Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Not Your Father's Air Force XXXVII

And now airmen can get a medal for sitting in a hole...
Criteria for New Medal Announced
The Air Force last week announced the criteria for the new Nuclear Deterrence Operations Service Medal, which Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James approved in late May in an effort to acknowledge and help retain high-caliber airmen in the nuclear mission. Airmen who were assigned, deployed, or mobilized on a nuclear mission to a wing, center, or below for 120 consecutive days or 179 nonconsecutive days are eligible to receive the award, retroactive to Dec. 27, 1991, according to a release. "This service medal provides a clearly visible way to recognize the dedication and professionalism of our airmen who are the guardians of our nation's nuclear deterrence. Because of our success, often times nuclear deterrence operations can be overlooked as a critical function," said Col. Zannis Pappas, the missile operations career field manager. "The medal acknowledges the special challenges faced by those airmen charged with supporting the nuclear enterprise and will be a point of pride by all who wear it." The medal is expected to be available in March 2015. Nominations for current airmen are to be processed through the normal chain of command. Retired or separated airmen and families of deceased airmen can submit requests to the Air Force Personnel Center, states the release.
Airmen performing nuke missile duties will get more money, too.  Fame and fortune, USAF-style.  

Apropos o' not much, one wonders if USAF will award the medal to the guys who loaded nuclear-tipped cruise missiles on a BUFF that flew from Minot to Barksdale without the aircrew knowing they had live weapons aboard.

And then there's this in other, better, USAF news:
Three Million and Counting
—Marc V. Schanz
The MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper family of systems and its variants have amassed three million flight hours, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems announced Oct. 14. Of the nearly 222,000 total missions completed in MQ-1 Predator/MQ-9 Reaper and Gray Eagle aircraft as of Oct. 2, almost 90 percent were flown in combat. The milestone represents the widespread usage and growth of remotely piloted aircraft systems for applications from intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance gathering to strike operations. Flight hours have grown at an explosive clip for the systems, with just 500,000 hours flown as of 2008, a million two years later, and two million in 2012. The Air Force's own MQ-1 and MQ-9s hit two million flight hours last October. According to the company, it has produced a total of 700 airframes of the various types to date, and is currently testing upgrades and modifications to add range and capacity to the Reaper.
I've said this before and I'll say it again: I get a serious case o' the willies whenever I'm out at Cannon and see a Predator shooting touch 'n' goes in the pattern.   I suppose that's yet another example o' Ol' Fart Syndrome rearing its ugly head.

19 comments:

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    1. Were I not retired, I'd say *head desk.* LOL!

      PS: Appropos of the term, there was a fellow Capt in my Squadron in the UK (who ret as an O-6) having come straight from Thailand as I had from DaNang who was going thru a divorce. Turns out he was sending back money to his wife to go to art school while he was in SEA and she fell in love with her art ins and dumped him. Every night at the bar in the O-club he would take a piece of chalk and draw twin parallel lines on the leather trim to designate the bounds between where his face would land after he passed out. LOL!!

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    2. Head desk, face palm... same-same, neh? As for yer story... divorce is a terrible thing. Go on, ask me how I know. ;-)

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    3. "Go on ask me..."

      Are there enough hours left in the month? :)

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  2. OT, but Hey, Buck, I just got around to clicking on your milblog of the year links and find the site defunct and up for sale. What gives? Over..

    PS: m'haps that's why you haven't been nominated lately :)

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    1. Who knows why sites die? Not me...

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  3. Last I heard we have 7500 nukes deployed and in bench stock. I often wonder why we can't maybe just use one. You know, like maybe in places that are rolling in Ebola, and maybe Damascus, or Ankara...

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  4. I've never seen a drone in the sky here in Tennessee, must be the USAF feels there is nothing worth looking at here!!!!!!!

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    1. Bein' as how drones are quite small they're pretty hard to see when airborne and at altitude, Scooney.

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  5. Touch and Goes with a drone? We were prohibited from doing Touch and Goes without an IP on board. Too dangerous. Now they're doing them with the pilot a thousand miles away. The heck with "not your Fathers Air Force" this isn't even My Air Force.

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    1. I think our Preds are flown locally, Juvat. The pilots still sit in a building, however, and not IN the aircraft... so I hear ya.

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    2. YGBSM juvat, no touch & goes w.o. an IP?. What sort of chickensh!t AF did you belong to? Tell me it's not true! I realized that wussification had begun even as I was leaving but the Wuss Quotient (WQ) was THAT high even back then? Based on that little tidbit I'm forced to seriously doubt whether today's present AF could even prevail over the AF of Andorra let alone the PLAN or the Russkies..

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    3. Actually, we did touch-n-goes in heavies almost every mission, no IP necessary. The currency requirements were rather strict, and whenever the weather got real crappy with crosswinds, we would generate sorties and put as many pilots, navs, and flight engineers on the planes as we could. My biggest load was 6 crews, and we flew all night so everyone got an hour in the seat. They always threw in a tanker, and a cross-country navigation as well, so the poor tanker would have to do dry hookups 12 times! We once were required to fly using only NDB stations for a month prior to heading to Africa, where navigation aids were slim (pre-GPS days, and INS drift got high). That also meant doing touch-n-goes on unimproved runways, where FOD was always a concern.

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    4. @ Virgil: You'd have had a cow in the early '80s, Virgil. It got to be pretty bad. As for today... I've become my Ol' Man. He used to tell me "I'm glad I'm not in YOUR AF!" when we'd sit around and tell war stories; these days I do the same with SN1.

      @ Dasher: Interesting! There are times... admittedly very few... when I think I missed a lot by not bein' involved with aircraft in one form or another.

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    5. VX, Yep. Not sure when it started, but I don't think it was allowed at any time I was in. They said it was for safety, but I think it was just a way to save money on tires. Those were the "slippery slope" Carter years.
      Dasher, yeah I know, different responses to similar circumstances I think.

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  6. Drones are fun till somebody hacks the control circuits... Just sayin...

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    1. I've never read of a case where a military drone's controls were hacked. The Iranians claim to have done so when they captured one of our sooper-secret drones but DoD denied that was the reason the bird went down.

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Just be polite... that's all I ask.