected humanitarian assistance worldwide with the physical capacity to transport large amounts of medical and engineering supplies and equipment to most locations around the globe.

The Boxer ARG is comprised of the 13th MEU; Amphibious Squadron 5; USS Boxer (LHD 4); USS New Orleans (LPD 18)
USS Comstock (LSD 45); USS Lake Champlain (CG 57)
Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 21 Detachment 3;
Naval Beach Group 1; Assault Craft Unit (ACU) 5 and ACU 1; Beach Master Unit 1; and Fleet Surgical Team 5.

Nimitz Strike Group Set To Deploy

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Nimitz Carrier Strike Group (CSG), including the USS Nimitz (CVN 68) and units assigned to CSG 11, departs July 31 with more than 7,000 Sailors for a scheduled Western Pacific deployment.

During the past few months, Nimitz CSG has conducted several training exercises off the coast of Southern California including composite unit training and joint task force training. They also completed fleet synthetic training as part of the deployment training cycle and are fully prepared and ready to deploy in support of contingency and humanitarian missions.

Last year, Nimitz CSG supported the U.S. commitment to peace and stability in the Pacific region during a four-month deployment. Nimitz CSG supported the maritime strategy by expanding cooperative relationships with the Republic of Korea (ROK) by participating in Operation Key Resolve/Foal Eagle 2008.

Aircraft carriers continue to be one of our nation's primary on-call assets in times of need, and they enable the Navy to execute the six core capabilities of the maritime strategy – forward presence, deterrence, sea control, power projection, maritime security and humanitarian assistance/disaster response.

Commanded by Capt. Mike Manazir, Nimitz was commissioned in 1975, making it the first Nimitz-class, nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. The ship is named for World War II Fleet Adm. Chester Nimitz.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

National Level Exercise 2009 (NLE 09)

For our readers who are HF Government monioring enthusiasts:

National Level Exercise 2009 (NLE 09) is scheduled for July 27 through July 31, 2009. NLE 09 will be the first major exercise conducted by the United States government that will focus exclusively on terrorism prevention and protection, as opposed to incident response and recovery.

NLE 09 is designated as a Tier I National Level Exercise. Tier I exercises (formerly known as the Top Officials exercise series or TOPOFF) are conducted annually in accordance with the National Exercise Program (NEP), which serves as the nation's overarching exercise program for planning, organizing, conducting and evaluating national level exercises. The NEP was established to provide the U.S. government, at all levels, exercise opportunities to prepare for catastrophic crises ranging from terrorism to natural disasters.

NLE 09 is a White House directed, Congressionally- mandated exercise that includes the participation of all appropriate federal department and agency senior officials, their deputies, staff and key operational elements. In addition, broad regional participation of state, tribal, local, and private sector is anticipated. This year the United States welcomes the participation of Australia, Canada, Mexico and the United Kingdom in NLE 09.


NLE 09 will focus on intelligence and information sharing among intelligence and law enforcement communities, and between international, federal, regional, state, tribal, local and private sector participants.

The NLE 09 scenario will begin in the aftermath of a notional terrorist event outside of the United States, and exercise play will center on preventing subsequent efforts by the terrorists to enter the United States and carry out additional attacks. This scenario enables participating senior officials to focus on issues related to preventing terrorist events domestically and protecting U.S. critical infrastructure.

NLE 09 will allow terrorism prevention efforts to proceed to a logical end (successful or not), with no requirement for response or recovery activities.

NLE 09 will be an operations-based exercise to include: activities taking place at command posts, emergency operation centers, intelligence centers and potential field locations to include federal headquarters facilities in the Washington D.C. area, and in federal, regional, state, tribal, local and private sector facilities in FEMA Region VI, which includes the states of Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and California.


Through a comprehensive evaluation process, the exercise will assess prevention and protection capabilities both nationally and regionally. Although NLE 09 is still in the planning stages, the exercise is currently designed to validate the following capabilities:

•Intelligence/Information Sharing and Dissemination
•Counter-Terrorism Investigation and Law Enforcement
•Air, Border and Maritime Security
•Critical Infrastructure Protection
•Public and Private Sector Alert/Notification and Security Advisories
•International Coordination


Exercises such as NLE 09 are an important component of national preparedness, helping to build an integrated federal, state, tribal, local and private sector capability to prevent terrorist attacks, and rapidly and effectively respond to, and recover from, any terrorist attack or major disaster that occurs.

The full-scale exercise offers agencies and jurisdictions a way to test their plans and skills in a real-time, realistic environment and to gain the in-depth knowledge that only experience can provide. Participants will exercise prevention and information sharing functions that are critical to preventing terrorist attacks. Lessons learned from the exercise will provide valuable insights to guide future planning for securing the nation against terrorist attacks, disasters, and other emergencies.

Cape Canaveral Restricts Areas to Secure Shore

WASHINGTON (CN) - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has changed the restricted area around Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Patrick Air Force Base, so the corps will be able to secure its shoreline. Regulation amendments enlarge a restricted area in the Banana River and establish a new restricted area in the Atlantic Ocean. The agency also removes a restricted area in the Banana River.

The CCAFS 45th Space Wing Commander will respond to threats to the station by closing restricted areas.

Milcom MP Team Reports Tyndall AFB Frequency Changes

One of Milcom MP team reporters here in the southeast US sends along the following frequency changes for Tyndall AFB FL.

263.1500 USAF Tyndall AFB FL Tower, ex-384.4000 (another 380-400 MHz subband freq change)

307.8000 Tyndall Approach/Departure Control (south above 5,000 ft) for Apalachicola Muni, Panama City Bay County International and Tyndall AFB, ex-341.7000 MHz.

Our team reporter indicates that there are a few more frequencies that have gone silent, but he has not tracked down the new locations. But NOTAM M0363/09 that was issued 17 July may have the rest of the story.


2FS 228.8000
43FS 352.1000 132.6250
95FS 313.5000
ACMI2 139.6000
ACMI6 358.8500 141.9500
ACMI10 138.2500
ACMI12 140.3750
APPCH (S) 307.8000
ARRIVAL 119.7750
BANDIT OPS 281.2000
COMPASS LAKE 379.4000 341.7500
EMC 141.1500
SOF 373.6500 143.6000
TOWER 263.1500
W470A ACMI3 139.0000
W470BD COMMON 376.4500
W470CEF ACMI7 142.9750

More as we get it.

USS Ronald Reagan Supporting OEF in Afghanistan

An F/A-18C Hornet, assigned to the Stingers of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 113 embarked aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), returns from a mission supporting Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. Ronald Reagan is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. Operations in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations are focused on reassuring regional partners of the United States' commitment to security, which promotes stability and global prosperity. (U.S. Navy photo by Cmdr. Erik Etz/Released)

USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) conducts missile exercises.

The USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) recently conducted a missile exercise. See the story at

Future USS New York Completes Acceptance Trials

The amphibious transport dock ship Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) New York (LPD 21) transits along the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico to conduct builder's trials. The amphibious transport dock New York is being built in Avondale, Louisiana with 7.5 tons of World Trade center Steel in her bow, and is scheduled to be commissioned in November. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Corey Lewis/Released)

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The future USS New York (LPD 21) completed Acceptance Trials July 24, sailing from and returning to the Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding (NGSB) shipyard in New Orleans. The ship's bow stem includes thousands of pounds of steel salvaged from the World Trade Center.

New York is the fifth ship of the San Antonio class to be presented to the Navy's Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) for acceptance. This is the final major milestone prior to the shipyard delivering the amphibious transport dock ship to the Navy.

"The completion of acceptance trials is a major step towards bringing New York into the fleet," said Capt. Bill Glens, LPD 17-class program manager for the Navy's Program Executive Office for Ships (PEO Ships). "This week, four out of five San Antonio-class ships were underway at the same time. There's really no better indication that we're delivering urgently needed assets to our warfighters."

During the Acceptance Trials, NGSB successfully demonstrated a variety of systems including main propulsion, engineering and ship control systems, combat systems, damage control, food service and crew support. Among the highlights of the trial, New York successfully completed a full power run, self defense detect-to-engage exercises, ballasting, deballasting, and steering and anchor handling demonstrations.

In addition to the INSURV team, Navy experts from Naval Sea Systems Command, the LPD 17 class Program Office and the Supervisor of Shipbuilding Gulf Coast participated in the trials. Among the most interested ship riders were those men and women from New York's crew who will be moving aboard the ship in August shortly after delivery.

The future USS New York is scheduled for commissioning in New York City on Nov. 7, 2009.

PEO Ships is responsible for the development and acquisition of U.S. Navy surface ships, and is currently managing the design and construction of a wide range of ship classes and small boats and craft. These platforms range from major warships such as frontline surface combatants and amphibious assault ships to air-cushioned landing craft, oceanographic research ships and special warfare craft. PEO Ships has delivered 32 major warships and hundreds of small boats and craft from more than 30 shipyards and boat builders across the United States.

USS Russell Deploys to Support Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training 2009

By Lt.j.g. Douglas Marks, USS Russell Public Affairs

PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- Family and friends said goodbye to more than 250 officers and crew members of the Pearl Harbor-based guided-missile destroyer, USS Russell (DDG 59) July 27.

Russell, commanded by Cmdr. Rodney M. Patton, is scheduled for a three-month deployment to Southeast Asia in support of Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training 2009. While deployed, the crew will train with numerous Southeast Asian navies to foster relations in support of the global war on terrorism.

"This deployment should be both educational and fun not only because we are going to make a lot of port visits, but because we are going to train with other navies whom have different skill sets than us," said Ensign Sean McDonnell, Russell's combat information center officer. "Hopefully, we will be able to have sailors go to other navies' ships and see their daily operations while some of their sailors visit our ship," he said.

Russell, along with Destroyer Squadron 31 and multinational forces, will conduct seamanship events, helicopter operations and visit, boarding, search and seizure operations, and various maritime exercises. The ship is scheduled to return in late October.

12 nations activate groundbreaking Heavy Airlift Wing

by Maj. Cristin Marposon, U.S. Air Forces in Europe Public Affairs

PAPA AIR BASE, Hungary (AFNS) -- Senior diplomatic and defense officials representing 12 nations as well as NATO witnessed July 27 the official activation of a first-of-its-kind multinational strategic airlift unit at Pápa Air Base, Hungary.

"I want to extend my thanks to all of the nations that chose to participate in SAC," said Ambassador Claudio Bisogniero, NATO deputy secretary general, referring to the Strategic Airlift Capability program formalized 2006. "Because of your commitment, today we are well-positioned to provide aid anywhere, at any time, and on any mission - humanitarian, disaster relief, or peacekeeping."

The nations committed to the 30-year SAC Program built the program's multinational operational-level unit, known as the Heavy Airlift Wing or HAW, in just 10 months. The purpose was to collectively create a heavy airlift solution with global reach to meet national obligations to the European Union, United Nations and NATO. Primary among those obligations for all the participants is support to the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.

"In building this program, the twelve nations forged an unshakable bond," said U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Richard Johnston, chairman of the SAC Steering Board. "Today, this unshakable bond is gathered here at Pápa to celebrate a significant milestone in military aviation. This is your day, your nation's day, and each and every nation should be proud to have brought this vision to reality."

The SAC program, which will operate independently of NATO's military command, includes NATO member nations Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovenia and the United States, as well as Partnership for Peace nations Finland and Sweden.

The nations' varying investments in the SAC Program dictate their proportionate share of the annual flying hours on three jointly acquired Boeing C-17 Globemaster III aircraft. The first C-17, SAC 01, landed at Pápa AB July 18 under the control of HAW pilots from Norway, Sweden and the U.S. Boeing will deliver SAC's two remaining C-17s in September and October.

Each nation also contributed a proportionate share of the unit's 131 personnel.

"For nearly a year now, airmen from 12 nations have worked as a team here in Pápa, blending their varied skills, military experiences and cultures into a new form of multinational military unit," explained the HAW's first commander, U.S. Air Force Col. John Zazworsky, in his multinational capacity.

"The team has consistently focused on being able to conduct strategic airlift missions as soon as the first aircraft was delivered. Now that we have reached that milestone, we have the strong sense that we are creating a model for future cooperative military efforts."

SAC 01 will begin operational missions in support of the nations' requirements in early August and anticipates flying roughly 630 hours before the end of 2009 and more than 3,100 flying hours in 2010, all of which will be flown by multinational aircrews regardless of the nation to which the mission belongs.

Many of the already-scheduled missions will fulfill the participating nations' commitments to ISAF. A typical mission transporting troops, mechanized firepower and oversized equipment weighing tens of tons from Pápa to Afghanistan and back requires roughly 15 flight hours.

The Republic of Hungary plays a significant role in the SAC program as host to the main operating base of the newly activated HAW and to its personnel and their families. It will also register the SAC aircraft, the tail flash of which presents the nation's flag in stripes of red, white and green.

To facilitate the HAW's mission, the Hungarian air force will manage the Pápa airfield, air traffic control operations and base infrastructure support. A Boeing team assigned to Pápa AB will provide material management, flight line maintenance and other support for the wing's C-17s. And the NATO Airlift Management Agency or NAMA, an organization of roughly three dozen individuals, will handle acquisition, logistics support and financial matters.

According to SAC officials, the program's approach to shared use of strategic airlift assets allows participating nations to achieve greater efficiencies in defense investment and operational capacity than otherwise possible.

Furthermore, the program provides a model for future consortium acquisition and management of expensive defense capabilities and for future combined operations.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

VAQ-129 Prowler 907 Makes Final Flight

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Tucker M. Yates, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West, Det. Northwest

OAK HARBOR, Wash. (NNS) -- A Navy EA-6B Prowler from Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 129 made its final flight from Naval Air Station (NAS) Whidbey Island in preparation for retirement July 20.

The flight of Prowler 907 terminated upon arrival at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Ariz., where the 309th Aerospace and Maintenance Regeneration Group will begin the process of preparing the aircraft for reclamation and preservation.

"It's fitting that we mark this day of taking this aircraft to the "boneyard," but Prowlers still have quite a bit more work to do for the nation," said Capt. Tom Slais, deputy commodore of Electronic Attack Wing, U.S. Pacific Fleet. "[The EA-6B] is carrying the lion's share of the load for electronic attack in the U.S. military."

Prowler 907 began service August of 1975 and attained more than 11,000 hours of flight time, with more than 18,000 landings in nearly 34 years of active duty. In total, upon departure from NAS Whidbey Island, the aircraft amassed 7,019 field carrier landing practice landings, 9,069 field landings, 1,651 catapults, 1,656 ship arrested landings and 1,706 total arrested landings, reaching an average 147 catapults and 152 arrestments per 1,000 hours.

One of the former plane captains of Prowler 907, Aviation Structural Mechanic 3rd Class Donnavin Brown, formerly of Electronic Attack Squadron 129, who now works for L-3 Communications Corporation on NAS Whidbey Island, was granted the privilege of fulfilling his prior role one more time to send the jet on its way. Brown was plane captain from August to December 2008.

"It's sad that my aircraft was the first to go to the boneyard, but I couldn't have asked for anything better," said Brown. "I was glad that I got to do this."

As the Navy transitions away from the EA-6B toward the EA-18G Growler more Prowlers will continue to be removed from active service, but the aircraft still provides substantial warfighter capability and will remain a valuable asset for the remainder of its lifespan.

"The thing about this is that it's 2009, and we're currently scheduled to fly this aircraft until 2013 so we still have [a few] years of flying EA-6Bs out of Whidbey Island right now, and the Marines will be flying them until 2019. We still have a lot more work to do with this aircraft," said Slais.

Pearl Harbor Welcomes Multi-Mission Capable USS Hawaii Home

Sailors man the rails aboard the Virginia-class attack submarine USS Hawaii (SSN 776) as she pulls into her new homeport at Naval Station Pearl Harbor. USS Hawaii is the third Virginia-class submarine constructed and the first submarine to bear the name of the Aloha state. Hawaii is capable of supporting a multitude of missions, including anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface ship warfare, strike, naval special warfare involving special operations forces, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, irregular warfare, and mine warfare. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Robert Stirrup/Released)

PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- USS Hawaii (SSN 776), the first Virginia-class submarine to be homeported in the Pacific, arrived July 23 to a warm local style welcome that reflected Hawaii's diverse cultural heritage at the submarine piers at Naval Station Pearl Harbor.

The state's namesake submarine has made Hawaii its home during the 50th Anniversary of Statehood Commemoration activities.

More than 200 people took advantage of the opportunity to view USS Hawaii from the Ford Island seaplane ramp as the submarine sailed into Pearl Harbor, and many more lined the banks of the naval station near Hospital Point and along Hickam Air Force Base. Guest of honor was the ship's sponsor, Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle, who briefly boarded USS Hawaii via a small boat prior to the ceremony to greet the crew and raise the Hawaii State Flag aboard the namesake submarine.

At the Sierra Nine pier next to Submarine Force Pacific headquarters, family members of the crew and invited guests enjoyed the ceremony preceding the arrival, which featured a Hawaii Air National Guard flyover and participation by the U.S. Pacific Fleet Band, the Kamehameha Alumni Glee Club, Halau Hula Olana Ai performing a hula, Kahuna Pule Ganotise providing a traditional Hawaiian blessing and a haka by Pa Ku'i a Lua. Once the brow was across, the crew debarked into the arms of their loved ones, who had not seen the crew since USS Hawaii's departure from Groton, Conn., in May.

Shortly after the ceremony, families and crew of USS Hawaii were treated to a reception, hosted by the Navy League of the United States Honolulu Council at historic Lockwood Hall aboard the naval station. Danny Kaleikini sang the National Anthem and Hawai'i Pono'i.

"Today is a very important beginning for the people of Hawaii, the crew of the fine submarine USS Hawaii, the submarine force, and the U.S. Pacific Fleet," said Rear Adm. Douglas McAneny, commander Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet.

"We recognize that without the support of the great people of the state of Hawaii, we cannot succeed day in and day out with the mission our country asks us to do."

"Officially today, I welcome you and your families as members of our ohana," said Lingle. "I am honored to serve as this ship's sponsor, and I have been with you every step of your journey home. Today you start a new tradition, while building a more secure future for our country."

"I know I speak for the officers and crew of the USS Hawaii, when I say, 'wow!'" said Cmdr. Edward Herrington, the submarine's commanding officer. "I felt a little like a rock star today. All the people on the shoreline cheering you along, the governor coming out on the boat and the fly over; it was fantastic."

Measuring 377 feet long, weighing 7,800 tons when submerged and with a complement of more than 130 crew members, Hawaii is one of the Navy's newest and most technologically sophisticated submarines.

The state-of-the-art submarine is capable of supporting a multitude of missions, including anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface ship warfare, strike, naval special warfare involving special operations forces, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, irregular warfare and mine warfare.

Commissioned May 5, 2007, Hawaii was the third Virginia-class attack submarine constructed and the first submarine to be named after the 50th state. During her maiden deployment, USS Hawaii became only the second Naval submarine in history to receive the U.S. Coast Guard Meritorious Unit Citation for her efforts in support of Joint Interagency Task Force South counter-drug operations.

Recognizing the importance of the Asia-Pacific region and the increased threat posed by the proliferation of submarines in the Pacific, the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review mandated that 60 percent of the U.S. Navy's submarines be homeported in the Pacific by the end of 2010.

USS Hawaii joins five Los Angeles-class submarines assigned to Pearl Harbor-based Submarine Squadron 1, commanded by Capt. Lee Hankins. In addition to the USS Hawaii, the Virginia-class submarine USS Texas (SSN 775) will transfer from Groton, Conn., to Submarine Squadron 1 this fall, and Los Angeles-class USS Albuquerque (SSN 706) will transfer from Groton, Conn., to Submarine Squadron 11 in San Diego later this summer. By the end of 2009, 31 of the U.S. Navy's 53 fast attack submarines will be homeported in the Pacific, with 18 of those 31 home ported in Pearl Harbor. COMSUBPAC officially announced the impending arrival of Virginia-class submarine USS Hawaii (SSN 776) to Pearl Harbor in December 2008.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Force Structure Actions at Fort Bliss Announced

The Department of the Army announced today the planned activation of the 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, at Fort Bliss, Texas.

The 3rd IBCT is brigade combat team number 44 of the “Grow the Army” initiative. This decision is not related to or impacted by the April 6, 2009, Department of Defense announcement stopping the growth at 45 brigade combat teams for the Army.

This stationing action represents an increase of 3,444 military authorizations at Fort Bliss and no change in civilian authorizations. This stationing action will be completed by Aug. 16, 2009.

Force Structure Actions at Fort Carson Announced

The Department of the Army announced today the planned activations of the 46th Engineer Detachment, 615th Engineer Company, and the 52nd Engineer Battalion Headquarters at Fort Carson, Colo. These force structure actions support the 2007“Grow the Army” initiative.

The Army will also activate the 80th Engineer Team, 40th Quartermaster Team, and realign the 230th Finance Company, 576th Engineer Company, and the 59th Quartermaster Company at Fort Carson as part of integrated force structure changes that support the Army’s transformation and modularity plan.

These combined actions represent an increase of 431 military authorizations and no change in Army civilian authorizations at Fort Carson. These force structure actions will be completed by April 16, 2010.

Navy Bombing Range Hosts Annual Open House

An F/A-18F Super Hornet conducts a routine training evolution above the Navy Dare Bombing Range in Dare County, N.C. during the range's annual open house. The open house gives local residents and guests a chance to observe the daily operations of the various units that train at the range. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joseph R. Wax/Released)

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joseph R. Wax, Navy Public Affairs Support Element-East

DARE COUNTY, N.C. (NNS) -- The Navy Dare Bombing Range, located in Dare County, N.C., held its annual open house July 16, to allow local residents and guests a chance to observe routine training operations.

Managing the range since it opened in 1968 and presiding over the day's festivities was Harry Mann, the Navy Dare Bombing Range supervisor.

"[The event] gets the local people in so they know what's out here. It shows them the pilots know what they are doing so when they see a plane over their home they know they're safe."

Mann and his staff work in conjunction with Fleet Area Control and Surveillance Facility, Virginia Capes (FACSFAC VACAPES) to ensure that the bombing range provides pilots and air crew the training they need, while keeping the evolutions as safe as possible.

"I've seen many pilots come through here, and we've gotten not one letter saying we didn't do what we were supposed to," said Mann. "In 41 years our crew has had no accidents."

The Navy Dare Bombing Range has a significant impact on the Navy's ability to stay mission ready and continue to provide maritime security and support to ground forces around the world.

"This range is critical," said Cmdr. Paul Beckley, FACSFAC VACAPES commanding officer. "This gets our pilots ready to be able to surgically hit targets and have a larger impact on the battlefield, while limiting collateral damage. Having people come out allows the public to watch us deploy our weapons systems and see what we are doing with their tax dollars."

Through the years, the range has had to adapt to changes in technology and aircraft to ensure that the pilots are getting the training they need. Mann has been there every step of the way.

"When I started, there were free-fall bombs," said Mann. "Now they have laser-guided bombs that are so accurate it's like 'which window in your automobile do you want it.' We used to have to pull up banners that held the targets and when the pilots got done we would mark the hits on the banners with magic markers. Now we can tell the pilots where the bomb hit in two seconds, so they can react to the wind if they were off target."

Mann and his staff have been so efficient through the years, they don't even require much in the way of supplies to keep the range up and running.

"[Mann is] very resourceful," said Cmdr. Steve Finco, the director of operations for FACSFAC VACAPES. "[He] and his team use military surplus and salvage materials. They fabricated a MiG 29 themselves that looks real from the air. He certainly makes my job a lot easier."

The pilots coming to use the Navy Dare Bombing Range certainly notice all of the hard work put in by Mann and his staff.

"When I talk to air crews, they are always really appreciative of the training here," said Finco. "It makes me feel good that we have trained them for any and all contingencies, so we can make sure that everyone comes back."

Year after year, the Navy Dare Bombing Range open house has allowed people to see the great work being done by Mann and his staff and the necessary training that goes on there every day.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

'Empire Challenge' Focuses on Interopability

By Donna Miles, American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON - Taking advantage of emerging technologies to collect and analyze intelligence, then testing out better ways to get it out to warfighters who need it is the focus of a demonstration project under way in the California high desert and at sites in the United States and several other countries.

U.S. Joint Forces Command's Empire Challenge 2009 kicked off two weeks ago and continues through July 31, bringing together 1,700 participants in a live, joint and coalition ISR interoperability demonstration, Air Force Col. George J. Krakie said today during a media roundtable.

ISR is military shorthand for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

The most visual part of the demonstration is taking place at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, Calif., a hot, dusty, high-desert environment Krakie said closely resembles conditions warfighters and their equipment face in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Blue" forces are running convoy operations, and "red" forces are setting up ambushes against them, using roadside and vehicle bombs and firing mortars against bases and logistics operations. Meanwhile, airborne intelligence-gathering platforms are flying overhead: U-2 high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft, RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicles and ScanEagle unmanned aircraft systems, among them.

But China Lake is just part of the demonstration.

Computer modeling and simulation and analysis is under way at Joint Forces Command's Joint Intelligence Lab in Suffolk, Va.; the Combined Air Operations Center-Experimental at Langley Air Force Base, Va.; each service's distributed common ground or surface system laboratories; and allied forces sites in Great Britain, Canada, Australia and the Netherlands.

The demonstration, so complicated that it took more than a year to plan, combines realistic combat scenarios and behind-the-scenes intelligence support. Its central purpose, explained John Kittle, the operational commander, is to improve situational awareness throughout the battlefield.

"We're focused on trying to answer the problems that warfighters have identified for us – to provide ISR solutions or improve ISR support for those problems that they are identifying today on the battlefield in Iraq and Afghanistan," he said.

Warfighters came up with basic areas they said require more or better ISR support: irregular warfare and counter-IED operations; strike operations; and persistent surveillance across multiple domains, Kittle said. But warfighters also wanted to see improved ISR management, with a better way of sorting through, processing and distributing the massive amounts of intelligence collected.

"We cannot possibly exploit all the data that is being collected," Kittle said. "That problem is actually going to get worse as time goes on because of the new sensors and new platforms, and new collection capabilities being asked for and put on line."

Empire Challenge is working through some of those challenges in a highly realistic environment. Intelligence collected at China Lake or generated through computer modeling and simulation is fed to analysts at participating sites, who turn it around as quickly as possible.

"Although we have a lot of great technology out there, the real focus is making sure that critical ISR data collected – whether it comes from a U.S. platform or one of our coalition partners' platforms – enters into this exploitation enterprise and can get to the warfighter at the tactical edge," Krakie said.

To test this process, the demonstration is evaluating interoperability along three lines of operations, he explained. It's making sure data flows seamlessly between the five distributed common ground and surface systems – one for each service and one for U.S. Special Operations Command. It's ensuring U.S. systems are interoperable with those of allies and coalition partners. And it's making sure ISR data gets from the intelligence side of the house to the command-and-control part of the operation.

"It does no good if all this intelligence data is moving around the data world but doesn't get to the warfighter at the tactical edge," Krakie said. "So that is one of the key focuses for us during Empire Challenge."

'Flying Tigers' Take Mission to Afghanistan

By Air Force Tech. Sgt. John Jung, Special to American Forces Press Service

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan - American volunteers flying shark-faced P-40 Tomahawks protected China during World War II, and their legacy has become a fixture in the war in Afghanistan.

In homage to the storied airmen of the past, the 74th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, deployed from Moody Air Force Base, Ga., has the iconic shark's face painted on the front of its A-10 Thunderbolt II's, lovingly nicknamed the "Warthog."

The Warthogs provide daily close-air-support and precision-engagement missions throughout Afghanistan in support of coalition ground forces.

The squadron has had at least two aircraft airborne and providing support to their warrior counterparts on the ground on every day of its deployment. But the 74th Aircraft Maintenance Unit keeps the A-10s ready to fly.

"Just like the airmen that defended China in World War II, the 74th AMU is often short on resources, said Air Force Capt. James Schieser, officer in charge of the squadron's maintenance unit. The maintenance airmen make do with what they have to maintain their aging aircraft, he added. "The strong leadership, dedication and perseverance of our noncommissioned officers, senior noncommissioned officers and officer corps, are what ensure every aircraft is fully mission-capable. The maintainers of the 74th AMU understand, with the Flying Tiger legacy they inherited, failure is not an option."

The Flying Tigers have broken records by flying more than 12,000 mission hours, expending more than 100 tons of ordnance since arriving in February. Sometime, though, all it takes is a show of force to end an engagement.

"We seek to avoid civilian casualties in all our operations - period," said Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Victor Castillo, weapons section superintendent. "We have a variety of methods we use, including loading of precision-guided munitions, monthly updates of aircraft digital maps and daily maintenance of our targeting systems to ensure the safety of innocent civilians on the ground."

But when enemy combatants don't flee after a show of force, the Warthog can deliver a precise strike to protect coalition ground forces.

Army Spc. Jason Dorsey, Company C, 178th Infantry, saw firsthand the precision and power of the Warthog.

"The A-10s were a valuable asset to us on ground missions here in Afghanistan," Dorsey said. "Their speed and precise targeting provided great support for us and kept the bad guys' heads down during firefights."

"We have so many soldiers coming in from the field to thank us - it's their stories of desperately needing air [support] and seeing an A-10 flying overhead providing cover for them that kept us energized and motivated," said Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Thomas E. Moore, lead production superintendent for the maintenance unit. "It kept us working hard even when it seemed all we were doing was launching and recovering jets 24/7."

USS New Hampshire Returns from Maiden Deployment

By Lt. Patrick Evans, Commander Submarine Group 2 Public Affairs

GROTON, Conn. (NNS) -- The Virginia-class fast-attack submarine USS New Hampshire (SSN 778) returned July 22 to Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton, Conn., after her first deployment.

New Hampshire was the first Virginia-class submarine to deploy in support of operations in the U.S. European Command Area of Responsibility.

"It was a marvelous performance by the entire crew. It was really rewarding. It's rewarding to be back and see our families though. We're happy to be here," said Cmdr. Michael Stevens, New Hampshire's commanding officer.

During her maiden deployment, New Hampshire, the fifth submarine of the Virginia-class, made port calls in France, Spain and Norway. While in Norway, New Hampshire's crew participated in the weeklong Norwegian Submarine Centennial celebration with submariners from that Norway, Germany, Russia and the United Kingdom. During the celebration, the crew marched through downtown Bergen, Norway, to help the country celebrate its 100th submarine birthday.

"We have 134 crew members," said Stevens. "For about 80 percent, it was their first deployment, and probably for more than that, it was their first time in a foreign country. So it was a lot of fun for them. They had a good time."

Though the crew may have had a good time, they said it is better to be home.

"I'm looking forward to relaxing and sleeping in, but I know that ain't gonna happen," said Machinist's Mate 1st Class Adam LaMar, as he held his 10-month-old daughter, Indy, who was chosen to receive the traditional "first hug" upon arrival.

For many family members, the crew's homecoming was an emotional occasion.

"It is a whirlwind of emotions. Words can't really describe the feeling," said Candice Revitzer, wife of Ensign Jason Revitzer, New Hampshire's supply officer. "It's very hard to be apart from each other, but if anything, it really teaches you how strong your love is."

The Revitzer couple was chosen to execute the traditional "first kiss" upon the ship's return home.

New Hampshire was launched Feb. 21, 2008 and christened four months later June 21, 2008 in Groton, eight months ahead of schedule and $54 million under budget. She finished initial sea trials, was delivered to the Navy Aug. 28, 2008 and was then commissioned at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine, Oct. 25, 2008.

The name New Hampshire was awarded to the submarine after a letter writing campaign by third graders from Garrison Elementary School in Dover, New Hampshire, to members of Congress, the state governor and the secretary of the Navy.

Makin Island's Sailors, Marines Conduct Inaugural Flight Ops

Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) 2nd Class Della Smith, a landing signal enlisted (LSE) aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8), directs an Army CH-47 Chinook helicopter assigned to Joint Task Force Bravo to a landing aboard the ship. Makin Island departed Pascagoula, Miss., July 10 and is currently circumnavigating South America via the Strait of Magellan to its new homeport of San Diego. During its transit, the ship will make port visits in Brazil, Chile and Peru. Makin Island is the final amphibious assault ship built in the LHD-1 Wasp-class, but the first of the class built with Gas Turbine Engines and an electric drive. The ship is scheduled to be commissioned in October. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Justin Webb/Released)

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Alec J. Noe, USS Makin Island Public Affairs

USS MAKIN ISLAND, At Sea (NNS) -- USS Makin Island's (LHD 8) Air Department successfully landed helicopters from four of the five armed services while on its way to its commissioning site and new homeport in San Diego.

During the first three days underway, Makin Island completed nearly 250 "touch and go's" (take-off and landing evolutions) with four different types of aircraft, and achieved Aviation Readiness Qualification (ARQ) Underway flight deck certifications.

The aircraft included the Marine Corps' CH-46E Sea Knight, the Navy's MH-53E Super Stallion and HH-65 Dauphin and the Coast Guard's MH-60J Jayhawk helicopters.

This achievement is a significant step toward the ship's overall flight deck certification, a requirement for Makin Island to conduct regular flight operations.

Just days later, Makin Island continued its inaugural week of aviation events and conducted air operations off the coast of Belize in support of U.S. Army CH-47 Chinooks attached to Joint Task Force Bravo. These aircraft and their pilots may be called upon to provide humanitarian relief to South American countries in the event of a natural disaster such as a hurricane or earthquake. By landing on Makin Island, these pilots can now operate off any other other large deck ship which might be mobilized to support the same operation from a sea base.

"We have a lot of senior people, but we also have a lot of junior people and people coming off of shore duty who are a little rusty, so during our in-port period we were doing a lot of simulated flight quarters just to kind of get all the bugs worked out," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) 1st Class Michael Fields, flight deck supervisor.

"When we had the first 'birds' (helicopters) come on deck everyone was on the same page, the communication was flowing well and the rust was knocked off."

Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) Airmen Patrick Morrison is one of Fields' junior Sailors and offered his feedback about the training.

"I know when we did the simulated flight quarters they just kind of had to explain what the aircraft looked like, but when we actually saw them out here it was a little easier to see," said Morrison "I think it went really well. It was pretty smooth."

"It's nice to see them finally get to see the wealth of all their sweat and tears they [offered] putting the flight deck together. Everyone's starting to bond and seeing it is like poetry in motion," added Fields.

Makin Island is currently circumnavigating South America, via the Strait of Magellan, to its new homeport of San Diego. During its transit, the ship is scheduled to make port visits in Brazil, Chile and Peru to support U.S. Southern Command objectives for enhanced maritime security and to share methods and training that will build on U.S. and partner nations' interoperability and strong relations.

The amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) transits the Caribbean Sea. Makin Island departed Pascagoula, Miss., July 10 and is currently circumnavigating South America via the Strait of Magellan to its new homeport of San Diego. During its transit, the ship will make port visits in Brazil, Chile and Peru. Makin Island is the final amphibious assault ship built in the LHD-1 Wasp-class, but the first of the class built with Gas Turbine Engines and an electric drive. The ship is scheduled to be commissioned in October. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Glenn S. Robertson/Released)

U.S. 4th Fleet Executes Maritime Strategy

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Alan Gragg, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command, U.S. 4th Fleet Public Affairs

MAYPORT, Fla. (NNS) -- The Navy marked the first anniversary of U.S. 4th Fleet's re-establishment July 12 and reflected on its accomplishments, both internally and throughout its area of focus.

U.S. 4th Fleet was first established in 1943 as one of the original numbered fleets during World War II, but after seven years of protecting the United States against raiders, blockade runners and enemy submarines in the South Atlantic, the command was disestablished when U.S. 2nd Fleet took over its responsibilities.

One year ago, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead officially re-established U.S. 4th Fleet and named Rear Adm. Joseph D. Kernan as its commander during a change of command and re-establishment ceremony at Naval Station Mayport. Kernan also assumed command of U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command (NAVSO), the naval component of U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM).

U.S. 4th Fleet headquarters are co-located in Mayport, Fla., with NAVSO. NAVSO and 4th Fleet are responsible for U.S. Navy operations throughout the SOUTHCOM area of focus, which encompasses the Caribbean, Central and South America and surrounding waters.

Kernan served as NAVSO and 4th Fleet commander until he was relieved of both duties by Rear Adm. Victor G. Guillory during a change of command ceremony June 12.

Guillory most recently served as the Director, Surface Warfare Division in the Office of Chief of Naval Operations, where he was responsible for managing the war fighting requirements and resources for all surface combatant ships and combat systems.

"Fourth Fleet was re-established because it reflects a commitment to Latin America, which has been demonstrated through 4th Fleet's partnering, humanitarian and counter-illicit trafficking activities," said Guillory. "Through the relentless efforts of this superior staff, 4th Fleet has expanded the scope of our engagements and humanitarian activities and has set an impressive standard in the U.S. Navy for planning and execution of these key maritime missions."

During the first year, 4th Fleet supported the U.S. global maritime strategy by participating in regional counter-drug operations, humanitarian deployments and partnership building missions. Additionally, 4th Fleet worked with non-governmental organizations (NGOs), partner nations' representatives and interagency organizations for mission planning and execution.

U.S. Navy assets deployed throughout 4th Fleet's area of focus were involved in nearly 80 interdictions, resulting in more than 126 metric tons of illicit drugs confiscated since the re-establishment

In its first year, 4th Fleet managed several deployments and exercises throughout the region. One of those deployments was the Continuing Promise (CP) mission. CP is conducted annually to foster goodwill and demonstrate U.S. commitment and support to Latin America and the Caribbean. Amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) brought health care and other relief services to eight Latin American and Caribbean nations during the Atlantic Phase of the humanitarian and civic assistance mission in 2008. Kearsarge conducted missions in five nations: Nicaragua, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Trinidad and Tobago, and Guyana.

In September 2008, 4th Fleet diverted Kearsarge to Haiti to support international relief operations after numerous hurricanes and tropical storms ravaged the area. During the mission, the ship provided robust air and sealift support, delivering 3.3 million pounds of food, water and other aid. Medical teams from the ship also provided limited health care and assessment to affected communities.

CP09 is currently being conducted by Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20), operating under 4th Fleet operational control. Comfort departed Norfolk, Va., April 1, beginning a four-month deployment to Antigua, Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Panama. To date, medical teams aboard Comfort, in partnership with other government agencies and non-governmental organizations, have treated more than 75,000 patients and conducted more than 1,116 surgeries.

Another ongoing 4th Fleet deployment is the Southern Partnership Station (SPS) mission. In 2007, High Speed Vessel (HSV-2) Swift conducted a joint, multinational and interagency cooperation mission with seven partner nations, including Barbados, Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Jamaica, Panama and Nicaragua. The SPS mission also included the first ever Navy Diver Southern Partnership Station (ND-SPS) aboard the Military Sealift Command (MSC) rescue and salvage ship USNS Grasp (T-ARS 51). During the three-month deployment, Grasp's embarked U.S. Navy divers provided joint and bilateral training to partner nation coast guard and maritime police forces in Antigua, Barbados, Dominican Republic, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Currently, 4th Fleet is conducting the Southern Cone phase of SPS 2009, involving the dock landing ship USS Oak Hill (LSD 51). The deployment is designed to maintain a consistent at-sea presence in the region with minimal footprint ashore, continue to strengthen regional interoperability by improving partner nation operational capabilities and skills and build new partnerships by engaging countries not involved during previous SPS deployments.

Fuerzas Aliadas (FA) PANAMAX is an annual partnership-building exercise during which 4th Fleet serves as the maritime force commander. Each year, regional forces participate in one of the world's largest multinational training exercises focused on defending the Panama Canal, one of the most strategically and economically important waterways in the world.

In spring 2009, 4th Fleet hosted maritime forces from 11 countries for the annual multinational maritime exercise UNITAS, which took place in Mayport and off the Coast of Florida. "UNITAS Gold" marked the 50th iteration of the exercise, yet it was the first time the event had ever taken place in the U.S.

"The many accomplishments of 4th Fleet's first year are a result of the naval assets that operated in the region working together with regional partners to enhance maritime security throughout our area of focus," said Guillory. "I look forward to building upon these successes and furthering our partnering efforts as 4th Fleet goes forward into its second year."

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

F-22 Versus F-35 by Sec Def

Defense Secretary Robert Gates says the increased production of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters will have a positive impact on jobs in the aerospace industry over the next several years.

Milcom Blog Logs - 21 July 2009 - Mid Atlantic

Ron, a member of the MMP team, has passed along his Milcom blog log freqs monitored on 21 July from his his Mid Atlantic area in April 2009. Thanks Ron.

ACY-Atlantic City NJ
ADW- Andrews AFB MD
BW- Bay Watch-NAS PAX Area Advisory Control
DAA- Davison AAF, Ft Belvoir VA
DCA- Reagan National Airport/CGAS Washington, Wash DC
GK- Giantkiller (FACSFAC, Virginia Capes)
LFI- Langley AFB VA
MTN-Martin State Airport, Baltimore
NGTF-Northrop-Grumman Test Facility, Baltimore
NXX- Willow Grove JRB PA
PAX-NAS Patuxent River MD
PTC- Potomac Area TRACON
ZDC- Washington ARTCC

1. VHF/UHF: ((Times are EDT))

0735- Reach ??30 (first part missed)-w/DOV CP (349.4) w/inbound msg.
0800- 7A326 (UC-12, Base Flt PAX)-depart PAX (121.0)
0848- Venus 42 (VC-37A # 97-0402, 99th AS ADW)- check in w/ZDC Calvert (133.9)
0853- 7A326- check in w/ZDC Calvert (133.9)
1015- Tester 15 (T-38C # 61-4586, NTPS PAX)-w/BW (270.8) w/speed run of Mach 1.03 at FL310.
1111- Tester 959 (T-6A Texan II # 165959, NTPS PAX)-w/BW (354.8)
1156- N360TL (Britten-Islander, NGTF)-w/Northrop Base (123.225)--RTB Baltimore in the early 1300 hour.
1228- Slam 11 flt (F-22s, 149th FS VA ANG LFI)-in AAR w/Mash 61 (KC-135R 434th ARW, AFRC Grissom ARB, IN) in W386G (238.9). Later in ACM training on GK discrete freq
1246- Rocky flt (F-22s, LFI)-AAR in AR636 (238.9)--at 1310 clear out of W386 (249.8) RTB LFI.
1305- Crab 57 (C-130J # 98-1357, 135th AS MD ANG MTN) w/Crab Ops (384.1) w/departure msg.
1340- Reach 9005-w/DOV approach (132.425).
1346- Ugly flt (A-10s, 103th FS PA ANG NXX)-working on the Bollen Range (237.2) using discrete freqs (233.55 & 238.85)--also w/ANG Ops (141.8)
1410- Score 55 (sounds like P3, VX-20 PAX)-check in w/ZDC Cape Charles (132.55).
1420- UAV-1 & UAV-2 (unid)- working on 123.4 w/station using callsign Command--chat makes ref to voice comms and video downlinks.
1431- Salty Dog 102 (F-18E, VX-23, PAX) & Salty Dog 123 (F-18D # 164040, VX-23 PAX)-w/BW (354.8)
1444- Flyer 1 flt (2 X A-10s, 103th FS PA ANG NXX)-w/ZNY Lancaster (239.05).
1447- Dog 11 & 12 (unid, PAX)-in ACM target tracking system test on PAX test discrete (365.7)
1450- Salty Dog 400 (NF-18C #163476, VX-23 PAX) & Salty Dog 403 (F-18C #163987, VX-23 PAX)- w/BW (355.8). These may be the Dog 11 & 12 working on 365.7.
1500- PAT 1250 (prob C-12)-w/Leesburg Radio (255.4) reporting departure from Clarksburg WVA enroute to DAA.
1519- Baton 51 (EC-130J, 193rd SOG, PA ANG Harrisburg PA)-w/Baton Ops (395.1) w/inbound msg.
1525- Blackjack 1 (HH-65C, CGAS Washington)-w/Huntress (139.7)
1525- Salty Dog 321 (F-18D #162419, VX-23 PAX)-w/BW (270.8) for vertical maneuvering test.
1536- Tester 08 (T-38C, NTPS PAX)-w/BW (354.8)
1546- Titus 52 (C-13T, VR-53, ADW)-w/ZDC Calvert (133.9) for engine test flt.
1551- N168W (T-39 Sabreliner, NGTF)-w/Northrop Base (123.225)
1555- Colt 1 (A-10C, 104th FS MD ANG MTN)-w/Raven Ops (347.2) w/departure msg. Returned to MTN at 1650.
1700- N164W (BAC-1-11, NGTF)-check in w/ZDC Calvert (133.9)

2. HF: ((Times UTC, Freqs KHz))

09025.0 240067 (C-17 Aircraft # 94-0067, 437th AW, Charleston AFB SC): 1505 USB/ALE calling OFF (Offutt AFB NE). Noted again at 2030 calling OFF.

09025.0 OFF: 1545 USB/ALE calling MCK (unid--poss garble for MCC-McClellan AFB CA).

09025.0 JNR (Salinas Puerto Rico): 1620 USB/ALE w/719 (USCG HC-130H #1719, CGAS Clearwater FL) w/request for pp.

09025.0 170027 (C-5 #87-0027 9th AS/436th AMW Dover AFB DE): 1702 USB/ALE calling CRO (Croughton UK).

09025.0 OFF: 1752 USB/ALE calling 571456 (KC-135R # 57-1456, 77th ARS – AFRC,Seymour Johnson AFB, NC).

09025.0 591502 (KC-135R #59-1502,319th ARW,Grand Forks AFB, ND): 1845 USB/ALE calling ADW (Andrews AFB MD) & OFF.

09025.0 538013 (KC-135R # 63-8013, 121st ARW - OH ANG Rickenbacker AFB, OH): 2050 USB/ALE sounding.

09025.0 MOBD34 (unid): 2200 USB/ALE sounding.

Thanks for sharing with my readers Ron.

RAAF Accepts First Block II Super Hornet

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) accepted its first F/A-18F Super Hornet during a roll-out ceremony at Boeing's manufacturing facility in St. Louis July 8. First flight was on 20 July 2009 at St Louis, MO. The RAAF serial number is A44-201. Looking closely at the "First flight" hi-res shot, it wears US Navy serial #167957.

The government of Australia is the first foreign military sales customer flying the F/A-18F

Thanks to Shawn Levy for passing this along and the photo above. See his photos at

And here is the complete story from the NNS:

ST. LOUIS (NNS) -- The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) accepted its first F/A-18F Super Hornet during a roll-out ceremony at Boeing's manufacturing facility in St. Louis July 8.

Twenty-four F/A-18F aircraft, built on a common U.S. Navy configuration, are scheduled to be delivered to the RAAF within the next three years.

The RAAF's Super Hornet was unveiled to an audience of several hundred attendees, including representatives from the Australian government, U.S. government and industry partners responsible for building the F/A-18F aircraft.

"The unique partnership we have enjoyed with the Royal Australian Air Force for many years has enabled us to deliver this aircraft on time with the capability it requires," said Capt. Mark Darrah, F/A-18 and EA-18G program manager.

The F/A-18F Super Hornet Block II aircraft is a multi-role strike fighter performing a variety of missions, including precision day and night strike, fighter escort, close-air support, aerial refueling and suppression of enemy air defense.

RAAF Super Hornets will also feature the APG-79 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar. Tracking twice as many targets as the radar it replaces, the AESA features active electronic beam steering, which allows for the nearly instantaneous repositioning of the radar beam.

"The outstanding performance of the APG-79 systems in the fleet continues to exceed expectations," said Darrah. "Boeing and Raytheon have provided the warfighter with a cutting-edge radar that is demonstrating phenomenal performance and reliability in the fleet today. The RAAF will now enjoy that superb capability."

The AESA radar also allots for more time for persistent target observation and information sharing before critical decisions are made. This results in increased aircraft effectiveness and aircrew survivability. The AESA provides the platforms with increased range and resolution, allows the tracking of more targets than current systems in use and features high-resolution SAR maps at long ranges.

"We are grateful for your support and proud to deliver this new, twenty-first century capability to the Royal Australian Air Force and the people of Australia. Today truly marks the beginning of a new generation of airpower for Australia," said Bob Gower, vice president F/A-18 programs, Boeing.

Twelve of the F/A-18F aircraft on order will be wired on the production line for future upgrade as electronic attack EA-18G aircraft.

The government of Australia is the first foreign military sales customer flying the F/A-18F aircraft, procured under a U.S. Navy multi-year II contract.

"The roll-out of Australia's first Block II Super Hornet is a very proud moment for the Royal Australian Air Force and me personally," said Air Marshal Mark Binkskin, chief of RAAF. "I can assure you that the men and women of number one squadron are eager to get their hands on the Rhino. It is a great leap forward for Australia, and the beginning of our future air combat capability."

The first RAAF Super Hornet is scheduled for delivery to the Navy for flight testing in the coming weeks, and the first in-country delivery is slated for spring 2010.

"The partnership between the Royal Australian Air Force, the U.S. Navy and Boeing is remarkable," said Rear Adm. David Philman, U.S. Navy Air Warfare director. "Together, we are taking this aircraft to places in the world where mission success is essential."

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

USS Chung-Hoon Returns Home from 6-Month Western Pacific Deployment

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Robert Stirrup, Commander, Navy Region Hawai’i Public Affairs

PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- More than 300 Sailors aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93) came home to a crowded pier of friends and family at Naval Station Pearl Harbor July 20 following a six-month deployment to the Western Pacific.

The ship departed Pearl Harbor Jan. 20 as a part of the Boxer (LHD4) Amphibious Ready Group. While deployed, Chung-Hoon participated in Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) 2009, under the command of Commander, Destroyer Squadron 31.

Cmdr. Michael McCartney, commanding officer of Chung-Hoon, reflected on the tremendous success of the deployment.

"We completed every tasking that was assigned to us, and overall we performed very well while on deployment," said McCartney. "We had the opportunity to be involved in a number of different missions while still making port visits in various countries."

Friends and families were very excited to see their Sailors return home as they lined the pier.

"It's really great to see my husband come back home today," said the wife of a Chung-Hoon Sailor. "I've been looking forward to this since the day he left."

"It has been a long six months, and I'm just really happy to see him returning home," added another wife of a Chung-Hoon Sailor.

Sailors said they were thrilled to be home as they walked off the ship and in to the arms of their loved ones.

"I was very anxious to come back, it just feels great to be home," said Operations Specialist 2nd Class Jacob Cajundo. "It's really great to see all of my friends and family here today."

CARAT is an annual series of bilateral exercises held in the Southeast Asia region. The individual exercise phases generally focus on training and interaction with participating nations' sea services. The purpose of the exercise series is to improve military readiness and interoperability with each CARAT partner in a variety of mission areas of mutual benefit.

Guided missile destroyers provide multimission offensive and defensive capabilities and can operate independently or as part of carrier battle groups, surface action groups, amphibious ready groups and underway replenishment groups.

NORAD exercise planned for Washington, D.C. tonight

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – The North American Aerospace Defense Command and its geographical component, the Continental United States NORAD Region (CONR), will conduct a one-day exercise, Falcon Virgo 09-10, July 22 in the National Capital Region, Washington, D.C.

The exercise comprises a series of training flights held in coordination with the Federal Aviation Administration, the National Capital Region Command Center, the Joint Air Defense Operations Center, the Continental U.S. NORAD Region, Civil Air Patrol, U.S. Coast Guard and CONR’s Western Air Defense Sector.

Exercise Falcon Virgo is designed to hone NORAD’s intercept and identification operations, as well as procedural tests of the NCR Visual Warning System. Civil Air Patrol aircraft and Coast Guard HH-65 Dolphin helicopters will participate in the exercise. Residents in the area can expect flights to occur during the late night and early morning hours beginning Wednesday at midnight and continuing through the scheduled exercise hours.

In the event of inclement weather, the exercise will push to the next day.

These exercises are carefully planned and closely controlled to ensure NORAD’s rapid response capability. NORAD has conducted exercise flights of this nature throughout the U.S. and Canada since the start of Operation Noble Eagle, the command’s response to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

As the Continental United States geographical component of the bi-national command NORAD, CONR provides airspace surveillance and control, and directs air sovereignty activities for the CONUS region. CONR and its assigned Air Force and Army assets throughout the country ensure air safety and security against potential air threats.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, NORAD fighters have responded to more than 2,100 possible air threats in the United States and have flown more than 51,000 sorties with the support of Airborne Warning and Control System and air-to-air-refueling aircraft.

Monday, July 20, 2009

French Navy Conducts Ike Flight Ops

A French Dassault Rafale fighter aircraft conducts touch and go landings aboard the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) during a coalition training exercise. The Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group is operating in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility after a scheduled five month deployment in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility supporting Operation Enduring Freedom and maritime security operations. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Rafael Figueroa Medina/Released)

Air Mobility Rodeo begins at McChord

MCCHORD AIR FORCE BASE: More than 2,500 servicemembers from around the Air Force and the globe gathered here July 19 to officially kick off the 2009 Air Mobility Rodeo, which runs through July 24.

The Rodeo, sponsored by Air Mobility Command, is a week-long mobility readiness competition that brings teams from AMC bases together to compete in a variety of judged events. The competition focuses on improving worldwide air mobility forces' professional core abilities and features more than 40 aircraft participating in airdrops, aerial refueling and other aerial events.

On hand to kick off the competition were Gen. Arthur Lichte, AMC commander; Maj. Gen. Brooks Bash, AMC director of operations and this year's Rodeo commander; and Doug Richardson, mayor of the surrounding city of Lakewood.

"The local community recognizes and values your service and we are proud to be the host community for this event," the mayor said. "The competitions will be remarkable to witness."

This year's competitions include an aerial port loading and offloading of an aircraft with engines running, a security force's obstacle course, a timed aeromedical evacuation configuration challenge and a timed aircraft egress.

In all, there are more than 50 competitions, each of which is designed to showcase the abilities of mobility Airmen around the Air Force. But the Rodeo isn't just about competition. The event is also a way for Airmen to share ideas and learn from each other.

"Rodeo showcases AMC's best of the best and allows us to train and learn through spirited competition," General Bash said. "Not only does this competition train mobility forces for the fight, it provides a forum for Airmen and our international partners to share the best of tactics and techniques."

This year, more 100 teams are expected to compete, including ones from the Air Force Reserve, the Air National Guard and the allied nations of Belgium, Germany, Great Britain, Spain, Malaysia, Israel, the Republic of Korea and Turkey.

"The involvement of our partner nations elevates the Rodeo to a world-class competition," General Lichte said. "It's really a total force effort on display."

And while the teams are here to compete against each other, in the general's eyes, each one is already a winner.

"There may be 16 trophies up for grabs, but we all will win by making things better together," he said. "And that's what the Rodeo is all about."

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Keel Laid for Latest Addition to Multimission-Capable Amphibious Fleet

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- A keel laying ceremony for Pre-Commissioning Unit America (LHA 6) was held July 17 at Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding's Ingalls shipyard in Pascagoula, Miss.

The keel was authenticated by ship's sponsor Lynne Pace, the wife of retired Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Peter Pace, who confirmed that the keel was truly and fairly laid.

The America Class will replace the aging Tarawa Class and will increase the aviation capacity of future big deck amphibious ships in order to maximize the Navy's investment in future aircraft. LHA 6 will use the same gas turbine propulsion plant, zonal electrical distribution and electric auxiliary systems designed and built for the just-delivered USS Makin Island (LHD 8), replacing the maintenance intensive steam turbines of earlier ships. This unique auxiliary propulsion system (APS) was designed for fuel efficiency. Instead of using main propulsion engines to power the ship's shaft, the APS uses two induction-type auxiliary propulsion motors powered from the ship's electrical grid.

"The future USS America represents a balanced solution to achieve an affordable and capable ship that meets the fleet's needs," said Capt. Jeff Riedel, amphibious ships program manager within the Navy's Program Executive Office, Ships. "She's built without a well deck and includes changes to increase her aviation support capabilities, but because we're reusing the proven auxiliary propulsion system we designed for LHD 8, we're avoiding the kind of design and development costs we would normally see with a new ship class."

By providing a sustainable amphibious ship development program, the America class, or LHA replacement, ensures the nation's amphibious fleet remains the centerpiece of expeditionary warfare in support of the Navy and Marine Corps well into the 21st century.

The LHA Replacement Program is the next step in the incremental development of the "Big Deck Amphib." The class is being designed to accommodate the Marine Corps' future aviation combat element, including F-35B Joint Strike Fighter and MV-22 Osprey with additional aviation maintenance capability and increased fuel capacities, while also providing additional cargo stowage capacities and enabling a broader, more flexible command and control capability.

Amphibious warships are designed to support the Marine Corps tenets of operational maneuver from the sea. They must be able to sail in harm's way and provide a rapid buildup of combat power ashore in the face of opposition. Because of their inherent capabilities, these ships have been and will continue to be called upon to also support humanitarian and other contingency missions on short notice.

PEO Ships is responsible for the development and acquisition of U.S. Navy surface ships and is currently managing the design and construction of a wide range of ship classes and small boats and craft. These platforms range from major warships such as frontline surface combatants and amphibious assault ships to air-cushioned landing craft, oceanographic research ships and special warfare craft. PEO Ships has delivered 32 major warships and hundreds of small boats and craft from more than 30 shipyards and boat builders across the United States.

VMFA-224 is on their way back to the States

One of our mil monitoring friends Taka Okamura in Tokyo has posted this interesting bit of information (Mac, one of our blog followers, this one is for you):

"VMFA-224's F-18D left MCAS Iwakuni,Japan at 17th and 18th July for return to USA.
They turn over Iwakuni deployment to VMFA-533.

Sorry, I don't know their flight callsign this time... But They usually fly for trans pacific flight way Iwakuni -> Wake Island -> Hawaii ->Miramar -> Beaufort.
So, I think they will reach to their Home base mid next week."

Have a good monitor!

Taka Okamura
Tokyo, Japan

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Navy's ANDE-2 Launched Aboard Endeavour Downlink on 2 Meters

Blog Editor's Note: Want a shot at monitoring an orbiting spacecraft? Hams, Scanner Enthusiast and other radio hobbyist have a chance to monitor these two Navy satellites on their amateur band downlinks at 145.825 MHz. See AMSAT notice at the end of this post.

By Donna McKinney, Naval Research Laboratory Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The Naval Research Laboratory's (NRL) satellite suite, the Atmospheric Neutral Density Experiment 2 (ANDE-2), launched aboard NASA's Space Shuttle Endeavour July 15.

The ANDE-2 satellite suite consists of two nearly perfectly spherical micro-satellites with instrumentation to perform two interrelated mission objectives. The first objective is to monitor the total atmospheric density along the orbit for improved orbit determination of resident space objects. The second objective is to provide a test object for both radar and optical U.S. Space Surveillance Network sensors.

ANDE-2 is a low-cost mission designed to study the atmosphere of the Earth from low-Earth orbit by monitoring total atmospheric density between 300 and 400 kilometer altitude. ANDE-2 data will be used to improve methods for the precision orbit determination of space objects and to calibrate the Space Fence, a radar space surveillance system belonging to the Air Force 20th Space Control Squadron, a principal resource for tracking low-Earth orbiting space satellites.

Because of ANDE-2's particular design requirements, a new deployment technique was developed by the Air Force Space Test Program and tested with the ANDE Risk Reduction (ANDERR) flight in December 2006. The primary ANDERR mission objective, a test of the Shuttle deployment mechanism, was successful.

The ANDE project was conceived and developed at NRL, by Andrew Nicholas of NRL's Space Science Division. The mission consists of two microsatellites with the same size but different masses sent into orbit at the same time: the lighter satellite, known as Pollux, and the heavier satellite, Castor.

The Castor spacecraft carries active instruments: a miniature wind and temperature spectrometer to measure atmospheric composition, cross-track winds and neutral temperature; a Global Positioning Sensor; a thermal monitoring system to monitor the temperature of the satellite; an electrostatic analyzer to monitor plasma density spacecraft charging.

Each satellite contains a small lightweight payload designed to determine the spin rate and orientation of the satellite from on-orbit measurements and from ground-based observations. The two microsatellites will slowly separate into lead-trail orbit to provide researchers an opportunity to study small-scale, spatial and temporal variations in drag associated with geomagnetic activity.

Both satellites will be fitted with an array of 30 retro reflectors and will be observed by the U.S. Space Surveillance Network and domestic and international satellite laser ranging sites. The variation in observed position will be used to determine in-track total density. Scientists will determine its position in relation to the passive satellite to compute total density and validate drag coefficient models. In addition, instrumentation on board Castor will measure density and composition.

A joint effort between the Space Science Division and the Naval Center for Space Technology to routinely process and analyze the ANDERR data has led to improved orbit determination and prediction using an atmospheric model correction method. The ANDE data provide a valuable tool for correcting deficiencies in atmospheric models and have led to advancements in miniature sensor technology. These advancements are pivotal for multi-point in-situ space weather sensing. The DoD Space Test Program will provide launch services for the ANDE-2 mission.

Experiment/Payload Description

Research Summary

Atmospheric Neutral Density Experiment - 2 (ANDE-2) objectives are to measure atmospheric density and composition in low Earth orbit (LEO) and to better characterize the parameters used to calculate a satellite's drag coefficient.

This experiment consists of two microsatellites, called ANDE Active (AA) spacecraft (Castor) and the ANDE Passive (AP) spacecraft (Pollux), that are launched from the Space Shuttle cargo bay.

These spherical satellites are 19 inches in diameter and will be tracked by the Satellite Laser Ranging systems and the Space Surveillance Network.


The main objective of Atmospheric Neutral Density Experiment - 2 (ANDE-2) is to measure the total atmospheric density between 100 and 400 km. The density data that is gathered will be used to improve orbit determination calculations of the orbits of resident space objects.

ANDE-2 consists of two spherical micro satellites. These satellites are launched from the Space Shuttle cargo bay into a circular orbit just below the International Space Station altitude.

Both satellites will be tracked by the Satellite Laser Ranging (SLR) system and the U.S. Space Surveillance Network (SSN). These satellites have the same dimensions, but have different masses. Because of the difference in mass, the satellites will drift apart over time. Observing the satellites' position will provide a study on spatial and temporal variations in atmospheric drag associated with geomagnetic activity.

Operational Requirements

ANDE-2 uses two spherical microsatellites which are launched from the Space Shuttle cargo bay. Both satellites are 19 inch diameter spheres, have a mass of 50 and 25 kg, and are constructed of aluminum. The surface of both spheres contains an embedded array of sensors including 30 retro reflectors, six laser diodes for tracking, and six photovoltaic cells for determining orientation and spin rate. Both spheres also have thermal monitor systems. The ANDE spacecraft are located inside the Internal Cargo Unit (ICU). The ICU is made of three aluminum sections. Each section is separated by a light band separation system. Once ejected from the cargo bay, the ICU will separate and deploy the ANDE spheres at a safe distance from the shuttle.

Operational Protocols

ANDE will be launched from the Space Shuttle cargo bay. The two microsatellites will be contained inside the ICU canister. Once the ICU canister is a safe distance from the Space Shuttle, two micro satellites will be released at an altitude of approximately 350 km.

And from AMSAT

AMSAT News Service Bulletin 193.06
July 12, 2009
BID: $ANS-193.06

Castor and Pollox, two satellites in the Atmospheric Neutral Density Experiment (ANDE) program are ready to fly with the launch of STS-127 from Kennedy Space Center. The ANDE mission consists of two spherical spacecraft fitted with retro-reflectors for satellite laser ranging (SLR). The constant and well-determined cross section and surface properties of the ANDE spacecraft provide an ideal set of objects for monitoring atmospheric drag and the calibration of space surveillance network (SSN) assets both radar and optical.

Castor is a 19 inch diameter aluminum sphere with a mass of 63 kg. It is as near perfect sphere as possible given the constraints of cost and manufacturability. The sphere is split in half with e delrin disc. The hemispheres are also the satellite antenna. For power, the satellite has 112 19AH lithium primary cells. This provides about 7000 watt-hours of power which has to last for the one year mission.

The satellite has several different types of sensors. There are two main sensors, a Neutral particle wind and temperature spectrometer and an ion mass spectrometer.

A group of college students designed and built a MEMS sensor payload to test some commercial gyroscopes and a magnetometer. There are also six light sensors and six temperature sensors mounted in the satellite hemispheres.

The Pollux satellite was originally to be a passive satellite with retroreflectors for laser ranging. It has been turned into a high school student project involving several schools in the Fairfax County, Virginia area.

The satellite is powered by twenty-eight 19AH Lithium-ion cells configured to provide 14 volts. The battery configuration uses the spare ANDE satellite hardware.

The electronics is based on cubesat hardware developed at the Naval Research Laboratory and Stensat Group LLC.

The communications board contains the transmitter and receiver. The transmitter operates at 2 meters and can put out up to 1 watt of signal. Power level is adjustable. The transmitter can operate at 1200 baud AFSK and 9600 baud FSK. The transmitter uses the AX.25 protocol. An experimental FX.25 protocol will be tested that adds forward error correction capability to the AX.25 protocol and still allows typical TNCs to decode the packets.

Both satellites will transmit on 145.825 MHz. Additional details about the telemetry format, as well as the FX.25 and GMSK experiments can be found at