Whiteman AFB’s B-2 Bomber Fleet to Get Massive Overhaul
March 27, 2012

KC Star:
Say you own a 20-year-old car and intend to drive it beyond the year 2050. It will need some fixing.
A challenge similar to that continually faces Whiteman Air Force Base, home to the B-2 stealth bomber. Many aircraft parts made in the 1980s, when the first of 21 B-2s rolled out of a Northrop Grumman Corp. hangar, are as obsolete today as the floppy disk.
Yet the plan is to keep those bat-winged bombers flying, and eluding the latest in radar technology, until 2058.
The Pentagon is moving forward with a $2 billion, 10-year effort to modernize the fleet’s defensive capabilities. Digital equipment will replace analog, antennas will be upgraded, communication systems and pilot displays will be enhanced — all needed to address “emerging and proliferating 21st century ground and airborne threats,” according to an Air Force report last year to Congress.
Col. Rob Spalding of Whiteman’s 509th Bomb Wing called the coming enhancements “the biggest and most complex update of the B-2 in its history.”
Washington’s commitment to the B-2 is a no-brainer, experts say, given the plane’s lethal legacy. It has been involved in every combat action since NATO’s 1999 bombing of Serbia in the Kosovo War.
“The B-2 is a door opener,” said John Pike of GlobalSecurity.org, a think tank on weapons systems. “It has the unique ability to fly unescorted into hostile airspace and blow up a lot of stuff — without us first having to take out the other guy’s air defenses.”
Maintaining the fleet — now down to 20, following the wreck of a B-2 flying out of a Guam air base into heavy rain in 2008 — is job one at Missouri’s Whiteman. Scheduled overhauls happen every seven years, and replacement parts are increasingly difficult to find, Spalding said.
In some instances, technicians at the base have devised their own remedies to keep the bomber current with changing technologies.

Kansas & Missouri Republicans Write Obama, No More Base Closings
February 27, 2012

A set of Republican Members of Congress, including several from Missouri and Kansas are calling for President Obama not to close any more military bases.
There are four major military posts in Kansas and Missouri, The Army bases in Ft. Leonard Wood, in Missouri. Kansas has Ft. Riley,
The Air Force has major bases in both states, Whiteman AFB in western Missouri and McConnell AFB in Wichita.
Kansas also has the Ft. Leavenworth military college.
The Missouri Representatives signing the letter include Rep.Vicky Hartzler, she represents the Mo-4 district, which has both Whiteman and Ft. Leonard Wood in her district.
Other Missourians signing the letter includes Reps. Todd Akin, Jo Ann Emerson and Blaine Luetkemyer.
Kansas Representative Lynn Jenkins also signed the letter. Ft. Riley is in her Ks-2 district.
A portion of the letter expresses alarm that the Obama administration may launch another round of military base closings, in an effort to reduce government spending.
The Representatives say that is “an ill-advised”strategy”.
The claim the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) project “is estimated to cost $37 billion to implement and the country will not realize net savings until 2018 at the earliest”.
The Representatives say another round of BRAC closings could cost more than it would save.

Hartzler Wants Gays Back in Military Closet
March 25, 2011

Jack Miles of the Warrensburg Star Journal reports on Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler’s opposition to  ending Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in the military.

“House Armed Services Committee member Vicky Hartzler said she and other Republicans have in their sights the newborn military policy that lets gays serve openly.

Hartzler – whose anti-gay positions led Mother Jones magazine Oct. 20 to headline a story, “Is Vicky Hartzler the Most Anti-Gay Candidate in America?” – discussed gays in the military during her first visit to Warrensburg since unseating House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton in November.

At the ABC Building on Wednesday, Hartzler met with active, reserve and retired military members and spouses. A military retiree, Tom Fitzpatrick, Warrensburg, asked Hartzler about the new military policy on gays.

“Is there a growing sentiment to reinstate don’t ask, don’t tell?” Fitzpatrick asked.

After a 10-month Pentagon study found more than two-thirds of service members do not object to serving alongside openly gay soldiers, President Obama signed a defense bill that included ending the practice of expelling gay service members.

Hartzler – whose 4th Congressional District includes Whiteman Air Force Base and the Army’s Fort Leonard Wood – told Fitzpatrick she and other Republicans oppose the change.

“I can tell you people on the committee, who are my side of the aisle, think it’s very ill-advised and do not support that,” Hartzler said, and are “pushing back.”

Hartzler said that during a hearing with military brass she asked why, because separate housing exists for male and female troops, gays are not housed separately, too. She said a general, she did not know which, responded first with a gurgling-type noise before answering, “”We’re recruiting professionals.”‘

Hartzler’s description led some in the crowd to laugh.

“So we have some work to do there,” she said. “We’re going to keep advancing the cause.”