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Sun, Jun 10, 2012

Analyst Says USAF Faces Crisis From Aging Aircraft Inventory

Assessment Came As Senior Air Force Officers Meet At Wright-Patterson

Defense analyst Loren B. Thompson spoke recently to senior Air Force officers at Wright-Patterson AFB, saying the USAF faces a crisis from the aging aircraft in its inventory. He added The Air Force is “facing challenges because it has not succeeded in modernizing its fleet to anywhere near the degree it needs to, so the fleet is getting old.” Thompson is a defense analyst with the Lexington Institute in Arlington, VA.

The Springfield News-Sun reports that Thompson used the examples of the B-2 and F-22 aircraft. Both were acquired in much smaller quantities than originally planned. The USAF had planned to buy 132 B-2s but ended up with 21, while the F-22 fleet was pared down to 187 from 750.

“What has happened to the Air Force is a gradual aging process made worse by its inability to successfully carry out major weapons programs. It has become a crisis because the force has grown so old” Thompson said. His address came in front of 100 senior Air Force officers met at Wright-Patterson  to discuss issues facing the service. 

Air Force Materiel Command spokeswomen Sue Murphy said the average age of a USAF aircraft is 25 years old. The Air Force faces budget cuts early next year along with the other branches of the military that are expected to mean fewer personnel and aircraft. Defense contractors are concerned that the budget fallout may impact their businesses also. AFMC spokesman Ron Fry said “Despite the challenges we face, today’s Air Force is, by any objective standard, the world’s best. It is our intent, and our obligation, to the American people to remain the world’s finest Air Force in the decades ahead.”



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