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August 23, 2013

News Briefs: August 23, 2013

South Dakota flights resuming three days after B-1B crash

Flights were resuming out of Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota Aug. 22, three days after a B-1B bomber crashed in a remote area of southeastern Montana, an Air Force official said.

Two pilots and two weapons system officers safely ejected Monday morning before the South Dakota-based bomber crashed near Broadus, Mont.

Col. Kevin Kennedy, commander of the 28th Bomb Wing, said the base temporarily shut down flights until maintenance and operations group commanders could ensure Kennedy that it was safe to resume normal flying operations. Kennedy said he made the decision Thursday that flights would recommence that day.

Col. Brooks McFarland, commander of the 28th Maintenance Group, said the cause of the crash remains under investigation. He said crews at Ellsworth have carefully inspected all of the B-1Bs for airworthiness before releasing them to fly.

“B-1s have continued their missions elsewhere, and I have been in contact with the maintenance leadership of those units,” McFarland said in a statement. “With no evidence of fleet-wide problems, it is important that we resume flying and keep proficient at our primary mission.”

The last time a B-1B was destroyed in a crash was on Dec. 12, 2001, when a bomber involved in the war in Afghanistan slammed into the Indian Ocean near the island of Diego Garcia. In April 2008, an Ellsworth B-1B bomber caught fire after landing at al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar.

Aerial photos of the Aug. 19 crash site show a massive charred area of prairie land void of recognizable aircraft parts. Some people who live near the remote locale say the plane broke apart in midair, scattering debris over several miles.

The crew members were taken to Rapid City-area hospitals. They are instructor pilot Maj. Frank Biancardi ll, of Methuen, Mass.; instructor pilot Capt. Curtis Michael, of Albion, Neb.; instructor weapons systems officer Capt. Brandon Packard, of Ashland, Ky.; and instructor weapons systems officer Capt. Chad Nishizuka, of Kailua, Hawaii. AP

 

Louisiana businessman sentenced in kickback plot

A Slidell, La., businessman who pleaded guilty to taking kickbacks from a subcontractor on a military construction project in Afghanistan has been sentenced to 10 months in federal prison.

Elton McCabe III pleaded guilty in May to a conspiracy charge.

McCabe worked in Afghanistan for an American company that provided construction services to the U.S. military. Federal prosecutors say he awarded a $3.2 million subcontract to an alleged co-conspirator’s company in 2009 in exchange for $60,000 in kickbacks.

U.S. District Judge Nannette Jolivette Brown also ordered Aug. 22 that McCabe forfeit $60,000.

Before he was charged in the scheme, McCabe was detained in South Sudan on charges he kidnapped an Indian businessman.

McCabe was ordered to report to prison on Oct. 15. AP

 

Command of attack subs to shift

Command of all the attack submarines based on the East Coast will soon shift from an officer in Connecticut to Virginia as the Navy consolidates its ranks of admirals.

The submarines currently report to Submarine Group Two, which is based at Naval Submarine Base New London, Conn., and led by Rear Adm. Kenneth M. Perry. But that position is expected to be eliminated by fiscal year 2015.

Attack submarines on the East Coast will report through squadron commanders to the submarine force commander in Norfolk, Va., Cmdr. Ryan Perry told The Day of New London.

The Navy is consolidating or reducing in rank 35 admiral positions due to budget cuts.

The Navy says the decision does not affect the number of subs based in Groton or the role they will play.

The submarine base in Groton has been targeted for closure in the past and was nearly shut down in 2005 through a Base Realignment and Closure Commission, known as BRAC.

U.S. Rep. Joseph Courtney, a Democrat who represents eastern Connecticut, said he does not believe the restructuring will make the base any more vulnerable to closure. He said installations are judged on military value, and not the presence of admirals.

“It doesn’t make sense that that necessarily adds to military value and that is always the test for BRAC,” Courtney said. AP

 

New Mexico steps up efforts to clean up of Kirtland spill

State environmental regulators are stepping up efforts to treat Albuquerque, N.M., groundwater contaminated by a jet fuel spill at Kirtland Air Force Base.

Environment Secretary Ryan Flynn says an aggressive approach is needed because the contamination could continue to spread and jeopardize drinking water.

A study released in July shows the spill has not yet reached drinking water.

Cleanup efforts so far haven’t been working as well as expected, and the state is setting deadlines for Kirtland to pump contaminated water from the ground.

It’s the first such approach to the problem since the spill was first discovered in 199.

Ryan calls the spill his department’s top priority.

Air Force officials endorse the state’s plan and say the military service accepts responsibility for the leak and its cleanup. AP




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