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August 21, 2014

Two Studies to Address Military Children’s Education

Army Times reports that “two studies that could affect the future of military children’s education are in their final stages, officials said.”

“A Rand Corp. study is looking at whether the Defense Department needs to continue operating schools on installations in the continental U.S. That study is expected to be ready for DoD leadership review in late summer, said Frank O’Gara, spokesman for the Department of Defense Education Activity. The schools being reviewed are collectively referred to as Department of Defense Elementary and Secondary Schools.”

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Navy Removes 34 for Nuclear Training Site Cheating

The Associated Press reports that “at least 34 sailors are being kicked out of the Navy for their roles in a cheating ring that operated undetected for at least seven years at a nuclear power training site, and 10 others are under criminal investigation, the admiral in charge of the Navy’s nuclear reactors program told The Associated Press.”

“The number of accused and the duration of cheating are greater than was known when the Navy announced in February that it had discovered cheating on qualification exams by an estimated 20 to 30 sailors seeking to be certified as instructors at the nuclear training unit at Charleston, South Carolina. Students there are trained in nuclear reactor operations to prepare for service on any of the Navy’s 83 nuclear-powered submarines and aircraft carriers.”

“Neither the instructors nor the students are involved in handling nuclear weapons.”

How National Guard Balances Equipment Demands

Defense News reports that “the US Air National Guard has always been defined by its ability to fulfill both military and civil missions. But with budget draw downs, the service faces increasingly tough choices about how to spend what remains of its modernization budget while serving two masters.”

“A March report by the Pentagon warned that ‘many support equipment items critical to daily operations are rapidly nearing the end of their expected lives and are becoming increasingly difficult to sustain economically.’ Air Guard assets are an average of 25 years old.”

‘The tough choice between modernizing its equipment and sustaining capability is one the active is struggling with as well. Top generals, such as Air Combat Command head Gen. Mike Hostage, have identified that as incredibly difficult in the current budget environment.”

“But unlike the active, the Guard has an additional challenge: balancing its twin civil-overseas missions.”

Boeing Commercial Crew Program Completes Critical Design and Safety Reviews

Boeing recently completed the Phase Two Spacecraft Safety Review of its Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 spacecraft and the Critical Design Review (CDR) of its integrated systems, meeting all of the company’s Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) milestones on time and on budget.


Photo credit: Boeing

Completed in July, the CDR milestone marks a significant step in reaching the ultimate design that will be used for the spacecraft, launch vehicle and related systems. Propulsion, software, avionics, landing, power and docking systems were among 44 individual CDRs conducted as part of the broader review.

The CST-100 is being developed as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, which aims to make crew transportation systems available for low-Earth orbit destinations such as the International Space Station by 2017. The capsule could accommodate up to seven crew members or a mix of crew and cargo and features a weld less structure, wireless internet and Boeing LED “Sky Lighting” technology.

The Phase Two Spacecraft Safety Review included an overall hazard analysis of the spacecraft, identifying life-threatening situations and ensuring that the current design mitigated any safety risks.

Watch this video on America’s first space taxi:

More information about the future of human space exploration can be found at

U.S. Military Considers More Troops to Iraq

CBS News reports that “American fighter jets and drones continued to pound Islamic State militants in Iraq Wednesday, and military planners weighed the possibility of sending a small number of additional U.S. troops to Baghdad, U.S. officials said, even as the insurgents threatened to kill a second American captive in retribution for any continued attacks.”

“CBS News correspondent Margaret Brennan reports that the State Department has requested additional security personnel to protect U.S. facilities in and around Baghdad. That request has to be reviewed by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and has not yet been approved. The Pentagon is seriously considering fulfilling the request.”

“According to a senior U.S. official, the number of additional troops currently under discussion would be fewer than 300, but there has been no final decision yet by Pentagon leaders.”

Pentagon Defends Program that Transfers Arms to Police

Stars and Stripes reports that “the Defense Department is pushing back against criticism that it’s helping militarize local police forces by supplying them with surplus gear.”

“’We don’t push equipment on anybody … It is made available to law enforcement agencies if they want it and if they qualify for it,’ Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said Tuesday. ‘There’s a lot of due diligence here. This isn’t some program run amok.’”

The DOD’s 1033 Program is a congressionally mandated initiative that enables law enforcement agencies to obtain equipment and weapons that the military no longer needs. State and local authorities have to apply for the items and explain to the Defense Logistics Agency whey they need them.”

Sequester Fears Return

Military Times reports that “for the past three years, US military officials have frequently voiced opposition to defense budget caps that went into effect in 2013.”

“But for the past eight months, US defense officials have spoken less about sequestration and more about immediate plans for this year and next. After all, Congress agreed on a budget plan for 2014 and 2015 that boosted Defense Department spending by more than $30 billion above the levels mandated under the Budget Control Act.”

“But now as crunch time begins inside the Pentagon as the services’ craft their 2016 budget plans, sequestration fears have returned. And at the annual Space and Missile Defense Symposium here last week, numerous officials used speeches to warn of the looming defense budget caps.”

Singing Torpedoes to Sleep

Nixie, a siren-like creature of European legends, is said to sing a sweet song that entrances listeners and lures them away. Boeing’s modern-day ‘Nixie,’ or the AN/SLQ-25, sings its sweet lullaby confusing the torpedo’s sensors as it mimics the acoustic signature of the surface ship it protects. As the torpedo is lured away from the ship and its crew, it falls into a peaceful slumber at the bottom of the sea as its fuel is depleted.

Boeing subsidiary Argon ST has been providing navies around the world with the Nixie surface ship torpedo defense system for more than a decade, delivering more than 400 systems to the US Navy and coalition partners worldwide. This summer, the company enters a new chapter in producing high-end acoustics and anti-submarine warfare capabilities by bringing production of the voice of the Nixie system, the singing towed counter measure, in-house for the first time.

With this move, Argon ST expands into a whole new line of work to support Nixie customers with additional towed body repair capabilities and modernization of existing devices. In addition to opening doors to new innovation of the Nixie system through enhancements to the towed acoustics counter measure, the company is better positioned to expand system capabilities to new sensor payloads beyond torpedo defense to meet future customer and mission requirements.

Find out more about Nixie system’s potentially life-saving noise in this video:

U.S. Military Quits Identifying Iraq Airstrike Planes

Navy Times reports that “the U.S. military, at the request of host nations in the region, is no longer identifying the specific land-based aircraft carrying out airstrikes in Iraq, a defense official told Military Times on Tuesday.”

“When airstrikes against the Islamic State began Aug. 8, a Pentagon spokesman identified the aircraft involved as carrier-based F/A-18s. But when land-based aircraft joined the mission, U.S. Central Command identified them only generically, as fighters, bombers or drones.”

“If CENTCOM specifies which land-based aircraft are taking part in the mission, it would be possible to deduce where they are based, and host nations have asked not to publicize the fact that airstrikes against Iraq are being launched from their countries, the defense official said.”


USAF Grounds 82 F-16Ds

Defense News reports that “the US Air Force has grounded over half of its F-16D Fighting Falcons, the service’s Air Combat Command (ACC) announced Tuesday.”

“The initial damage, described in a Pentagon release as ‘canopy sill longeron cracks found between the front and rear pilot seats,’ was discovered after a routine post-flight inspection on one of the jets. The discovery of cracks led to a fleet-wide inspection order.”

“Of the 157 F-16Ds in the fleet, 82 were found to have cracks and have been ordered to stand down. The remaining 75 have been cleared to resume normal activities.”

U.S. Military Drone Strike Victims Receive More than $1MM in Compensation

Stars and Stripes reports that “the Yemeni government paid the families of those killed or injured in a U.S. drone strike last year more than $1 million, according to documents that provide new details on secret condolence payments seen as evidence that civilians with no ties to al-Qaida were among the casualties.”

“The documents, which are signed by Yemeni court officials and victims’ relatives, record payouts designed to quell anger over a U.S. strike that hit vehicles in a wedding party and prompted a suspension of the U.S. military’s authority to carry out drone attacks on a dangerous al-Qaida affiliate.”

“The records reveal payments that are many times larger than Yemeni officials acknowledged after the strike. The $1 million-plus figure also exceeds the total amount distributed by the U.S. military for errant strikes in Afghanistan over an entire year.”

Soaring the skies for more than 500,000 flight hours

It’s time to celebrate – U.S. Navy T-45 Training Air Wing One stationed at Naval Air Station (NAS) Meridian, Miss. hit the 500,000 flight hour milestone this summer.

Keeping aircraft in the sky for 500,000 flight hours is quite the accomplishment for Training Air Wing One. Reaching this milestone requires a continuous partnership between the U.S. Navy and Boeing to ensure fleet readiness.

This relationship stretches back to 1997, when the first T-45C was delivered to NAS Meridian. The T-45C has been flown by Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and allied pilots during their advanced training at NAS Meridian since then and will continue to be flown into the foreseeable future.

The 500,000th-flight-hour award was presented by Boeing at a winging ceremony to U.S. Navy Capt. Brian Goszkowicz and the student and instructor pilots who were aboard multiple airborne T-45C aircraft when the milestone was reached at NAS Meridian.

The journey continues for these pilots, students and operators as they strive to reach the next 500,000th flight hour milestone with the support of all involved.

t45 goshawk

Photo credit: Boeing

First Time: Navy Flies Manned, Unmanned Carriers Together

Navy Times reports that “it was one small button push for man and one giant catapult launch for the Navy’s unmanned air combat program Sunday as the X-47B flew its first takeoffs and landings with F/A-18s on the aircraft carrier Roosevelt.”

“Off the Virginia coast, two Hornets and one X-47B practiced launches and traps in the same pattern, testing the unmanned jet’s ability to take off and land safely, then move out of the way to allow a manned aircraft to come in right behind it.”

“It was a first for the Navy’s Unmanned Combat Air System Aircraft Carrier Demonstration program, said Rear Adm. Mat Winter, program executive officer for Unmanned Aviation and Strike Weapons at Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, Maryland.”

Range of Weapons Provided to Ohio by U.S. Military reports that “the U.S. military has given mine-resistant vehicles, assault rifles, a grenade launcher, and thousands of other pieces of free surplus military equipment to law enforcement agencies around Ohio in recent years, state records show.”

“Under the Department of Defense’s 1033 program, state troopers, sheriff’s departments, city police departments and even university police in Ohio have received nearly 4,900 assault rifles since 2006, according to state Department of Public Safety records obtained Monday by Northeast Ohio Media Group.”

“Ohio law enforcement agencies also successfully asked the Pentagon for a total of 743 rifles, 683 pistols, and 36 mine-resistant vehicles during the past eight years, according to DPS statistics. In 2008, the Delaware Police Department received an M79 grenade launcher to fire tear gas canisters.”

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