May 8th, 2013
03:53 PM ET

17 stripped of authority to launch nuclear missiles

In an unprecedented action, an Air Force commander has stripped 17 of his officers of their authority to control and launch nuclear missiles.

The 17 are being sent to undergo 60 to 90 days of intensive refresher training on how to do their jobs. The action comes after their unit performed poorly on an inspection and one officer was investigated for potential compromise of nuclear launch codes, according to Lt. Col. John Dorrian, an Air Force spokesman.

The story was first reported by The Associated Press.

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Filed under: Military • U.S. Air Force
March 28th, 2013
04:30 PM ET

Air Force general nominated to lead NATO

President Barack Obama has nominated Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove to be the next commander of NATO and commander of the U.S. armed forces in Europe, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced Thursday.

Breedlove has been the commander of the U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Africa. He has been in the Air Force since graduating from Georgia Tech in 1977.

The current NATO commander, U.S. Adm. James Stavridis, is scheduled to retire this summer.

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Filed under: Europe • Military • NATO • U.S. Air Force
U.S. Air Force has flown 7 Mali cargo missions
U.S. military personnel stow a French armored vehicle aboard a C-17 aircraft at the Istres military airport in France on Thursday prior to take off for Mali.
January 24th, 2013
12:59 PM ET

U.S. Air Force has flown 7 Mali cargo missions

The U.S. Air Force has now flown seven C-17 missions into Mali, carrying 200 passengers, mainly French troops, and 168 tons of equipment, Pentagon spokesman Maj. Robert Firman said Thursday.

Meanwhile, discussions over the U.S. providing refueling services for French aircraft continue, a defense official tells CNN, saying such missions are likely to be approved in the coming days.

French forces are aiding the Malian military in fighting an Islamist insurgency in Mali.

Broken limbs, torn lives in Mali

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Filed under: France • Mali • U.S. Air Force
Photos: Mali military battles Islamist insurgents
January 23rd, 2013
07:22 AM ET

U.S. Air Force makes five flights into Mali

As of Wednesday morning, U.S. Air Force C-17 cargo jets have made five flights to Mali, delivering about 80 French troops and more than 124 tons of supplies to help in the fight against Islamist insurgents in the country, a Pentagon spokesman said.

The U.S. airlift began Monday and was expected to continue for several days, U.S. Africa Command spokesman Chuck Prichard told CNN.

"We continue to consult with the French on further steps that we may take as U.S. government to support their efforts in Mali," Pentagon press secretary George Little said Wednesday, according to a report from American Forces Press Service.

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Filed under: Mali • Military • U.S. Air Force
October 25th, 2012
12:17 PM ET

Suspects at large after shooting at Air Force base annex

A group of people got into a fight with a U.S. airman Thursday inside a gated housing area of an Air Force base in New Mexico.  One of them grabbed his gun and shot him, police say.

Now authorities in Albuquerque are searching for the suspects.

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Chinook crash, Hiroshima bombing among memorable events on August 6
August 6 is the birthday of Andy Warhol, who had a penchant for painting Marilyn Monroe. She died August 5, 1962.
August 6th, 2012
12:12 PM ET

Chinook crash, Hiroshima bombing among memorable events on August 6

August 6 is a day of anniversaries. Unfortunately, some of them are dubious milestones.

Topping the list is the first anniversary of the Chinook helicopter crash in Afghanistan that killed 30 U.S. service members, 22 of them Navy SEALs. Included were some members of Team 6, the unit credited with the raid that killed terror mastermind Osama bin Laden.

CNN.com's Ashley Fantz was able to find a heartwarming angle to this tragic anniversary, revisiting an iReport posted by Braydon Nichols, the son of Army Chief Warrant Officer Bryan Nichols, who piloted the Chinook. The boy, now 11, asked that no one forget his father, and judging from the reaction to young Braydon's iReport post, no one has.

His brother, Monte, adds that Braydon is doing well in school and coping with the loss of his father as well as can be expected.

Monday also marks the anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima during World War II.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Japan • Military • Nuclear • Showbiz • Sports • U.S. • U.S. Air Force • World
Air Force officer’s database shows U.S. bombs since WWI
THOR data plotted on Google Earth show British (red) and U.S. (blue) bombings in Germany from 1941 to 1945.
July 31st, 2012
06:30 PM ET

Air Force officer’s database shows U.S. bombs since WWI

A U.S. Air Force officer hopes to soon release a database of bombs dropped from American military aircraft since World War I a tool he says can be used to shed new light on old conflicts and perhaps even help locate unexploded ordnance.

Lt. Col. Jenns Robertson says he began working on THOR, or Theater History of Operations Reports, in his spare time in 2006. It combines information from numerous sources thousands of paper reports, punch cards and magnetic tape records for older conflicts, and digital databases for others across nearly 100 years.

The database, already being used by the Defense Department and other government agencies, for the first time allows users to search and find on a map nine decades of U.S. bombings. THOR was first reported on this week by The Boston Globe.

Robertson started the database when he was part of a briefing team for the Air Force’s chief of staff at the Pentagon.

“What drove the development of THOR was ... the data may have been out there, but it was a pain in the rear end to find it and make it useful,” Robertson said by phone Tuesday.

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Filed under: Marines • Military • U.S. Air Force • U.S. Army • U.S. Navy • War
June 25th, 2012
02:37 AM ET

North Korea slams use of its flag in U.S.-South Korean military drills

North Korea has reacted angrily to the use of its flag during live-fire drills by South Korea and the United States, calling it "a grave provocative act."

The comments from Pyongyang on Sunday came after the allies held military drills last week less than 50 kilometers (30 miles) away from the North Korean border, involving more than 2,000 military personnel.

An unidentified North Korean foreign ministry spokesman accused South Korea and the United States of firing "live bullets and shells" at the flag, according to a report by the state-run Korean Central News Agency.

The act was "the most vivid expression of their hostile policy," the spokesman said.

The North Korean flag was put on an elevated hill but was not directly used as a target during the exercises, an official for the South Korean Defense Ministry said, declining to be identified.

"It was used only as a symbol of North Korean territory and the drill was a defensive one," he added.

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Filed under: Military • North Korea • South Korea • U.S. Air Force • U.S. Army • U.S. Navy
Mystery of F-22 illnesses grows
Mystery still surrounds illnesses in people who fly or work on F-22 stealth fighter jets.
May 9th, 2012
06:09 PM ET

Mystery of F-22 illnesses grows

Even as the Air Force searches for the reason pilots are getting sick flying the F-22, a new mystery about the troubled stealth fighter jet has come to light: Why are mechanics on the ground getting sick in the plane as well?

The Air Force has been looking into a number of reports that pilots experienced "hypoxia-like symptoms" aboard F-22s since April 2008. Hypoxia is oxygen deficiency.

The Air Force reports 25 cases of such symptoms, including 11 since September, when the service cleared the F-22 fleet to return to flight after a four-month grounding.

"Early on in the return to fly, we had five maintainers that reported hypoxia symptoms," Gen. Daniel Wyman, command surgeon for the Air Combat Command, said during a conference call with reporters Wednesday.

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Lt. general: No retaliation against F-22 whistle-blowers
May 8th, 2012
11:05 PM ET

Lt. general: No retaliation against F-22 whistle-blowers

The Air Force won't take disciplinary action against pilots who’ve raised concerns about or refused to fly F-22 Raptors because of reports of cockpit oxygen deprivation, an Air Force official told a Senate panel Tuesday, saying they’re covered by a federal whistle-blower act.

The whistle-blower protection extends to two Virginia Air National Guard pilots who recently talked to CBS’s “60 Minutes” about their refusal to fly the stealth jets, Lt. Gen. Janet Wolfenbarger told the Senate Armed Services subcommittee.

“My understanding is that … the chief and the secretary in the Air Force have issued direction that these individuals are protected and that no negative action be taken,” Wolfenbarger told U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, R-Massachusetts.

The Air Force has been looking into a number of reports that pilots experienced “hypoxia-like symptoms” aboard F-22s since April 2008. Hypoxia is oxygen deficiency.

Wolfenbarger told the subcommittee that 25 reports of hypoxia-like symptoms have been made, including 11 since September, when the service cleared the F-22 fleet to return to service after a four-month grounding for investigation.

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Some pilots won't fly F-22s until cause of oxygen deprivation in cockpit solved
May 1st, 2012
11:30 AM ET

Some pilots won't fly F-22s until cause of oxygen deprivation in cockpit solved

A few pilots have told the Air Force they won't fly their expensive F-22 Raptor stealth jets because no cause has been found for oxygen deprivation incidents in the cockpit, the head of Air Combat Command for the U.S. Air Force told reporters.

The Air Force has been looking for the cause of about a dozen unexplained incidents related to hypoxia, or oxygen deficiency, with pilots, but so far has been unable to pinpoint it, Gen. Mike Hostage with Air Combat Command said in a media briefing.

Hostage noted it was a very small group of pilots who opposed flying the Raptors. Pilots began experiencing problems starting four years ago.

“For some reason, the on-board oxygen generating system and the environmental control system that feeds it may be inputting some contaminant,” Gen. Gregory Martin, a retired Air Force veteran, told CNN affiliate WAVY in Virginia.

Hostage said if a contaminant is not the problem, there may be something else hindering pilots from getting enough oxygen.

Hostage spoke at length with reporters about the issue, which has plagued the fleet since problems with the F-22’s oxygen supply system were first reported in 2008.  The jets have previously been grounded to examine the issue , but one year ago the Raptors were again cleared and allowed to fly. In January 2011,  the jets were limited to altitudes under 25,000 feet during an ongoing investigation into a November 2010 crash. Flying above that altitude could cause a pilot to black out from lack of oxygen and lose control.

"We are diligently pursuing a variety of hypotheses to try and understand and characterize the exact circumstances we've been experiencing," he said.

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Filed under: Military • U.S. Air Force
December 16th, 2011
12:07 PM ET

N.C. soldier reportedly last to die in Iraq war

David Hickman was a star football player in McLeansville, North Carolina. He was a quiet man with a larger-than-life presence. He also holds the distinction of being the last soldier to die before the official announcement of the end of the Iraq war. That fact has made him a part of history, CNN affiliate WGHP reports.

Hickman, an Army specialist, was remembered Thursday by friends as the U.S. marked the official end of the war.

President Obama commemorated the milestone with an appearance at Fort Bragg, where Hickman was stationed before being deployed in September.

Obama, Panetta honor Iraq war troops

"As your commander in chief, and on behalf of a grateful nation, I'm proud to finally say these two words, and I know your families agree - welcome home. Welcome home,” he told cheering troops.

The coincidence did not go unnoticed by Hickman’s friends, who spoke to WGHP.

"That is so like David. He wasn't going to go out quietly. He's going to go down with a place in history," said his friend Logan Trainum. "He wasn't the loudest one in the room, but he was the most noticed one in the room. He just had that presence about him."

Home and Away: Share your tributes to fallen troops

Even in death, Hickman was making his presence known, his friends said.

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Filed under: Barack Obama • Iraq • Military • U.S. Air Force • U.S. Army • War
Air Force's F-22 back in service after 4-month grounding
September 21st, 2011
06:47 PM ET

Air Force's F-22 back in service after 4-month grounding

The U.S. Air Force on Wednesday cleared its F-22 Raptor fleet to return to service following a four-month grounding over concerns that the jets' pilots weren't getting proper oxygen.

Bases are cleared to start flying the fighter jets under a "return to flight" plan - with new rules including daily inspections of the life-support systems - that the Air Force announced earlier in the week, said Staff Sgt. Heidi Davis, spokeswoman for the Air Force's Air Combat Command.

The command grounded the jets on May 3 during an investigation into reports that 12 pilots had experienced "hypoxia-like symptoms" aboard the F-22 since April 2008. Hypoxia is oxygen deficiency.

Air Force panels still are investigating the reports and the jets' oxygen generation systems, and a report on the systems is expected to be released in the fall. Air Force spokesman Lt. Col. John Haynes said that with the study still happening, he couldn't comment on any findings.

However, the service is using some of what it has learned to make "changes to the (onboard oxygen generation systems) and other life support systems elements to increase our safety margin," Haynes said.

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