A-10 pilots receive Distinguished Flying Crosses for fierce Afghanistan battles

Two A-10 pilots received Distinguished Flying Crosses earlier this month for their heroism during battles in Afghanistan, one in 2008 and another in 2010. (Air Force)
Two A-10 Thunderbolt II pilots received Distinguished Flying Crosses earlier this month for their heroism in the air during separate battles against the Taliban years ago.

Lt. Col. Tony “Crack” Roe and Maj. John “Sapper” Tice, both flight commanders with the 303rd Fighter Squadron, were recognized during a Nov. 2 ceremony at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri for their roles during the 2008 and 2010 missions.

“This is an incredibly unique and rare event,” Lt. Col. Rick Mitchellm commander of the 303rd, said at the ceremony, according to a Tuesday release from the Air Force. “Very rarely is the Distinguished Flying Cross awarded. Even more rarely is the Distinguished Flying Cross awarded twice in the same day to two members of the exact same fighter squadron.”

Roe received this DFC with a Valor citation — his third DFC — for flying a mission out of Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, on June 5, 2008, to support an Army resupply convoy southwest of the base.

The soldiers were in a dire situation. Three of the convoy’s eight vehicles had been disabled by rocket-propelled grenade fire and they were pinned down. Before Roe and his wingman arrived, the soldiers were even down to their last clip of ammunition and making plans for a last-ditch charge to take the hill from which the Taliban was attacking them.

Retired Brig. Gen. Jim Mackey presents the Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor citation to Lt. Col. Anthony Roe, a flight commander with the 303d Fighter Squadron, during a ceremony at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., Nov. 2. Mackey and Roe deployed to Afghanistan in 2008 and flew the mission together that earned Roe his third Distinguished Flying Cross. (Airman 1st Class Alex Chase/Air Force)
Retired Brig. Gen. Jim Mackey presents the Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor citation to Lt. Col. Anthony Roe, a flight commander with the 303d Fighter Squadron, during a ceremony at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., Nov. 2. Mackey and Roe deployed to Afghanistan in 2008 and flew the mission together that earned Roe his third Distinguished Flying Cross. (Airman 1st Class Alex Chase/Air Force)
Roe and his wingman spotted the two sets of four vehicles on a road in the mountainous area and contacted one platoon’s leader over FM radio. Roe asked the soldiers in one convoy fighting the Taliban to mark the target. They threw out a smoke grenade, which landed on the hillside and rolled back down to their position.

“Next thing we hear is, ‘Do not shoot that smoke,’” retired Brig. Gen. James Mackey, who was Roe’s wingman that day and attended the award ceremony, said in the release. “We figured that out.”

The troops threw another marker about two-thirds of the way up the ridge line, this time landing on target. Roe and the platoon commander made sure friendly troops were not in harm’s way, and then he declared an Emergency Close Air Support situation, taking full responsibility for what was about to happen. At Roe’s command, the soldiers took cover inside their vehicles.

Roe opened fire with the Warthog’s feared 30mm cannon — but the shots missed their mark. Something was wrong with the elevation on his targeting system and the rounds went over the target. So, he manually corrected the elevation, Mackey said, and on the next pass fired seven rockets at the enemy — about 40 meters away from the American soldiers — and the fighting stopped.

The battle lasted more than an hour, the Air Force said, and Roe and Mackey arrived just in time to save the lives of 16 soldiers.

Two of those soldiers, Mauricio Arias and Joseph Parker of the 201st Engineering Brigade of the Kentucky Army National Guard, attended the ceremony at Whiteman, and received a standing ovation when Mackey asked them to stand and be recognized.

Tice’s moment of bravery came more than two years later, on Dec. 2, 2010. He flew out of Kandahar Air Base in Afghanistan to support two Special Forces teams, who themselves were safeguarding Army engineers building a bridge in the Helmand River valley. The teams consisted of 50 Marines, 24 Green Berets and one airman serving as their joint terminal attack controller.

“The area was known for hostile Taliban fighters and they routinely came out to attack U.S. coalition forces,” Mitchell said.

While keeping watch over the area at the beginning of the sortie, Tice spotted a Taliban scout monitoring the soldiers’ positions. Tice alerted the JTAC on the ground, and the Joint Special Forces took out the scout.

But then, Taliban fighters hidden nearby sprung an ambush. The unleashed a barrage of RPGs, heavy machine gun fire, and small-arms fire and the battle erupted within seconds.

Col. Mike Schultz, commander of the 442nd Fighter Wing, pins the Distinguished Flying Cross on Maj. John Tice, a flight commander with the 303d Fighter Squadron. Tice, a prior-enlisted Army combat engineer, earned the DFC during a combat mission flown in Afghanistan that resulted in 32 enemy combatants killed in action. (Airman 1st Class Alex Chase/Air Force)
Tice swung into action. He dove low, within range of the small-arms fire and putting himself at risk “without regard for his own personal safety,” the Air Force said.

He conducted six low-altitude passes, targeting Taliban fighters at four different positions with 1,140 rounds from the 30mm gun. Tice killed 32 enemy combatants, and saved the lives of 75 U.S. troops, the Air Force said.

The DFC is the Air Force’s fourth-highest medal for heroism in combat, behind only the Medal of Honor, the Air Force Cross and the Silver Star.

“I’m humbled to be amongst these two,” Col. Mike Schultz, commander of the 442nd Fighter Wing, said. “I don’t feel quite adequate for even touching the medal. It’s that big of a deal. Sapper, Crack, brothers, well done.”

4 US B-52 bombers just got back from a month flying all around Europe — here’s what they were up to

Four US Air Force B-52 bombers from the 2nd Bomb Wing at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana arrived in England with about 300 airmen on October 10 for a bomber task force deployment.

The bombers were deployed to RAF Fairford to “conduct integration and interoperability training” with partners in the region and to “exercise Air Force Global Strike Command’s ability to conduct bomber operations from a forward operating location” in support of US Air Forces in Europe and US European Command.

Amid heightened tensions with Russia after its 2014 seizure of Crimea, bomber task force exercises over Europe are also meant to reassure US partners and to be a deterrent to Moscow — this deployment, like others before it, also saw US bombers fly close to Russia in Eastern Europe and the high north.

Below, you can see what US airmen and bombers did during the month they were in Europe.

Bomber Task Force 20-1 was “part of a routine forward deployment of bomber aircraft in the European theater that demonstrates the US commitment to the collective defense of the NATO alliance,” a US Air Forces Europe-Africa spokeswoman said.
Air Force B-52 Stratofortress bomber Fairford England
Two US Air Force B-52H Stratofortresses parked after arriving at RAF Fairford in England, October 10, 2019. US Air Force/Staff Sgt Philip Bryant
The Barksdale B-52s’ deployment to RAF Fairford was their first since this spring, the spokeswoman said, and comes not long after a B-2 Spirit bomber task force deployment in August and September that saw the stealth bomber accomplish several firsts over Europe.

BTF 20-1 missions kicked off a few days after the bombers landed in England.
Air Force B-52 bomber
A B-52H Stratofortress deployed from Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana takes off from RAF Fairford, England, October 14, 2019. US Air Force/Senior Airman Stuart Bright

The exercises were not only for aircrews. Munitions specialists deployed with the task force also practiced assembling BDU-50s — inert, unguided bombs.

Maintainers from the 2nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, part of the 96th Aircraft Maintenance Unit out of Barksdale, also provided routine and unscheduled maintenance for the B-52s to make sure they were ready at a moment’s notice.
Air Force B-52 bomber engine
US Air Force Staff Sgt. Stephen Zbinovec, 2nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron 96th Aircraft Maintenance Unit crew chief, inspects the inside of the engine of a US Air Force B-52H Stratofortress at RAF Fairford, October 18, 2019. US Air Force/Senior Airman Stuart Bright

“Back home, people are focused on their job and will occasionally help out here and there,” said Tech. Sgt. Joshua Crowe, a B-52 expediter with the 2nd AMXS.
Air Force B-52 bomber
US Air Force airmen from the 2nd Bomb Wing prepare a US Air Force B-52H for takeoff during Bomber Task Force Europe 20-1, at RAF Fairford, October 23, 2019. US Air Force/Airman 1st Class Duncan C. Bevan
“Here, what seems to work is that everyone is all hands on deck. You may have an electronic countermeasures airman change an engine or an electrical environmental airman helping crew chiefs change brakes,” Crowe added.

When the bomber is scheduled to land somewhere that doesn’t have maintenance support for B-52s, a maintainer will go along as a “flying crew chief” to make sure the aircraft arrives safely and is ready to fly once it lands.

96th Bomb Squadron aircrew from to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana prepare to board a B-52H Stratofortress at RAF Fairford, October 14, 2019. US Air Force/Staff Sgt. James Cason
For a crew chief to qualify for that job, they must be at the top of their career field and complete hanging-harness training, a flight-equipment course, and go through the altitude chamber.

“We are essentially passengers on the aircraft, though we help the aircrew troubleshoot some things,” said Tech. Sgt. Gregory Oliver, a communications navigations technician. “However, when we land, we hit the ground running. We service the jet and get it ready to fly again.”

On October 21, the B-52s ventured east to the Black Sea, flying a 12-hour, extended-duration sortie to train with counterparts from Romania, Ukraine and Georgia.
Air Force B-52 bomber Black Sea
US Air Force 96th Bomb Squadron weapons system officers work in the lower deck of a 2nd Bomb Wing B-52H Stratofortress from Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana in the Black Sea region in support of Bomber Task Force Europe 20-1, October 21, 2019. US Air Force/Tech. Sgt. Christopher Ruano
A few days later, B-52s from Fairford headed to the Baltic Sea, teaming up with Czech fighters for exercises over another European hotspot.
Air Force B-52 bomber Baltic Sea
Three B-52 Stratofortresses assigned to the 2nd Bomb Wing from Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana in formation after completing missions over the Baltic Sea for Bomber Task Force Europe 20-1, October 23, 2019. US Air Force/SSgt. Trevor T. McBride
NATO’s Baltic members, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, are between Russia proper and its Baltic Sea exclave, Kaliningrad, where ground and naval forces are based, as well as air-defense systems, ballistic missiles, and what are thought to be nuclear weapons.

The final days of October saw the Barksdale B-52s conduct interoperability training with the French air force over France.
Air Force B-52 France Dassault Rafales
French air force Dassault Rafales fly next to a US Air Force B-52H over France in support of Bomber Task Force Europe 20-1, October 25, 2019. US Air Force/Tech. Sgt. Christopher Ruano
And with Polish F-16s over Poland.
Air Force B-52 bomber Poland F-16
Two Polish Air Force F-16C Fighting Falcons engage in a planned intercept of a US Air Force B-52H over Poland during Bomber Task Force Europe 20-1, October 28, 2019. US Air Force/Airman 1st Class Duncan C. Bevan

The B-52s also exercised with British Typhoon fighter jets, which practiced intercepting the bombers over the North Sea.
Air Force B-52 bomber RAF Typhoon
A US Air Force B-52 in formation with Royal Air Force Typhoon aircraft from 3 Squadron at RAF Coningsby over the North Sea, October 28, 2019. Cpl. Alex Scott/UK Ministry of Defense
At the end of October, B-52s at Fairford joined US Strategic Command’s Global Thunder 20, an annual command-and-control exercise to train for Stratcom-specific missions, with a focus on nuclear readiness.
Air Force B-52 bomber Fairford
A US Air Force B-52H Stratofortress deployed from Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana taxis toward the flight line at RAF Fairford in support of Global Thunder 20, October 28, 2019. US Air Force/Senior Airman Stuart Bright

The B-52s also headed out over the Norwegian Sea to train with Norwegian F-16s.
Air Force B-52 bomber Norway F-16
Royal Norwegian Air Force F-16s next to a US Air Force B-52H in Norwegian airspace during training for Bomber Task Force Europe 20-1, October 30, 2019. US Air Force/Tech. Sgt. Christopher Ruano
BTF 20-1 started November with a change of scenery, heading to Saudi Arabia, flying with Saudi F-15s and US F-22 stealth fighters in support of US Central Command.
Air Force B-52 bomber Saudi Arabia F-15
A US Air Force B-52H and Saudi Arabian F-15C Eagles conduct a low pass over Prince Sultan Air Base in support of Bomber Task Force Europe 20-1, November 1, 2019. US Air Force/Tech. Sgt. Christopher Ruano

By November 6, three B-52s were back in the high north, flying into the Arctic Circle over the Barents Sea with Norwegian F-16s and with US Navy P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft.
Air Force B-52 bomber Norway fighter jet
A US Air Force B-52H and three Royal Norwegian Air Force F-16s fly toward the Barents Sea region of the Arctic during Bomber Task Force 20-1, November 6, 2019. US Air Force/Staff Sgt. Trevor T. McBride
One flight-tracker showed the B-52s flying into the Barents, turning south near the Novaya Zemlya archipelago in the Arctic and then flying west near the Kola Peninsula. Both are home to Russian military facilities, including the Northern Fleet’s home base.
Air Force B-52 bomber Norway
A US Air Force 96th Bomb Squadron pilot flies a US Air Force B-52H during training and integration with the Royal Norwegian air force in Norwegian airspace in support of Bomber Task Force Europe 20-1, November 6, 2019. US Air Force/Tech. Sgt. Christopher Ruano
The Russian navy and scientists recently mapped five new islands near Novaya Zemlya that were revealed by receding glacier ice.

Mil Radar
@MIL_Radar
6 NOV: USAF B52s 60-0024 60-0025 60-0028 BRIG01 02 & 03 departed Fairford at 0625z – Barents Sea mission

View image on Twitter
81
6:33 AM – Nov 7, 2019
Twitter Ads info and privacy
45 people are talking about this

The US Air Forces Europe-Africa spokeswoman declined to elaborate on where the B-52s flew while they were over the Barents.
Air Force B-52 bomber Norway fighter jet
A US Air Force B-52H and three Royal Norwegian Air Force F-16s fly toward the Barents Sea region of the Arctic during Bomber Task Force 20-1, November 6, 2019. US Air Force/Staff Sgt. Trevor T. McBride
“The mission in the Barents Sea region served as an opportunity to integrate with our Norwegian allies to improve interoperability as well as act as a visible demonstration of the US capability of extended deterrence,” the spokeswoman said.

Two days after returning from the Barents exercise, the B-52s took off from Fairford on their way back to Barksdale.
Air Force B-52 bomber RAF Fairford
A US Air Force B-52H takes off from RAF Fairford to return to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, at the end of Bomber Task Force Europe 20-1, November 8, 2019. US Air Force/Senior Airman Stuart Bright

BTF 20-1 finally concluded on November 13, after four weeks of continuous bomber presence in England that included flying 32 sorties with other bombers, tankers, and fighters; exercising with 13 other partner forces; and dropping 60 practice munitions in four countries.
Air Force B-52 bomber RAF Fairford
A US Air Force B-52H Stratofortress takes off from RAF Fairford to return home to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, at the end of Bomber Task Force Europe 20-1, November 8, 2019. US Air Force/Senior Airman Stuart Bright
BTF “rotations provide us with a consistent and near-continuous long-range weapon capability, and represent our ability to project air power around the globe,” said Gen. Jeff Harrigian, commander of US Air Forces Europe-Africa.
Air Force B-52 bomber RAF Fairford
A US Air Force 2nd Bomb Wing B-52H Stratofortress takes off from RAF Fairford to return home to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana in support of Bomber Task Force Europe 20-1, November 8, 2019. US Air Force/Tech. Sgt. Christopher Ruano
“Being here and talking with [our allies and partner militaries] on their ranges makes us more lethal,” said Lt. Col. John Baker, BTF commander and 96th Bomb Squadron commander.

Airbus to Showcase ‘Future of Flight’ at Dubai Airshow 2019

The Dubai Airshow is an important platform for Airbus to highlight its best-in-class products and innovative services to customers.

AIRBUS
At the Dubai Airshow, which runs from Nov. 17-21 Airbus will showcase its wide range of innovative technologies, products and services from market leading commercial and military aircraft to helicopters and space systems.

The Dubai Airshow is an important platform for Airbus to highlight its best-in-class products and innovative services to customers. Airbus’ continued participation at the largest aviation event in the Middle East demonstrates its continuous commitment to enhancing the aerospace and aviation industries in the UAE and wider region.

Static and flying displays

On the static display, visitors will be able to get up close to Airbus’ range of commercial aircraft. This includes the A350-900, the cornerstone member of the A350 XWB Family, Salam Air’s A320neo, from the world’s most popular single-aisle aircraft family, as well as EGYPTAIR’s A220-300, the newest member of the Airbus single-aisle family. Airbus will also display an ACJ319 from K5 Aviation, highlighting the comfort and space on offer, and echoing the trend towards larger cabins in new-generation business jets. An ACJ319, operated by K5 Aviation on VVIP charters, will highlight the widest and tallest cabin of any business jet. Airbus corporate jets have a strong presence in the Middle East market with both the ACJ320 Family and VVIP widebodies.

In the customers’ display, Emirates Airline and Etihad Airways will showcase their A380s, giving the opportunity to tour the popular double-decker and see its award-winning products across all classes.

The daily flying display will include the A330-900, a variant of the Airbus A330neo, as well the A400M airlifter.

Airbus Helicopters will display Kuwait Police’s H225, tailored to the specifications of the Kuwaiti police force. The 11-tonne twin-engine helicopter is the choice of commercial operators and governmental agencies due to its long range and all-weather capabilities.

Meanwhile, Airbus Defense and Space will present the A400M new generation airlifter and the highly versatile C295 military transport and mission aircraft as well as the A330 MRTT, “Multi-Role Tanker-Transport”, the only combat-proven new-generation tanker.

As the official founding partner of Air Race E, Airbus will present the first example of an electric race plane scheduled to compete in the world’s first electric airplane race series launching in 2020. The competition will drive the development of cleaner, faster and more technologically advanced electric engines that can be applied to urban air mobility vehicles and eventually, commercial aircraft.

At the Global Air Traffic Management show in the exhibition hall, booth 157, Airbus UTM and Airbus companies Metron Aviation and NAVBLUE will demonstrate how Airbus is helping the Air Traffic Management industry minimise delays, reduce fuel costs and balance demand and capacity through Air Traffic Flow Management (ATFM).

How aerial firefighters attack wildfires with air tankers, Broncos, and Super Hueys

 | Orange County Register
PUBLISHED:  | UPDATED: 

If air-traffic controller is one of the most stressful jobs and firefighting is one of the most dangerous, then you get an idea of what it’s like to be an air tactical group supervisor.

Aircraft that douse flames with water and bright red Phos-Chek fire retardant are a common sight in California. Aerial firefighting requires municipal, county, state and federal agencies to communicate on the ground and in the air.

Fire Capt. David Hudson has been an air attack group supervisor for 2.5 years and is based at Hemet-Ryan Airport’s air attack base, which deploys aircraft to fires from the Pacific Ocean to the Colorado River. Hudson says, “Cal Fire has air bases strategically located so aircraft can reach a fire in 20 minutes after a call.”

When above a fire, Hudson sits in the back of an OV-10 Bronco and coordinates with the ground commander on a strategy to get ahead of the fire and manage all the aircraft entering the fire zone.

“The dozers and guys on the ground put the fire out. Our job is to try and get ahead of the fire and box it in,” Hudson says.

How the fire zone works

Refill and return

Phos-Chek is made by a company in Ontario. If the air base in Hemet needs more, a truck will refill its supply in about an hour. The retardant is a mix of a chemical salt, water, clay or a gum thickening agent and a coloring agent.

Laying it down

In addition to coordinating where aircraft should go, the air tactical group supervisor tells pilots how much retardant coverage is needed.

A longer line is generally needed for grass fires. Brush fires, with their heavier fuel, require a more concentrated drop.

This chart shows a 1,200-gallon heavy air tanker’s coverage length, in feet.

Covering California

Cal Fire bases are positioned so aircraft can reach any place in the state within 20 minutes.

The supertanker based at McClellan Air Force Base and traveling 600 mph could be over Los Angeles within 35 minutes.

Frequent flyers

Most of Cal Fire’s aircraft were purchased from the Department of Defense.

OV-10 Bronco (maximum speed: 280 mph)

Cal Fire uses these for aerial command and control of aircraft on wildfires. The crew consists of a pilot in the front and an air attack supervisor in the back. Pilots for Cal Fire cannot fly more than seven hours in a day.

Grumman S-2T (maximum speed: 270 mph; gallons carried: 1,200)

By 2005, all of Cal Fire’s air tanker fleet had been converted to S-2Ts. The tankers are used for fast initial attack drops of fire retardant. They are flown by a single pilot who must often fly in steep canyons and strong winds and just hundreds of feet off the ground.

UH-1H Super Huey (maximum speed: 126 mph; gallons carried: 360)

All Cal Fire helicopters are flown by Cal Fire pilots, while air tankers and air tactical aircraft are flown by contract pilots. Helicopters can be used for medical evacuations, backfiring operations, infrared mapping of incidents and numerous nonfire emergency missions.

Where retardant cannot be dropped

Many places in Southern California have aerial retardant avoidance areas. These are mostly near waterways with sensitive species. The map below is from the U.S. Forest Service’s avoidance map viewer.

Sources: Cal Fire, National Wildfire Coordinating Group, U.S. Forest Service

Photos from Cal Fire and staff