Defense Contract Management Agency Public Affairs. Reprinted with permission from the Dallas County News
Air Force Maj. Steve Jacque, Defense Contract Management Agency Government Flight Representative and native of Woodward, Iowa, has been significant in supporting the Global War on Terrorism.
Jacque has been critical to the program Secretary of Defense Robert Gates initiated to repair the Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance deficit in Iraq and Afghanistan. The program, Project Liberty, involves the procurement of 37 MC-12W aircraft, otherwise known as the Liberty Project Aircraft.
Providing real-time, full-motion video, the Liberty is designed to augment other downrange intelligence-collecting capabilities and help military leaders make battlefield decisions. The aircraft submits the video to relay nodes distributed throughout the country. Those nodes then push the video to forward-deployed ground forces.
“Platforms like the MC-12 help troops disrupt and hunt down our enemies often before they strike, saving the lives of American troops while sparing innocent civilians,” Gates said at a visit to the production lines of L-3 Communications in Greenville, Texas.
The $950 million program has been a success story for the DCMA. It normally takes a decade for an acquisition program to reach a 90 percent solution; however, it took less than one year to field the first aircraft. It was brought into combat in 10 months and within 1.5 years, the Air Force has fielded three expeditionary squadrons.
Project Liberty accomplishments included setting new acquisitions, training and deployment benchmarks to provide a full combat aircraft squadron to the Iraqi war zone in less than 10 months. This is the fastest delivery of an Air Force weapons system from concept to combat since the P-51 Mustang in World War II and is continuing to display unsurpassed safety, innovation and combat effectiveness in America’s newest weapon system.
Jacque leads an aviation program team that provides oversight for contractor aviation special programs, while working daily with Kerry Smithers, GFR for DCMA AIMO North in Texas. Smithers and his aviation program team oversee the Liberty Project Aircraft.
DCMA utilizes the aviation program teams to oversee ground and flight operations at contractor’s facilities. The teams consists of a GFR, an aviation maintenance manager and a contract safety manager. Smithers and his team manage multiple programs at various facilities; however, being located at Greenville, they’ve been able to provide the extra attention the fast moving and ever changing oversight the Liberty Program demands.
“Jacque is a very focused and serious officer who strives to make a difference daily,” said Smithers. “Both of us have worked diligently to ensure the Project Liberty contractor and subcontractors procedures were sound and effective ensuring asset security, safety, and overall quality of the contractors efforts; all while getting the Liberty aircraft to the warfighter.”
The actual modification and maintenance to the Liberty aircraft is more or less business as usual. The flight test however is where the real dynamics come into play.
“This is where (Jacque) has gone above and beyond to ensure program success. These aircraft go ‘near’ direct from the contractor facility to the fight. Because of that, all aircraft system and most mission capability testing, calibration and validation flights take place at the contractor facility,” said Smithers.
The sheer number of aircraft and sorties placed a huge demand on Air Force Materiel Command pilots – of which there were very few.
“(Jacque) stepped up and took it on as an additional ‘pilot’ duty. He has been extremely busy for quite some time,” said Smithers. “Needless to say, he was part of something very important to the warfighters and he made it happen when and however he could.
”DCMA has GFRs that actively fly, but Jacque’s billet was not originally a flying billet. He came into the position as a fully qualified C-17 pilot and was able to augment that DCMA mission by stepping in and helping fly C-17s into depot maintenance facilities. When DCMA learned that the Air Force needed experienced C-12 pilots, Yacovoni endorsed Jacque’s chance to fly as guest help outside of DCMA. The 645th Aeronautical Systems Squadron worked rapidly to get Jacque a training slot alongside one of 645th pilots, Maj. Jose Lopez.
“Since I’d flown a previous version of the C-12, I was able to step in as one of the initial cadre of MC-12W instructor pilots. It gave the AESS an extra instructor pilot without the administrative cost of acquiring another pilot,” said Jacque.
After training Jacque and Lopez went right into accepting aircraft from Hawker Beechcraft as well as conducting functional check flights. Since the initial deliveries, around the clock Liberty production efforts have required Lopez and the other AESS Liberty pilots to fly seven days a week months at a time. As “guest help” Jacque was able to provide a few days break when it was needed the most. Jacque has contributed 45 days to the flying schedule and another 15 to ground training, testing and administrative work required to stay current.
“Initially, I filled a shortfall for the 645th until they could train more pilots,” said Jacque. “For the last couple months, my GFR schedule has only allowed me to fly on the weekends twice a month as well as some holidays. It’s not a great deal of flying, but it gives the pilots assigned to the 645th at least a few weekends as well as some holidays off.”
The intelligence gathered by the aircraft has led to the capturing of 60 terrorists and criminals in Iraq; as well as the Taliban commander responsible for helping suicide bombers travel in eastern Afghanistan. The intelligence has also helped locate and identify roadside bombs around the southern Afghan town of Marjah.
Editor’s Note: Steve is the son of Jack D. and Diane C. (Kimbrough) Jacque of Woodward, Iowa. Jack is a 1961 graduate of Geneva High School. Diane graduated from GHS with the Class of 1963.He is also the grandson of the late Bill and Enid Jacque and the late Francis and Amolia Kimbrough.