Category Archives: Air Force

Univ. of Hawaii – U.S. Pacific Command Partnership

The University of Hawaii (UH) and the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) signed a Memorandum of Understanding that outlines the two organization's collaborative efforts to improve and solve sustainability and resiliency issues in the Asia Pacific region. The three signatories of the MOU were UH President M.R.C. Greenwood, Adm. Robert F. Willard, Commander of U.S. Pacific Command and UH Chancellor Virginia Hinshaw. Both Admiral Willard and President Greenwood admitted when the group first got together in January 2011, both organizations were apprehensive about how this relationship would take shape, if at all. Historically the relationship between the University of Hawaii and the U.S. military has seen it's ups and downs. President Greenwood said, "We are the two most influential and powerful institutions in the State of Hawaii, and yet we have not found the ways and connections to work together." But as a result of the conference in January, the two groups were able to craft a framework for an ongoing partnership. Colleagues commented later to Greenwood that this should have been done a long time ago. The MOU identified three key area for immediate focus: Energy, Water and Disaster Management. Some of near term partnering areas include:
  1. Examine implementing alternative energy sources for PACOM installations and on certain humanitarian assistance projects;
  2. Leverage UH capability and training to complement and support PACOM roles in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief work around the region;
  3. Build on UH and PACOM capabilities in a variety of water projects, particularly leveraging interests in the lower Mekong;
  4. Define partnership projects in some aspect of ocean fisheries and maritime security.
They each emphasized taking immediate action on near term projects so that the success of working together would create traction. One project that comes to mind is the School of Nursing working with the Pacific Partnership and the hospital ship USN Mercy. Key members of the steering committee include Rear Admiral Robin M. Watters, Dr. Rich Berry for PACOM and Dr. Gary Ostrander and Dr. David Lassner for the Univ. of Hawaii. It will be interesting to see what projects result from this relationship and whether or not they achieve the traction needed to keep a partnership like this viable over the years. If they can accomplish this Hawaii will certainly benefit. * Photo courtesy of Dallas Nagata White

Hawaii to Antarctica

LC-130 Operation Deep FreezeHawaii has a connection to deep space with the telescopes on Mauna Kea and the deep ocean with the anti-neutrino detector, it wouldn't surprise me that Hawaii has a connection with the Antarctic. And sure enough it is with a project called Operation Deep Freeze. The US presence in Antarctica started as far back as 1955 with the name Operation Deep Freeze. That name continues to this day referring to US operations in that continent and in particular to the regular missions to resupply the US Antarctic bases there. Since 1996 the Air National Guard, 109th Airlift Wing became the primary support squadron for the National Science Foundation (NSF) mission in Antarctica. Geographically, Antarctica is part of the Pacific theater with command center at Hickam AFB but the planes that fly missions to the continent are from the 109th Airlift Wing based at Schenectady County Airport in New York. This past Monday, 10/18/10, one of the ski equipped LC-130s was in Hawaii on its way to Antarctica for the start of the 2010-2011 Operation Deep Freeze. Along with the ski-wheels another interesting aspect of the LC-130 Hercules aircraft are these curious latches on the side of the fuselage. On close inspection you can see the acronym JATO or Jet Assisted Take Off. Apparently when taking off on the cold, icy surface of Antarctica, the drag on the skis could hamper the plane ability to reach lift velocity. Extra jet engines are latched onto the aircraft to give it an extra boost for take off, hence the name. You can see the JATO in action in this video of an LC-130 taking off on an icy runway. I got a chance to do a quick interview with Col. Gary James as they prepped this LC-130 before heading to Christchurch, New Zealand. I asked him about their mission before flying over to McMurdo Station, Antarctica where the National Science Foundation has their base camp. In addition to PACAF and Hickam AFB being a transit point for Operation Deep Freeze, it was announced this week that the Univ. of Hawaii Physics Dept. was awarded $1.4M by NASA for the Antarctic Impulsive Transient Antenna (ANITA) experiment. The ANITA project involves an array of antenna which listens to cosmic high energy neutrinos as they interact deep within the ice sheet. The antenna array is part of a payload that floats over the surface of the Antarctica ice field tethered to a ballon the side of a stadium. UH Professor Peter Gorham is the principle investigator whom we've asked to come onto Bytemarks Cafe on Wed. December 1st. Stay tuned for that show as we talk about neutrinos, UH Physics, ANITA and missions to Antarctica.

Global Hawk Arrives at Andersen AFB, Guam

Global Hawk CeremonyOn Sept. 20, 2010 the RQ-4 Global Hawk was unveiled at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam. I had the honor and privilege of joining a group of civic leaders as guests of Gen. Gary North, Pacific Air Forces, at the ceremony for the arrival of the Global Hawk. This unmanned aerial vehicle is designed for missions to provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) in the Pacific region. Global Hawk as the capability of staying in the air for longer than 30 hours at altitudes of more than 60,000 feet. It's range can cover a distance of 3000 miles which includes the area as far south as Australia and north to Mongolia. Air Force personnel manage the Global Hawk missions from distributed ground stations. The launch recovery element (LRE) is handled from Andersen AFB and mission control element (MCE) takes place in Beale AFB in CA. The following video is of Gen. Gary North speaking at the Global Hawk ceremony. You can also follow along with this transcript of Gen. North's speech at Andersen AFB, Guam on Sept. 20, 2010.
And certainly let me add that my thanks to everyone who has put this ceremony together, it's really a welcome, Congressman Bordallo and certainly General Goldhorn and for all the leaders that are here both from the local community, from the local Hawaii community that we brought down to view this. It is a significant day for not only for our United States Air Force, not only the US Pacific Command, but certainly the significant day for all of the men and women who protect our nation, our nation's interest and certainly the interest of those nations that are friends, allies and partners in the region. We are very grateful for the chance to be able to bring the Global Hawk to the 36th Wing and to Andersen Air Force Base. It is truly a privilege to be here today, for General Douchette, thank you for allow us to come down once again to be able to represent the over 42,000 active Guard, Reserve and civilian men and women of the Pacific Air Forces who have enabled the Global Hawk's arrival and abed down today. It is certainly an important day in our Air Forces ability to both modernize and integrate our intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities into the greater Pacific region. America, it's allies, it's partners and friends, have come to expect information dominance over the battle space, combat operations and the dominance that protects the safety, security and stability around the World. The RQ-4 which we all know as the Global Hawk is our Air Forces newest high altitude, long endurance remotely piloted aircraft capable of flying at altitudes of over 50,000 ft. and staying airborne for over 30 hours. It gives us incredible capacity and certainly after the event we would invite everyone over as we recognize our industry partners and Mr. Duke Dufresne will offer the one-fifth scale Global Hawk to the 36th Wing. You will be able to see some of the capability that the platform executes in day to day operations. This aircraft along with our other intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms will improve our ability to support a number or regional missions to include humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, anti-piracy, anti-terrorism and also to demonstrate as we do every day in the Middle East that our capability to integrate this into combat operations will require -- is absolutely paramount for our ability to have information dominance. The Global Hawk has unique capabilities and those capabilities align now with Guam's position as the third leg of our Pacific Strategic Triangle and certainly that of the Pacific Air Forces make Andersen Air Force Base the ideal location to bed the aircraft down. Along with our other Pacific Air Forces forward based platforms as you saw today as you came into the Hangar. In Andersen Air Force Base's rotational bomber force and the forces of our tankers and fighters help insure that our US Air Force maintains close security and stability in the Pacific and certainly along side the Air Forces of our allies, friends and partners in the region. This Global Hawk will provide a proven ISR capability to our combatant commanders. It is one that has already logged over 45,000 hours of flying time, 35,000 hours of which has been in combat operations in the Middle East. It's suite of infrared, electro-optical and synthetic aperture radar systems will allow it to collect high resolution imagery day and night, in any weather. You will again be able to see some of that capability in the reception after this event. It has a range that will allow it to employ more than half way around the world. In fact it flew non-stop from the contiguous 48 for its recent arrival here. As I said it has the capability to stay aloft for in excess of over 30 hours. And with that capability varied with its sensors it will be able to pinpoint after surveilling large geographic areas with absolute accuracy that is needed in today's environment. Basing this platform here in Guam minimizes what we all know in the Pacific as called the Tyranny of Distance. And it will allow us to integrate and synchronize the capabilities of Global Hawk with other platform capacity of both manned and unmanned in this region. It will allow us to effectively support contingency operations throughout the region, demonstrating both to our friends and our partners and our allies and others that our United States Air Force continues to modernize and ensure that we can meet the directives in the environment as directed by our senior leaders and in support in the wide range of missions of our friends, partners and allies. It will provide an unrivaled, clear, realtime intelligence to those who need this requirement. For instance right now, as we sit among the capacity of our nation both manned and remotely piloted, remotely piloted Global Hawks are being flown in support of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Helping to provide critical imagery of time sensitive targets like IED support, insurgent hideouts or weapons caches. This information is send from the airborne platform down our distributed ground stations around the world where airmen and other service members can rapidly process and push back the intelligence gathered to not only warfighters but senior decision makers from the strategic all the way down to the tactical warfighter at the platoon level. So this is the information that will allow us to make strategic and senior decision making processes as well as save the tactical men and women that are doing our nations bidding in battlefields around the world today. The RQ-4 in our distributed ground stations are just two parts of a global system that give us a synchronized ISR network that allow us to maintain information dominance not only today but well into the future. Of course, it's not just technology or iron as you see in this hangar today. To succeed in our business we need a very diverse staff of highly trained and motivated airmen and contractors who enable us to support at the requirement of our national leaders. And maintain and operate not only the platform that you see here but the distributed ground station that operations around the world. So while these aircraft are absolutely fabulous at what they do, its our people as always that make these platforms magic in how they enable us to receive the capability of the mission. While this aircraft will use our Pacific Air Forces facilities and will be bedded down and aligned with our 36th Wing airman here it is Air Combat Command airmen and the detachment Commander Lt. Col. Baker and his his airmen who will enable this platform to fly mission sets everyday. And then the mission control element from where the airplane after takeoff will be flow from inside our facilities at Beale Air Force Base in our contiguous 48. And then the distributed ground stations that can be located around the world to enable the intelligence download and the data such that the process is distributed and exploited as required from stations around the world. And it will be truly a total force effort. It is today a total force effort and we look forward to it being a total force effort here in Guam and Andersen and with the National Guard. So let me close with just an example of how far we have come. It was not several days in the future, three days from now, where we will look back in our nation's history and a gentlemen of which we are all very familiar. A gentleman named Jimmy Doolittle, who on the 24th of Sept. 1929 flew for the first time from take off to landing without -- in a airplane where he had no visual with the outside world. He took off and landed in a platform using instruments, in 1929. We have come a very long way, in our nation, in our technology and with our airman since 1929. I cannot tell you how proud I am to stand here as part of the Combat Air Forces, Air Combat Command, Pacific Air Forces and yes, the US Air Forces in Europe who also just last week received a Global Hawk at Sigonella (Italy) such that we now have capacity for this platform in Europe, in the Middle East and here in the Pacific. We are truly grateful for your attendance and your dedication and your support as you see our RQ-4 start to fly over the skies of Guam and to be able to range the Pacific and to provide that range of capacity, the combat capacity, that will enable us to gather intelligence to met national and joint combined and international requirement and then be able to provide humanitarian, disaster relief, anti-terrorism, anti-piracy capability 24/7, 365. With this incredible high altitude, long endurance persistent developed platform. Again it is tremendous capacity but it is the capability enhanced from our airmen both those physically here and those that will operate it as well as from here through distributed station and bases to bring this capacity to fruition here today Andersen Air Force Base Guam. Thank you very much and I would say that Mr. Dufresne after the ceremony we would like everyone to gather over at the one-fifth scale where Northrop Grumman on behalf, with Mr. Dufresne today will present the small scale model to Gen. Douchette and then we'll have refreshments. And you will have the capability to view not only the platforms here in the hanger today but certainly the capacity the Global Hawk will present to us everyday. Thank you very much.

Mission: C-17

C-17 Air DropThis has been the month of RIMPAC 2010 and the PACOM and PACAF offices are working overtime to expose the media to all the varied activities taking place around Hawaii. This past Friday, several of us joined the crew of the C-17 on a practice mission over Hawaii Island. We met at the Hickam Gate at 4:45am and the flight left at 6:30am early Friday morning from Hickam Air Force Base. According to Lt. Col Andrew Lashikar, Commander of the 535th Airlift Squadron, there are a total of nine C-17's assigned to Hickam Air Force base. Lashikar said, "Participating in RIMPAC gives us a great opportunity to conduct joint exercises with our fellow branch services." The mission over Hawaii Island was for two C-17s to drop off a simulated cargo load of about 12,000 pounds each. The transport planes flew to the military training area Pohakuloa, on the saddle between Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea. The C-17 went from an altitude of 5000 ft. to 500 feet to facilitate the drop. Two 6000 pound palettes were then jettisoned from the rear of the plane and parachuted to Marines below from Kaneohe Bay, 2nd Battalion. I shot a batch of photos and posted this video of the palettes as they flew out the back of the plane. Lashikar told me that the exercise over Pohakuloa is very much like a mission to Afghanistan. The hilly, rocky terrain is very similar to what you might find in the mountainous areas of Afghanistan. But in addition, Hawaii's environment is also similar to recent C-17 relief efforts to Haiti and American Samoa. The C-17, which is not armed, participates in both support mission in battle zones as well as humanitarian efforts in the Pacific region. C-17 Air DropAfter a brief touchdown in Kona, the second part of the exercise involved an intercept by a squadron of four F-16s from Hickam. The planes could practice escorting a distressed or hostile aircraft with flanking maneuvers and close proximity flying. It was quite the sight to see these fighters flying along side our plane. The photo to the right is out the rear door of the C-17. The challenge for the F-16 was to match the speed of our plane. Quite slow compared to what the F-16 can muster. Several members of our flight got the chance to venture to the edge of the rear of the plane tethered to a cord. To me it was a thin veil of safety as the thought of how futile it might be if you were dangling outside the plane flapping in the wind attached to that tether. Thankfully that scenario only existed in my mind. We safety returned to Hickam, personally much richer for the experience and appreciation of the C-17s support capabilities.

F-22 Raptor

F-22 Arrival CeremonyFriday's F-22 Arrival Ceremony was quite the event. In addition to the social media contingent, which included Marc Orbito, Ricky Li, David Lau, Gabriel Yanagihara, Lee J Hopkinson, Greg Yamane, Brian Dote, Ian Kitajima and me, there where a few hundred guests of the Air Force and joint services. Hula performance was done by Robert Cazimero's dancers which was followed with speeches by dignitaries including Gov. Linda Lingle and Sen. Daniel Inouye. Finally, Kahu Kordell Kekoa did a traditional Hawaiian blessing of the planes. These are just 2 of the F-22's that will call Hawaii home. By early next year that number will grow to 20. Each will be part of the Hawaii Air National Guard and operated under a joint agreement with the active duty U.S. Air Force. The social media team did a great job capturing the event and you can view photos by Jasmine Deborah, Gabriel Yanagihara, Brian Dote, Lee Hopkinson and Marc Orbito. Ian Kitajima shot several live videos and posted then to his Dual Use site. Greg Yamane posted this video of the F-22 taxiing to the ceremony. Ricki Li took it a notch up with this video production. Here is a set of photos and a rather sedate video I shot of the F-22. Of course the best was this video courtesy of KHON2News