breaking news

breaking news

Furlough days reduced to 6 for Wright-Patt, Defense workers

Published: Tuesday, August 06, 2013 @ 3:18 PM
Updated: Tuesday, August 06, 2013 @ 3:18 PM

Thousands of Wright-Patterson civil service employees won’t be forced to take as many unpaid furlough days off the job, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

The number of unpaid days off will drop to six from 11 for about 10,000 Wright-Patterson civilian employees.

The Pentagon found additional savings to cancel the planned number of days, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said in a statement.

The furloughs began the week of July 8 and were set to continue through September.

We will update this story throughout the day.

Wright Patt C-17 flies Indiana rescuers to Puerto Rico after hurricane

Published: Monday, September 25, 2017 @ 11:18 AM

A Wright-Patt C-17 unloads hurricane relief aid Sept. 12, 2017 at Homestead Air Reserve Base, Fla. The Wright-Patt wing has had a busy season since three major hurricanes in the Atlantic

A Wright-Patt Air Force Reserve C-17 jet flew members of the Indiana Task Force 1 recovery team to Puerto Rico on Saturday after the island was hit hard by Hurricane Maria last week, according to a wing spokeswoman.

It marked the second time a C-17 from the Miami Valley base transported a state-based rescue and recovery team to the Caribbean island which has endured the winds and rain of two hurricanes within weeks.

Earlier this month, a C-17 picked up members of New York Task Force 1 in Georgia and transported the team to San Juan, P.R., after powerful Hurricane Irma churned through the Atlantic Ocean, brushing near the island.

RELATED: Wright-Patt C-17 flies N.Y. rescue team to Puerto Rico after hurricane

With an active hurricane season under way, the 445th Airlift Wing at Wright-Patterson was on standby this week, according to Lt. Col. Cynthia Harris, a wing spokeswoman.

“Our crew is on alert awaiting other missions,” she said Monday. The unit has nine Globemaster III jets which are on ongoing routine assignments around the world, she said.

RELATED: Wright-Patt C-17s haul hundreds of tons of aid to hurricane survivors

The Indiana unit arrived at Wright-Patterson last week before the flight headed to Dover Air Force Base, Del., where members of Maryland Task Force 1 joined the team, and then headed to Puerto Rico, according to the Indiana unit’s Facebook page.

RELATED: Reporter spends 12 hours with Wright-Patt C-17 trip on hurricane relief flight. Here’s what he witnessed

The Wright-Patt airlift wing has flown hundreds of responders and tons of hurricane relief aid to Texas, Florida, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico the past month since a series of record-setting hurricanes struck the U.S. Gulf Coast and the Caribbean causing dozens of deaths and unleashing widespread destruction in its wake.

Air Force’s KC-46 tanker faces more tests

Published: Monday, September 25, 2017 @ 5:00 AM

            KC-46 Pegasus refuels a A-10 attack plane. CONTRIBUTED
KC-46 Pegasus refuels a A-10 attack plane. CONTRIBUTED

The Air Force has marked the KC-46 Pegasus aerial refueling tanker with three “deficiency reports” that have raised concerns, according to the service branch.

The Boeing-built tanker remains in developmental testing and certification procedures as the company expects to deliver the first aircraft in December while the Air Force has forecast next spring as more likely.

Brig. Gen Donna Shipton, Tanker Directorate program executive officer at Wright-Patterson, said in a conference call with reporters Friday the Air Force still expects a spring delivery despite the recent concerns.

RELATED: Boeing nearing air tanker delivery to Air Force

The Air Force plans to buy at least 179 KC-46 tankers through the 2020s to begin replacing 455 aging KC-135 and KC-10 aerial refueling jets that have flown for decades.

The KC-46 is a military version of a Boeing 767 airliner, built in Washington state. The Air Force plans to buy 479 aerial refueling tankers in the coming decades.

The Air Force has an initial $4.9 billion fixed-price contract for development and production of 19 aircraft. Boeing has absorbed about $1.65 billion in additional costs, according to the aerospace maker.

The service branch also signed a $2.1 billion deal for another 15 tankers and was expected to issue another contract in January.

In one recent issue, the Air Force expects further testing in October to determine if high frequency radios on the KC-46 tanker remain off as needed to safely refuel aircraft in flight.

Tests also were planned in coming weeks on refueling boom extensions, according to the Air Force. In at least one case, a refueling boom pushed back into a ground test stand after the boom disconnected, the Air Force said.

The Air Force expected to “close” those two issues and move forward after further testing data was gathered next month. Another issue may take longer to resolve, officials said.

PHOTOS: What to know about the new aerial refueling tanker managed at Wright-Patt

During air-to-air refueling flight tests, the KC-46 boom receptacle has reportedly scraped aircraft receiving fuel outside a receptacle connection. The issue happens with existing tankers, but the Air Force has said it has apparently occurred at a higher rate than other tankers flying today.

“This does happen in the current fleet and so we need to characterize this as compared to that data” to better understand the extent of the problem, Shipton said.

In response to the most recent concerns, Boeing spokesman Charles Ramey said the company continues to make progress on the KC-46.

“We have six airplanes in flight test that are performing well, and more than 30 flowing through production,” he said in an email. “This is a development program and we still have a significant amount of work in front of us to complete certification testing and other activities. While there is near-term cost and schedule pressure, our team remains focused on meeting the customer requirement to deliver 18 tankers to the Air Force in 2018.”

A U.S. Government Accountability Office report in March found the delivery of the first fully capable KC-46 was delayed more than a year and additional delays were possible.

The refueling jet was expected to meet performances expectations, the GAO concluded.

RELATED: Air Force concerned over delays in tanker contract

The GAO found costs for the estimated $44.4 billion program to buy 179 KC-46 Pegasus tankers dropped $7.3 billion from initial projections mostly because the Air Force had not added or revised requirements.

Wright Patt C-17s haul hundreds of tons of aid to hurricane survivors

Published: Thursday, September 21, 2017 @ 4:55 AM

            Crews off-load a pallet of hurricane relief items Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017 at Homestead Air Reserve Base, Fla. The flight began at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and traveled to four states. BARRIE BARBER/STAFF
Crews off-load a pallet of hurricane relief items Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017 at Homestead Air Reserve Base, Fla. The flight began at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and traveled to four states. BARRIE BARBER/STAFF

With hurricanes pummeling the U.S. Gulf Coast and the Caribbean, C-17 transport jets have lifted off at Wright-Patterson headed to disaster zones to drop off troops and hundreds of tons of relief aid.

The Air Force Reserve 445th Airlift Wing flew nearly 200 passengers and 332 tons of cargo on a total of five missions to Florida, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands after Hurricane Irma churned through the Atlantic and tore through the islands before slamming into Florida this month. Before the massive storm struck, a Wright-Patt C-17 Globemaster III picked up a helicopter in Florida and flew it to Georgia on another mission.

RELATED: Wright-Patt C-17 delivers relief aid to Florida after Hurricane Irma strikes

After Hurricane Harvey barreled into Texas and unleashed record rains that caused widespread flooding, displacing thousands, the wing flew three C-17 missions. The flights carried 130 passengers and 345 tons of cargo to the Lone Star state last month, according to Lt. Col. Cynthia Harris, wing spokeswoman.

The crews have hauled food, water, cots and equipment along with troops sent to the disaster zones.

“The relief efforts are actually going to take a while,” said Maj. Mike Shampine, a C-17 pilot and a 445th Airlift Wing flight operations officer at Wright-Patterson. “As more and more hurricanes (are) battering the area, we’re going to have to keep our resupply effort to get back up to speed.”

RELATED: Wright-Patt C-17 crew flies N.Y. rescue team to Puerto Rico after hurricane

The airlift wing is on standby for possibly more relief flights if needed after Hurricane Maria churned into Puerto Rico as a Category 4 storm Wednesday. The last flight was Monday.

“’We actually have crews standing by basically waiting on a call to launch on short notice,” said Master Sgt. Todd Gnat, who works to coordinate missions.

The wing has canceled training and shuffled plane schedules to respond to the demand. Gnat said.

PHOTOS: Wright-Patt mission to provide Hurricane Irma relief

Crew members have asked to be part of the relief flights since Hurricane Harvey targeted Texas, officials said.

“As soon as people saw the hurricane coming in there, a lot of people called in ahead of time to volunteer their efforts,” Shampine said.

The Dayton Daily News and WHIO-TV reported on one of the relief flights to Homestead Air Reserve Base, Fla., last week.

Group files complaint over Wright-Patt reserve chaplain

Published: Tuesday, September 19, 2017 @ 5:00 AM

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation has filed a complaint over remarks an Air Force Reserve chaplain assigned to Wright-Patterson wrote in a blog post.

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation said it has filed a complaint about a Wright-Patterson Christian chaplain who in a blog post wrote military service members are “grossly in error, and deceived” if they support service members of some different faiths for practicing their religion under the Constitution.

Capt. Sonny Hernandez, an Air Force Reserve chaplain with the 445th Airlift Wing at Wright-Patterson, wrote in part on a Sept. 12 blog post: “Counterfeit Christians in the Armed forces will appeal to the Constitution, and not Christ, and they have no local church home — which means they have no accountability for their souls (Heb. 13:17). This is what so many professing Christian service members will say: We ‘support everyone’s right’ to practice their faith regardless if they worship a god different from ours because the Constitution protects this right.”

He added in the post: “Christian service members who openly profess and support the rights of Muslims, Buddhists, and all other non-Christian worldviews to practice their religions — because the language in the Constitution permits — are grossly in error and deceived.”

RELATED: Group wants Wright-Patt to investigate email it describes as faith-based 

An attorney representing the New Mexico-based Military Religious Freedom Foundation filed a complaint with the Department of Defense Inspector General’s office on Sept. 15, over the chaplain’s written remarks.

“You take an oath when you’re commissioned to support and defend the Constitution, period, with no reservations,” said Donald G. Rehkopf, a Rochester, N.Y., attorney representing MRFF and a former Air Force lawyer. “A lot of people are exposed to his thoughts and beliefs professionally and religiously, and for younger enlisted troops to be hearing stuff like that he’s in essence telling them to avoid their … duties to comply with the law.”

This newspaper sent messages to Hernandez seeking comment.

“He’s been trying to establish a religious faith and he’s creating a religious test,” said MRFF President and Founder Michael L. “Mikey” Weinstein, also a former Air Force lawyer who has demanded an investigation and punishment for the remarks. “This is absolutely a cancer to the very essence of what it takes to put a military together. It destroys good order, morale, discipline, unit cohesion, the health and safety of the troops, mission readiness and military accomplishment. It’s completely antithetical to that.”

The MRFF has had a doubling in complaints about issues related to religion in the military since President Donald Trump was elected to the White House, Weinstein said.

The latest complaint was one of multiple filed by the MRFF over Hernandez since April, Weinstein said.

RELATED: Bible removed from POW display at Wright-Patt Medical Center

The blog post has an addendum that Hernandez “wrote this article as a civilian on his own time on an issue of public interest.” The reservist is also listed as director of Reforming America Ministries.

Hernandez is a former Air Force Life Cycle Management Center individualized mobilization accession company grade officer of the year. In an Air Force article in April 2015 about the award, it noted while at the Air Force Academy, Hernandez was cited for “on-call chaplain support to the active-duty Rabbi chaplain, allowing the cadets Jewish religious rites.”

The 445th Airlift Wing selected the chaplain as the company grade officer of the first quarter of 2016, according to the wing’s website. He joined the wing in November 2014 and has served in the military since 1997, according to published sources.

A wing spokeswoman Monday referred questions about the MRFF complaint to the DoD IG’s office, which had not responded by deadline.