A fuel malfunction almost caused an F-16 pilot to eject over Islamic State group-held territory last year — but a savvy KC-135 tanker crew saved him from abandoning his aircraft over enemy territory, the Air Force is reporting.
The Air Force said a Stratotanker deployed from McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas, was refueling some A-10s in the area when the F-16 flew up in need of a helping hand.
Because of a technical problem the jet couldn’t sustain over 500 pounds of fuel at a time, even though the KC-135 was “expecting to offload about 2,500 pounds,” Capt. Nathanial Beer, 384th Air Refueling Squadron pilot, said in a release.
An F-16 has a fuel capacity of 7,000 pounds internally, with a typical capacity of 12,000 pounds with two external tanks, according to the Air Force.
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Instead of calling it quits on the aircraft, the pilot alerted the tanker of his malfunction, and the crew escorted the jet to its base “while refueling every 15 minutes to avoid an emergency.”
The service on Thursday announced that Richard Lombardi, acting assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, “was reassigned to duties outside of the Air Force acquisition portfolio” after failing to report “a Northrop Grumman retirement account held by his spouse in his annual public financial disclosure form,” according to a statement from Lt. Col. Christopher Karns, a spokesman for the service at the Pentagon.
Northrop in October won a major contract to build the U.S. military’s future fleet of stealth bombers.
Development of a futuristic weapon depicted in video games and science fiction is going well enough that a Navy admiral wants to skip an at-sea prototype in favor of installing an operational unit aboard a destroyer planned to go into service in 2018, according to Military.com.
Adm. Pete Fanta, the Navy’s director of surface warfare, has floated the idea of foregoing the current plan to put a prototype on another vessel this year and instead put it directly on future USS Lyndon B. Johnson, though no final decision has been made.
“The Zumwalt-class is one of a number of options being explored for the electromagnetic railgun,” said Lt. Cmdr. Hayley Sims, a Navy spokeswoman. “Due to the size, weight and power requirements, some platforms will be better suited for the technology than others.”
Railguns use electricity instead of gunpowder to accelerate a projectile at six or seven times the speed of sound — creating enough kinetic energy to destroy targets.
The blimp that broke loose from an Army facility in Maryland last fall, wreaking havoc with its milelong tether, flew uncontrolled for hours because someone neglected to put batteries in its automatic-deflation device, Pentagon investigators have found.
The pilotless, radar-carrying blimp was part of the troubled JLENS missile-defense system, which has failed to perform as promised while costing taxpayers more than $2.7 billion since 1998.
The runaway blimp episode was caused by a cascade of events spanning 13 hours, according to people familiar with the investigation, an overview provided to congressional staff members and a summary released by a military spokeswoman.
The six-sentence summary of the investigation said that “design, human, and procedural issues all contributed” to the mishap. Pentagon officials declined to release a copy of the investigative report.
The blimp was one of two moored at the Army’s Aberdeen Proving Ground. On Oct. 28, it was floating at an altitude of about 5,200 feet when its tether tore apart.
Fighter jets were scrambled to track the blimp as it wafted over Maryland and Pennsylvania, and commercial air traffic had to be diverted. The blimp’s tether damaged power lines, knocking out electricity to 35,000 rural Pennsylvania residents. The tattered blimp finally came to rest in high trees in rural Moreland Township, Pa.