News Briefs – March 30, 2016


F-16 crashes in Afghanistan; pilot safely ejects

An F-16 Fighting Falcon assigned to the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing crashed during takeoff March 29 at about 8:30 p.m. local time near Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan.
The pilot safely ejected, was recovered by coalition forces, and is being evaluated by medical personnel at the Craig Joint Theater Hospital on Bagram Airfield. Coalition forces have secured the crash site.
F-16s at Bagram Airfield provide 24-hour overwatch and close air support for ground units in Afghanistan. Enemy fire was not a factor in the crash, and Air Force officials will investigate the cause of the crash.

State Department, DOD approve dependents’ departure from Turkey

The secretary of defense, in coordination with the secretary of state, has authorized the ordered departure of all Defense Department dependents not assigned to chief of mission authority from Adana (to include Incirlik Air Base), Ismir and Mugla, Turkey.
This decision allows for the deliberate, safe return of family members from these areas due to continued security concerns in the region.
This step does not signify a permanent decision to end accompanied tours at these facilities. It is intended to mitigate the risk to DOD elements and personnel, including family members, while ensuring the combat effectiveness of U.S. forces and mission support to operations in Turkey. The United States and Turkey are united in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, and Incirlik AB continues to play a key role in counter-ISIL operations.
“The decision to move our families and civilians was made in consultation with the government of Turkey, our State Department, and our secretary of defense,” said Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, the commander of U.S. European Command. “We understand this is disruptive to our military families, but we must keep them safe and ensure the combat effectiveness of our forces to support our strong ally Turkey in the fight against terrorism.”

U.S. Navy picks Electric Boat as prime contractor for new sub

The U.S. Navy has chosen General Dynamics Electric Boat to be the prime contractor for a new class of ballistic-missile submarines.
The Navy announced the selection and its submarine construction strategy for the next decade March 28. Electric Boat is already designing 12 ballistic-missile submarines to replace the current fleet of 14.
Groton, Conn.,-based Electric Boat will perform about 80 percent of the construction work for the ballistic-missile submarines, according to U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, a Connecticut Democrat. Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia will do the rest.
The shipyards build two Virginia-class attack submarines annually under a teaming agreement.
A Navy statement says both shipbuilders will continue to build the attack submarines, though Newport News Shipbuilding will begin delivering more of them.
The Navy is also now proposing to build two attack submarines instead of one in 2021, the year construction is scheduled to begin on the ballistic-missile submarines.
Courtney said the Navy has emphatically declared its submarine construction priorities and now has a plan for achieving them. The strategy means billions of dollars and thousands of jobs for southern New England, he added.
“There’s going to be a lot of work and a lot of hiring,” said Courtney, who noted that Electric Boat offered jobs to nearly 150 people at a job fair this month.
Congress would need to annually approve the construction funding. Some have been critical of the roughly $100 billion price tag to replace the ballistic-missile submarines.
Electric Boat employs about 14,100 people, mainly in Connecticut and Rhode Island. Employment is projected to grow to 18,000 by 2030 to build the ballistic-missile submarines. AP

Winooski approves spending additional $5,000 on F-35 lawsuit

The Winooski, Vt., City Council has approved spending an additional $5,000 on a lawsuit the Vermont city entered against the U.S. Air Force regarding F-35 fighter jets.
The Burlington Free Press reports the city joined the Stop the F-35 Coalition and six Chittenden County residents in the lawsuit filed in reaction to the military planes’ environmental impact.
The suit claims that the Air Force underestimated the level of noise caused by F-35 jets flying overhead as well as their potential negative impact on health and local property values.
Mayor Seth Leonard says the city consulted with its independent lawyer, who recommended the $5,000 figure to continue with the case.
Some Vermont Air National Guard officers have said they’re hopeful the new jets will be quieter than the aging F-16 jets they now fly. AP