Tuesday, November 06, 2007

F-15's Grounded

The entire fleet of F-15 fighter jets has been grounded as a precautionary measure.

If you read the article it states that the F-15 is scheduled to be replaced by the F-22 but that's incorrect. Most of the current F-15's will be replaced by the more cost effective F-35 (is it too much to ask for the LA Times to get that detail right?).

The state of our Air Force really is almost at crisis stages. The F-15's (which make up the bulk of our fighters) are on average about 24-years old per plane. The tankers which are used to refuel the planes in flight are almost literally relics from the Eisenhower administration. The helicopters used to find and rescue downed pilots are also about ready for mandatory retirement. This is an end to end crisis that puts the very security of the nation in peril.

I offer two analogies that I think fit the current situation.

First our current Air Force capability is like a big city police force that has a limited elite SWAT team made up of the best professionals that training and money can provide but every other policeman on the force is a months from retirement beat cop who probably would have a heart attack if forced to run down a criminal in a foot race. Sure the SWAT team is great to have (and necessary) but they are really only good after the fact and in limited deployment. Just like the Air Force and the stealth fighters and bombers.

Second analogy. Most people with an older family vehicle get to a point where the expense of repairing and maintaining a car make the purchase of a new car not just feasible but the fiscally responsible thing to do. Imagine that you reached that point but were told that you had to instead keep paying for new transmissions and power trains instead of just buying that new car. Imagine that the reason you had to keep the older car was because someone somewhere decided you had to keep the local mechanic in business. That's the situation the Air Force finds themselves in today.

It should be an outrage.

I can't help but think that besides deaths by roadside IED's - whenever I read about a number of military personnel dying it is usually in an air crash during a training exercise. You almost never read about the age or vintage of the craft they were flying in but that piece of information should be mandatory in every report. There needs to be outrage to get Congress to do the right thing. That's the sad state of affairs things have sunk to.

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