US Military News, Reports, Data, etc.

what a mess
Snowden Hurt Pentagon Push to Recruit Hackers: Carter
Edward Snowden’s decision to leak information about classified U.S. surveillance programs set back the Pentagon’s push to recruit cybersecurity experts, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said.

“There’s no question that Snowden set it back,” Carter said of the effort to attract top talent from tech companies in Silicon Valley and beyond for cybersecurity positions.

“It created a tremendous amount of suspicion, concern, and disinclination to engage,” he aded. “I’m realistic enough to know that.”

Carter’s comments came Monday during an interview in Washington, D.C., with The Atlantic’s Editor-in-Chief Jeffrey Goldberg about the department’s approach to innovation, the state of the armed forces, the role of the U.S. military in the world and its future.

Snowden has been living in Russia for the past three years. He received asylum from Moscow after fleeing the U.S., where he’s wanted for leaking information about classified intelligence programs. The spy efforts relied in part on information collected from major U.S. telecommunications and internet companies, from AT&T to Yahoo.

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, Snowden, a former employee of Booz Allen Hamilton Inc. who worked as a contractor for the National Security Agency, in June 2013 perpetrated “the largest and most damaging public release of classified information in U.S. intelligence history,” according to the a September report from the House Intelligence Committee.

To many privacy and peace advocates, he’s “a national hero” for blowing the whistle on such clandestine efforts and should be pardoned by President Barack Obama, according to a White House petition that has received nearly 168,000 signatures. He has also been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Carter, meanwhile, said he doesn’t approve of Snowden’s actions.

“I do not condone what Edward Snowden did,” he said. “There are 300 million of us in this country, and no one has the authority or the warrant to arrogate to him or herself the ability to use their position and their access to privileged information for their own purposes. That’s just not on — none of us can do that.”

Carter said, “We conduct ourselves extremely carefully with respect to the collection of intelligence. That’s a whole other subject to go into. But the harm done was to our international relationships, to our relationship with the technology community.”

He added, “I simply have to work with that and try to build back bridges of trust and understanding and a willingness to meet people halfway, and we’re doing that.”
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are famously aggressive, but
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makes Iwo Jima look low-risk. The Center for Strategic & Budgetary Assessments’ proposed concept of operations is imaginative, exciting and more than a little scary:

In a future war, rather than say far out at sea until long-range strikes whittle down massed
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missile batteries, the Marine Corps should push ahead into the teeth of the defenses and establish outposts within
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. Trusting in camouflage, dispersal, and short-range missile defenses to survive, these Expeditionary Advance Bases would refuel raiding
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and launch
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to take the adversary’s
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(A2/AD) zone down from the inside.

CSBA’s idea is in line with
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to blitzkrieg through weak points in A2/AD defenses, rather than laboriously bombard them from long range while our allies are overrun. (The Army calls this
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). But it’s far more aggressive and risky than any other such concept I’ve seen, because it calls for setting up static outposts inside the danger zone, rather than infiltrating mobile forces that stay constantly on the move. As
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, never one to mince words, puts it: “On the future battlefield, if you stay in one place longer than two or three hours, you will be dead.”

So how does a stationary Expeditionary Advance Base survive not for hours but days?

“The idea is not to make it invincible, (but) to make the EAB a hard enough kill for a pretty low-value target,” said
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, former senior aide to the Chief of Naval Operators and co-author of the study. By CSBA’s calculations, if the Marines spread out, dug in, and deployed
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like the
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(HVP) and the Army’s new Indirect Fire Protection Capability (IFPC), it would take an enemy 28 shots to guarantee a kill on any particular target.

What’s more, each advance base would have multiple targets, each dug in far enough apart a single warhead wouldn’t get them all: a refueling area for F-35Bs, a HIMARS missile launcher, an IPFC missile defense launcher, a howitzer battery firing HPVs, radars, a command post, bunkers for the Marines, etc. At some point, Clark argues, the Chinese or Russians would decide it wasn’t worth firing hundreds of missiles to wipe out a single reinforced company of a few hundred Marines, not when there were multiple such outposts to worry about on land plus Navy warships at sea.

The alternative to advanced land bases isn’t zero casualties, added CSBA co-author
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, a former Marine himself. It’s keeping the Marines aboard ship, where one lucky missile can kill hundreds.

The 300-Mile Problem

Some 80 nations now have anti-ship missiles, as do well-armed irregulars like Lebanese Hezbollah and the other Iranian-supplied group,
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. While some of these weapons can strike targets over 1,000 miles away, these are rare, so Clark and Sloman advise that US fleets stay a still-impressive 300 nautical miles from hostile shores. Planes are faster, smaller targets than warships, so anti-aircraft missiles generally have less range, about 200 nm.

A 200- to 300-mile threat wrecks traditional amphibious tactics, in which warships to approach the beach before launching amphibious vehicles, which have limited seaworthiness. Even the Marines’ vaunted 40-knot Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle, cancelled for excessive complexity and cost, couldn’t cross such distances. The standard Marine Corps helicopters can’t cross such distances either — the AH-1Z gunship can only go 125 miles, for example — though the
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tiltrotor can make 400 nautical miles and the F-35B jump jet 425.

So Clark and Sloman propose keeping the big ships (more or less) safely out at sea while deploying the Marines by long-range air and landing craft. The Osprey is particularly attractive, but its limited payload means it’s only able to land Marines, light equipment, and fuel bladders for forward-based F-35Bs. Clark and Sloman want to resume production of light-weight Internally Transportable Vehicles narrow enough to fit inside the Osprey.

Even so, heavy equipment such as missile launchers will have to come on so-called
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. There’s the lumbering LCU, which looks like a World War II relic; the speedy but fragile LCAC hovercraft; and, in future, the bizarre paddle-wheeled Ultra Heavy-lift Amphibious Connector (UHAC). Clark and Sloman also suggest modifying the catamaran Expeditionary Fast Transport (formerly the Joint High Speed Vessel or JHSV) with a ramp to offload amphibious armored fighting vehicles just off the beach. The combat vehicles themselves should be optimized for land operations, like the current
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program, rather than trying for high-water speed, like the cancelled EFV.

Supporting all these long-distance operations will require more firepower from the fleet, both missiles and fighters. They want to upgrade amphibs with both offensive and defensive missiles fired from Vertical Launch System (VLS) tubes, space for which was carefully left in the current San Antonio-class LPD design. The Navy is examining upgunning amphibs as part of its
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concept to put offensive weapons on ships currently designed for only self-defense.

Clark and Sloman also want way more Joint Strike Fighters. Currently, a three-ship Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) has two smaller amphibs and one big deck LHA or LHD which can carry just six fighters. That’s not enough to escort all the V-22s, to protect multiple Expeditionary Advanced Bases, or to take advantage of the forward refueling points the EABs provide. (
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lack the necessary range, they say, though they would protect the fleet from fast attack boats). So the CSBA scholars want to increase the ARG’s F-35B contingent from six to 10-20, depending on the mission.

... goes on in the subsequent post (size-limit reached here); source:
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continuation of the above post; source:
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That larger air contingent, in turn, requires a larger ARG. Clark and Sloman suggest adding a fourth ship, a small-deck
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, to help carry helicopters so the big-deck LHA/LHD can focus on jet fighters, which only it can handle. They prefer
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to devote maximum space to
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, and in the long term, they’d like to replace the
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with a light aircraft carrier (CVL) able to handle conventional take-off and landing aircraft like the E-2D Hawkeye scout and the EA-18 Growler jammer. All told, their plan would add nine L(X)Rs to the Navy’s shipbuilding plan and replace four planned LHAs with more expensive CVLs, at a total estimated cost of $21 billion over 30 years.

“You need to go to this four-ship ARG,” said Clark. “That’s inexorable, we really couldn’t come up with another way” to execute the concept of operations on a global scale. That said, the cost of the Navy’s 30-year plan would only increase by 3.5 percent.

The Marines would also need to buy more F-35Bs, HIMARS missile launchers, and
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as well as Army-only systems like IFPC. But nothing in the concept would require some radical breakthrough technology, Clark and Sloman argued. It’s all in the realm of the achievable — it’s just risky.

General Turner’s Take

At the report’s official rollout this evening, the director of the Marine Corps’ Capabilities Development Directorate praised the CSBA concept — with a couple of reservations.

“This is a well thought out and well-supported study,” said Brig. Gen. Roger Turner. “Leaders in the Marine Corps and the Navy support the general conclusions.”

The fundamental point of agreement: Long-range missile threats require the fleet to operate very differently. “There’s broad recognition in the (Navy) Department that the current paradigm, of a naval force that’s optimized for power projection capability in a benign environment, is kind of a relic,” Turner said. “That’s no longer a viable concept and that’s going to have to change.” Rather than counting on the Navy to rule the waves and get the Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) ashore, he said, “we’re going to have to help the Navy in the sea control fight, so the MAGTF’s going to have to start to fight much earlier.”

Nevertheless, Turner was skeptical of CSBA’s suggestion that, to muster sufficient airpower for long-range war, the Navy should move to big-deck amphibs, or even light aircraft carriers, without well decks from which to launch landing craft and amphibious vehicles. While the Marines could form an aircraft-heavy task force if great power war was imminent, he said, during day-to-day operations the Amphibious Ready Group must be equipped for everything from
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. While dozens of amphibs might make up a wartime fleet, offering plenty of opportunity for each to specialize, in peacetime high demand for amphibs means individual ships often operate alone, so each ship needs the full range of capabilities — including a well deck.

While the great power war scenarios that drove the CSBA study are the most important mission, Turner emphasized, they’re not the only one. “We have commitments across the range of military operations,” he said. “We don’t have the luxury of being able to completely purpose-build the Marine Corps or the Navy for a single threat scenario.”

On the other hand, Turner was far more comfortable than me with the study’s proposal for Expeditionary Advance Bases inside enemy missile range. Remember, he told me when I raised the risks, that the Marine Corps never operates alone.

“All of these operations need to be viewed in context of what the joint force capability brings,” Turner said. “Certainly there are enemy capabilities out there that are pretty difficult to deal with, but we’re pretty confident in our own joint capabilities.”
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, and
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should be able to detect, defeat, and destroy enough
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systems that the Marines can penetrate the A2/AD zone. “We’re not ready to cede those threat rings and say…we can’t operate inside those,” Turner said.

That said, operating inside the danger zone does require careful preparation. “We have to make sure that once we do put forces ashore that they’re going to have the requisite force protection,” Turner said. In particular, he said, “we’re going to need to invest in
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“It does represent a
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,” Turner said, “and we are going to make investments to change the composition of the force to make it more survivable.”
let's wait and see "... The deal, as reported by Politico, reportedly included extra money to halt the drawdown of soldiers, Marines and airmen and fully fund the military pay raise. But it would not include the additional F-35s, F/A-18s and extra littoral combat ship that were included in the House version of the annual defense policy bill. ..."
Report: Deal Reached on NDAA Funding
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Oct 29, 2016
Oct 13, 2016

now I read Petition to Reverse Navy's Ratings Decision Reaches 100K Goal

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and now White House to Petitioners: Navy Can Ditch Ratings System
Those hoping for a Hail-Mary reprieve to the Navy's decision to ditch its historic ratings system in favor of new job codes got a dose of disappointment this week.

In response to a petition asking for the decision to be reversed, an executive branch official wrote in a Tuesday post that the petition was here to stay and praised the Navy for a move that was set to improve sailors' job prospects as they transitioned to civilian life.

The petition was created Sept. 29 and
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, just inside the 30-day timeline. According to the rules for White House online petitions, this guaranteed a direct response from a White House official, though it does not mean that the request in the petition will be granted.

In the brief 243-word unsigned response, an official acknowledged the angst felt by many who stood to lose beloved job titles like corpsman or boatswain's mate in the overhaul.

"Organizational changes that require a cultural shift can cause friction during transition periods, but the President has confidence in the decisions made by U.S. Navy leaders and agrees that the benefits in future years will outweigh growing pains in the next several months," the official wrote.

"Whether one's Navy career occurred under the former rating structure or today's modernized system, the President maintains his steadfast pride in Sailors who have sacrificed and worked hard to serve with distinction," the official added.

The change would make the Navy's job classification system similar to that used by the other armed services and would create increased flexibility in assignments and training while more closely aligning Navy jobs with civilian equivalents, according to the statement.

These are the chief selling points promoted by Vice Adm. Robert Burke, chief of naval personnel, who has been promoting the radical plan, most recently with a trip to the Middle East that allowed him to conduct town hall-style meetings with some 9,000 sailors stationed in the region.

On Oct. 31, Burke told in a phone interview from the carrier Dwight D. Eisenhower in the Middle East that
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, but did not expect an order to change course.

"The White House, I'm confident they'll consult Navy leadership, including the secretary of the Navy, on how to respond to that petition, just like they do to the multiple petitions they get all the time," he said. "So I'm continuing down the path that was set out."

The author of the petition, however, has not given up hope.

Robert D. Weeks, a former Navy operations specialist who said he treasured his rating as part of his military identity, told Wednesday that he would like to re-file the petition sometime after the new year.

"It was the response I expected," he said. "The consensus in my Operations Specialist Facebook group is to wait until a new president and [Secretary of the Navy] are in office and bring it up again."

There are many unknowns, however.

The online petition process was created during the Obama administration and it remains to be seen if President-elect Donald Trump will continue the practice. And while Trump's nominee for Navy secretary is widely rumored to be outdoing congressman and House Armed Services Committee member Randy Forbes of Virginia, that nomination has yet to be made official. Forbes has not weighed in on the Navy's new job classification system.
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I didn't know about Decision Time: Half of US F-15s Need Overhauls — Or Retirement

In a backseat ride over New Hampshire, the Eagle shows why it’s still lethal, yet increasingly expensive.

WESTFIELD, Massachusetts — The F-15C Eagle weighs about 16 tons, but with nearly 47,000 pounds of thrust pushing it down the runway it feels more like 16 ounces.

In a just seconds, the plane passes 100 miles per hour, then twice that. It hops off the ground but the pilot, Maj. Jay “Fat” Talbert keeps it level, fifty feet up, and pours on more speed. “Here come the G’s,” Talbert warns his passenger in the back seat. Then he pulls back the stick.

Twin afterburners glow and a thunderous roar covers the peaceful New England landscape as the jet goes vertical. The altimeter spins like a stopwatch — and freezes at 6,000 as Talbert rolls the plane onto its left side and levels out. Then he turns right, heading toward the training area where he will show how this plane, built in 1985 to a 1970s design, can still best foreign-made jets in air-to-air combat.

The question now is whether Air Force leaders want to spend tens of billions of dollars to refurbish the C- and D-model F-15s and upgrade their electronics, or to put the money toward newer aircraft.

“This mission is not going away,” Col. Pete Green, vice commander of the Air National Guard’s 104th Fighter Wing, said in an interview here. “There is an ongoing need for air dominance fighters.”

Officially, the Air Force plans to keep the F-15C/D around for another quarter-century. (Its newer cousin, the ground-pounding F-15E Strike Eagle, is slated to serve even longer.) But in recent years, military leaders have retired more warplanes than planned to save maintenance money and buy newer jets. Several Air Force officials have said the service’s top generals are reviewing how the air-to-air-only F-15s fit into that mix.

Among the options: upgrade the fourth-generation F-15, accelerate the purchase of the fifth-generation F-35 Lightning II, or pour the money into the warplane of the future, called
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“We are planning to keep the jet around and viable until 2042 until told otherwise,” said John “Heed” McLaughlin, Air Combat Command’s F-15 program element manager at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia and a former Eagle pilot who oversees the upgrades and improvements to the plane.

The plan is to team the Eagle with the F-22 Raptor, marrying two generations of air superiority fighters.

“We see the F-15 going out for quite some time, working closely with the F-22. We believe that’s going to be the backbone of both the U.S. Air Force as well as the Air National Guard,” said Steve Parker, vice president of F-15 programs at Boeing, the company that built the jet and is now overseeing many of its upgrades. “That’s going to be the backbone of the air superiority capability right into the 2040s.”

New Equipment Would Make More Lethal, Survivable
Even though it’s been around since the 1970s, the F-15C/D is still considered one of the best aerial combat jets ever made. In the U.S. military, its dogfighting capabilities are bested only by the stealthy F-22.

The Eagles flown by the 104th Fighter Wing were built in the 1980s, making them older than some of the airmen who fly and fix them.

Inside the cockpit, the F-15C is a throwback to an analog age. Instead of large, colorful touchscreens — standard in newer planes like the F-22 and F-35 — the Eagle still has round-dial gauges that show speed, fuel, heading, and other flight data.

Yet it carries some high-tech gadgets and gizmos. Air National Guard pilots use Sniper targeting pods — more commonly found on ground-attack planes — to read tail numbers from miles away, useful when intercepting planes over the United States, said Travis “Beast” Hazeltine, who runs F-15 testing at the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Command Test Center in Jacksonville, Florida.

But keeping the Eagles flying has been a challenge. Many of the companies that built its unique parts don’t exist anymore. And despite being kept in top-notch shape, these machines are finicky.

Just two days before Talbert’s flight, the jet wouldn’t start after the temperature dropped overnight from 60 degrees to the 30s. And as he guided the plane north to New Hampshire’s restricted airspace, a safe space for the planes to fly high-performance maneuvers, the jet yawed slightly to the right, requiring Talbert to correct its course.

Keeping them aloft will only get more expensive. Three decades of high-performance maneuvers have taken their toll on the fleet. The F-15s need new longerons, steel beams that hold the structure of the plane together. Nine years ago, an Eagle
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when a longeron snapped. The pilot lived, but was injured when he ejected from the crumbling jet.

The Eagles also need new wings, a major upgrade planned to be done by the mid-2020s.

Then there is the new electronic equipment, including a new central computer, needed to keep the plane lethal against Russian and Chinese surface-to-air missiles and aircraft.

“Right now, the processing we have on the jet is equivalent to a
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,” McLaughlin said. “If you look at all the combat capability we’re still getting out of that thing, that’s pretty awesome.”

Boeing’s Parker said the new mission computer is 50 times more powerful.

Another important improvement is the Eagle Passive Active Warning System, a digital
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. “It’s going to be a really critical piece of kit, which is going to allow the F-15 … to operate in contested environments and dense environments,” Parker said.

But that new $6 billion system is still a decade away, meaning some type of gapfiller is needed, Hazeltine said.

Another upgrade, a long-wave infrared search-and-track system, would allow the jet to see enemy threats from long distances. The system allows pilots an alternate way to target enemy planes if the jet’s radar is being jammed.

“We need this out there now because … this will be a game-changer for us in the fourth-gen and give us some capability against fifth-gens as well,” McLaughlin said.

Some of the old, monochrome screens and analog gauges will be replaced by new color screens.

“With the new advancements on the [electronic warfare] side and the mission computer and the missile carriage, it’s going to be a foreseeable beast really for the next 20-plus years,” Parker said.

There are also classified improvements being eyed. “We’re constantly trying to stay ahead of our enemy with capabilities and stuff like that,” McLaughlin said.

The estimated bill: $12 billion over the next two decades, according to Air Combat Command, the arm of the Air Force that oversees all of its fighter jets.

And that doesn’t include other options, like
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that attach to the side of the plane’s fuselage.

“What we see in the future is: range is going to be huge for the Eagle,” Parker said. “It’s going to be able to loiter and with that weapons carriage, it’s going to be very, very effective in where we…the USAF and the Air National Guard see the future fight going.”

The tanks would extend the range of the plane, decrease aerial refueling, and allow it to carry more air-to-air missiles.

“If we’re not going to be stealthy, might as well be really not stealthy, but carry a lot of weapons and be able to hang out,” said Col. Tom “Sling” Bladen, the 104th Fighter Wing’s operations officer.

... goes on in the subsequent post due to size limit; source is DefenseOne
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continuation of the above post:
Jet Shortage
Of the
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purchased by the Air Force over the decades, just 212 one-seat C-models and 23 two-seat D-models remain in service. The two-seat versions are used for training. More than half of the jets are spread across five Air National Guard wings. The rest are based at active-duty fighter wings in Japan and England.

Here in Massachusetts, the wing’s 18 F-15s are sent on routine deployments or kept on alert, ready to be scrambled in minutes to intercept Russian bombers flying down the coast, a hijacked airliner, or a small Cessna not responding to an radio call. All five National Guard wings maintain jets on alert, armed with air-to-air missiles. These jets are on alert 24 hours per day, 365 days per year.

But a wing with so few jets can’t do much training for the F-15’s primary mission: four jets dogfighting against a bunch of enemy planes.

“It’s very difficult to do our bread-and-butter mission, which is flying a four-ship [of F-15s] against an outnumbered threat, because we can’t produce the lines organically to do that,” Bladen said. “We have come up with some creative solutions to reinvigorate the four-ship training plan where we’re using alert jets, with permission, to do practice scrambles.”

When there were more jets in the Air Force, it was easy to borrow planes or team up with neighboring units. But aging fleets and budgets have led service leaders to
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in recent years. Meanwhile, the F-16 Falcon wings that used to join the mock dogfights have for 15 years been focused on training to hit ground targets in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“We’d like to have more iron,” said Green, the 104th Fighter Wing’s vice commander. “That would help.”

Lt. Gen. Scott Rice, the director of the Air National Guard at the Pentagon and a one-time commander of the 104th, is looking to get his fighter wings more planes — perhaps the F-15s being replaced by F-35s in active duty squadrons.

“There probably is not a lot of appetite, in these days with a shortage of manpower and money, to build new units,” Rice said. “But there is an appetite to capitalize on expanding units.”

“If you had three or you had six or you had nine [extra jets], you wouldn’t increase manpower a lot and yet you’d increase the number of cockpits and flying platforms,” he said.

F-15 pilots are also looking to keep their skills sharp is through deployments. The 104th spent six months in Europe earlier this year as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve, the Pentagon’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The unit flew NATO air policing missions in Iceland and participated in multinational exercises in The Netherlands, Estonia and Bulgaria.

“It gives us an opportunity to exercise our primary mission, which is air dominance,” said Green, who expects more such deployments in coming years.

Keeping Busy
But it wasn’t easy getting the 104th to Europe. The wing partnered with the 144th Fighter Wing, an F-15 unit based in Fresno, California, to keep the required number of jets sitting alert stateside.

“We had to leave pilots and maintenance back here. We had to leave pieces and parts,” said Bladen, the 104th’s operations chief. “We had to make sure our pilots stayed current.”

The deployment provided a good reminder of the threat that has emerged in Eastern Europe following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“When you take off [in Estonia] you were either in or very close to being in a Russian [surface-to-air-missile] system out of Kaliningrad,” he said.

Pilots often spotted Russian warplanes on the other side of the border.

“You are totally relying on the fact that we are at peace,” Bladen said.

When the 104th arrived in Bulgaria, Russian fighter jets were waiting, prompting their hosts to scramble their Soviet-built Mig-29s.

“The day that we brought our F-15s in, they scrambled three times and were put on runway alert once,” Bladen said. “It was because the Russians were probing the border.”

In the end, there were no close encounters or incidents between U.S. and Russian aircraft.

“We were our own little ‘Sons of Anarchy’ roving motorcycle gang around Europe, in a good way,” Bladen said.

In Bulgaria, the fighter wing started the process of standing up an American alert station there.

“We put all the pieces in place at the tactical level,” Bladen said.

Rice envisions the Guard “being a significant part” of future European deployments.

Back in the sky over New Hampshire — as he twists and turns his plane in a simulated dogfight — Talbert and his wingmen hope that the Eagle will be flying missions on those deployments for decades to come.
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Oct 1, 2016
LOL only now I noticed "On September 28, the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives passed a 10-week continuing resolution (“CR”), which funds the federal government at fiscal year (“FY”) 2016 levels through December 9, 2016."
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(of course I don't mean to talk Politics, I noticed because of
Partial Funding Bill to Delay LCS, A-10, JLTV Programs
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sorta update (the part for me hahaha: "As a result, the Navy has about $5.1 billion, or about a third of its shipbuilding budget, sitting in the wrong line item. If the continuing resolution were to last for all of FY 2017, that money would be unusable to the Navy. If in the spring lawmakers pass an actual appropriations bill for the remainder of FY 2017, the Navy would get access to that money halfway through the fiscal year but would likely end up awarding shipbuilding contracts late, which can create extra costs as shipbuilders and their vendors deal with the uncertainty of the situation.") inside
Congress Set To Extend Continuing Resolution; Puts Ohio Replacement, Shipbuilding Contracts At Risk
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