Ryan discuss EAF, Raptor progress during Tuzla visit
Released: 31 Jan 2000
by Staff Sgt. Jody Clor
401st Expeditionary Air Base Group Public Affairs
TUZLA AIR BASE, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AFPN) -- An air traffic controller shocked the Air Force chief of staff when she uttered two simple words during his hour-long visit with members of the 401st Expeditionary Air Base Group Jan. 13.
"Thank you," said Staff Sgt. Missi White, after Gen. Michael E. Ryan opened the floor for discussion. The nine-year controller said everyone has questions and concerns about how the Air Force works, but she just wanted to show her gratitude to Washington and the Air Force leader.
"For the last two years, I've been in places (and seen) how the other services live," said the noncommissioned officer from McGuire Air Force Base, N.J. "Thank you for taking care of us. Nothing is perfect, but we are a lot better off."
Ryan seemed awestruck by the comment. After taking a moment to collect his thoughts, he let out a deep breath and said, "Thank you," right back to White.
The 35-year Air Force veteran continued by saying, "When we go someplace, we make it the best we can and leave it better for the people who follow. If you give people a good place to work and good tools to do it with, you get great productivity. You also have great morale to get the job done."
The general also talked about the expeditionary aerospace force concept, pay and educational benefits, and funding for the F-22 program during his visit.
Second Lt. Geoffrey Dawson, from the weather flight, wanted to know about the current deployment cycle rotation and how it will affect families where both spouses are military members.
"I know right now we're set up for more predictability and stability with deployments planned for three months out of a 15-month cycle. However for dual military couples, will you make an assertive effort to put both spouses in the same block so a three-month window won't turn into a six-month window for the family?" Dawson asked.
"Some will want it that way (the three-month window). Some parents will want to split it so that one parent is at home while the other is deployed," said Ryan. "We're going to have to leave that at the unit level.
"We're still experimenting, so help us by going back and asking these questions at your base," he added.
One member of the security forces flight asked if the Saudi Arabia slots would remain remote assignments for officers and senior NCOs.
"Yes, we need to maintain stability in leadership and continuity," Ryan said. A lot of those will remain. We're just going to have to do that for leadership."
Turning to education, Master Sgt. Tony Lawson, who works at the control tower, said that from an educational standpoint, deployments have made it harder and harder to finish degrees. He wanted to know if that square will be blocked again on senior NCO boards.
"Once we get into the new (aerospace expeditionary force) rotation, we think most people will have the opportunity to predict what courses they can take. They'll know when they will deploy, so we will stop the blocking after we begin AEF."
Ryan put on a wide smile and dove into the discussion with great enthusiasm after someone asked about the F-22 Raptor program. The memory of his flying chase against the F-22 at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., Jan. 11 was still etched into his mind as he painted a picture that had the crowd stunned.
"This (F-22) is a real airplane. I'm in an F-16 with a 129 motor in it and this is the best F-16 the Air Force has. I take off and come back around. The F-22 starts rolling. I light the burner and I give the F-16 everything it can take," he said. "I try to keep it up to the Raptor but it goes straight up and starts walking away from me. We rolled over at about 30,000 feet and start accelerating out. He's out at 1.6 Mach and I'm still back trying to catch up to him in full afterburner and he's just in low power. For a pilot, that's amazing."
The general used hand gestures to show how the jet began a most unusual vertical climb. "The F-22 goes up into a 60-degree stall, what would be a stall for any of us. In the F-16, if you do this, you start falling like a rock," he added.
But, said Ryan, the most amazing part of this aircraft isn't the maneuverability, the super cruise capability or its stealth capabilities. It's the avionics.
"It's going to have avionics that talk to each other, and talk to outside sources. This will plug in all sorts of information to give the pilot a great heads-up display," he said. "Integrating all this computer power is really the revolutionary part of the aircraft.
Ryan, who flew 149 combat missions during the Vietnam conflict, said, "We want to make sure it's not a fair fight if we have to go into places like Serbia or Iraq. I'm not interested in fair fights. What I'm interested in is a 100-to-nothing score," he said. "We should never ask our people to go into harm's way ... unless they have the best equipment. That's why we need it." (Courtesy of U.S. Air Forces in Europe News Service)
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