Saturday, November 17, 2007

F-15's Still Grounded

The workhorse of protecting America's air space remains grounded. Popular Mechanics has an update on the situation and tosses this into the picture near the end of the article:
The 2008 defense bill passed last week by Congress designates $3.15 billion to purchase an additional 20 F-22 Raptor jets, , a successor to the F-15, from Lockheed Martin. Over the next several years, the Air Force wants to maintain or even step up spending on both Raptors and the F-35 Lightning II (aka the Joint Strike Fighter). But some in Congress have been pushing to limit Air Force spending in order to beef up ground forces. According to the online rumor mill, the well-publicized shutdown of F-15s is meant to provide the Air Force with some leverage when the bean counters come knocking.
I - for one - don't buy into this being a intra-service maneuver to gain the upper hand in any budget situation. I see this as an offshoot of having fighter jets in service that should have been rotated out for newer models years ago. The F-15's in service today (as I understand it) range in vintage from 1975 models to 2004 models. Those older models are the equivalent of asking the state police to make due on the highway with 1975 Fury III's.

My issue with the reporting of this situation has to do with what is omitted. If it was a car crash and not a plane crash being dealt with we would immediately be told the make, model and YEAR of the car involved. In all reported crashes and in particular in the November 2nd crash we are only told that the model was an F-15C which narrows it down. The F-15C came into the Air Force's inventory starting in 1979.

Now we hear from the Air Force that the newer F-15E's are about to be returned to service and that:
Although the F-15E models are newer, they only represent about one third of the Air Force's F-15s. The older majority of the F-15s are of more concern for Air Force officials.

"What we've got here is an example, in the C model, of what happens when you have an airplane that's about 25 years old," said Maj. Gen. David Gillett, ACC director of logistics.

The Nov. 2 crash also demonstrates the importance of recapitalizing the Air Force's fighter fleet, said the general. ACC's current fleet is the oldest in Air Force history. New systems are more capable, cost less to operate, require fewer people to maintain and can survive modern threat environments, ACC officials have said.
I've said it before - anyone who has ever owned an older car knows that at some point it is more cost effective to get a new(er) car than to keep putting money into repairs on the old one. It is a scandal that our airspace security and the lives of the airmen flying these planes has been put at risk the way it has been.

HT to Instapundit for the PM article

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