Friday, June 27, 2008

Citizen Airmen prepare for war on fire

by Senior Airman Stephen Collier, 302nd Air Expeditionary Group Public Affairs

Approximately 3,000 gallons of fire retardant can be deployed from the C-130 Hercules when fighting fires. Air Force Reserve Command officials recently sent two of its designated firefighting C-130H3 Hercules aircraft to help battle the raging wildfires in California. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Roy. A. Santana)

CHICO, Calif. (AFPN) -- Airmen, deployed to California for firefighting support, are getting ready to take the fight to nature's fury.

"I'm proud both the Air Force Reserve and (Air National Guard) are able to support such a vital national mission," said Tech. Sgt. Scott Bailey, a loadmaster with the 302nd Airlift Wing at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. "Airborne firefighting from the C-130 Hercules aircraft can support the guys on the ground in containing and extinguishing uncontrolled fires, while saving lives and people's property at the same time."

A Colorado Springs native, Sergeant Bailey has been fighting back fires in the Western U.S. for more than three years. To aide in fighting these fires, the 302nd AW, an Air Force Reserve Command unit, uses the modular airborne firefighting system which has the capability of dropping up to 3,000 pounds of water or fire retardant at one time. Three other units supporting the MAFFS mission belong to Air National Guard, including the 146th AW, based out of Charlotte, N.C.; the 153rd AW, from Cheyenne, Wyo.; and the Channel Islands based in Ventura, Calif.

Asked how he prepares himself for firefighting missions, Sergeant Bailey said his constant training and his state of mental readiness helps make him ready to perform this vital mission.

"Our unit is always ready and eagerly awaits the call to deploy and fight these fires," said Sergeant Bailey. "Just the thought of having the chance to make a difference is an adrenaline rush."

But it's not just the aircrew who shoulders the responsibility of saving the lives of California residents this day. Maintenance crews from the 302nd Maintenance Group have worked around-the-clock to ensure these Reserve C-130s' propellers turn; flaps move.

"We're ready and willing," said Master Sgt Jeffrey Hardsock, a C-130 aircraft maintainer. "No matter how well the planes are flying, the maintainers are the backbone of the operations and keep the birds in the sky."

Sergeant Hardsock, who has participated in the MAFFS mission since 1995, said he keeps his mental focus on two things: the safety of his crew, and to do the job the way he was trained.

Once maintainers signal an aircraft is ready for flight, it's up to the aircrew to deliver what each hopes is the fatal blow to the wildfire. One member of the Peterson-based aircrew, Lt. Col. James Banker, said he's looking forward taking on these devastating fires.

"I've done this mission for 13 years," said Colonel Banker, a seasoned C-130 pilot. "Some years we fly a lot, some years we don't fly at all."

As the colonel does his walk around, inspecting the aircraft prior to take off, he methodically checks the plane as he does for every mission, he said.

"As a pilot, I know the aircraft has been inspected by the engineer and inspected several times by the crew chiefs. They know the risks involved with this mission and give it their all to provide us with the best equipment possible," Colonel Banker said.

The Air Force has a total of eight MAFFS units. The aircraft operate through U.S. Northern Command, which plans, organizes and executes homeland defense and civil support missions based on an agreement with the Department of Defense.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Whiteman Airmen make first all-air Guard B-2 flight

by Senior Airman Dilia Ayala, 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

Col. Gregory Champagne and Maj. David Thompson take off on a B-2 Spirit mission June 18 at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. It was the first sortie flown and launched by Air National Guard members. Colonel Champagne is the 131st Fighter Wing vice commander and Major Thompson is assigned to the 131st FW. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Jessica Snow)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. (AFPN) -- Airmen of the 131st Bomb Wing here completed the first B-2 Spirit sortie flown and launched by Missouri Air National Guard members June 18 at Whiteman Air Force Base.

Col. Gregory Champagne, the 131st Fighter Wing vice commander, and Maj. David Thompson, a 131st FW pilot, were launched by Master Sgt. Bob Francis and Tech Sgt. John Venable, both of the 131st Bomb Wing.

The 131st FW is losing its F-15 Eagle mission due to the recommendation of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission. The initiative integrates Air National Guard aircrew, maintainers and support staff with their 509th Bomb Wing active-duty counterparts in support of the B-2 mission with the ultimate goal of enhancing warfighting efficiencies.

"We are currently in the process (of transitioning)," Colonel Champagne said. "It is a 2.5 year process, and we are in the first year right now. We are right on time, everything is going well."

Although guardsmen have been flying B-2 missions with 509th BW Airmen over the last year, this is first time during the wing's transition to Whiteman AFB that 131st FW aircrew and maintenance personnel completed a sortie from launch through mission execution.

"We train the same. We are the same, and our goal is the same, which is the success of the mission," Colonel Champagne said.

Presently, the Missouri Air National Guard has seven B-2 qualified pilots and four in training. There are 46 members of the 131st FW currently operating out of Whiteman AFB. The Missouri Air National Guard will have 25 B-2 qualified pilots and approximately 500 maintainers, operations members and support staff at Whiteman AFB.

Reserve pilots utilize A-10s in support of Total Force Integration

by Airman 1st Class Frances Locquiao, 23rd Wing Public Affairs

MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. (AFPN) -- Air Force Reserve Command pilots recently took flight in an A-10 Thunderbolt II here in support of an Air Force-wide initiative designed to integrate reservists, guardsmen and civilians with active-duty Airmen.

The Total Force Integration initiative, which was established by Air Force officials at Moody Air Force Base in September 2007, is designed to join all Airmen and their civilian counterparts to more efficiently complete the mission.

Two pilots from the 442nd Fighter Wing, Det. 1, took flight in a 23rd Fighter Group A-10 for the first time since completing conversion training.

Moody AFB's reservists operate under their own command structure and report to the 442nd FW, an Air Force Reserve Command A-10 unit at Whiteman AFB, Mo.

Nellis AFB, Nev., Elmendorf AFB, Alaska, and Holloman AFB, N.M., are also currently participating in the TFI effort.

"This was the first time we were able to fly the A-10C since completing conversion training," said Lt. Col. Mickey Moore, 442nd FW, Det. 1 director of operations. "We are getting back into the flying business so that our pilots will be re-familiarized with the aircraft."

The recent flights marked a return to flying operations for the unit after a transitional period where the initial cadre focused on building the groundwork for the new Reserve organization.

Capt. LaRue Russell, the 442nd FW, Det. 1 director of training, was the first pilot to fly an integrated sortie here, launched by another reservist, crew chief Senior Airman Tracey Robson.

"It was very enjoyable to fly the C-model A-10 again," Captain Russell said. "The biggest challenges were remembering the things I learned about flying the A-10C and knocking the rust off."

The unit will continue to train and build on its experiences with the A-10C, said Col. Greg Eckfeld, the 442nd FW Det. 1 commander.

"We want to build a cadre of experience, both pilot and maintenance professionals," he said. "Our pilots are expected to continuously train and instruct Moody (AFB) pilots."

The pilots will fly at least six to nine times a month, fully integrating into the active-duty flight schedules.

"We have a different flying hour program," Colonel Moore said. "Our schedule does not take time away from the active-duty flying program."

On top of fully integrating the pilots into the active-duty flying schedule, the unit will be bringing approximately 200 additional maintainers to Moody' AFBs flightline.

"We're very motivated to be successful and help support the (23rd FG) mission," Colonel Eckfeld said. "The integration has been smooth, and the next step is waiting for the other Reserve maintainers and pilots to arrive."

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Kitty Hawk-CVW 5 to Participate in Pac Exercise

Aircraft assigned to Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5 fly in formation above the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63). Kitty Hawk and CVW-5 will be taking part in exercise Rim of the Pacific off Hawaii in July with units from the United States, Australia, Chile, Canada, Japan, the Netherlands, Peru, South Korea, Singapore and the United Kingdom. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kyle D. Gahlau)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Naval Base Kitsap Welcomes Coast Guard Cutter to Fleet

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (AW) Maebel Tinoko, Fleet Public Affairs Center, Det. Northwest

KEYPORT, Wash. (NNS) -- More than 150 service members and guests, including some Sailors, attended a traditional commissioning ceremony for the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Sea Devil (WPB 87368) held at Naval Base (NB) Kitsap Keyport pier, June 20.

The crew of Sea Devil now joins the Coast Guard's Marine Force Protection Unit (MFPU) at NB Kitsap.

"The Coast Guard and the Navy have a long-standing tradition of cooperation and partnership in support of our nation's maritime security and defense," said U.S. Coast Guard Rear Adm. John P. Currier, commander, Thirteenth Coast Guard District. "The Coast Guard Cutter Sea Devil embodies that strong relationship between our seagoing services."

He acted as the commissioning officer during the ceremony.

"The crew of Sea Devil is pleased to present to you our cutter," said Coast Guard Lt. j.g. Alanna G. Kaltsas, the ship's commander. "As we made our first transit on board the Sea Devil from Florida to Washington, we faced many obstacles and challenges. Thanks to my hardworking crew we have made it here safely and with countless lessons learned."

The MFPU enforces protective zones for naval vessels by leveraging inherent Coast Guard authorities to provide a dedicated and layered force protection capability to ensure safe passage in and out of homeport. These "vigilant guardians" provide fleet security to the U.S. Navy through: deterrence by presence; protection by escort; defense by force; and terrorism prevention through strategic partnership.

During the ceremony, Anne Symonds had the honor to bring the ship to life as the cutter's sponsor.

"I am proud to represent the Sea Devil," said Symonds. "Since 1846, historic ceremonies were held to commission ships, and I get to represent the men and women who are our heroes by being a sponsor for this cutter."

The 87-foot Marine Protector Class cutter has a crew of 10 and a maximum speed of more than 25 knots. The crew of Sea Devil will augment the marine force protection assets in Puget Sound.

For Yeoman 2nd Class Scott Edwards, Marine Force Protection Unit (MFPU), having a cutter present aids in their mission accomplishment.

"Having a cutter here will really help our mission to provide escort and safety for our high value assets," said Edwards. "I am excited to work with the new crew and this will extensively bring us together as a team, which is important to our operation."

Carrier Strike Group 7 Departs Hong Kong After Port Visit

By Lt. Ron Flanders, Carrier Strike Group 7 Public Affairs

The guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville (CG 62), left, and the guided-missile destroyer USS Decatur (DDG 73) are moored at the foot of Victoria Peak in Hong Kong.

HONG KONG (NNS) -- The six ships and more than 7,000 Sailors of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 7 departed Hong Kong, June 22, after four days in port.

CSG 7 includes the flagship, Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76); embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 14; and the ships of Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 7; the guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville (CG 62), the guided-missile destroyers USS Decatur (DDG 73), USS Howard (DDG 83) and USS Gridley (DDG 101) and the guided-missile frigate USS Thach (FFG 43).

While in port, Sailors enjoyed sightseeing, shopping and tours of Hong Kong provided by Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR). Additionally, more than 300 Sailors participated in 15 community relations (COMREL) projects in the local community.

"For the American Sailor, service to others, especially those in need, is job number one," said Cmdr. Greg Gombert, commanding officer of USS Gridley. "This is America at its best."

Many of the COMREL projects CSG 7 Sailors volunteered for directly benefited children and the elderly. USS Decatur and USS Ronald Reagan Sailors -- 45 in all -- visited the Hong Kong Society for the Protection of Children's Wai Yin Nursery School, where they sang songs and played games with the children.

"It was a great experience," said Yeoman Seaman Erika Cash of Decatur. "It was culturally enlightening to be able to interact with the children in Hong Kong, and we all had a great time doing it."

In addition, 30 Ronald Reagan Sailors visited the Fu Hong Society, a home for the mentally and physically disabled, where they spent time with the residents.

"They really brightened up when they saw us," said Chief Storekeeper Ron Taylor. "I had a great time."

According to USS Ronald Reagan's chaplain, Cmdr. Lee Axtell, the number of volunteers for Hong Kong COMRELs, exceeded available opportunities.

"The crews really stepped up with their time and talent," Axtell said. "Each COMREL list was filled to capacity very quickly."

Navy Christens New Hampshire

By Lt. James Stockman, Submarine Group 2 Public Affairs

GROTON, Conn. (NNS) -- The Navy christened its newest Virginia-class nuclear-powered attack submarine "New Hampshire" June 21, at General Dynamics Electric Boat at Groton, Conn.

This christening marks the fourth time the U.S. Navy named a ship after the Granite State. The service awarded the name to the submarine after third-graders from Garrison Elementary School in Dover, N.H., wrote letters to Congress members, the governor and the Secretary of the Navy.

Adm. Kirkland Donald, Naval Nuclear Propulsion director, gave the principal remarks and spoke about the New Hampshire's way ahead.

"There still is a lot of hard work to be done," said Donald. "New Hampshire is entering the fleet during a time of conflict. The missions of this new submarine are vital to victory in this war on terrorism."

Ship sponsor Cheryl McGuinness, a resident of Portsmouth, N.H., christened the boat by breaking a bottle of sparkling champagne over the submarine at the Groton shipyard. Her husband, Tom, died on Sept. 11, 2001. He co-piloted American Airlines Flight 11, an aircraft flowen into the north tower of the World Trade Center that day.

"I'm looking at many heroes," said McGuinness as she spoke to the more than 130 New Hampshire crew members standing before her. "You are all my heroes."

McGuinness added after the ceremony that the New Hampshire symbolizes a new journey of protecting freedom. She says she plans to do all she can to support the New Hampshire and it's crew.

New Hampshire is scheduled to be commissioned in October at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine.

As the Navy's next-generation attack submarine, the Virginia class will provide the U.S. Navy with the capabilities it requires to maintain the nation's undersea supremacy well into the 21st century. New Hampshire will have improved stealth, sophisticated surveillance capabilities and Special Warfare enhancements that will enable it to meet the Navy's multi-mission requirements.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Civil Air Patrol New Narrowband Freq Conversion

The Milcom Monitoring Post Blog has been told that the changeover by the Civil Air Patrol to their new narrowband freq bandplan has been slowed (if not halted) by the need to coordinate their new frequencies with the Canadians. CAP has already bought $30 million dollars worth if radio equipment with another $12 million coming in FY2009 to make this changeover to narrowbanding. Their new freqs is suppose to be 138.0125 140.6375 142.2250 143.7250 143.9000 148.1750 148.7750 150.1625 150.5625 150.6375 MHz. Obviously some of not all of the new 12.5 kHz splinter freqs are the issue.

This is absolutely amazing. Another fine mess the incompetent politicians in the US Congress who wrote the law and bureaucrats in Washington DC who implement the law have gotten us into. Congress mandated in law that narrowbanding place, but they forgot to take into account that our neighbors Canada and Mexico also use the spectrum for entirely different purposes.

The Canadians have a lot of LMR traffic in the 138.0-144.0/148.0-150.8 MHz band that does not use the same frequency spacing as the the DoD agencies authorized to use the bands above.

This is just another example of the US Government dropping the ball in the world of frequency coordination. Mandate a change, buy the equipment for millions of dollars, and all of this is at major expense to the taxpayer. Then someone remembers, "oh hell we forgot to coordinate our changes with the Canadians who use a completely different bandplan for their public safety agencies in this band."

It isn't like they didn't know what the Canadians use (here is a link to their 2004 LMR bandplan:, it is just another case of mis-management and there should be some government employees fired for fleecing the American taxpayers of public monies. How much more is it going to cost the American public to fix this problem, if it can even be resolved? What other agencies are having problems besides CAP with this move to 12.5 kHz spacing in the 138-144/148-150.8 MHz bands?

This is just a small tip of the iceberg. You ought to see the fraud, waste and abuse by the US Government in the HF radio spectrum. But that is another whole story that I am working on for a future issue of Monitoring Times.

More on this $42 million CAP narrowbanding nightmare soon.

NAS ESG Reenters the 6th Fleet Area of Operations

The amphibious assault ship USS Nassau (LHA 4) leads the guided-missile destroyers USS Bulkeley (DDG 84) and USS Ross (DDG 71), the guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea (CG 58) and the amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48).

The ships of the Nassau Strike Group (NAS ESG) reentered the Mediterranean, June 18, to conduct maritime security operations (MSO) in regional waters and theater security cooperation efforts.

The ships entered the region as part of an ongoing rotation of forces, demonstrating the United States' continued resolve toward enhancing regional security and promoting long-term stability.

Commanded by Capt. Robert G. Lineberry, commander, Amphibious Squadron 6, the NASSG is comprised of the amphibious assault ship USS Nassau (LHA 4); the amphibious transport dock ship USS Nashville (LPD 13); the amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48); the guided-missile destroyers USS Ross (DDG 71) and USS Bulkeley (DDG 84); the guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea (CG 58), and the fast-attack submarine USS Albany (SSN 753).

"Our Sailors and Marines really enjoyed the chance to learn from our many multinational partners and contribute to the team effort in the region," said Lineberry. "PE 08 provided an excellent opportunity for all participants to share their ideas on maintaining safety and security, while building relationships and enhancing our interoperability."

While in the area, the NAS ESG will assist Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe (CNE) conduct the full range of maritime operations and theater security cooperation in concert with coalition, joint, interagency and other partners in order to advance security and stability in Europe and Africa.

The NAS ESG will also support the 2008 CNE operational objectives to improve maritime safety and security in Europe and Africa; be prepared for any contingency; provide exceptional stewardship to the regional workforce and their families; advance the art and science of maritime operations; advance awareness of the harmony of partner and U.S. interests and activities; and support U.S. European Command, U.S. Africa Command and other Navy Component Commanders.

The NASSG and its 2,800 Sailors and Marines were first in the region from Feb. 25-April 24, where they visited nine different countries and conducted several community relations projects. The strike group's operations in 6th Fleet included participation in Phoenix Express 2008 (PE 08), a two-week maritime exercise designed to increase the interoperability and collective maritime proficiencies of participating nations. In total, 3,100 service members from 11 nations participated in the U.S.-hosted, multinational exercise.

As the deployment sails forward, the NAS ESG will continue to execute its mission of providing the joint or combined force commander with a scalable maritime force capable of a full range of military options that is flexible, agile and quick to respond when called upon. The NAS ESG will further support the other tenets of the Navy's Maritime Strategy, which include forward presence, deterrence, sea control, power projection, and humanitarian assistance/disaster response.

The Maritime Strategy represents a new vision for the 21st century and establishes new capabilities to codify longstanding challenges, while maintaining focus on enduring naval missions.

"We are very pleased with our many accomplishments and milestones that we have achieved thus far during this deployment," said Lineberry. "The team is ready as we continue to perform our many missions and take each day and challenge as they come."

Friday, June 20, 2008

Reagan Making Port Visit

Sailors gather in a hangar bay aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) as the ship approaches Hong Kong for a port visit. The Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group is on a routine deployment in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility operating in the western Pacific and Indian oceans. (U.S. Navy photo by Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist Spike Call)

USS Kitty Hawk, USS George Washington to Conduct Turnover in San Diego

The USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) and USS George Washington (CVN 73) turnover originally planned for early June in Pearl Harbor will now take place in San Diego in August as a result of the fire that occurred aboard George Washington on May 22.

Kitty Hawk will then proceed to Bremerton, Wash., to complete her decommissioning on schedule. George Washington's schedule has not yet been determined.

The Chief of Naval Operations has directed a Manual of the Judge Advocate General investigation headed by the Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, headquartered in Pearl Harbor, to determine the cause of the fire. Additionally, the Navy is conducting a Safety Investigation Board by the Naval Safety Center, Norfolk. The Navy is accumulating lessons learned on this incident to be shared with the fleet.

The U.S. Navy assessment of the mechanical, electrical, electronic and structural systems affected by the May 22 fire aboard George Washington is substantially complete. Damage to George Washington is primarily electrical in nature with limited structural and mechanical associated damage. Fire and heat affected electrical cabling and components in approximately 80 spaces of the more than 3,800 spaces on George Washington.

The repair work is being performed by U.S. Navy Shipyards and by private-sector shipyards in the San Diego area. An estimated completion date, as well as an estimated timeframe for George Washington's arrival in Japan, has yet to be determined.

The Navy is working with crewmembers from USS Kitty Hawk and USS George Washington and their families to minimize the impact of these events. This is the Pacific Fleet's top personnel priority.

Last Surge Brigade to Return After 'Successful' 13-Month Deployment

By John J. Kruzel, American Forces Press Service

The last of the five Army brigades to deploy with the "troop surge" in Iraq will return in July after a 13-month deployment, during which soldiers detained more than 800 terrorist suspects and helped foster Iraqi self-governance. Video
The 3rd Infantry Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team has operated in the Arab Jabour area of southeastern Baghdad, where the number of attacks plummeted from about 30 a week when they arrived in May 2007 to about one a week now.

"All in all, it's been a very successful operation for us," Army Col. Terry Ferrell, 2nd Brigade Combat Team commander, told reporters at the Pentagon today via video teleconference from Forward Operating Base Kalsu, in Baghdad.

President Bush announced the temporary 33,000-troop surge in January 2007 to tamp down violence in Iraq and help prepare Iraq's national security forces to maintain security. The first surge brigade went home in March, and the final redeployment next month will reduce the number of brigades in Iraq to 15.

During their tour, 2nd Brigade soldiers' main duties have included blocking weapons from entering the Iraqi capital, protecting the local population and quashing sectarian violence. The soldiers also have focused on making Iraqi security forces more capable, fostering the local governance and economy, and setting up Iraqis for long-term self-reliance.

The primary enemies, Ferrell said, have been al-Qaida and Sunni extremists who had created a sanctuary in Arab Jabour, where terrorists controlled the population through fear and intimidation. Insurgents used homes, farms and commercial properties as bases of operation and bomb-making factories, devastating the region's economy.

Without a sustained security presence in the area, local residents often were bereft of basic necessities such as clean water, electricity, health care and education, the colonel added.

But over the course of the year, 2nd Brigade helped establish 11 patrol bases in Arab Jabour. The centers are manned by coalition and Iraqi security forces who work and live together and coordinate efforts of some 5,000 citizen security group members known as "Sons of Iraq."

Coalition and Iraqi security forces, along with the Sons of Iraq, achieved significant gains through three division-focused operations: Marne Torch I, Marne Torch II and Marne Thunderbolt.

"The combined efforts of these operations resulted in over 800 suspects detained, over 600 weapons caches found and over 500 [homemade bombs] safely destroyed, and nearly 6,000-plus houses cleared so that we could continue to move through the area of operations, providing for a safe, secure environment," Ferrell said.

The colonel added that, in addition to these operations, an increased Iraqi army role in the area allowed local citizens to enlarge their presence.

"Over this past year, we've helped create city councils in each of our population areas," he said. "Neighborhood councils now give our communities a direct voice to the government."

Moreover, in the wake of security gains, the local agriculture and economy have flourished. In addition, private clinics continue to open, electricity and water are flowing easily into the area, and the community has established 25 new or refurbished schools.

"As we prepare to redeploy as the last of the five surge brigades," Ferrell said, "it's clear that the government of Iraq has begun to shoulder a larger responsibility for the citizens in the area that we have operated.

"Furthermore, the capacity and capabilities of the Iraqi army has improved tremendously throughout our time here and the operations we have conducted jointly throughout the operation," he added. "All these vehicles of change combined to generate momentum towards prosperity, security and self-reliance."

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Navy Announces Christening of Submarine New Hampshire

The Navy's newest attack submarine New Hampshire (SSN 778) will be christened June 21, during an 11:00 a.m. EDT ceremony at Electric Boat in Groton.

Director of Naval Reactors, Adm. Kirkland Donald, will deliver the ceremony's principal address. Cheryl McGuinness of Portsmouth, N.H., will serve as New Hampshire's sponsor.

McGuinness is the widow of Thomas McGuiness, co-pilot of American Airlines Flight 11 which was flown into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. The highlight of the ceremony will be McGuinness christening the ship by breaking a bottle of sparkling wine over the submarine, a time honored Navy tradition.

The fifth Virginia-class submarine, New Hampshire is the third ship to honor the Granite State. The first USS New Hampshire was in service from 1846-1921, including service during the Civil War. Later, she was renamed Granite State following decommissioning and was used as a training ship for the New York State Militia. The second USS New Hampshire (1908-1921) was a battleship used for convoy escort duty during World War I and also served as a training ship.

Along with her sister ships, New Hampshire, will provide the Navy with the capabilities required to maintain the nation's undersea supremacy well into the 21st century.

Cmdr. Mike Stevens will become the ship's first commanding officer and will lead a crew of approximately 134 officers and enlisted personnel.

The 7,800-ton New Hampshire is built under a teaming arrangement between General Dynamics Electric Boat, Conn. and Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding - Newport News, Va.. She is 337 feet in length, has a beam of 34 feet, and can operate at more than 25 knots submerged.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Another Report on the New TBird freq

Chuck Rapacki in Detroit reported on the Milcom newsgroup that he caught what he believed to be the Thunderbirds on 140.700 MHz conducting A-A comms during a refueling event in his area. I would imagine that Chuck has caught the TBirds on another new VHF freq (see the Quebec City Airshow report below).

Great catch Chuck.

Quebec Airshow 2008 Report - Another New TBird VHF Freq Uncovered

Normand Fortin, an airshow and scanner freak, attended the Quebec Airshow this last weekend and passes along this very important airshow field report. Thanks Normand for sharing your experience and frequency report with my Milcom Monitoring Post readers.

The following flight demo teams were on the line: Blue Angels, Thunderbirds, British Red Arrows and Snowbirds as this event was included in the 400th anniversary of the City.

The teams arrived on last monday for a week of practice before the Saturday and Sunday events.

The Red Arrows used 243.450 MHz AM for all their inflight and flight to ground comm through a simple radio patch to PA system. The commentator overrides on the PA for description but you can always hear the cues from team leader when no comments. Very very colorful calls, lots of shouting for the cues. Very flexible airshow as they changed from flat to low to high show during the performance as weather was improving.

The Blue Angels did 3 practices and recce flights during the week. They used 237.8 AM as their primary (diamond) and solos were heard on 237.8 AM as well as 284.25 AM. The saturday show exibited the same freqs. Nothing else has been noted and they don't seem to have the type of commcart that the Tbirds uses. Sunday perfomance was cancelled due to weather that was just a tad under their minimum during their slot.

The Snowbirds were heard on 236.6, no suprises there.

Finally, The Tbirds used a much more evolved pattern mainly due to their commcart.

A NEW TBIRD FREQUENCY WAS DISCOVERED THIS WEEKEND: 140.700 MHz AM (lots of pagers in Canada in the 140-143 area so this new one may be because of that), which was dubbed V-01 all week, 235.25 AM was used alternatively by the solos (dubbed U-01).

The Saturday show suffered a rain shower during their perfomance so on Sunday, the Snowbirds changed their (last of the show protocol slot) with the Tbirds which enjoyed a high show weather. I was situated about 20 ft from the commcart with all the ground personnel nearby so I witnessed all the mirror and gun light alignment cues from them to the team during the show.

216.7275 MHz FM was the narrator/music and 216.9800 MHz FM was the team comms retransmission to the ground cart. About 10 min in the show, TBird No 5 (Maj. Samantha Weeks had an issue with her jet, the show was suspended and she used 235.250 MHz AM to talk to maintenance or ground coordinator. The problem was hydraulic.

The Blue Angels guys came to the cart at the beginning of the show to monitor from the commcart (in a friendly visit, normally they do not perform together because US gov wants to maximize exposure but Québec was authorized as a TEAM show stunt)

Thats it, its been a great week, lots of low flying and noise. I used all the frequencies available on the net to monitor this plus range searching. I have no freq counter nor close call functions but i think pretty much all the action went through these freqs. My rigs are Icom IC-R20 (100 f/sec search , 30-40 f/sec in memory scan) so the refresh was very rapid. Also my IC-R10 was completing the monitoring for airboss served as dual-receive.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Experts Offer Tips for Preparing for Hurricane Season

You can get the official DoC/NOAA National Hurricane Operations Plan for 2008 at

By Meghan Vittrup, American Forces Press Service

Hurricane season officially began June 1, and people across the country are gearing up for another season of strong winds, torrential rains, hail and flying debris.
Because they move frequently, many military families who have never lived in a hurricane-prone area before are experiencing their first hurricane season. But even for those who have been through hurricanes before, knowing how to prepare is important.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has predicted that the 2008 hurricane season will produce six to nine hurricanes. Two to five of those hurricanes are predicted to be major hurricanes categorized as 3, 4 or 5 on the Saffir-Simpson Scale.

Although the last two seasons saw fewer major hurricanes than in prior years, experts say it is still a good idea for people in hurricane-prone areas to be prepared for anything and have a plan of action.

"The key element though, the cornerstone, has got to be that individual preparation," Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said at a 2008 Hurricane Preparedness Day event May 30. "If people are lulled into a sense of complacency because 2006 and 2007 didn't produce a major hurricane in the U.S., and they don't do the preparation that we've recommended, then there is going to be a problem."

Being prepared for a storm means not only preparing yourself and your family, but also preparing your home.

An article published online in NOAA Magazine cited a common myth: that because a hurricane would destroy their property, people needn't bother preparing for the storm by protecting their home.

Although their home may, indeed, experience some damage, the article states, taking some basic precautions can significantly reduce damage from a storm. "Damage assessment photos of areas devastated by hurricanes will often show one house standing, while a neighbor's lies in ruins," the article said.

The article goes on to say the difference between the two homes is that the owner with property left in good condition most likely took some precautions and prepared for the storm.

People also are encouraged to listen to the news, weather updates, and local authorities.

"Follow the instructions of local authorities," Bill Chandler, executive director for USAA's national catastrophe operations said. "And have a plan."

Chandler expressed the importance of having alternate evacuation plans as well as checklists of items you might need to get through the storm and its aftermath.

He suggested stocking up on items such as two to three gallons of water per person per day, nonperishable foods, prescription medications in their original packaging, clothing, blankets, extra batteries, flashlights and a first aid kit.

It may also be necessary to have a hand-operated can opener and a battery-operated radio to use if the electricity goes out.

Chandler also recommended having a safe place to keep important documents. He suggested keeping them in a lock box, storing them online, or saving them on a computer and then transferring them to a thumb drive.

Military commissaries have taken action in helping servicemembers and their families prepare for hurricane season. Their "What's in Your Closet?" campaign encourages people shopping in the commissaries to stock up on a list of items they may need in case of a natural disaster.

Preparing the outside of your home for potential disasters is another way to help prevent damage. This can be as simple as cleaning out gutters and trimming trees to keep them away from roof lines.

Another important way to protect your property as well as your neighbor's property is to bring your outdoor items in, Chandler said. Bring in lawn furniture, trash cans, toys, and flower pots -- anything that can turn into debris or a projectile in strong winds.

Chandler also said to move things within your home around. Moving or hiding valuables and keeping things out of the sight of others is important to prevent looting after a storm, he explained.

John Hancock, USAA's military communications manager, stressed the importance of seeking and heeding guidance from authorities. "Listen to authorities and the leadership on your installation, as well," he said. "They will also have information and updates for you on whether to evacuate or take shelter."

More than anything else, Chandler said, hurricane preparation is common sense.

"These events are very stressful," he said. "And it's very easy to forget about common sense."

Stocking up on food and water, creating a shelter in your home and preparing both the interior and exterior of your home can help protect both your family and your property from the devastating effects of a hurricane.

"Head the warning and be prepared," Hancock said. "It's the best plan you can have."

New Orleans Guard Pullout

The National Guard is making plans to phase out its presence in New Orleans beginning next month.

If you would like to use a pop up media player click here New Orleans Guard Pullout

Friday, June 13, 2008

Air Guard plane provides documentation of flood damage

by Army Spc. Cassandra Groce, Kentucky National Guard

An RC-26 aircraft provided live footage about washed out roads, damage to infrastructure and other information that Indiana may have lacked June 11 for the Indiana National Guard. The aircraft and aircrew were from the 130th Airlift Wing out of Charleston, W.V. (US Army photo/Staff Sgt. Marvin Cornell)

INDIANAPOLIS (AFPN) -- Indiana National Guard officials here have received live footage of flood damage throughout the state from an advanced Air National Guard counterdrug aircraft. The footage will assist with missions and help local governments plan to repair the damage.

"It can show officials where roads are washed out and what damage there is to infrastructure," said Maj. Mark Jeffries, the missions systems officer for the West Virginia Air National Guard's 130th Airlift Wing based in Charleston.

The RC-26 is one of 11 surveillance planes operated by the Air National Guard. While originally designated for counterdrug work, it has since been used for other domestic duties such as support for natural disasters. Its advanced visual capabilities are superior to typical footage captured with cameras.

"The RC-26B is equipped with an infrared camera which can pick up any leakage from a power plant, for example," Major Jeffries said. "We can also get nice prints from the still cameras."

Still photos of damage can be helpful during planning stages, allowing users to write on photos if necessary and also show the damage from a bird's-eye view with a wider angle. Video footage is shot at a different angle. The RC-26 can also stay in the air at least twice as long as a helicopter.

This response is not just a one-time, one-state focused effort, said Lt. Col. Mike Shiels, the branch chief for counterdrug aviation at the National Guard Bureau.

"It is part of an overall national response framework that the NGB has spent countless man hours developing with all 54 states and territories," he said. "It is by no means perfect, and we have numerous improvements to be made. We learn more and get better at it each time we employ this capability."

An RC-26 from the Mississippi Air National Guard's 186th Air Refueling Wing in Meridian arrived in Wisconsin on June 11 to fly over dozens of affected areas in the state and provide live, broadcast-quality video of problem areas.

The capability, which allows engineers on the ground to begin the planning process for reconstruction of damaged infrastructure, was employed after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, tested during last year's California wildfires, and is operational for the first time in these flooded states.

The Mississippi aircraft was made available as a substitute for Wisconsin's own RC-26 from the Wisconsin Air National Guard's 115th Fighter Wing in Madison which is currently deployed in support the war on terrorism.

192nd first Air Guard unit to fly F-22 for Operation Noble Eagle

by David Hopper, Air Combat Command Public Affairs

The Virginia Air National Guard's 192nd Fighter Wing at Langley Air Force Base, Va., is the first Air Guard unit to fly the F-22 Raptor, like those shown here flying over New Mexico, in support of Operation Noble Eagle. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Russell Scalf)

LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. (AFPN) -- The Virginia Air National Guard's 192nd Fighter Wing here is the first Air Guard unit to fly the F-22 Raptor in support of Operation Noble Eagle.

Operation Noble Eagle was established by President George W. Bush to protect the American homeland following the terrorist attacks in September 2001.

Aircrews from the wing's 149th Fighter Squadron fly the Raptor.

"The mission for the protection of the homeland has not changed for us since the inception of Operation Noble Eagle," said Lt. Col. James Cox, 149th FS commander. The capability of the 149th to carry out the mission has been greatly increased because of the abilities of the F-22.

The Raptor performs both air-to-air and air-to-ground missions providing a diverse aerial combat capability for operational concepts. One concept the F-22 has become involved with here is Total Force Integration. An example of TFI is the combination of two force components -- active duty and Air Guard in this case -- sharing the responsibility of one mission -- Operation Noble Eagle.

Under the TFI construct, the active duty 1st FW and the 192nd FW provide combat forces in a more cost-effective manner to support the defense of the nation, said Lt. Col. David Nardi, 149th Fighter Squadron operations officer. This is the first time the Air Guard has operated with a front-line fighter soon after it reached full operational capability.

The 1st FW and 192nd FW combined in October 2007 under TFI. That move made the 192nd the first Air Guard unit to operate the F-22.

"The integration of the two wings provides the combat capabilities we need to execute the Operation Noble Eagle mission," said Colonel Nardi. The TFI construct adds a tremendous amount of ability from all critical areas required in protecting the nation and fulfilling the Air Force mission around the world.

The F-22 flew its first active-duty flight in support of Operation Noble Eagle in January 2007. The 1st FW's 27th FS was the first unit to conduct an operational flight with live ordnance loaded in the Raptor.

"We do the same thing for Operation Noble Eagle as we would do in theater, in support of the troops," said Colonel Cox. "The F-22 has performed brilliantly and we have seen our best response times to date."

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Guard unit welcomes Predator, reconnaissance mission

If you would like to use a pop media player click here Bye Bye F-16

ELLINGTON FIELD, Texas (AFPN) -- Members of the 147th Fighter Wing here said goodbye to their F-16 Fighting Falcons and made room for the MQ-1 Predator as the Air National Guard unit became the 147th Reconnaissance Wing June 7.

The Predators at the Houston Air National Guard Base are expected to enhance both U.S. military capabilities worldwide and to aid in Homeland Security missions aimed at preventing terrorist attacks at home.

Current plans call for 12 total aircraft. The remotely piloted vehicles will be supported by two fixed ground control stations, a mobile ground control station, secure communication links, and three launch and recovery ground control stations. The unit will also operate a training simulator. The unit should be fully equipped and outfitted by 2009. The investment cost for the project is an estimated $250 million with a $68 million annual operating budget.

The unit's history goes back to 1917, and one of the unit's pilots, then Lt. George W. Bush, became president of the United States. During the 90 years of flying history, pilots of the unit have flown the Curtiss JN-4 Jenny, Douglas 2C, Stinson 49, Curtis 52, A-20, P-39, Allison P-51, F-84 Thunderjet, F-15 Mustang, T-6 Texan, F-80, T-33, F-86, F-102, F-101, F-4 Phantom, C-26 Merlin, F-16 and now the Predator.

With its wingspan of 48 feet and a length of 26 feet, the Predator operates between 15,000 and 25,000 feet and has a 600-mile range, 20-hour mission time. The unmanned aircraft carries three sensor systems -- television, infrared and radar sensors -- for reconnaissance and surveillance missions. It can also carry Hellfire missiles and can be used for interdiction. A basic crew consisting of a pilot and two sensor operators operate the Predator from the ground.

"A chapter about the 147th Fighter Wing was closed and a new chapter about the 147th Reconnaissance Wing was opened," said Brig. Gen. Donald Harvel, the Texas Air National Guard commander. "I am very proud of the men and women of the 147th Reconnaissance Wing for their tremendous service and hard work to transform into a wing and mission that will serve our state and nation for many years."

VP-1 Returns to Whidbey Island

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Tucker M. Yates, Fleet Public Affairs Center, Detachment Northwest

Lt. Cmdr. Curtis Phillips and Lt. j.g. David Snyder maneuver a P-3C Orion assigned to the “Screaming Eagles” of Patrol Squadron One (VP-1), through the wash rack after a training flight aboard Naval Air Facility, Okinawa, Japan. VP-1 is assigned to Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash., and is currently on a six-month deployment to the Seventh Fleet Area of Operations. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 2nd Class Scott Taylor.

Patrol Squadron (VP) 1, the "Screaming Eagles," returned home to Naval Air Station (NAS) Whidbey Island after a six-month deployment to the Eastern Pacific, June 9.

The Screaming Eagles departed November, 2007, to support Commander 7th Fleet and Combined Task Force 72 anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) missions.

"We flew in excess of 2,500 flight hours and that was with, instead of the normal complement of 10 aircraft, four aircraft at times," said Cmdr. Mark Rudesill, VP-1 executive officer.

"We had a quite a few accomplishments in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and the global war on terror[ism], specifically in the Philippines," he said.

Rudesill was proud of the effort put forth by his Sailors.

"We've done a remarkable job," said Rudesill. "The whole squadron from top to bottom all performed magnificently on station. I'm very proud of all of them. We're happy to be home and happy to be home safe."

VP-1 will be the last NAS Whidbey Island Patrol Squadron to be integrated into the newly stood up Consolidated Maintenance Organization (CMO) 10. VP-1 will transfer accountability for their aircraft and maintainers to the organization in an effort to produce more capable aircraft and maintenance crews while maintaining the most efficient and cost-effective methods.

"I was working with a few of the other squadrons before we left so I've already integrated a little into this. Overall, I think it will be a little bit better as far as working hours and being set up on deployment rotation schedules," said Aviation Electrician's Mate 2nd Class Brandon Ruby, of VP-1, who will be working in CMO-10. "We don't know all the fine details until we get into it, but so far, so good."

USS Crommelin Returns to Pearl Harbor

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class John Wallace Ciccarelli Jr., Fleet Public Affairs Det. Hawaii

PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- The Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate USS Crommelin (FFG 37) returned to her homeport at Naval Station Pearl Harbor (NAVSTA PH) June 8, after a deployment to Latin America and the Eastern Pacific.

The ship and her crew of approximately 200 Sailors deployed Nov. 27, 2007, to the Naval Forces Southern Command area of operations via the Panama Canal to engage in monitoring, detecting counter-narcotics activities and community relations projects.

"The crew was superb in every aspect of the deployment; I would take this crew anywhere," said Cmdr. Patrick Huete, commanding officer of Crommelin. "It's very professionally rewarding to take a ship on deployment and to be gone for six-and-half months, be able to go through all the events that we did on the other side of the world and bring the crew back safely to Pearl Harbor."

Huete noted the ship confiscated approximately $71 million dollars worth of cocaine.

"The deployment went very well in helping to deter the flow of illegal narcotics into the United States," said Huete.

While in port at Cartegena, Colombia, some of the crew volunteered their liberty time to work at a local school and off-loaded nearly 1,200 pounds of charitable goods from Project Handclasp for donation. Donated items included toys and medical supplies.

"The performance of the crew helping these countries we visited was outstanding and a true show to our commitment as goodwill ambassadors," said Chief Hull Maintenance Technician (SW) Robert Thompson, repair division leading chief petty officer. "Anything that arose, the crew came together and handled it professionally."

During the deployment, the crew visited numerous ports in Latin America, including Puerto Vallarta, Mexico; Panama City, Panama; Cartagena, Columbia; and Trujillo, Peru.

Also returning from operations were the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS O'Kane (DDG 77) and the Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate USS Reuben James (FFG 57).

O'Kane and Reuben James departed NAVSTA PH, April 18, to join the Nimitz Expeditionary Strike Group as part of the Pacific Fleet's new Mid-Pacific Surface Combatant Operational Employment.

For some of the Sailors, it was their first deployment and the first time visiting another country.

"It was really exciting, I didn't know what to expect and now that it is all over, it was more than I could have hoped for in a deployment," said Hull Maintenance Technician Fireman David O'Brian. "It really feels great to be back home and to see my wife after such a long time."

As the ship approached the pier, family and friends of the crew lined up waving "welcome home" signs.

"It feels great that he's coming home after such a long time; we have missed him greatly," said Michelle Pease, Crommelin command ombudsmen. "We have coped with many deployments by reminding ourselves that every day that passes is just one more day closer till he gets home."

After the ships moored and the brow was in place, the ship held a "first kiss" ceremony and Sailors were released to greet their loved ones waiting on the pier.

"This was his first time being on a deployment of this length and it is so amazing to be able to not only see him again but to be the first to give their love one a kiss," said the wife of a Crommelin Sailor.

Crommelin is a versatile, multi-mission warship, able to execute a variety of war fighting tasks for the nation. Frigates fulfill a protection of shipping mission as anti-submarine warfare combatants for amphibious expeditionary forces, underway replenishment groups and merchant convoys.

Guided-missile destroyers provide multi-mission offensive and defensive capabilities and can operate independently or as part of carrier strike groups, surface action groups, expeditionary strike groups, and underway replenishment groups.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

USS Kitty Hawk to Participate in RIMPAC 2008

PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet announced June 9 the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) will replace USS George Washington (GW) (CVN 73) in the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2008 Exercise scheduled to take place in the Hawaiian operating area from June 29 through July 31.

A fire occurred onboard GW on May 22 while the ship was at sea. The ship is currently in port at Naval Air Station North Island, San Diego, conducting repairs to spaces and equipment affected by the fire. The timeline for repairs to the ship has not yet been determined.

Once repairs to the ship are complete, USS George Washington will replace USS Kitty Hawk as the United States Navy's forward deployed aircraft carrier in the Pacific.

RIMPAC, hosted by Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, demonstrates the U.S. Navy's commitment to working with our global partners in protecting the maritime freedom as a basis for global prosperity and to ensure stability throughout the Pacific.

RIMPAC has been conducted since 1971. This year's exercise consists of 10 nations, 35 ships, six submarines, over 150 aircraft and 20,000 Sailors, Airmen, Marines, Soldiers and Coast Guardsmen. Units from Australia, Canada, Chile, Japan, Netherlands, Peru, Republic of Korea, Singapore, United Kingdom and the U.S. are scheduled to participate.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Russian Navy Participating in BaltOps 2008

Portside view of the Russian Frigate NEUSTRASHIMYY (712) at it prepares its Kamov KA-27 Helix helicopter for take off during the annual Baltic Sea maritime Exercise BALTIC OPERATIONS 2003 (BALTOPS). (US Navy photo by PH2 GEORGE SISTING)

Our old friend Dave P. submitted the following extract taken from the Russian MOD website, translated and posted it for information/interest to the UDXF community. Date of article 10 June 2008.

A detachment of warships from Russia's Baltic Fleet is taking part in the active phase of the BaltOps 2008 naval exercises. (scheduled to end 20 June 2008.

A detachment of ships of the Baltic Fleet, after a preliminary assembly in the Polish port of Gdynia wherein was held a meeting of all of the participants of the exercise, has sailed in order to take part in the active phase of the International Maritime Exercises "BaltOps 2008." At the same time, the ships of 13 other participating countries also put to sea. The Russian naval contingent will include
the Escort Vessel "Neustrashimyj" and the Large Landing Ship "Kaliningrad". A
detachment of Naval Infantry and 8 armoured vehicles are aboard the "Kaliningrad". The "Neustrashimyj" has a Ka-27 helicopter embarked. The helicopter crew carried out 10 at-sea take-off and landing operations while the ship was on passage from its base of Baltijsk to Gdynia.

The active maritime phase of BaltOps 2008, which will last until 20 June, will involve 35 surface ships, two submarines, two auxiliary support ships and naval aviation assets. Thirteen countries are represented in the exercises. These are: Russia, USA, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Netherlands, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.

The following activities are scheduled to take place during the exercise.. AntiSubmarine Warface involving surface ships, the search for and the tracking of a submarine using helicopters; Gunnery firings against airborne and surface targets; ship handling manoeuvres, communications training, anti-aircraft defence, destruction of submarines of a notional enemy, boarding operations relating to
suspicious shipping, and other anti-terrorist operations at sea. The participation of Russian ships in these exercises will assist in the development of contacts in the Baltic region, and the strengthening of greater understanding and future cooperation between nations.

Thanks Dave for sharing this interesting piece with the UDXF community.

USS Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group Returns Home

NORFOLK (NNS) -- More than 7,300 Sailors from 17 commands and three staffs from the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) Carrier Strike Group (HSTCSG) returned to their homeports today after spending seven months on a routinely scheduled combat deployment.

While on deployment, HSTCSG supported maritime security operations in the Mediterranean Sea and Persian Gulf as well as provided close air support for ground forces serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

HSTCSG and coalition maritime forces operated together to help enhance security in the maritime environment, complementing the counter-terrorism and security efforts of regional nations and disrupting violent extremists' use of the maritime environment.

Throughout the deployment, Carrier Air Wing Three (CVW-3) aircraft flew more than 26,500 hours during 9,500 sorties. Of these, 2,459 were combat sorties directly supporting coalition forces operating on the ground in Iraq. The air wing flew almost 14,000 combat hours and expended 77,500 pounds of ordnance during 228 troops-in-contact events as well as providing defense to the Iraqi oil platforms. Additionally, they provided logistical support to the American Embassy in Lebanon.

CVW-3 aircraft also conducted a variety of theater security cooperation exercises with 5 countries in the 6th Fleet and 5th Fleet theaters to enhance interoperability and tactical proficiency. These exercises fostered stronger ties with regional navies, strengthened relationships with allied nations and improved collaboration among Coalition Task Forces.

Destroyer Squadron (CDS) 26 ships operated with over 50 coalition warships from 11 countries supporting combat operations in Iraq, providing Maritime Security in the Persian Gulf, and conducting seven exercises throughout the Middle East.

They conducted 1,021 approach and assist visits, which promoted relations with local fishermen and merchants and encouraged them to contact coalition warships as first responders against Persian Gulf piracy and smuggling.

CDS 26 units also conducted visit, board, search, and seizures operations, searching for vessels that could support international terrorist organizations by transferring personnel, drugs, and weapons.

Additionally, they provided security for the Khor Al-Amaya Oil Terminal and Al-Basra Oil Terminal in the Northern Persian Gulf against possible terrorist attacks. These platforms provide more than 85 percent of Iraq's revenue, and are vital in the country's effort to rebuild.

Rear Adm. Mark I. Fox, Commander Carrier Strike Group 10, said in order to accomplish such diverse and important missions, the strike group had to form bonds and work as a team. He said over the course of work-ups and the deployment, they did so and rose to extraordinary heights.

"Each of the separate entities came together to forge a greater and more unified team," Rear Adm. Fox said. "We did this by building upon what was created by those who came before us and helped to forge a path for those who will take over the mission in the future."

Truman's commanding officer, Capt. Herman Shelanski, said the operational readiness of the crew, commitment of the mission and support from the families is what made the deployment so successful. Shelanski said he is proud to have served with each Sailor and that the Truman team and HSTCSG exceeded his expectations.

"Our Sailors trained hard, sacrificed much and finished this deployment after achieving extraordinary accomplishments and readiness," Shelanski said. "Our Sailors represented the U.S. proudly by protecting our country and staying committed no matter what situation they encountered."

To ensure the success of the deployment extended beyond the return to home port, Truman conducted a variety of training classes promoting sound decisions to help keep Sailors safe in port. The information provided in the classes help not only individual Sailors but whole families by telling the Sailor what to expect once the ship returns to home port. Topics covered included drinking and driving, returning to children, traffic safety, motorcycle safety, car buying, and money management.

Air Force announces Reserve F-22 squadron at Holloman

An F-22 Raptor flown by Col. Jeff Harrigian arrives June 2 at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M. In addition to two active-duty squadrons, the Air Force will base an Air Force Reserve Command classic associate squadron at Holloman AFB to fly the fifth generation fighter. Colonel Harrigian is the 49th Fighter Wing commander.

Air Force Reserve Command officials announced June 6 that a second F-22 Raptor fighter squadron will be established at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M.

Reserve officials will relocate the 301st Fighter Squadron from Luke AFB, Ariz., to Holloman AFB and form a classic association with the active duty's 7th and the 9th Fighter Squadrons under the 49th Fighter Wing.

"I am proud that the Air Force Reserve has been invited to participate in so many new mission areas and that we are here today, and included from the beginning, during the stand up of the F-22 at Holloman," said Lt. Gen. John A. Bradley, the AFRC commander.

As an associate unit, the Air Force Reserve squadron members will fly and maintain the aircraft with their active-duty counterparts. The 49th FW officials will own the aircraft.

Reserve planners expect to establish the 44th Fighter Group at Holloman AFB and assign 260 Airmen there by 2010.

"I believe that associate units, such as we have at Holloman, are the best way forward to maximize the Air Force's combat effectiveness and harness the inherent synergies we share between the active and Reserve forces," General Bradley said.

The Air Force Reserve established its first F-22 associate squadron in October 2007 at Elmendorf AFB, Alaska.

"We have partnered with Pacific Air Forces during the stand up at Elmendorf, and I would like a similarly successful stand up here with Air Combat Command," General Bradley said. "The Air Force Reserve provides the world's best mutual support to the Air Force and our joint partners."

The 301st FS was originally part of the "Red Tailed" 332nd Fighter Group of the famed Tuskegee Airmen. The squadron has an impressive combat heritage dating back to activation and combat service in World War II.

While the historical 7th and 9th Fighter Squadrons flew their combat sorties over the Pacific waters and islands, the 301st FS spent World War II in the European and Mediterranean theaters of operation.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Zappers Return Home to NAS Whidbey Island

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Tucker M. Yates, Fleet Public Affairs Center, Det. Northwest

OAK HARBOR, Wash. (NNS) -- Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 130, the "Zappers," were welcomed home to Naval Air Station (NAS) Whidbey Island, June 1, after a deployment aboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75).

The Zappers departed NAS Whidbey Island, Nov. 1, in order to meet Harry S. Truman on the East Coast for a departure date of Nov. 4.

"We were supporting ground commanders with electronic attack jamming in support of the troops on the ground," said Cmdr. Scott Moran, VAQ-130 commanding officer. "In addition to that, there are many other objectives the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) has for naval forces in the Arabian Gulf and we also supported those missions as well."

The Arabian Gulf is a body of water more commonly known as the Persian Gulf.

The Zappers are composed of nearly 200 Sailors with 15 electronic countermeasures officers and six pilots among them. With their complement of four Prowlers, they achieved a 99 percent mission accomplishment rate for the combat sorties in support of CENTCOM.

Over the whole deployment, the Zappers flew a total of 565 sorties and logged 1,798 flight hours. Of this, approximately 200 sorties and 1,200 hours were logged as combat hours in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Included in the deployment were also a number of port visits made by Harry S. Truman. Among these were port calls to Naples, Italy; Jebel Ali, United Arab Emirates; Rhodes, Greece; and Marseilles, France. Moran was pleased with his crew's performance both on- and off-duty.

"From the most junior people in my squadron to the most senior, everyone did a fantastic job," said Moran. "It was long hours and we ended up missing a port call, but we were able to work through that. My most junior guys bore a lot of the burden for the deployment, but they did a fantastic job. We couldn't have done our mission without everyone in the squadron."

First HSM Squadron Embarks Stennis

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Damien E. Horvath, USS John C. Stennis Public Affairs

Aviation Boatswain's Mate Handling 3rd Class Ralph Laduke guides an MH-60R Seahawk assigned to the "Raptors" of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 71 as it takes off from the flight deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). Stennis and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9 are conducting Tailored Ship's Training Availability (TSTA) off the coast of Southern California. TSTA is a three-phase evolution that incrementally enhances the ship's operating proficiency while simultaneously integrating the air wing. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Elliott J. Fabrizio)

USS JOHN C. STENNIS, At Sea (NNS) -- Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 71, a new component to Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9, is the first squadron of its kind to embark a carrier as part of an air wing.

Their mission is to employ the Navy's most technologically sophisticated rotary aircraft in the fleet to carry out the objectives of strike group commanders, their weapon is the MH-60R Seahawk.

"It feels great. The whole air wing and ship have really come together smoothly; the espirit de corp has been great, and we're just happy to be a part of it," said HSM-71 commanding officer, Cmdr. Michael Nortier.

"We bring some dramatic improvements to the strike group. We combine the capabilities of two older helicopters as well as radar capabilities from the S-3 and we also have Link-16 which no rotary aircraft has ever had before," said Nortier.

With state-of-the-art avionics, mission and weapons systems, the multipurposed MH-60R specializes in everything from various warfare areas to logistical support, and search and rescue operations to communication relay.

"The Raptors are very excited and motivated to operate as an integral component of Carrier Air Wing 9 and Carrier Strike Group 3," said HSM-71 pilot Lt.j.g. Chris Yost. "Personnel are working extremely hard to bring the 'Romeo' to the fleet, providing an unparalleled ASW (anti-submarine warfare) and ASuW (anti-surface warfare) support asset for the carrier strike group."

Not only will HSM-71 deploy aircraft aboard Stennis, but the squadron will simultaneously support combat elements embarked aboard cruisers and destroyers in the John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group.

"Basically, any platform that can support our aircraft, we will be landing on and conducting daily operations with," said Aviation Electrician's Mate 2nd Class John Gonzalez of HSM-71. "Our contribution to the mission of the other ships in the carrier strike group will, no doubt, be just as significant as our presence aboard Stennis."

HS-7's "Dusty Dogs" Return to Jacksonville

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Elisha Dawkins, Fleet Public Affairs Center Detachment Southeast

Crew members of Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron 7 (HS-7), disembarked USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75), after completion of a seven month deployment aboard the carrier, June 1.

"This was an awesome deployment, my fifth deployment," said Lt. Cmdr. Brian Bartlett of HS-7. "We rescued 10 people from drowning off a wrecked commercial ship in the Arabian Gulf, and also rescued three pilots involved in aircraft mishaps."

The Arabian Gulf is a body of water more commonly known as the Persian Gulf.

The squadron was deployed with the carrier in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. While in the Persian Gulf, they were engaged as part of the multi-national force providing support to militaries in Iraq and throughout the Persian Gulf.

"This is my final deployment after 27 years and doing the final ride with the Truman was great, it was a complete team effort," said Command Senior Chief John J. Killen III, Fighter Attack Squadron 11. "The crew went out and did a great job providing protection and security to the region, and we brought everyone back home safe, that was the goal."

HS-7 also engaged in Maritime Security Operations throughout the Gulf and just off the coast of Iraq to help ensure economic stability for the country. Maritime security training was conducted with strategic partners in the Gulf including Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates.

The "Dusty Dogs" conducted over 900 completed flights surpassing 2,500 hours of flight time, conducting 5 medical evacuations, 13 rescues and logistic support to the U.S. Embassy in Beirut.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

MSC Accepts Fifth Addition to Newest Ship Class

By Anna Hancock, Military Sealift Command Public Affairs

Balloons and bunting decorate the bow of Military Sealift Command dry cargo/ammunition ship USNS Robert E. Peary (T-AKE 5) during christening ceremonies at General Dynamics NASSCO shipyard. The ship is named for the man who led the first expedition to the geographic North Pole. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communications Specialist 1st Class Brian Brannon)

Military Sealift Command (MSC) accepted delivery of dry/cargo ammunition ship USNS Robert E. Peary (T-AKE-5) in San Diego, June 5. The ship was built by General Dynamics National Steel and Shipbuilding Company.

Named in honor of Navy Rear Adm. Robert E. Peary, leader of the first expedition to the North Pole, the ship is the fifth in the Lewis and Clark-class of underway replenishment ships with the designation T-AKE-5.

The ships' primary mission is to deliver ammunition, provisions, stores, spare parts, potable water and petroleum products to the Navy's underway carrier and expeditionary strike groups allowing them to stay at sea for extended periods of time.

"Introducing this ship to the fleet is a great step in modernizing the Navy and bringing new capabilities to the fleet," said Capt. Gregory L. Horner, Peary's civil service master.

The T-AKEs will replace some of MSC's aging, single-mission ships such as Kilauea-class ammunition ships and Mars- and Sirius-class combat stores ships that are nearing the end of their service lives.

At the end of July, the 689-foot Peary will go a short 'shakedown cruise' where the ship's crew will test a range of shipboard operations. By the end of the summer, Peary will depart for her homeport in Norfolk, to soon deploy on its first operational mission.

Peary has a crew of 124 civil service mariners working for MSC, as well as a military detachment of 11 Sailors who provide operational support and supply coordination. When needed, Peary can also carry a helicopter detachment.

MSC operates approximately 110 noncombatant, merchant mariner-crewed ships that replenish U.S. Navy ships, conduct specialized missions, strategically preposition combat cargo at sea around the world and move military cargo and supplies used by deployed U.S. forces and coalition partners.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Successful Sea-Based Missile Defense Intercept

A modified Standard Missile 2 (SM-2) Block IV interceptor is launched Thursday, June 5, 2008 from the guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Erie (CG 70) during a Missile Defense Agency test to intercept a short-range ballistic missile target. The missile intercepted the target approximately 12 miles above the Pacific Ocean 100 miles west of Kauai, Hawaii on the Pacific Missile Range Facility. This was the second successful intercept in two attempts of the sea-based terminal capability and the fourteenth overall successful test of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense Program. (U.S. Navy photo by the Missile Defense Agency)

Air Force Lt. Gen. Henry "Trey" Obering III, Missile Defense Agency (MDA) director, announced the successful completion of the latest flight test of the sea-based Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) element, conducted jointly with the U.S. Navy off the coast of Kauai, Hawaii.

The event, designated as Flight Test Maritime-14 (FTM-14), marked the fourteenth overall successful intercept, in 16 attempts, for the Aegis BMD program and the second successful intercept of a terminal phase (last few seconds of flight) target by a modified Standard Missile - 2 Block IV (SM-2 Blk IV) interceptor.

The mission was completed by the cruiser USS Lake Erie (CG 70), using the tactically-certified Aegis BMD shipboard weapon system, modified for a terminal capability, and the modified SM-2 Blk IV. This is the 35th successful terminal and midcourse defense intercept in 43 tests since 2001.

Aegis BMD is the sea-based mid-course component of the MDA's Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) and is designed to intercept and destroy short to intermediate-range ballistic missile threats. In 2006, the program's role was expanded to include a sea-based terminal defense effort, using a modified version of the SM-2 Blk IV. Unlike other missile defense technologies now deployed or in development, the SM-2 Blk IV does not use "hit to kill" technology (directly colliding with the target) to destroy the target missile. Rather, it uses a blast fragmentation device that explodes in direct proximity to the target to complete the intercept and destroy the target.

At 8:13 a.m. Hawaii Standard Time (2:13 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time) a short range target was launched from a mobile launch platform 300 miles west of the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF), Barking Sands, Kauai, Hawaii. Moments later, the USS Lake Erie's Aegis BMD Weapon System detected and tracked the target and developed fire control solutions.

Approximately four minutes later, the USS Lake Erie's crew fired two SM-2 Blk IV missiles, and two minutes later they successfully intercepted the target inside the earth's atmosphere, about 12 miles above the Pacific Ocean and about 100 miles west-northwest of Kauai.

FTM-14 test objectives included evaluation of: the BMDS ability to intercept and kill a short range ballistic missile target with the Aegis BMD, modified with the terminal mission capability; the modified SM-2 Blk IV missile using SPY-1 cue; and system-level integration of the BMDS.

MDA and the U.S. Navy cooperatively manage the Aegis BMD Program. Lockheed Martin Maritime Systems and Sensors of Moorestown, N.J. is the Combat System Engineering Agent and prime contractor for the Aegis BMD Weapon System and Vertical Launch System installed in Aegis equipped cruisers and destroyers. Raytheon Missile Systems of Tucson, Ariz. is the prime contractor for the SM-2 and SM-3 missile and all previous variants of Standard Missile. The SM-2 program is managed by the Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Churchill Ends Seven Month Deployment

Families await the return of Sailors aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Winston Churchill (DDG 81) after a seven-month deployment. Nearly 7,500 Sailors have returned to their homeports after completing scheduled deployments with the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group supporting maritime security operations in the 5th and 6th Fleet areas of Responsibility. (U.S Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Pamela M. Coxe)

Thursday, June 05, 2008

USS Tarawa Returns from Last Deployment

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Karalie Pallotta, USS Tarawa Public Affairs and Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Omar A. Dominquez, Fleet Public Affairs Center, Pacific

An AV-8B Harrier assigned to Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron (HMM) 166 (reinforced) launches from the flight deck of amphibious assault ship USS Tarawa (LHA 1). U.S. forces maintain a naval and air presence in the region that deters destabilizing activities while safeguarding the region's vital links to the global economy. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Jon Husman)

The amphibious assault ship USS Tarawa (LHA 1) returned to San Diego from deployment, June 3.

Approximately 1,000 friends and family members turned out at pier seven at Naval Base San Diego to welcome the returning Sailors back from the seven-month deployment in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.

"It was a good cruise and a very good working environment," said Cmdr. Robert Muxlow, from Tactical Air Control Squadron (TACRON) 11. "The service members aboard all worked great together, that's the main measure of success."

The homecoming also marked the end of the ships 14th and final deployment as it is scheduled to be decommissioned in March 2009.

"The soul of the ship has always been her crew," said Capt. Brian Luther, Tarawa commanding officer. "Although Tarawa has known many sailors in her life time, I would venture to say that there have been none so well trained and dedicated to the service of their country as the men and women that are aboard right now. Their continued work is what made her last deployment a success."

During the deployment Tarawa and her crew sailed over 36,000 miles and visited four continents. They supported over 1,300 Marines from the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit; aided the citizens of Bangladesh and Djibouti through medical and dental civil action projects; and welcomed aboard officials from Pakistan, France, Ethiopia, Egypt and the U.S., impressing upon them the capabilities of an American warship.

"Through all this the ship and her crew never wavered in performance of their duty," said Luther.

Many of the returning Sailors appreciated the opportunity to be involved in this part of Tarawa's history.

"It's also pretty cool to be here for Tarawa's last deployment. She's held up really well, and it's a privilege to be here for this last Westpac," said Information Specialist 1st class Anthony St. Thomas.

Tarawa departed San Diego Nov. 5. During her deployment her crew conducted disaster relief operations in Bangladesh, humanitarian assistance operations in Djibouti, and maritime security operations in the Persian Gulf.

The ship was commissioned May 29, 1976 and has out lived two of other Tarawa-class ships. The ex-USS SAIPAN (LHA 2) was decommissioned April 20, 2007 and transferred to the inactive fleet; and the ex-USS BELLEAU WOOD (LHA 3) was sunk July 10, 2006, as part of SINKEX during RIMPAC.

Navy Welcomes New Era of Electronic Warfare

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Tucker M. Yates, Fleet Public Affairs Center, Det. Northwest

An EA-18G Growler lands at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island for the first time. The Growler is being developed to replace the fleet's current carrier-based EA-6B Prowler. The next-generation electronic attack aircraft, for the U.S. Navy, combines the combat-proven F/A-18 Super Hornet with a state-of-the-art electronic warfare avionics. The EA-18G is expected to enter initial operational capability in 2009. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Bruce McVicar)

OAK HARBOR, Wash. (NNS) -- Naval Air Station (NAS) Whidbey Island ushered in the next generation of naval electronic attack aircraft with the official arrival of its first EA-18G Growler, June 3.

The event marks the beginning of the long awaited transition to the Growler from the Vietnam-era EA-6B Prowler.

Presiding over the event were the Honorable Donald Winter, Secretary of the Navy; Jim Albaugh, executive vice president of The Boeing Company; U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen; Capt. Bradley Russell, commodore of Electronic Attack Wing, U.S. Pacific Fleet (CVWP); and Oak Harbor Mayor Jim Slowik.

"Thank you for inviting me to witness this landmark event in aviation history. Today marks the culmination point in a largely untold success story that began more than 17 years ago," said Winter. "I am pleased to note that this has been a success story and an excellent example of Navy contractor teamwork and collaboration. By leveraging and evolving legacy programs, the F-18 as a platform, and significant payload components from the EA-6B, this program now stands as a model case of what can be achieved."

As a more advanced and user-friendly aircraft, the Growler will only require two-man flight crews vice four for the Prowler. In the EA-6B, a pilot, navigator, and two electronic countermeasures officers were needed. The improved capability of the Growler requires less manpower, with only a pilot and an electronic warfare officer for in-flight missions.

"I've flown it, and I can tell you that both the naval flight officer in the back seat and the naval aviator in the front are going to be busy with their new responsibilities. There's going to be more information than you could possibly imagine at your fingertips," said Russell. "This is a big, fast, highly maneuverable jet that's going to give you total situational awareness to the battle-space out there. I tell you this: you're going to love your new office; however, let me caution you, crawl before you walk and walk before you run."

The Navy has placed an order of approximately 85 Growler aircraft. Of the 85, five will go to each of the 10 deploying Electronic Attack Squadrons (VAQ) and 12 are anticipated at the Fleet Replacement Squadron (FRS), VAQ-129. Upon acceptance of this aircraft by CVWP it will be used by VAQ-129 to train their flight crews to ensure they can proficiently train the remaining squadrons. The first deploying squadron to receive the Growler will be VAQ-132, in 2009.

"The full extent of the Growler's extraordinary capabilities cannot be disclosed, but we can say that this next generation aircraft is in a class by itself, combining airborne electronic attack with the newest technologies that belong to the Super Hornet Block II," said Winter.

Today the Growler and its pilots are poised to forge a game-changing path in the history of air warfare, cited Winter. "This platform is a direct threat to current and potential enemies, and it represents a quantum advance in warfare capability in the electronic domain."

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Airshow Report - McGuire AFB

Pete Monaco in Middletown, NJ, caught the practice show last Friday at McGuire AFB and files the following airshow report.

143.250 (AM mode) TBirds used during start-up. They were talking about waypoints, show manuevers, etc.

143.700 (AM mode) TBirds - seemed to be the main channel in use during the practice manuevers.

235.250 TBirds - was used after the main manuevers. They were chit chatting about their jets' performances. One pilot reported his jet was handling sluggish. They were talking to a female. Also mention of a water tank nearby that they don't recall being there last year and it wasn't brought up during the briefing. Not sure if there is a female pilot. I never heard one during the manuevers.

Other hits were on 141.800 which is a nationwide air-to-air. Not sure if it was related.

Also, 343.000 had some kind of air-to-air exercise. Not sure if related. These both were around the same time the T-Birds were practicing.

Later after the T-Birds were finished, The F-16 or F-22 demo team freqs came alive with manuevers.

Those were on 136.675, 365.700 and 376.025 MHz.

They were switching between Victor and Uniform freqs, but 136.675 MHz seemed to be the primary.

140.050 (AM mode) kept coming up with air-to-air traffic. Not sure if it was related to the show. And the odd thing is, 140.050 is the US Navy Lakehurst base fire dept frequency in FM mode (which is located next door to McGuire AFB). So I'm guessing who ever was using it was from out of the area. Was on about the same time as the T-Birds.

Airshow Air Boss: 119.050 and 123.150 MHz ... I was also told later that the air boss was heard on 122.000 MHz also.

Many thanks Peter for sharing your intercepts with the Milcom Blog community.