By Larry Shaughnessy
Seventeen of the biggest Air Force cargo jets are forming an air bridge from Southern California to the New York City region to carry electric repair crews and their equipment to assist Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts.
The 69 vehicles on the flights belong to Southern California Edison. The trucks and the power crews were being flown Thursday to New York’s Stewart Air National Guard Base on five C-5 Galaxys and 12 C-17 Globemaster jets, according Air Force news release.
The first jet was scheduled to land at Stewart about 4 p.m.
The equipment will be used to help restore power to customers in New York state and New Jersey.
Those areas have already been getting help from power companies closer to New York, but using the cargo jets means the trucks can get to the heart of the storm-ravaged region in a matter of hours instead of days.
"There's been a lot of mutual aid to bring in more utility crews from surrounding areas as far south and west as California, those crews that can drive in that can get in relatively fast, have driven in," FEMA Director Craig Fugate said Thursday. "But we still have some equipment teams on the west coast that the concern was still 3-5 days transit time to get them to the east coast. There was also concern with their fire season, that if they couldn't get back to their fire season once that gets going, then they wouldn't be able to send the resources. So the President directed that we bring to bear DOD resources, aircraft."
By Mike Mount, CNN Senior National Security Producer
The Air Force wants to rebuild a “fence” around Earth to keep the riff-raff out.
Sounds like a Hollywood script to counter aliens or asteroids but it's a real program the military wants to update at an estimated cost of $3.5 billion.
Just don't expect any space cowboys digging post holes and wrangling barbed wire in orbit.
It's hard to believe that reality TV shows with stars like Honey Boo Boo and the Kardashian's can teach the U.S. Air Force something about monitoring tens of thousands of hours of video. But that's what's happening.
The Air Force is using software used by some reality TV show production companies and sports networks, like ESPN, to tag specific frames or clips of video fed in from U.S. military drones around the world. In dark, cavernous buildings, sure-eyed intelligence analysts are now able to go back and quickly pinpoint that material as soon as they need to see it again.
The software can be invaluable when time is of the essence and lives are on the line in a battlefield, according to Air Force officials.
CNN Pentagon Correspondent, Chris Lawrence visited an Air Force intelligence facility at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia, where airmen monitor some of the thousands of hours of drone video to get a sense of how all of this works.
By Mike Mount
A hypersonic aircraft launched by the Air Force Tuesday spiraled out of control and was destroyed before it could reach its goal of speeding to 4,600 mph, Pentagon officials said Wednesday.
The third test of the X-51A Waverider was launched Tuesday off the California coast from a B-52 modified bomber aircraft and was to fly for 300 seconds, reaching hypersonic speeds of Mach 6, but only flew for 16 seconds, according to the Air Force.
Officials said a problem with a tail fin caused the missile-like vehicle to fly out of control before the main engine could be ignited, leading researchers to destroy it early. FULL POST
By Mike Mount
Who needs business class when your overseas flight will last less than an hour? Some of the first tests of such a technology happened Tuesday off the California coast as the Air Force tested its hypersonic X-51A Waverider vehicle.
At just 25 feet long and only a few inches in diameter, the Waverider is a far cry from an aircraft that can carry people anywhere. But the technology one day could send people or troops across the world in just minutes.
Hypersonic travel, meaning speeds of Mach 5 (3,800 miles per hour) and above, has been a focus of the military as it looks to perfect a technology that can become the new stealth. The Pentagon says that countries are becoming wiser to US stealth technology and it is increasingly becoming a less effective tool.
Hypersonic flight does away with stealth because its speeds allow for greater flexibility and control for missions that are not possible with current jet technology.
By Larry Shaughnessy
The man in charge of the Air Force's main basic training facility has been relieved of command after a series of investigations of sexual misconduct by instructors at the base, according to a senior Air Force official.
Col. Glenn Palmer was commander of the 737th Training Group at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio.
The base has been rocked in recent months by accusations by Air Force recruits who accuse their instructors of sexual assault or other misconduct.
Six instructors under Palmer's command have been charged in connection with the accusations, and a seventh has pleaded guilty to a charge of having an improper relationship with a trainee.
At least 31 trainees have been victims of the misconduct.
By relieving Palmer of command, the Air Force has made it impossible for him to get any more promotions, which effectively ends his military career, the official said.
He will be replaced by Col. Eric Axelbank, who had been Palmer's superior at Lackland, according to an Air Force press release.
In the meantime Air Force Maj. Gen. Margaret Woodward continues to investigate the problems at Lackland, and will issue recommendations when her investigation is complete.
By Larry Shaughnessy
An imperfect valve, a filter meant to protect pilots from chemical and biological threats, and decades-old vest technology combined to cause problems that grounded the state-of-the-art F-22 fighter jet, according to Air Force Maj. Gen. Charles Lyon, director of operations for Air Combat Command.
"We determined with confidence the source of the unexplained physiological incident resides in the F-22 cockpit," Lyon said.
The Air Force has been investigating why a number of F-22 pilots have experienced a mysterious loss of oxygen while in the air, causing dizziness and confusion known as hypoxia, since spring 2011. Oxygen problems that have caused hypoxia-like symptoms in pilots and ground crew members have occurred for the past four years.
By Mike Mount
Flight restrictions for the plagued F-22 will start to be lifted after the Air Force said it had a plan to mitigate the oxygen issues that sparked questions about the jet fighter's safety.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta approved the plan to begin lifting the restrictions after the Air Force reported it has identified the issues causing reduced oxygen problems that pilots were experiencing in the cockpit, Pentagon spokesman George Little said Tuesday.
Little said a valve in a pressure vest worn by the pilots to combat the effects of G-forces will have to be replaced, while pilots will receive an increased volume of air flowing to their masks by removing a filter that was installed to determine whether there were any contaminants present in the oxygen system. FULL POST
WASHINGTON (CNN) - U.S. troops were among the casualties in the shooting rampage at the Colorado movie theater, the Pentagon spokesman said.
"Initial indications are some service members were casualties," Press Secretary George Little said Friday at the Pentagon.
He would not specify how many troops were involved or whether they dead or wounded.
A US official tells Barbara Starr that at this point the US military has two Navy personnel injured in the Colorado attack as well as two Air Force reservists.
Buckley AFB in Aurora, Colorado, is the closest military base to the scene of the shootings. Spokesman Master Sgt. Jill Lavoie said some of the wounded were from Buckley.
About 10,000 troops - including members of the Air Force, Army and Marine Corps - are stationed at Buckley. Soon after the shooting, the base initiated a head count, Lavoie said.
One of the units on base is the 743rd Military Intelligence Battalion.
A post Friday on its Facebook page said that the Traumatic Stress Response Team (Mental Health Support) and Emergency Family Assistance Control Center (EFACC) had been activated at the base chapel. "If you or family members need assistance or counseling following the aftermath of the Aurora Movie Theater shooting, you can meet with the teams standing by to help you," the posting says.
Military imposing 'nonjudicial punishments' on 9 in Cartagena scandal
Seven U.S. Army soldiers and two Marines have been notified they will receive what the military calls "nonjudicial punishment" for misconduct while in Cartagena, Colombia, in April as part of the security team for President Barack Obama's visit, according to a U.S. military official.
The official declined to be named because the information has not yet been made public.
Because the unnamed personnel are not being charged with criminal offenses, the military will not disclose details of the punishment. Nonjudicial punishment traditionally has ranged from confinement to quarters, to forfeiting pay or losing rank.
One member of the Air Force received a lesser letter of reprimand. The military is still investigating the role of two U.S. Navy personnel involved in the scandal.
The investigation of military personnel came after nine Secret Service agents, who were sent to Cartagena in advance of the president's April trip to Colombia, were dismissed for spending time with prostitutes there.
Although it has never been publicly confirmed, several officials have said at least some of the military personnel also were believed to have been involved in soliciting prostitutes.
The nine personnel were charged with violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, but the U.S. Southern Command, which handled the cases, decided the charges warranted a nonjudicial punishment rather than going to court-martial.