By Barbara Starr
Two U.S. Air Force B-52 aircraft on Monday flew into China's newly claimed air defense zone over the East China Sea without identifying themselves as China would have wanted, a U.S. official confirmed Tuesday.
This follows China's move last week to announce a new air zone over islands that both China and Japan claim.
The flights of the B-52s would not be a departure from the United States' previously stated intentions. Since China declared the new air zone last week, the United States said it would continue with its own air operations in the region and not recognize China's new restrictions, which require aircraft entering the zone to identify themselves and file flight plans.
The B-52s, which flew from Guam and returned there without incident, were not armed because it was a training mission. The mission lasted for several hours, but the aircraft were in the newly declared Chinese air zone for about an hour, according to the U.S. official.FULL STORY
By CNN's Alison Harding
The former head of an Air Force sexual assault prevention program was acquitted Wednesday of an assault charge stemming from an incident in Arlington, Virginia, last spring, his lawyer confirmed to CNN.
Lt. Col. Jeffrey Krusinski, 42, was arrested in May and accused of grabbing a woman's buttocks and breasts in a parking lot in Arlington County, not far from the Pentagon. A police report said the unidentified woman fought off her assailant, who appeared intoxicated.
Krusinski was initially charged with sexual battery, but prosecutors later changed that charge to assault and battery, according to CNN affiliate WJLA.FULL STORY
By Barbara Starr
In another public embarrassment for the Air Force's nuclear missile program, two crew members were disciplined earlier this year for leaving silo blast doors open while they were on duty in an underground facility housing nuclear missiles.
The incidents, first reported by the Associated Press, were confirmed Wednesday by the Air Force.
Under Air Force regulations, a two-man missile launch crew is required to keep the underground blast door shut when one crew member is asleep during the 24-hour shift.
In April a crew member was found "derelict in his duties in that he left the blast door open in order to receive a food delivery from the onsite chef" while the other crew member was on an authorized sleep break, Air Force spokesman Lt. Col. John Sheets said in a statement.
The crew member who was found "derelict" received a punishment of forfeiting $2,246 in pay for each of two months. The other crew member admitted to similar misconduct "on a few occasions" and received a letter of admonishment. The April incident occurred at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota.
In May, at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana, a maintenance team was allowed into an underground launch control center while one crew member was sleeping, in violation of rules. In this case, the commander of the crew, when questioned about the incident, told the deputy to lie about being asleep, which she initially did, according to officials.
The incident was investigated, and both crew members were disciplined. The commander is forfeiting $3,045 in pay for each of two months and facing a discharge board.
Air Force officials insist security was not compromised in these incidents because there are multiple layers of security above ground that would keep unauthorized personnel from gaining access to a launch control center. The centers are generally 40 feet to 100 feet underground, and the two-man crew controls as many as 10 missile silos.
There also are multiple layers of security surrounding nuclear launch codes.
But the disclosures come on the heels of the firing of the two-star general in charge of the Air Force's three nuclear wings. Earlier this month, Maj. Gen. Michael Carey was "relieved" of command "due to a loss of trust and confidence in his leadership and judgment," the Air Force said at the time. Carey's removal had to do with reports of alleged misbehavior on a business trip.
In August, one of the Air Force's nuclear wings failed a safety and security inspection and a separate wing did poorly in an inspection earlier in the year, which resulted in 17 military personnel being decertified from their jobs. They have since undergone retraining and are back at work.
By Barbara Starr
The e-mail showed up in my inbox from an Air Force tech sergeant asking I not use his name because he doesn’t have the military’s permission for what he’s done.
What he’s done is say to the politicians of all stripes: “I don’t want it.”
The Pentagon is spending billions on unmanned aerial vehicles or “drones” so it’s understandable if military pilots feel like an endangered species.
And now there’s a new reason for pilots to worry.
Instead of designing UAVs from the ground up, Boeing is taking old mothballed jets and tweaking them so they can fly without a pilot.
An American B-1B bomber crashed in Montana on Monday during a routine training mission, the Air Force said in a statement.
The crew of four ejected and injuries were reported although further details were not available.
The cause of the accident involving the unit from the 28th Bomb Wing near the town of Broadus was under investigation.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - An Air Force nuclear missile unit failed a safety and security inspection this week, the second wing of its kind to stumble on tests this year.
The latest involves the 341st Missile Wing at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana, which operates about a third of the 450 Minuteman III nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles, according to an Air Force statement.
The wing received an "unsatisfactory rating" after making "tactical level errors" during one of several exercises conducted as part of the inspection.
A review is underway to determine accountability.
The errors were not related to the operation of nuclear missiles, one Air Force official said. The precise issue was not disclosed.
The wing, which includes about 3,000 personnel, was not "decertified" to conduct nuclear operations, which would have indicated a more significant failure.
Earlier this year, another wing, based at Minot North Dakota did poorly in an inspection, resulting in the removal of 17 military personnel from their jobs.
The third wing is located at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming.
By Jamie Crawford
Editor's note: This is one in a series of stories and opinion pieces surrounding the Aspen Security Forum currently taking place in Aspen, Colorado. Security Clearance is a media sponsor of the event, which is taking place from July 17 to 20 in Aspen, Colorado.
Forced spending cuts known as the sequester, and the furloughs to the workforce that have come with it, are compromising the Air Force's readiness for unknown contingencies and its ability to modernize, the top officer said Wednesday.
"We are trading modernization against readiness. It's the only place we have to go for funding because of this arbitrary mechanism that is sequestration, and it’s causing a real problem on the readiness side of the house and putting our ability to modernize over time at risk," Gen. Mark Welsh, chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force, said.
Welsh spoke at the opening session of the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado during a discussion moderated by CNN Chief National Correspondent John King.
By Jennifer Liberto
About 300 fighter jets, including the Air Force's Thunderbirds, will begin flying again.
Since April, about a third of the Air Force's combat flying fleet has been grounded due to federal spending cuts. The Air Force won a temporary reprieve from the cuts, which will allow the jets to begin flying again.
Congress gave the Air Force and other agencies the power to re-allocate money within their budgets. The Air Force on Monday decided to reinstate $208 million to restore the flights.
The move also affects the grounded Thunderbirds. They resume training with hopes of performing aerial shows next year. There will be no Thunderbird shows this year.
By Barbara Starr
The Obama administration tentatively plans to deliver four F-16 aircraft to Egypt, but is reviewing all U.S. military aid arrangements, according to a Pentagon official.
The planes were scheduled to be shipped by the end of August, but the delivery could be made more complicated if there is no Egyptian military plan to transition to civilian rule and the United States were compelled to formally declare a military coup had taken place, the official said.
If that declaration were made, it most likely would result in aid being halted. The official declined to be identified because of the sensitive nature of the information.
Until Thursday, all indications had been that the deliveries would go through as part of a $1.3 billion 2010 military aid package that called for 20 F-16s and Abrams tank parts to be sent to Egypt. A second Pentagon official had previously said the deliveries "were on track."