Domestic USAF Operations

If you read USAF news releases, you could be excused for thinking that the Air Force is 100% occupied – and preoccupied – with operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Every other day, regular as clockwork, there’s an “airpower summary” posted, all of which are basically summarized as “jets kill insurgents, film at 11.” What’s easy to overlook is that there are a sizable number of Air Force assets deployed stateside, and who have nothing to do with the Global War on Terra.

The 1st Air Force, also known as “Air Force Northern” or simply “AFNORTH”, is the body responsible for all those boring domestic operations like providing support for political conventions, major sporting events like the Super Bowl, and things of that sort. Earlier this year, they produced a nifty handbook detailing their organization, operations, and (airborne) assets, as they apply to the support of civil authorities – i.e. domestic security and disaster-relief operations.

It’s an interesting look at some lesser-known capabilities of the Air Force, and provides details of both lesser-known assets – RC-26, ARCHER, EO-5, Eagle Vision, anyone? – and better-known systems one might not normally associate with domestic civil support operations – the U-2, E-8, MQ-9, or AC-130, for example. If you’re a fan of obscure military aviation trivia, this stuff’s for you. Even if you’re not so into that stuff, it’s probably worth downloading; there’s a lot of interesting information about, let’s be honest, quite a number of things buried in this handbook. (A U-2 mission can cost $12,500 per hour? Crikey. A RQ-4 Global Hawk UAV is a mere $3,400 per hour, and an OH-58 helicopter just – albeit quite precisely! – $942 per hour.) Want a map of the CONUS air defense network? It’s there. (No, really – page 91.)

The handbook – the 1AF “Defense Support of Civil Authorities Air Support Handbook 2009” – weighs in at 5.4MB, and can be downloaded here (Adobe PDF). Enjoy…

Published in: Geekiness, General | on April 13th, 2009| 1 Comment »

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  1. On 4/15/2009 at 8:43 am peter xyz Said:

    visited the Udvar-Hazy Center in Washington last week
    The figure that our tour guide was throwing around for SR71A flight costs was $85,000 per hour (presumably in historical dollars).
    Which may explain why the’re still flying the U2 but not the Blackbird