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Entries in Air Force (32)

Sunday
Apr212013

Authorities Investigating Plane Crash That Killed Air Force General, Wife

Photo via United States Air Force(WILLIAMSBURG, Va.) -- Federal authorities are investigating the cause of a plane crash in Virginia that killed a decorated Air Force general and his wife.

Maj. Gen. Joseph D. Brown IV, 54, was piloting a Cessna 210 Friday, with his wife, Sue Brown, as his passenger, when the plane crashed near the Williamsburg-Jamestown Airport. The couple and their dog were killed in the crash.

No one on the ground was injured in the crash, but the single-engine plane came close to hitting houses in a retirement community, according to witnesses.

"Another 50 feet, and they would have been in my bedroom," resident Bruce Ward told ABC News affiliate WVEC-TV.

"The fellow next door came knocking on our door, and he says, 'You got a fire extinguisher? There's a plane just crashed next to your house,'" Ward said.

Virginia State Police said officials from the Federal Aviation Administration responded Friday. The crash scene was secured overnight until authorities from the National Transportation Safety Board arrived, according to state police.

The cause of the crash was not yet known.

Brown joined the Air Force in 1980 and rose through the ranks. Since October 2010, he had been the commandant of The Dwight D. Eisenhower School for National Security and Resource Strategy in Washington, D.C.

Throughout his career, he had more than 4,300 hours of experience piloting a variety of aircraft, including B-1s and B-52s.

In a joint statement, Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III mourned the loss of a couple who "dedicated their lives in service to our nation."

"Their loss will be felt across our Air Force and joint team," they said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Dec112012

Air Force’s Secret Space Plane Back in Orbit

US Air Force(CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.) -- The X-37B, the Air Force’s unmanned “mini-space shuttle,” has launched into orbit for a third time and once again what it actually does in space remains a big mystery.

One of the few things known about the space plane’s classified missions is that it can stay in orbit for extended periods of time: On its previous mission, a sister craft stayed in orbit for 469 days.

The unmanned space plane lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Fla.,  Tuesday at 1:03 p.m. atop an Atlas V rocket.   The curious could watch the launch on a live webcast that was allowed to broadcast for only 17 minutes into the mission as the space plane began its classified mission.

Officially known as the Orbital Test Vehicle, the reusable aircraft is often referred to as a mini-space shuttle, because it looks like a smaller version of  NASA’s now-retired space shuttles.  Measuring 29 feet in length and with a wingspan of 15 feet, the X-37B is a quarter the size of the shuttles and could easily fit into two long car parking spaces.

Like the space shuttle, the X-37B lands on runways, though it does so without pilots at the helm.

The launch Tuesday marked the first time since the retirement of the space shuttle fleet that a spacecraft has gone into space more than once.

Both X-37Bs in the Air Force’s inventory have been to space, but the one launched Tuesday was the original craft launched into space in April 2010 that remained in orbit for 224 days.

The space plane’s orbits are often tracked by space enthusiasts who speculate as to what it might be doing on its classified missions. In the lead-up to the first launch, Air Force officials said the craft offered a platform for testing new technologies in space.

When the X-37B will return to Earth is an open guess, the robotic vehicle is designed to stay in orbit for at least 270 days.

The robotic space planes have previously landed at Vandenberg Air Force Base and it may land there again, though there has been speculation the Air Force might want to have it land at the runways built for the NASA shuttles at the Kennedy Space Center.

But when it will return to Earth remains an open question.  If previous missions are any indicator it could be in space for quite a long time.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Nov162012

Air Force: F-22 Raptor Crash Not Likely Related to Oxygen Problems

Stocktrek Images/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The Air Force is investigating the cause of an F-22 Raptor crash near an air base in Florida.  However, an Air Force official told ABC News it was likely not related to mysterious and potentially deadly oxygen problems that plagued the $420 million-a-pop war planes for years -- problems the Air Force believes it has already solved.

The Air Force announced Thursday afternoon that an F-22 pilot had managed to bail out of his $420 million fighter jet before the crash near Tyndall Air Force Base.  The Air Force official told ABC News the pilot is in “good shape” and has been speaking with investigators about the crash.

“Initial indications are, from talking to the pilot and from analyzing initial evidence… [that] it doesn’t look like it was related to any physiological problems,” the official said.

He said the pilot did not report any physiological problems and the crash didn’t seem to be related to “any of the life support system issues,” emphasizing that the Air Force will not know for sure what caused the crash until a full investigation has been completed.

The F-22 jet, America’s single most expensive fighter at around $420 million apiece, was the subject of a year-long ABC News investigation that looked into why several of the advanced jets’ pilots were experiencing symptoms of oxygen deprivation in mid-air -- experiences the Air Force often referred to as physiological incidents.  

While the experience was relatively rare -- the Air Force reported more than a couple dozen since 2008 -- they were bad enough that the Air Force grounded the entire fleet of planes for five months last year to investigate, and then placed strong safety restrictions on the planes when they put them back in the air.  The Air Force has since announced that it believes it has solved the problem.

The ABC News investigation also examined the death of Capt. Jeff Haney, an F-22 pilot who died a minute after a malfunction in his plane cut off his oxygen.  Despite the malfunction, the Air Force blamed Haney for the crash.  

In the course of the investigation, ABC News obtained an Air Force test document that showed the service had been warned of a potentially deadly flaw in the F-22 oxygen system design a decade before it played a direct role in Haney’s death.

Thursday’s crash occurred the same day the Air Force reportedly released the results of their investigation into another F-22 crash at Tyndall.  The pilot in that crash, which occurred in May, was able to bail out and save himself as well.  In its report, the Air Force blamed the May crash on pilot error, according to a report by the Air Force Times.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Oct112012

Female Fighter Pilot Breaks Gender Barriers

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Col. Jeannie Flynn Leavitt is not only a decorated fighter pilot; she has broken through gender barriers few thought possible.  She was recently named the Air Force’s first female wing commander, commanding 5,000 airmen at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in North Carolina.

Twenty years ago, when she had completed part of her training, she was told that if she wanted to be fighter pilot, she would be the first and would draw attention.

“I said, ‘Well, I don’t want the attention, but I want to fly fighters more than anything,’” she responded.

She knew she was entering a world dominated by male swagger.  Think Top Gun -- “The plaque for the alternates is down in the ladies room.”

And that attitude was not just in the movies.  Even the Pentagon brass once argued that male bonding was critical.

“If you want to make a combat unit ineffective, add some women to it,” retired Gen. Robert Barrow, the former commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, had said at a 1991 hearing before Congress.

Like it or not, though, they were ordered to change by the Secretary of Defense.  And now, Leavitt and others have inspired a new generation.  There are currently 700 female pilots in the Air Force and 60 female combat pilots.

“Regardless of your gender,” Capt. Patricia Nadeau said, “I think everyone’s going to look up to her.”

Leavitt, 46, has logged more than 2,700 hours -- 300 in combat over Iraq and Afghanistan -- and dropped bombs on enemy targets and avoided enemy fire.

Along the way, she married a fellow fighter pilot -- who’s now stationed “only” three hours away -- and had two children, Shannon and Michael.

She now trains others for combat, commanding a 5,000-member fighter wing.  On one particular day, she led a mock bombing raid in the skies over North Carolina.

“You know gender, race, religion, none of that matters, what matters is how you perform,” Leavitt said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Sep262012

Air Force Mystery Space Plane Set for Next Secret Mission

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The U.S. military’s mysterious X-37B space plane is headed back into the great beyond to do whatever it does up there.

The X-37B is slated for its third launch in October, the Air Force said, but like its two orbital predecessors, the mission of the unmanned spacecraft remains shrouded in secrecy.  The exact timing of the October spaceflight, dubbed Orbital Test Vechicle-3 or OTV-3, is also tentative.

“We are on track for the launch of the X-37B to occur next month, but the exact date of the launch is dependent on a number of factors, including range conditions and weather,” Air Force spokesperson Lt. Col. John Dorrian told ABC News. 

The 29-foot-long vehicle is set to launch aboard an Atlas 5 rocket from the Florida station of Cape Canaveral.

The pioneer voyage of the X-37B, called OTV-1, began in April of 2010 and lasted 225 days, eventually landing in December of the same year at the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.  The second orbit, OTV-2, touched down on the same base this past June following a record-breaking 469-day travel.

“For this third launch, while the vehicle is the same… we are considering landing it at NASA Kennedy Space Center in Florida instead of the previous base,” said Dorrian.  “We are looking to save money and make use of previous investments and infrastructure already available.”

The mission for this small shuttle-like machine, developed by the U.S. Air Force and based on NASA’s original X-37 design, remains largely classified.  The secrecy surrounding the program, which is overseen by the Air Force’s Rapid Capabilities Office, has attracted international attention from nations like China, who have speculated a more aggressive intent.

“Industry analysts said the spacecraft could be a precursor to an orbiting weapon, capable of dropping bombs or disabling enemy satellites as it circles the globe,” China’s state-run Xinhua news agency wrote in June after OTV-2 concluded its mission.

Since the 2010 maiden flight, U.S. officials have continuously assured the world that the mission of the OTV series is non-nefarious “testing.”  For instance, the coming October mission will focus on testing the vehicle’s capabilities as well the cost-effectiveness of the aircraft, Air Force spokesperson Maj. Tracy Bunko told SPACE.com, which first reported on the new mission.

“One of the most promising aspects of the X-37B is it enables us to examine a payload system or technology in the environment in which it will perform its mission and inspect them when we bring them back to Earth,” Bunko said.  “Returning an experiment via the X-37B OTV enables detailed inspection and significantly better learning than can be achieved by remote telemetry alone.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug152012

Air Force X-51A WaveRider Hypersonic Jet Crashes

US Air Force graphic(OXNARD, Calif.) -- The Air Force confirms that a hypersonic jet called the X-51A WaveRider crashed in the Pacific Ocean Wednesday after one of its control fins failed.  The unmanned aircraft was launched from an Air Force B-52 bomber over Point Mugu Naval Air Warfare Center at around 11:36 a.m. Wednesday, Pacific time.

At first, the launch looked good. The WaveRider separated from the B-52 as planned, and its booster rockets fired properly. Then, after about 16 seconds of flight, the control fin was found to be faulty and the jet tumbled out of control.

“All our data showed we had created the right conditions for engine ignition and we were very hopeful to meet our test objectives,” said Charles Brink, the project manager, in a statement.  The failure, he said, was “unfortunate.”

Researchers are analyzing data from the failed test, after which the Air Force says it will release the results of the investigation. The X-51A has had two previous successful tests, including one two years ago during which it flew for more than three minutes at five times the speed of sound.

With this latest test, the Air Force had hoped the speed would increase to 4,600 mph, roughly six times the speed of sound.

The Air Force hasn’t disclosed the cost of the WaveRider program, but Globalsecurity.org, a website that tracks military spending, says the project has cost $250-300 million since it began in 2004.  After Wednesday’s test only one aircraft remains, and Air Force officials have not decided when or if it will fly.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Aug022012

Activists Demand Open Hearing on Air Force Sexual Assaults

U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Ken Wright(WASHINGTON) -- Survivors of sexual assault in the military delivered a petition with more than 10,000 signatures to Congress Thursday demanding an open hearing on the sexual abuse scandal at Lackland Air Force base just minutes before the House Armed Services Committee began a closed-door briefing on Lackland.

More than 30 female trainees say they were raped or sexually assaulted by their instructors at Lackland, the Air Force recruiting center in San Antonio, Texas. Twelve different instructors are under investigation for their conduct, including Staff Sgt. Luis Walker, who was convicted of rape and sexual assault and sentenced to 20 years in prison on July 20.

Thursday morning, the House Armed Services Committee held a closed door briefing with Air Force Secretary Michael Donley about the ongoing investigations into the sexual assaults at Lackland Air Force Base. Right before it started, the sexual assault survivors, including the whistleblower who exposed the Navy's Tailhook scandal in 1991, delivered their petition demanding an open hearing to the office of Committee Chairman Rep. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon, R.-Calif.

One of the victims, Air Force veteran Jennifer Norris, said she had been scared to speak up because she was afraid she would "lose her career." "And eventually I did," said Norris. "I was labeled a troublemaker. In a sense I was fired for being raped."

Tailhook whistleblower Paula Coughlin-Puopolo started the online petition demanding an open hearing last month. Coughlin-Puopolo was a Navy lieutenant in 1991 when she says she was forced to run a gauntlet and assaulted at the Tailhook conference, a meeting of a naval aviators group at the Las Vegas Hilton. According to a Defense Department report, three women and seven men alleged they had been harassed or assaulted during the conference.

Coughlin-Puopolo said Thursday she had joined other assault victims with hopes of discovering the "scope of the problem."

"With these signatures and the support of all of the military it's a possibility that we can actually discover the scope of the problem, turn the lights on to a culture the military does not want to see the problem; and that's why this petition is very specific to asking for an open door hearing," said Coughlin-Puopolo.

In addition to the 10,000-plus signatures, 78 members of Congress have also called on Rep. McKeon to open a Lackland hearing. That Thursday's proceedings were closed came as a surprise to at least one member of the House. "It's a closed briefing?" asked Rep. Allen West, R.-Fla., who was trying to bring two guests. "I did not know that."

According to a press release from Protect Our Defenders, an advocacy group for survivors of sexual assault in the military, last year there were an estimated 19,000 military rapes and sexual assaults, but only 3,200 victims reported the attacks and out of those only 191 cases resulted in court martial conviction.

In a statement by the Armed Services Committee, Rep. McKeon and Ranking Member Rep. Adam Smith, D.-Wash., stated they understood the concerns the closed briefing had generated, but are "committed to making sure that sexual offenders are prosecuted and victim's rights are protected."

"In sensitive cases such as these, open hearings can jeopardize ongoing prosecutions and investigations. This is another step in our long-standing oversight of this issue. It is by no means the final step," the statement read.

Meanwhile, on the Senate side of the Hill, Sen. John Cornyn, R.-Texas, has removed the "hold" he had on the nomination of Gen. Mark Welsh to be Chief of Staff of the Air Force after meeting with him Thursday.

Cornyn had previously blocked Gen. Welsh, saying his hold would "remain until I feel the Air Force is adequately addressing the unacceptable situation at Lackland and taking corrective steps to reform their training program to prevent this from happening again."

Following Thursday's meeting, Sen. Cornyn said, "It's clear Gen. Welsh shares my grave concerns over the situation at Lackland. Gen. Welsh demonstrated a genuine resolve to improve Air Force-wide policies to prevent a recurrence of the grossly unacceptable conduct that took place at Lackland."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul302012

Report: F-22 Fighter Loses $79 Billion Advantage in Dogfights

U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Jeremy Lock(WASHINGTON) -- The United States has spent nearly $80 billion to develop the most advanced stealth fighter jet in history, the F-22 Raptor, but the Air Force recently found out firsthand that while the planes own the skies at modern long-range air combat, it is “evenly matched” with cheaper, foreign jets when it comes to old-school dogfighting.

The F-22 made its debut at the international Red Flag Alaska training exercise this June where the planes, “cleared the skies of simulated enemy forces and provided security for Australian, German, Japanese, Polish and [NATO] aircraft,” according to an after-action public report by the Air Force. The F-22 took part in the exercise while under strict flying restrictions imposed by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in light of mysterious, potentially deadly oxygen problems with the planes -- problems that the Pentagon believes it has since solved.

The Air Force said the planes flew 80 missions during the event, “with a very high mission success rate.” However, a new report from Combat Aircraft Monthly revealed that in a handful of missions designed to test the F-22 in a very specific situation -- close-range, one-on-one combat -- the jet appeared to lose its pricey advantages over a friendly rival, the Eurofighter Typhoon, flown in this case by German airmen.

“We expected to perform less with the Eurofighter but we didn’t,” German air officer Marc Grune said, according to Combat Aircraft Monthly. “We were evenly matched. They didn’t expect us to turn so aggressively.”

Two other German officers, Col. Andreas Pfeiffer and Maj. Marco Gumbrecht, noted in the same report that the F-22′s capabilities are “overwhelming” when it comes to modern, long-range combat as the stealth fighter is designed to engage multiple enemies well-beyond the pilot’s natural field of vision -- mostly while the F-22 is still out of the other plane’s range. Grumbrecht said that even if his planes did everything right, they weren’t able to get within 20 miles of the next-generation jets before being targeted.

“But as soon as you get to the merge…” Pfeiffer said, referring to the point at which fighters engage in close-up dogfighting, “in that area, at least, the Typhoon doesn’t necessarily have to fear the F-22 in all aspects… In the dogfight the Eurofighter is at least as capable as the F-22, with advantages in some aspects.”

In response to the report, a spokesperson for the Air Force, Lt. Col. Tadd Sholtis, told ABC News that one-on-one combat is only one way to evaluate an aircraft’s capabilities and said it’s not, “necessarily the most relevant to every scenario.”

“The F-22 is conceived and employed as part of an integrated force that provides offensive capabilities that make close engagements far less likely while retaining the ability to handle close engagements in tandem with other fighters,” he said.

Air Force Gen. John Jumper, one of the few airmen to have flown both aircraft before he retired in 2005, said that year that it is difficult to compare the F-22 and the Eurofighter.

“They are different kinds of airplanes to start with,” he said, according to an Air Force Print News report. “It’s like asking us to compare a NASCAR car with a Formula 1 car. They are both exciting in different ways, but they are designed for different levels of performance.”

The F-22, “can maneuver with the best of them if it has to, but what you want to be able to do is get into contested airspace no matter where it is,” Jumper said, referring to the F-22′s stealth and supercruise capabilities that are meant to allow the plane to sneak in to hostile territory undetected -- an ability the non-stealth Eurofighter lacks.

As for where that contested airspace may be, the Air Force hasn’t said. But in April 2011 an executive for Lockheed Martin, the primary manufacturer of the F-22, told ABC News that the plane could “absolutely” find a home in quick strike missions against countries like Iran or North Korea. Over the weekend, the Air Force deployed a squadron of F-22s to Kadena Air Base in southern Japan just over 800 miles south of the North Korean border -- a move that comes three months after an undisclosed number of the stealth jets were deployed to an allied base in the United Arab Emirates, some 200 miles from the Iranian mainland.

The F-22 is the single most expensive fighter jet in history at a total acquisition cost of an estimated $79 billion for 187 planes, meaning each plane costs approximately $420 million. Estimates for the Eurofighter Typhoon -- the premier fighter for several allied countries including the U.K., Germany and Italy -- put that plane at just under $200 million each, according to an April 2011 report by England’s Public Accounts Committee.

“[Red Flag was] a mission to get to know each other, the first contact by German Eurofighters in the continental U.S.,” Grune said of mock-fighting the F-22s. “We are not planning on facing each other in combat. We want to work together, but it was a starter for us to work together. They were impressed, as we were impressed by them.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jul252012

Pentagon 'Confident' Mystery F-22 Fighter Problem Solved

U.S. Air Force/Senior Airman Kasey Close(WASHINGTON) -- The military believes it has found the source of the potentially deadly oxygen problem that has plagued America's most expensive fighter jet, the F-22 Raptor, for years, Pentagon spokesperson George Little said on Tuesday.

"I think we have very high confidence that we've identified the issues," Little told reporters, before announcing a long-term plan to lift strict flight restrictions imposed by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on the $79 billion fleet in May.  "This is a very prudent way to ensure that we, in a very careful manner, resume normal flight operations."

The mystery problem with the F-22 Raptor was the subject of an ABC News Nightline investigation, which found that since 2008, F-22 pilots have experienced unexplained symptoms of oxygen deprivation -- including confusion, sluggishness and disorientation -- while at the controls of the $420 million-a-pop jets on more than two dozen occasions.  In one instance, a pilot became so disoriented that his plane skimmed treetops before he was able to pull up and save himself.

The Air Force subjected the F-22 to intense scrutiny for years, including a nearly five-month fleet-wide grounding last year, but was unable to solve the problem.  When the grounding was lifted, the service awarded the plane's manufacturer, defense contracting giant Lockheed Martin, a nearly $25 million contract in part to help identify the problem, but still no answer was found.

The source of the issue, the Pentagon now says, is believed to be a faulty valve in the high-pressure vest that is worn by the pilots at extreme altitudes -- one that Air Force officials believe is constricting the pilots' ability to breathe.

"To correct the supply issue and reduce the incidence of hypoxia-like events, the Air Force has made two changes to the aircraft's cockpit life support system," Little said.  "First, the Air Force will replace a valve in the upper pressure garment vest worn by pilots during high-altitude missions.  The valve was causing the vest to inflate and remain inflated under conditions where it was not designed to do so, thereby causing breathing problems for some pilots... Second, the Air Force has increased the volume of air flowing to pilots by removing a filter that was installed to determine whether there were any contaminants present in the oxygen system.  Oxygen contamination was ruled out."

The Air Force first ordered its pilots to stop wearing the vests last month, but Air Force spokesperson Lt. Col. Tadd Scholtis told ABC News at the time that while the vests were believed to have contributed to the problem, they were "not believed to be the root cause of the prior incidents."

When asked by a reporter if the new solution could also account for the at least five instances in which the Air Force said ground crews working on the F-22s experienced their own hypoxia-like symptoms, Little said he "did not have specifics" on those incidents.

Still, Gen. Charles Lyon, the head of the team investigating the F-22 problem, made his case in the Pentagon against the so-called G-suit and its valve over the past few days, an Air Force official told ABC News, and Little said that on Friday Air Force Secretary Michael Donley and other top Air Force officials presented the Air Force analysis to Panetta.

"After receiving assurances that these corrective measures would minimize hypoxia-like events in the F-22, the secretary approved the Air Force planned sequence of actions to remove flight restrictions over time," Little said.

The process started on Tuesday, he said, with an order from the Air Force for a squadron of F-22s to be deployed to Kadena Air Base in Japan.  The planes will fly there at altitudes that will not require pilots to wear the vests.

The Air Force is still in the process of installing an automatic emergency back-up oxygen system to the planes but that process is not expected to be completed until next spring.

Despite costing an estimated $79 billion, no jet in the entire F-22 fleet -- some 185 planes -- has ever seen combat.  From Iraq to Afghanistan to the no-fly zone over Libya, the Air Force said the planes simply weren't necessary.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jun292012

Air Force Says Dozens of Recruits Were Victims of Sexual Assault

U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Marleah Miller(WASHINGTON) -- An ongoing Air Force investigation has identified at least 31 female recruits who were allegedly victims of sexual misconduct, including rape by a dozen male drill instructors, since 2009 at the service's largest boot camp training facility at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas.

Six of the instructors face criminal charges including rape, aggravated sexual assault, adultery, and engaging in improper sexual relationships with female trainees.  One of those trainers is charged with having had improper conduct with 10 female recruits. Another who pleaded guilty to a charge of an improper relationship later admitted to prosecutors that he had been involved with 10 female recruits.

The Air Force said there are ongoing investigations of alleged sexual misconduct by six other military training instructors at the base.  Lackland employs about 500 military instructors at the base.  More than 35,000 of the Air Force's incoming airmen go through their initial training there -- 22 percent of them are women.

Lt. Gen. Edward Rice Jr., commander of Air Education and Training Command, told Pentagon reporters on Thursday that nine of the instructors were from the same squadron, the 331st Training Squadron, at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio.  The squadron's commander was relieved of command earlier this month for what Rice called "an unacceptable level of misconduct" within the unit.

The Air Force first became aware of the incidents last summer when a female recruit stepped forward with allegations that she had been assaulted.  Later in the fall, three drill instructors made additional allegations of further misconduct by their peers within the 331st Training Squadron.

"We are leaving no stone unturned," Gen. Edward A. Rice Jr., the Air Force's commander of training and education, said Thursday.  "I am being as aggressive as I can."

To that end, Rice said that the Air Force is casting a wide net and is sending surveys to all of the airmen who've gone through training at Lackland over the past one or two years.  That means 35,000 to 70,000 airmen will be receiving surveys asking if they were aware of incidents of sexual misconduct that may have occurred at the base while they were trainees.

Earlier this week, the Air Force announced that a major general had been tasked with determining if there were systemic issues at other training centers that could indicate a pattern of sexual misconduct.

Rice said that most of the misconduct occurred during basic training at Lackland, although there were some instances where instructors had engaged in improper sexual relations with recruits after they had moved on to other technical training programs at the base.

He said indications are that the sexual misconduct may have been limited to only the 331st training squadron and not the other eight training squadrons at the base.

"In my assessment to this point, it is not an issue of an endemic problem throughout basic military training," Rice said.  "It is more localized, and we are doing a very intensive investigation on that squadron to find out what exactly happened and why."

Rice said he would await the results of the ongoing reviews before determining what corrective measures should be instituted, including potentially the hiring of more female drill instructors or having only female instructors handle female recruits.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







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