Tactical Tailor

Archive for the ‘Aviation’ Category

Flying Cross Honors Army Astronaut on Apollo 11 Anniversary

Saturday, July 20th, 2019

Three officers from three different countries (USA, Russia, Italy) united by a mission to space and a duty to serve humanity will launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Saturday July 20 at 12:25 p.m. EDT. Unlike the Apollo 11 astronauts who were heading to the moon for the first manned landing on the lunar surface, the crew of Expedition 60 will be heading to the International Space Station.

NASA Astronaut Andrew Morgan of the U.S. Army has been teamed with Alexander Skvortsov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos and Luca Parmitano, an Italian astronaut from the European Space Agency.

Of all the uniforms we’ve ever made, we can’t help but feel especially proud of the one we made for Col. Morgan. It has been a distinct pleasure to have seen Col. Morgan wearing his Army Green Service Uniform in numerous photos leading up to the big launch – when he will swap his AGSU for something a bit more suitable for space travel.

We wish Col. Morgan and his fellow crew-mates a safe launch, a successful mission, and happy landings upon their return to Earth.


Where will you go in your Army Green Service Uniform? www.GoAGSU.com

SOFWERX – Next Generation PEO-RW Cockpit Capability Collaboration Event

Sunday, July 7th, 2019

USSOCOM PEO-Rotary Wing (RW) is interested in the next generation Special Operations Aviation (SOA) Cockpit. Join subject matter experts to ideate on potential solutions. This event will help participants understand the operational needs of the RW user community.

Focus areas include:
• Controls
• Voice Activation
• Heads Up Eyes Out Display
• Windscreen
• Display
• Communication/ICS
• Operational Flight Program (Operating System)

The event will ensure exposure to any technology that could increase aviator capability from the cockpit.

SOFWERX will hold an event on 16 July 2019 and the RSVP Deadline: 09 July 11:59 PM EST (sic).

For additional details, visit www.sofwerx.org/cockpit.

AFSOC U-28A Aircraft Named “Draco”

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2019


After more than 13 years in service, the U-28A intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft officially received approval in May for the naming convention of “Draco”.  

Draco is the Latin term for dragon. Most aircraft commonly have a name after their numerical designation, such as CV-22 Osprey. 

Col. Robert Masaitis, 492nd Special Operations Training Group commander, Draco pilot and former commander of the 34th Special Operations Squadron at Hurlburt Field, commented on the process of naming the aircraft.

“From my time in the community (2010-2012), we were split between a couple of schools of thought on the official naming of the U-28,” said Masaitis. “Lt. Gen. Eric Fiel, the AFSOC commander at the time, had told us we ought to name the aircraft. Between the two, then later three squadron commanders, we could agree that ‘Draco’ was probably the obvious choice. I’m glad to see we’re bringing this initiative to fruition after all this time, as the U-28 has become so much more than the single-engine, non-descript ‘utility’ aircraft we brought into the service over a decade ago.”

The mission of the Draco is to provide manned fixed-wing tactical airborne ISR support to humanitarian operations, search and rescue, conventional and special operations missions.

 “This is fantastic recognition of an aircraft and community,” said Brig. Gen. William Holt, AFSOC special assistant to the commander. “Draco has changed the very fabric of our AFSOC DNA and will continue to be our premier ISR platform for years to come.”

The Draco reached a historic milestone on June 22, 2018, when the AFSOC aircraft reached the 500,000 flying hours mark.

Lt. Col. Chad Anthony, 319th Special Operations Squadron commander, commented on the capabilities of the aircraft.

“Over the battlefields of the global war on terror, Draco has come to mean unparalleled special operations intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support, especially to the men and women on the ground in the line of fire,” said Anthony. “Aircrew and special operators who have flown and worked with the Pilatus U-28A have known it as Draco since its first combat deployment in June 2006.”

Maj. Caitlin Reilly, a U-28A Draco pilot and AFSOC director of operations executive officer, commented on the importance of the name approval and the Draco community.

“All of us in the U-28 community today are humbled by the vision and expertise of the U-28A plankholders (the original founders of the program),” said Reilly. “They created something that had never been done before, and it has evolved into an asset that is now one of the ‘minimum force requirements’ of our nation’s elite SOF teams on their ‘no-fail’ missions.”

The Draco is an integral part of AFSOC’s light tactical fixed wing fleet.

Col. Andrew Jett, 492nd Special Operations Wing commander, former 34th SOS commander and Draco pilot, commented on the significance of the name. 

“Our partners may not have known the personal names of the crewmembers, but they always know Draco,” said Jett. “There is a tremendous amount of recognition and respect when a crewmember identifies him or herself as being a member of Draco. I’m thrilled about the exceptional reputation Draco has built over the 13 plus years of the program and it’s now codified as the permanent aircraft name, and is something every member of Draco, past and present, can take pride in.”

Reilly further commented on the pride she and fellow Draco aviators take in the name.

The best thing about the U-28 community, and AFSOC as a whole, is that it is a competency-based organization, she said.

All of the U-28 aircrew are equally proud of the Draco name approval.

Every Air Commando in the U-28A community dedicates themselves to the demanding task of upholding the level of expertise and respect that the name Draco commands, said Reilly. It’s extremely challenging, and we’re all immensely proud of what this name represents.

By SSgt Lynette Rolen, Air Force Special Operations Command Public Affairs

U-28 Photo by photo by A1C Joel Miller

Constellation graphic by Jeff Pendleton

SOFWERX – SOAR Helmet System Capability Assessment Event

Monday, June 10th, 2019

SOFWERX is holding a SOAR Helmet System
Capability Assessment Event
, 13-14 August 2019. The goal is to identify a new, lightweight, low profile Rotary Wing aircrew helmet for use by the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment which solves the capability gaps below.


Helmet system capability gaps include, but are not limited to:
• The proposed helmet system must meet the performance requirements of Section 3.7 of the Purchase Description Aircrew Integrated Helmet System, HGU-56/P (AIHS) dated 1 November 1996, with the updated modifications identified in the Improved Rotary Wing Helmet Technology Readiness Test (TRT) Protocol dated 29 March 2019.
• The helmet system must provide significantly improved head mobility and field of view compared to the existing HGU-56/P. The helmet system must allow the AH/MH-6 Little Bird pilot the ability to visually see the pilot-side skids without having to position his upper body outside of the cockpit.
• In the opinion of the operator, the helmet system must remain comfortable and stable for a minimum of 8 hours of continuous use. This includes when being used in conjunction with a Night Vision Device (NVD), oxygen delivery system, and CBRN mask.
• The helmet system must integrate and still meet the performance requirements when used with the following items
o Aircraft Internal Communications System (ICS) of the AH/MH-6 Little Bird, MH- 60M Blackhawk, and MH-47G Chinook; Objective of a digital headset that is compatible with the digital output of the ICS, and does not require an inner-ear solution (e.g. ear bud)
o AN/PRC-148 Multiband Inter/Intra Team Radio (MBITR), AN/PRC-152A Multiband Handheld Radio (MBHHR), and AN/PRC-163 Multi-Channel Handheld Radio (MCHHR)
oAquaLung Portable Helmet Oxygen Delivery System (PHODS) with nasal cannula and full mask option
o M45 Aircrew CBRN mask,Joint Service Aircrew Mask–Rotary Wing (JSAMRW) MPU-5
o Aviator’s Night Vision Imaging System – 6 (ANVIS-6) with up to 640 grams of total weight
o FirstSpear Aviation Body Armor Vest
o Elbit Common Helmet Mounted Display(CHMD)
• The helmet system should have the option of an easily attachable/detachable
maxillofacial system that provides environmental and impact protection.
• The system must be designed with snag-free cabling for all items requiring cables.
Cabling and connectors shall be durable and designed for repeated use and flexing.
• The helmet system must be maintainable at the unit level with readily available
replacement parts.

Successful demonstrations may be considered for follow on production awards to replace ~1300 helmets.

Interested parties have until to submit. Visit www.sofwerx.org/helmet for full details.

Now That’s What I Call Aerial Fires

Saturday, May 25th, 2019

NAVAIR Approves Massif’s Hellman Combat Pant and Advanced Quarter Zip Combat Shirt

Tuesday, April 16th, 2019

Massif’s Hellman Combat Pant and Advanced Quarter Zip Combat Shirt are NAVAIR approved.  As a recent SOA list addition, these new items are interchangeable with the approved Massif 2 Piece flight suit to give Aircrews the flexibility to pick and choose flight gear based on mission and environment. This is huge for Naval Aircrews as this is the first time a Combat-Style pant with integrated knee pad has been approved for flight use. Navy and Marine Corps helo crews spend lots of time on their knees and this move is bringing much needed relief.


Massif has done a great job of working with various communities like naval and Marine Corps aviation to not only boost performance, but also preventing injuries.

Hellman Combat Pant


 *   Sigma 4 Start Fabric powered by DuPont Nomex and DuPont Kevlar
 *   Integrated/removable Crye Precision Airflex Kneepad
 *   Intuitive Hand Pockets and utility pockets built with comfort and usability in mind
 *   Dual entry cargo pockets
 *   Available in Sage Green, Tan, and OCP

Tech sheet and sizing chart can be found at www.massif.com/profession/navy/hellman-pant.

Advanced Quarter Zip Combat Shirt


 *   Proprietary 4 way stretch fabrics now fielded in over 7 million combat shirts
 *   Superfabric covered elbows offer protection and abrasion resistance
 *   Ultra lightweight collar and zipper
 *   Adjustable cuffs and thumb loop for secure fit
 *   Advanced breathability and wicking properties
 *   Available in Sage Green, Tan, OD Green, Black and OCP
 *   Women’s fit available in Sage Green and OCP

Tech sheet and sizing chart can be found at www.massif.com/profession/navy/advanced-14-zip-combat-shirt.

AFSOC Combat Aviation Advisors

Sunday, December 23rd, 2018

USAF MSgt Joseph Kimbrell, a Combat Aviation Advisor with the 5th Special Operations Squadron, prepares to load a motorcycle onto a C-145A “Combat Coyote” for a training mission.

The C-145A is capable of moving non-standard cargo into remote locations, usually inaccessible by larger, more traditional cargo aircraft.

Quiet Professionals

Tuesday, December 11th, 2018

DUKE FIELD, Fla. — From an airfield that once served as the training grounds for the famed Doolittle Raiders, Citizen Air Commandos from the 919th Special Operations Wing, Duke Field, Florida, are working daily to deliver superior airpower around the world.

Master Sgt. Joseph Kimbrell (left) prepares his equipment for a future C-145A training mission while Master Sgt. Brian Schultz assists Tech. Sgt. Matthew Massey with adjustments to his pro gear. All are special mission aviators assigned to the 919th SOW.

The “Quiet Professionals” of the 919th SOW offer specialized skills to Air Force Special Operations Command made even more distinct by the fact that this “part time” unit is providing a full-time capability for a mission that never stops.

“At any minute on any day, members of the 919th are likely helping to get equipment and special operations forces where the warfighter needs them most,” said Col. Frank L. Bradfield, 919th SOW commander. “While they’re doing that, others are providing surveillance of the battlespace ready to deliver precision strike capabilities to those who wish to do America harm. It’s a no-fail mission and one we’re proud to support.”

Maj. Kevin Riegner, 5th Special Operations Squadron pilot, takes a few minutes for a photo prior to a recent U-28 training mission at Hurlburt Field, Florida. The 5th SOS is one of 13 squadrons assigned to the 919th Special Operations Wing at nearby Duke Field. The wing’s diverse mission and ability to fulfill a wide range of requirements for Air Force Special Operations Command places its members in high demand for critical operations at home and at distant points around the globe. (Master Sgt. Jasmin Taylor)

These 1,500 Reservists are part of the Air Force Reserve’s only special operations wing. They are fully integrated with their active duty counterparts in the 492nd SOW operating from a small base in a densely wooded area in the Florida panhandle.

The 919th’s members are focused with laser-like intensity on employing innovative practices and standards to support four distinct mission sets—enhancing partner nation capacity, training future AFSOC aviators, conducting Remotely Piloted Aircraft operations and performing specialized mobility—all geared toward increasing AFSOC’s efficiency and lethality.


In a desolate and austere airfield thousands of miles from U.S. soil, a small team of Citizen Air Commandos is having a global impact by enhancing partner nation aviation capabilities, yet most Americans don’t even know they exist.

These combat aviation advisors, or brown berets, are highly trained in specialized skills needed for hands-on, adaptive, advisory missions with foreign military partners. Their goal: to conduct special operations activities by, with and through foreign aviation forces.

As one such team of CAAs prepared to land the last training sortie of a recent two-month mission in North Africa, many took a moment to reflect on the experience.

The mission involved 60 days of intense training and constant coordination with seven separate combat units. An unimaginable amount of collaboration and teamwork contributed to the success of this final sortie. Shoulder-to-shoulder with their foreign colleagues, the CAAs prepared their partner nation for their first simulated joint event between its air and ground forces.

CAAs are an elite group of carefully selected, well-experienced Airmen with diverse backgrounds.

They deploy in 16-member Operational Aviation Detachments which are comprised of 12 different Air Force Specialty Codes, specifically trained to assist the partner nation force with joint operations.

“The OAD composition allows the CAA team to be self-reliant and contains the diversity of skills required to problem-solve and be adaptive,” said Lt. Col. Benjamin Griffith, commander of the 711th Special Operations Squadron.

TSgt Brandon Bass, an aircrew flight equipment specialist CAA with the 711th Special Operations Squadron, practices individual tactics during a training exercise. (TSgt Jodi Ames)

From security forces and communications, to maintenance and sensor operators, the types of career fields represented by the CAA community are quite diverse.

“The impact of a small OAD on the security and stability of a nation should not be underestimated,” said Lt. Col. Warren Halle, 711th SOS assistant director of operations.

“Any type of operation lives or dies, sustains or fades by an integrated team effort,” said Halle. “Special operations forces Airmen have been well-educated that ‘joint’ is not just a buzz word. Joint operations lead to the gold standard of integration effectiveness.”

By design, the 919th’s CAAs are supported by an entire wing that lives and breathes that standard of integration.


As a Reserve unit, the 919th SOW blends with its active-duty partners not only to accomplish the mission but also to support the training of future air commandos.

The 5th SOS is home to the formal training unit for all Air Force special operations platform education, where they provided instruction on eight different platforms and conducted 6,800 student events in fiscal 2018 alone.

“This schoolhouse mission is a lot more diverse than any other FTU,” said Master Sgt. Joseph Kimbrell, CAA instructor and evaluator for the 5th SOS. “We are teaching the entire CAA aspect of the mission which considers the OAD team to be the weapon system.”

The training conducted by members of the 5th SOS is critical to the accomplishment of the AFSOC mission.

“We are the only FTU in the only special operations wing in the Reserve and we provide the preponderance of AFSOC with its aviators,” said Kimbrell. “We are the tool that sharpens the tip of the spear.”


Not only does the 919th sharpen the spear, wing members also launch it. The 2nd SOS offers round-the-clock support to the warfighter through remotely piloted aircraft missions, taking the fight directly to the enemy.

“RPA missions continue to be the number one most requested capability of combatant commanders around the world,” said Col. Roland Armour, 919th SOG commander. “RPAs are in high demand and ours operate on a 24/7 basis.”

Another 919th unit, the 859th SOS, similarly runs a global mission that never rests. The 859th flies an aircraft not found anywhere else in the Air Force inventory, the C-146A Wolfhound.

Offering light and medium airlift capabilities, the Wolfhound allows the 919th to reach forward deployed special operations forces in locations large aircraft simply cannot.

“Within the past 12 months, the 859th SOS has provided crucial airlift for the AFSOC mission in more than 40 countries and four combatant commands contributing vital airlift for nation building and stabilization across the globe,” said Armour.

Meeting the unique demands and needs of special operations airlift missions requires constant innovation and problem-solving. More often than not, the 919th’s aerial delivery specialists must figure out how to conform a load to meet the requirements of the air commandos down range.

TSgt Bradley Moore, 919th Special Operations Logistics Readiness Squadron, returns from loading Army airborne soldiers into a C-17 Globemaster III at Duke Field, Florida, in preparation for their qualification jump. The 919th SOLRS provides integrated logistical support to the 919th Special Operations Wing, 7th Special Forces Group and Air Force Special Operations Command. (MSgt Jasmin Taylor)

“We are capable of dropping anything, anytime,” said Senior Master Sgt. Clarence Greene, 919th Special Operations Logistics Readiness Squadron. “Most aerial delivery shops drop standard loads, such as water and basic supplies, but with us it could be anything from a radio to a motorcycle…anything to support the air commandos on the ground.”


The unique platforms and missions at the 919th SOW have required the unit to adapt a culture of “outside the box” thinking reflected in every facet of its operations.

Even functions as “basic” as aircraft maintenance have had to be tailored to the Duke Field mission. The aircraft flown and maintained at the 919th SOW are commercial aircraft requiring specialized training not offered through traditional pipelines.

TSgt Michael Resseguie, 919th Special Operations Maintenance Squadron, manufactures washers for the C-146A Wolfhound on the OMAX Jetmachining Center at Duke Field, Florida. The 919th SOMXS provides round-the-clock maintenance support for the 919th SOW’s global mission. (Capt Monique Roux)

“One of the unique ways our unit ensures we are providing the most relevant training for our Airmen is through our in-house training program,” said Senior Master Sgt. Michael Tomi, 919th Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. “We sent a cadre of maintenance personnel to receive training from the [aircraft’s] commercial manufacturer and that cadre came back and developed a school house specific to our mission.”

The 919th’s security forces and communications Citizen Airmen have also had to adapt to the unique needs of special operations forces.

“Our agile combat support demonstrates the expeditionary nature of the 919th SOW,” said Lt. Col. Kelly Gwin, deputy commander of the 919th Special Operations Mission Support Group.

One critical component of that agile combat support is the Deployed Aircraft Ground Response Element, a mission managed by the 919th Special Operations Security Forces Squadron. DAGRE members are specially trained to meet the unique security and force protection demands of special operations forces, supporting AFSOC’s global mission.

Its global mission also requires constant and reliable communication, often in unfamiliar and rapidly changing environments while air commandos are engaging the enemy. To tackle that challenge, the 919th Special Operations Communications Squadron consistently pushes the barriers of communications technology.

“They train, maintain and deploy some of the most technologically advanced cyber systems in the Air Force,” said Gwin.


Support for special operations forces is the backbone of the 919th SOW mission of providing America’s citizen air commandos…anytime…anyplace.

Another OAD is just weeks away from commencing its next mission. RPAs are flying in undisclosed areas, providing valuable protection for joint coalition partners who are constantly under attack. New pilots are getting ready to join the AFSOC team. And somewhere in a remote and austere location, Airmen are receiving much-needed relief and supplies.

The Doolittle Raiders would be proud.

By Capt Monique Roux, 919th SOW public affairs office. Published in Citizen Airman magazine.