This Week In AFLCMC History - October 24 - 30, 2022

  • Published
  • By Air Force Life Cycle Management Center History Office
24 Oct 1991 (Air Force Security Assist & Coop. Dir./Fighters & Adv Aircraft Dir.) 
The Republic of Korea signed Letters of Offer/Acceptance for 120 Lockheed (General Dynamics) F-16C/D Block 52 fighters and 20 LANTIRN (Low Altitude Navigation and Targeting Infrared for Night) pods. In 1981, South Korea became the first non-US operator of the F-16C/Ds, sold to it under the Peace Bridge I Foreign Military Sales Program. Eight years later, the Koreans opted to buy F/A-18s to supplement its fighter fleet, but delays in that program led to switch to a second round of F-16s as Peace Bridge II in 1991. This lot consisted of a mix of standard US-built models, Lockheed-manufactured/Korean-assembled planes, and entirely Korean-made versions. 

25 Oct 2004 (AFLCMC/WPAFB) 

The Department of Defense announced a Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process to eliminate no-longer needed facilities and realign the force structure to then-current “transformation” efforts for the Global War on Terror (GWOT). This was the fifth and largest BRAC since 1988. Wright-Patterson was the AFLCMC-predecessor site most significantly affected when the BRAC closed Brooks City-Base in Texas and redistributed its functions, primarily the aerospace medicine organization that came to WPAFB. The cost of closing and moving that increased 87% from initial estimates of $325 million to a final $608 million, including construction of the new 711th Human Performance Wing aeromedical complex at WPAFB. 

26 Oct 1971 (Mobility & Training Aircraft Dir.) 
The 4950th Test Wing at Wright-Patterson AFB, part of AFLCMC predecessor Aeronautical Systems Division (ASD), completed flight tests of an experimental Automatic Landing System (ALS) for the Lockheed C-5A. The first successful demonstration of an ALS had occurred at Wright Field in 1937. ASD, its associated labs, and Hanscom’s Electronic Systems Division were all involved in the development of modern all-weather landing systems like the ALS that enabled aircraft to land in low-visibility conditions, most notably for the C-141. The 4950th flew 140 approach and landings in the Fall of 1971 to verify the C-5A’s ALS performance and recommended several improvements. 

28 Oct 1968 (ISR &SOF Directorate) 

An Air Force RB-57E reconnaissance bomber, which had been converted by BIG SAFARI (now AFLCMC/WI’s 645th Aeronautical Systems Group) into the PATRICIA LYNN 2 all-weather reconnaissance platform, was shot down over Vietnam after being hit by ground fire in the left engine. Its 2-person crew ejected safely and were
recovered by American forces. Four aircraft were originally converted to PATRICA LYNN configuration under Big Safari by Convair in Texas to carry optical cameras, the first infrared camera sensors deployed in Vietnam, and terrain-following radar. The original PATRICIA LYNN 2 was also lost to anti-aircraft guns, on 5 August 1967. The capabilities were so valuable that this fifth aircraft was immediately added as a replacement. It had an updated IR sensor, as well as the all-black color scheme. The small fleet served into the 1970s as RIVET LOCK. (Photo above). 

29 Oct 1953 (Fighters & Advanced Aircraft Dir.) 

The first production model F-100A Super Sabre made its first flight. This happened just 5 months after the prototype YF-100 flew - which coincidentally set an official world speed record of 755.149mph on this same day. North American Aviation developed the aircraft in 1951 as an evolution of its highly-successful F-86 Sabre. Even though it was presented as an unsolicited proposal, the Air Force ordered 250 F-100As before the prototypes were even built. The compressed acquisition timeline revealed both the advantages and drawbacks of that approach. The fighters were delivered quickly: just 3 years from acceptance of the design to initial operational capability. However, operational testing and experience uncovered significant (and deadly) design flaws that were expensive to retrofit to the existing fleet and to incorporate into the production line. Eventually these were fixed and over 2200 F-100s were built. 

30 Oct 2001 (Business & Enterprise Systems Dir.—Maxwell-Gunter Annex) 

The Secretary of the Air Force and the USAF Chief of Staff directed the Air Force to consolidate management of all network servers and desktop services in an effort to better leverage information technologies (IT) and improve effectiveness and efficiency. At the time, the Air Force’s IT portfolio was entirely decentralized, expensive, and used many proprietary and government-specific systems across its organizations and bases, without uniform standards and procedures. The multi-year process of moving to more commercial desktop and network/server systems was led by an Air Force Chief Information Officer (CIO) with subordinate CIOs at each Major Command. It also helped modernize and integrate Air Force IT for the World Wide Web. 

100 Years Ago This Week in AFLCMC History: 27 October 1922 

In the late summer of 1917, the US Army Signal Corps’ Equipment Division that was responsible for “darkening the skies of Europe” with American aircraft was struggling to create a new home for its Airplane Engineering Department. Both construction progress and availability of a technical workforce at its intended site at Langley Field, Virginia, were sorely lacking. In haste, they looked around the country for an alternate location, settling on about 200 acres of land just north of downtown Dayton, Ohio, because it had both the qualified workers and was “shovel-ready.” The assumption was that the new “McCook Field” was a temporary wartime exigency that could go up in a hurry and come down just as quickly once hostilities ceased.

Ever since the end of WWI in November 1918, rumor had it that McCook Field’s closure was imminent. However, its unique functions proved indispensable to the post-war Air Service. Even though its facilities were inadequate for the long-term, Congress was entirely unwilling to allocate funds to move or close it, thus saving military aviation in Dayton through benign neglect. 

By 1922, those rumors became fact: McCook Field would close because it was too small and too close to the city to safely conduct its mission. Other cities had already begun lobbying for it, offering to donate land in important Congressional districts. Word of this reached Frederick Patterson, President of Dayton’s world-famous National Cash Register company. He immediately arranged audiences with the Secretary of War and Air Service leadership, who confirmed the rumors and indicated that Dayton needed to follow suit if it did not want to lose out. 

Patterson spent mid-1922 rallying Dayton’s prominent citizens to join the new Dayton Air Service Committee he created to keep McCook Field in town, though at a different location. Their ace-in-the-hole was Wilbur Wright Field, to the east of Dayton, that had been a WWI training school and was now an auxiliary flight test site for McCook Field. It was also adjacent to the Air Service’s Fairfield Air Depot distribution center. 

An Air Service commission visited this property proposed by Patterson and was duly impressed. At nearly 5,000 acres, it dwarfed McCook Field and would be the largest flying field in the world. On October 25, 1922, Patterson received word from the Army that they would accept the property, should it be donated to the government. That very evening, the Dayton Air Service Committee met to strategize their plan to buy the land. 

On October 27, Patterson hosted a dinner for 200 people, including McCook commander Maj Thurman Bane and Air Service Chief Gen Mason Patrick, to kick off fundraising. In just two days, Dayton citizens pledged over $400,000 to buy the land, though it took two years to complete the deal and two more years to break ground on “Wright Field” - the modern Wright-Patterson AFB.