Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Two-thirds of the Navy's F/A 18 strike fighter jets are grounded

Majority of Navy's F/A 18 strike fighter jets grounded

BY KAREN GRAHAM     FEB 12, 2017 

Nearly two-thirds of the Navy's F/A 18 strike fighter jets are grounded because there isn't enough money to fix them. And what is worse, even if Trump were able to give them the money, it would take years to catch up because of the huge backlog.

We have an interesting, and you could say, an immediate problem going on in our federal government, and it concerns our nation's defense. More intriguing, the problem pops up at the same time the Trump administration is talking excitedly about a plan to grow the Navy from today’s goal of 308 ships to 350, reports Defense News.

But right now, with no Congressional budget agreement in place to increase defense spending, top Navy brass say that with over half of its aircraft out of service, its usable planes are being pushed to the limit.

But the real kicker is that not only are 62 percent of the F/A 18 strike fighter jets out of service awaiting repairs and/or parts, but 53 percent of all Navy aircraft – some 1,700 combat aircraft, patrol, transport planes, and helicopters – can’t fly, reports RT.com.

Additionally, there “isn’t enough money to fix the fleet’s ships, and the backlog of ships needing work continues to grow. Some subs have allegedly been out of service literally for years - as much as four years or more,” Defense News reports.

This bleak news came out when Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. William Moran told lawmakers on the House Armed Services Committee earlier this week that "For a variety of reasons, our shipyards and aviation depots are struggling to get our ships and airplanes through maintenance periods on time."

Moran, along with commanders from the Army and Air Force described the rundown condition of our defense fleet and aircraft, citing sequestration and furlough budget cuts by the GOP-led Congress and the Obama administration as playing a role in the problem.

However, Peter Singer, a strategist for the Washington-based New America Foundation disagrees. He says, "the readiness problems are a culmination of a series of decisions to keep kicking the can down the road, from Congress's budget issues to the Pentagon assuming there would be a new replacement jet by now."

But it could be the culmination of several issues, including Congressional constraints, the Obama administration and a lackadaisical attitude by top brass in assuming things would work out.

Democratic Rep. Adam Smith, the ranking member on the House Armed Services Committee, told CNN those constraints have been "compounded by over a decade of war" and "long delays in the development of replacement aircraft."

The F/A 18 has been described as the backbone of naval aviation and was designed to have a lifespan of about 6,000 flight hours. However, they are being flown 8,000 to 9,000 hours in fulfilling mission requirements as a result of budget restrictions.

John Venable of the Heritage Foundation says that the problems voiced by Moran and other top brass really highlight the military's "extraordinarily low levels of readiness" and he is afraid that things could only get worse. Now that is something we all need to think about.

Original post: digitaljournal.com

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