Roll Call: The News Source of Capitol Hill Since 1955
October 1, 2014

USAF Leads on ISIS Airstrikes

Air Force Times reports that “the Air Force has flown a large majority of all airstrikes in Iraq and Syria, with the mission expected to change as Islamic State fighters adjust to the aerial bombardment.”

“Seventy-four percent of the more than 240 strikes in Iraq and Syria have been flown by Air Force aircraft, including 50 percent of all strikes in Syria. The U.S. Air Force has flown 95 percent of almost 1,300 tanker sorties, and more than 700 intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance flights. All told, the service has accounted for 70 percent of about 3,800 sorties in the fight against the Islamic State.”

“These flights have changed how the Islamic State is operating in Iraq and Syria, said Maj. Gen. Jeff Harrigian, the Air Force assistant chief of staff of operations, plans and requirements.”

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Jay Leno Talks USO Tours

Army Times reports: “It would be tough to script a better opening line for a story from Jay Leno:”

“’I had a funny thing happen to me the other day at my garage,’ the former ‘Tonight Show’ host told Army Times via telephone Monday afternoon, shortly before departing for a USO tour — his first since leaving the late-night game in February. “’The first [USO tour] I did was back in 1991. And the other day a soldier comes into my garage, fatigues on and everything, introduces himself and says, ‘I want to show you a picture.’”

“’I look at the picture and I go, ‘Oh, man, my hair is almost black in this picture, and you look almost exactly the same!’ And he looks at me and he says, ‘That’s my dad.’ ”

“The comedian whose career stretches through at least a generation of soldiers — and multiple Middle East combat operations — will headline the comedy tour, one that’s co-sponsored by the USO and NBC’s ‘Today’ show, as part of the program’s ‘Shine a Light’ initiative.”

U.S. Military to Escalate Ebola Mission in Liberia

Reuters reports that “the United States plans to quickly increase its presence in Liberia, where military personnel are deploying to help the West African nation halt the advance of the worst Ebola epidemic on record, the general in charge of the mission said on Monday.”

“Washington is sending some 3,000 soldiers to the region to build treatment centers and train local medics. Around half will be based in Liberia, with the rest providing logistical support outside the country.”

“‘This is about urgency and speed. So what you’re going to see here pretty soon is forces flown here,’ Major General Darryl Williams told journalists in the capital, Monrovia.”

A cell tower and more in space

Rendering of the Boeing-built TDRS satellite in orbit

Rendering of the Boeing-built TDRS satellite in orbit

NASA’s newest satellite, the TDRS-L, joins a network used for vital missions like communication with the International Space Station, the study of Earth’s changing climate, and peering into deep space with the Hubble Telescope. It’s like a cell tower in space providing long distance connections, pictures, data and video from 22,000 miles above the equator.

The TDRS-L is the 12th Tracking and Data Relay Satellite to be launched forming a network that relays signals to and from Earth, the International Space Station and other spacecraft. This is made possible by placing the TDRS satellites in a geosynchronous orbit, where it’s always in contact with one of the ground stations on Earth.

The satellite includes a patented spring-back antenna design first used on TDRS-H. The 15-foot diameter antennae are designed with flexible membrane reflectors that fold up for launch, then spring back into their original cupped circular shape on orbit. The steerable antennas can simultaneously transmit and receive data supporting dual independent two-way communication.

TDRS L (left) and TDRS K (right) In the satellite factory Boeing photo

TDRS L (left) and TDRS K (right) In the satellite factory
Boeing photo

The TDRS-L satellite had been undergoing on-orbit tests since its launch in January from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Boeing recently gave the ‘handshake’ to officially transfer TDRS-L to NASA to join its network.

Another TDRS satellite is currently in production at the Boeing Satellite Development Center in El Segundo, Calif. continuing a more than four decades-long tradition providing space communications.

China’s Neatly-Packaged Military Exports

Bloomberg Businessweek reports that “at the Africa Aerospace and Defence expo in September, weapons buyers from across the continent descended on Air Force Base Waterkloof in the South African capital of Pretoria for a bit of shopping. There they were wooed by Chinese defense gear giant Norinco, which has honed its pitch to an art.”

“Namibia Deputy Defense Minister Petrus Iilonga, wearing Prada sunglasses and a Lenin pin, studied models of battle tanks before representatives from Norinco, a state-controlled conglomerate also known as China North Industries Group, ushered him into a room marked VIP for some personal salesmanship. Nearby, the Tanzanian military chief, General Davis Mwamunyange, furrowed his brow while a company official in a charcoal suit and orange tie described a truck with a radar device mounted on the back. ‘Just about a month ago, we did a live test on this one,’ the Chinese official confided.”

“Norinco has even devised a novel way to make buying weapons easier: It bundles together starter kits of basic defense gear—everything from rifles to howitzers, laser-guided bombs, armored personnel carriers, tanks, and drones—for governments that want to quickly outfit their armed forces. Chinese state media has dubbed the package a ‘military set meal.’”

Inside Look at the Zumwalt: Navy’s Stealth Destroyer

Defense News reports that “the ship is plainly visible from Front Street, across the Route 1 bridge in downtown Bath. Nothing like this angular, almost hulking giant has ever been seen here, even after well over a century of shipbuilding at Bath Iron Works.”

“The futuristic shape of the Zumwalt, DDG 1000, has become familiar after more than a decade of graphics presentations and artist drawings, and models of the destroyer have been a staple at naval expositions for years. But now the whole ship is coming together, all construction blocks assembled and set afloat. People walk her decks and she rises and falls with the tide as all that planning turns into a real thing. She’ll take to the sea for the first time in the spring.”

“The epitome of naval stealth design, Zumwalt’s sleek shapes belie a ship filled with new features. Walking aboard, one of the first impressions is one of size — she is by far the largest ship ever called a ‘destroyer.’ So, one would think, she must be roomy inside.”

U.S., Philippines Hold Joint Military Exercises

The New York Times reports that “joint military exercises between the United States Navy and its Philippine counterpart kicked off on Monday in Palawan, the island closest to contested areas of the South China Sea.”

“The war games, involving thousands of sailors and marines, will go on for 11 days at the former United States naval base at Subic Bay, which is now a commercial port, as well as in other areas in the northern and western part of the country.”

“Such exercises between the United States and its former colony have been taking place since 1954 but are now being conducted amid a tense dispute over islets and rocky outcroppings in the South China Sea claimed by both the Philippines and China.”

The EA-18G Growler: One-of-a-Kind Aircraft with One-of-a-Kind Talent

The EA-18G Growler is the most advanced Airborne Electronic Attack (AEA) platform in production today. Derived from the combat proven F/A-18F Super Hornet, the Growler is the first one to the fight. Its advanced suite of sensing and jamming equipment detects and disables enemy communications so fighters and bombers can safely execute their missions.

The U.S. Navy provides electronic attack protection to all U.S. military forces and global allies and requested 22 Growlers on its Fiscal Year 2015 unfunded priorities list. The House and Senate Appropriations Committees added 12 aircraft to the FY15 budget as the Navy continues to examine their emerging requirement for additional electronic attack capability in future years.

And while the Growler is critically important to our warfighters, it’s also important to more than 800 suppliers in 44 states. Oklahoma-based company Frontier Electronics Systems is just one of those industry partners who pulls on and cultivates some of the best engineering and technology talent for a very specialized aircraft.

This video shows how important the Super Hornet and Growler line is to Frontier Electronic Systems and the nation.

Military Drone Operators Face Emotional Stress

The Associated Press reports that “President Barack Obama has assured Americans he opposes sending U.S. ground troops to crush Islamic extremists in Iraq and Syria — well aware the country is not ready to return to the battlefield with its war wounded still recovering from a decade of conflict.”

“But airmen have been sent back into combat in the region with the focus on airstrikes, divided between fighter pilots and drone operators.”

“While drone operators are not physically in harm’s way — they do their work at computer terminals in darkened rooms far from the actual battlefield — growing research is finding they too can suffer some of the emotional strains of war that ground forces face.”

“‘It can be as impactful for these guys as someone in a foxhole,’ said Air Force spokesman Tom Kimball.”

Boehner Would Back Ground War to Destroy ISIS, Willing to Bring Congress Back for AUMF

Speaker John A. Boehner would back a ground war to destroy ISIS, and would bring Congress back to Washington to vote if President Barack Obama proposed a new Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF), Roll Call reports.

Boehner, R-Ohio, who last week said an authorization vote should not be held in the lame duck session, said in an interview with ABC’s “This Week” that he would back a vote if the president proposed a new AUMF now.

“I’d bring the Congress back,” Boehner said. He said earlier that he thinks Obama has the authority to act on his own against ISIS — also known as ISIL or the Islamic State — “but the point I’m making is this is a proposal that the Congress ought to consider.”

Boehner denied suggesting to the president that if it came up now it would splinter both parties and might not pass.

Costs to Bomb ISIS Less Than Afghanistan Costs

Stars and Stripes reports that “the U.S. military is spending as much as $10 million per day on its new air war against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, a relative pittance compared with the hundreds of millions it spent fighting every day in Afghanistan in 2013.”

“The costs in Iraq and Syria will escalate substantially if, as President Obama and Pentagon officials have said, the new war lasts for years, according to military analysts. Flying and maintaining warplanes requires a substantial investment in weaponry and personnel.”

“‘If airstrikes in Syria and Iraq continue for as long as the president predicts, they will eventually cost tens of billions of dollars,’ predicts Loren Thompson, a defense industry consultant and the military analyst at the Lexington Institute. ‘The price of munitions is just one part of the bill. Thousands of personnel are engaged in sustaining aircraft, flying drones and operating warships in the region.'”

Defense Industry Needs a New Way of Thinking

Adopting a new mindset, a new business model, and a new way of thinking are steps that the defense industry can take to support customers facing the daunting task of staying one step ahead of increasingly complex threats amid shrinking budget resources.

That’s the view Boeing Defense, Space & Security President and CEO Chris Chadwick shared with the recent Air Force Association Air and Space Conference & Technology Exposition, during which Air Force leadership, industry experts, and academia came together to discuss the issues and challenges facing the aerospace community.

The changes, said Chadwick, start with a new mindset within the industry to evolve at a faster pace than ever before, finding new ways to create value. Next, industry needs a new model, both inside the organization and when partnering with government, to seamlessly upgrade systems rather than re-engineer new solutions.

Finally, industry needs a new way to think about innovation, finding inspiration in unconventional ways. Chadwick explained how Boeing subsidiary Insitu evolved unmanned vehicle technology originally developed to help fisherman track tuna into capabilities of the Scan Eagle – an unmanned aircraft that has flown more than 800,000 combat hours. Chadwick said that finding the Scan Eagles of the world is the mindset he’s encouraging in Boeing’s defense business.

To hear more about Chadwick’s thoughts on the future of the defense industry, watch this interview with Defense News:

Geospatial Technology Helps Army Analyze Soldiers’ Ops Environment

Executive Gov reports that “the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center has built a geospatial technology intended to help military commanders visualize and examine unfamiliar route for soldiers.”

“The Situational Awareness Geospatially Enabled platform is designed to provide military leaders a full picture of the operating environment in order to make strategic decisions on the battlefield, Army said Sept. 17.”

“SAGE works to analyze terrain, elevation, road and map data at multiple resolutions worldwide and produce an obstacle overlay for 12 military vehicle types, according to the Army.”

DoD Needs ‘Different Kind of Cloud’

Breaking Defense reports that “Apple, Amazon, and Google long since outstripped the Pentagon in information technology. But as the military and intelligence community try to take advantage of commercial IT innovation, especially in cloud computing, they have run into harsh limits. Security, long-range bandwidth and the sheer volume of data have created problems for the Pentagon that current commercially available cloud services can’t solve, two senior defense officials told me recently.”

“The Defense Department will need a different kind of cloud, said Dave Mihelcic, chief technology officer at the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), and Dan Doney, chief innovation officer at the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). In fact, it’ll need several different kinds of cloud, customized for different missions.”

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