May 10, 2012

News Briefs May 10, 2012

Air Force whistle-blowers to get protection

Air Force officials say there will be no actions taken against two whistle-blower pilots who complained about problems with the F-22 fighter jet, including comments made during a recent “60 Minutes” television interview.

Lt. Gen. Janet Wolfenbarger, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, told a Senate subcommittee May 8 the pilots would get whistle-blower protections.

Because the pilots are members of the Virginia Air Guard, the decision was formally announced by the Guard.

Col. Thomas K. Wark, commander of the Virginia Air Guard’s 192nd Fighter Wing, said there would be no disciplinary or administrative actions taken against the pilots.

The pilots spoke out about oxygen-deficit problems with the stealth fighter, which have resulted in pilot dizziness, blackouts and other hypoxia-like symptoms. The Air Force continues to review the problems. AP


World’s largest naval exercises headed for Hawaii

The Navy says more than 40 ships will be gathering in the Hawaiian Islands this summer for the world’s largest naval exercises.

The Rim of the Pacific drills will begin on June 29 and last through Aug. 3.

The Navy hosts the exercises in Hawaii every other year. This is the 23rd time they’ve been held since 1971.

The U.S. Third Fleet said in a news release May 8 six submarines, 42 ships, and more than 200 aircraft will play a part.

Some ships and aircraft will run partially on biofuels in a first-of-its-kind demonstration of the Navy’s development of alternative energy.

Twenty-five thousand people from 22 nations will participate in the exercises, either directly or as observers. AP


Putin to parade: Russia will stand up for policies

Russian President Vladimir Putin has told the annual massive military parade in Red Square that the country will stand up for its positions.

Putin’s short May 9 speech to some 14,000 servicemen and thousands of guests comes less than a week after the country’s military chief of staff warned Russia would consider pre-emptive strikes if a dispute with the United States over a Europe-based missile defense system worsens.

Putin on Wednesday did not mention any country specifically, but said “Russia consistently conducts its policy for strengthening security in the world and we have the great moral right to fundamentally and insistently right stand up for our position.”

The annual parade marks Victory Day, commemorating the defeat of Nazi Germany. AP


Proposal would delay end of C-130 program in Oklahoma

A proposed amendment in the U.S. House Armed Services Committee would – if accepted – delay efforts to end a program in Oklahoma City to upgrade the cockpits of U.S. Air Force C-130 transport planes.

The Boeing spokeswoman Jennifer Hogan said May 9 the proposed amendment will go to the House Armed Services Committee. The amendment calls for a cost-benefit analysis of ending the C-130-Avionics Modernization Program versus continuing the program.

Boeing announced in 2010 it would move about 550 employees from Long Beach, Calif., to Oklahoma City to work on upgrades to both the C-130 and the B-1 bomber.

President Barack Obama’s federal budget proposal announced in February called for ending the C-130 program at an estimated savings of $2.3 billion through 2017. AP


Rover on the move after surviving Martian winter

The Mars rover Opportunity is on the go again.

After spending nearly five months conducting experiments in one spot, the NASA rover moved for the first time this week, rolling off the rock outcrop where it hunkered down for the Martian winter.

The mission team received confirmation late May 8 that Opportunity successfully drove downhill. Engineers will check its power supply before directing it north to study dust and bedrock.

Opportunity will have to wait until there’s more sunlight before it can head south where there’s tantalizing evidence of clay deposits believed to have formed in a warm and wet environment early in Mars’ history.

Since landing in 2004, Opportunity has surpassed expectations. Its twin Spirit lost contact in 2010 not long after it got stuck in a sand trap. AP


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