Friday, May 22, 2015

AF assigns new chief scientist

By Senior Airman Hailey Haux, Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs Command Information / Published May 22, 2015

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- The Air Force announced the service’s new chief scientist to serve as a science and technology advisor to the secretary of the Air Force and the chief of staff of the Air Force, May 21.

Dr. Greg Zacharias will be the 35th chief scientist and is ready to “dive in” to his new role.

“I am deeply honored to even be considered, let alone selected (for this position),” Zacharias said. “It was an offer I couldn’t refuse and an opportunity to try and return something to the Air Force for all the opportunities it’s given me since I was a second lieutenant assigned to Johnson Space Center back in the ‘70s.”

Given the demands of the Air Force and the acceleration of technology, Zacharias is ready for the task at hand.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Zacharias said. “Especially learning about what the Air Force does on a day-to-day basis, what the science and technology community has to offer to maintain the Air Force’s technological edge, and how I can help make more connections between the two communities.”

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III underlined the vital role he will play in the Air Force’s science and technology community.

"Science and technology are critical to the Air Force and having an independent voice with fresh ideas and approaches can make a tremendous difference,” Welsh said. “I know Dr. Zacharias will bring us novel and creative ideas to current and future challenges."

Along with being the science and technology advisor to the CSAF and SecAF, Zacharias will also be responsible for keeping them aware of science and technology developments in the Defense Department and other areas of interest.

“(I will show them) how we can improve current operations in an evolutionary sense and maybe even how we can make some ‘leaps’ by embracing revolutionary technologies,” Zacharias said. “I also hope to reach out to different communities to encourage (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education.”

Working outside the Air Force and running a small business, Zacharias feels he will bring a new outlook to the table.

“My work with larger research organizations taught me the importance of collaboration across government, industry, and academia, and how each organization has something unique to offer,” Zacharias said. “My recent experience with running a small business (showed me) even though different organizations can put up barriers that optimize their own local objectives, those barriers can be overcome when everyone realizes we’re all in this together to get technology to the warfighter better and faster than anyone else.”

Being an Air Force with Airmen powered by innovation, Zacharias said it plays a key role in the science and technology field.

“I hope to be able to help the chief and secretary recognize the potential of, not only new technology, but how it can be used in novel ways operationally, and maybe change the way we do business,” Zacharias said. “Certainly the introduction of autonomous systems, as one example, can provide great leverage but it also comes with challenges in terms of command and control as well as potential cyber and (communications) vulnerabilities. How to manage all that to our advantage is the challenge facing us, but the payoff could be huge.”

With June’s schedule already three-quarters booked, Zacharias is energized to get started with an immediate goal of ‘not getting too lost trying to navigate the building.'

Work Highlights U.S. Military Technology Efforts

DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, May 22, 2015 – America’s defense companies and employees provide the capabilities, technologies, and services that underpin the nation’s global military power, Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work told industry representatives yesterday, according to a DoD news release.

Work spoke at the Aerospace Industries Association's 70th Annual Spring Board of Governors and Membership Meeting in Williamsburg, Virginia.

The deputy defense secretary talked to roughly 160 defense industry representatives about U.S. technological superiority, partnerships, and budgetary challenges, according to the release.

Boosting Military Technological Superiority

Work highlighted the department's ongoing efforts to reverse the erosion of U.S. military technological superiority, to include: the Defense Innovation Initiative, Third Offset Strategy, Long-Range Research & Development Planning Program, Better Buying Power 3.0 and Defense Innovation Unit Experimental, the release said.

He noted the importance of industry and how defense companies and employees provide the capabilities, technologies, and services that underpin America's global military power, according to the release.

Turning to the defense budget, the deputy defense secretary explained that a return to sequestration funding levels would be an unmitigated disaster and that lower funding levels are harmful to national security, the release said. The department, Work said in the release, needs a long-term budget approach that dispels sequester, once and for all, and provides the department flexibility in making needed cost saving reforms.

Work repeated Secretary of Defense Ash Carter's criticism of the overseas contingency operations mechanism for circumventing spending caps as a “gimmick” that fails to resolve the funding crisis facing the department, according to the release.

He asked industry to continue to work together, and with Congress, to address the negative effects of both sequestration and relying on an Overseas Contingency Operations mechanism to fund the base budget, the release said.

Work said the department will get through this time of declining budgets and increased demands, according to the release, by working together with industry and keeping our minds on the men and women who serve.

The deputy defense secretary ended remarks by thanking the defense industry for its contributions to national defense, the release said.
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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

45th Space Wing launches 4th Orbital Test Vehicle

by 45th Space Wing
Public Affairs

5/20/2015 - CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla.  -- The 45th Space Wing successfully launched a United Launch Alliance-built Atlas V Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle at 11:05 a.m. EST, May 20, 2015, from Space Launch Complex 41 here.

The Atlas V rocket carried into Low Earth Orbit an X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV), marking the fourth space flight for the X-37B program.

In addition to the OTV, the Air Force's Space and Missile Systems Center, in coordination with the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), launched ten CubeSats as part of a secondary payload on board the Centaur upper stage.

Col. Thomas Falzarano, 45th Operations Group commander, who also served as the Launch Decision Authority for this mission, thanked Team Patrick-Cape and all of the mission partners who made this launch a success.

"The 45th Space Wing is justifiably proud to play a pivotal role in this very important mission and to partner with the NRO and SMC as we continually join forces with mission partners and lean forward to build the 'Spaceport of the Future here' on the Eastern Range," he said.

The X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle is led by the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, and is designed to demonstrate reusable spacecraft technologies for America's future in space and operate experiments which can be returned to, and examined, on Earth.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Dispelling remotely piloted aircraft myths

By Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs, / Published May 15, 2015

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Public interest in remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) continues to grow thanks to increasing non-military uses and portrayal in popular culture. For the Air Force, remotely piloted aircraft are and will continue to be a vital mission set delivering vital airpower to combatant commanders throughout the world.

While the demands placed upon the Airmen charged with this mission are becoming better known, there are still myths strongly associated with this mission. Here’s some “fact and fiction” about the very in-demand world of RPA operations.

Myth: Because they are unmanned, RPAs are less safe than manned aircraft

Fact: For every RPA, there is a pilot with a crew in continuous control of the aircraft, ensuring not only operational precision but complete ground and flying safety. Air Force RPAs have safety rates comparable to our manned aircraft. RPA systems have been getting safer as aircraft and communication technology and the institutional experience of operators mature. Historically, even during periods when there was an immediate requirement for extensive RPA operations in demanding operational environments, the mishap rate decreased over the long term.

Myth: There is no demand from combatant commanders for RPA capability

Fact: Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions continue to be the number one most requested capability of combatant commanders at multiple locations throughout the world. RPAs are in demand and Air Force RPAs operate on a 24/7 basis. Thru December 2014, the Air Force has flown MQ-1B Predators and MQ-9 Reapers more than 2,208,985 hours (RQ-4 Global Hawk/MQ-1 equals 1,661,887 hours and MQ-9 equals 547,978).

Myth: RPAs do not have to comply with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requirements

Fact: RPA training flights within the U.S. are conducted under federal authorities granted to the service to train pilots and crew members preparing for real-world missions. This includes all Air Force pilots being trained to FAA instrument rating requirements. These missions are flown in accordance with federal law, executive orders, and Defense Department and Air Force instructions that balance the need for operational readiness with protection of personal privacy. Unmanned aircraft that operate within the national airspace system are held to the same level of procedures and compliance, or higher, than manned aircraft.

Myth: To achieve the RPA mission it only requires a crew of two – pilot and sensor operator

Fact: For every RPA combat air patrol there are nearly 200 people supporting the mission in various capacities. This includes mission intelligence personnel; aircraft and communications maintainers; launch and recovery element personnel; and intelligence personnel conducting production, exploitation, and dissemination operations.

Myth: RPAs only conduct ISR

Fact: MQ-1Bs and MQ-9s are multi-role aircraft capable of conducting several mission sets beyond ISR. They perform numerous additional tasks to include support to combat search and rescue, dynamic targeting, close air support, air interdiction, and strike coordination and reconnaissance. The Predator and Reaper are unique, as they also provide precision-strike missions against carefully chosen targets, minimizing risk of collateral damage.

Myth: Conducting an RPA mission is like playing a video game

Fact: New pilots of RPAs undertake a very intense training program before they fly operational missions, making it the furthest thing from picking up a controller and playing a video game. This training curriculum lasts approximately one year, and many current Air Force RPA pilots and trainers have already completed undergraduate pilot training in manned aircraft as well.