U.S. B-1 Fleet Grounded

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(Photo Credit: A1C Thomas Spangler/U.S. Air Force)

 

The aircraft, which have been critical to the ‘maximum pressure campaign’ against North Korea, appear to have ‘ejection seat issues.’

According to a new report this afternoon, the Pentagon has ordered all B-1B Lancer bombers to be grounded due to safety concerns related to “ejection seat issues.”

According to Military.com, the stand-down order is a direct result of an emergency landing of a B-1B that suffered “an engine flameout” on May 1 at Midland Airport in Texas. The incident occurred in broad daylight and involved an aircraft from Dyess Air Force Base—located about 150 miles east of Midland—that was not carrying a nuclear payload. Continue reading

Fewer planes are ready to fly: Air Force mission-capable rates decline amid pilot crisis

The F-22 saw an 11.17 percentage point reduction in mission-capable rates in 2017. It was one of several airframes that saw similar dips, contributing to an overall decline in mission-capable rates across the Air Force. (Tech Sgt. Michael R. Holzworth/Air Force)

 

The readiness of the Air Force’s aircraft fleet is continuing its slow, steady deterioration — and this could spell trouble for the service’s effort to hold on to its pilots and its ability to respond to contingencies around the world.

According to data provided by the Air Force, about 71.3 percent of the Air Force’s aircraft were flyable, or mission-capable, at any given time in fiscal 2017. That represents a drop from the 72.1 percent mission-capable rate in fiscal 2016, and a continuation of the decline in recent years.

Former Air Force pilots and leaders say that this continued trend is a gigantic red flag, and warn it could lead to serious problems down the road.

“It scares the heck out of me,” said retired Gen. Hawk Carlisle, former head of Air Combat Command. “It really does.”

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Pentagon Sending Heavily Armed Marine Units To East Asia To “Counter China Threat”

 

According to a recent report by the Wall Street Journal, the Pentagon is considering plans to transfer heavily armed, versatile Marine Corps Expeditionary Units (MEU) to East-Asia, citing the rapidly expanding Chinese influence in the region.

After 16-years of military embarrassments in the Middle East, the Pentagon appears to have realized that its misfortunes in the area have transformed into nothing more than Vietnam 2.0; alternatively it is merely provoking Asian superpowers into a new race for military dominance in the region. Continue reading

Less than half of the US bomber fleet is ready to ‘fight tonight’

A U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer prepares to take off for a 10-hour mission from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, into Japanese airspace and over the Korean Peninsula, July 30, 2017. (Tech. Sgt. Richard P. Ebensberger/Air Force)

 

WASHINGTON – Less than half of the bombers President Donald Trump would rely upon to be “locked and loaded” against North Korea could launch today if needed, according to the latest Air Force figures available.

That’s not a surprise to the bomb squadrons who have seen firsthand the combined effects of aircraft age, the demand of 15 years of air war operations and reduced budgets. But the numbers can be stark. Of the nation’s 75 conventional and nuclear B-52s, only about 33 are ready to fly at any given time, according to Air Force statistics. Of the 62 conventional B-1s, only about 25 are ready. With the 20 nuclear B-2 stealth bombers, the number drops further. Seven or eight bombers are available, according to the Air Force.

On a nominal basis you don’t have more than single digits of B-2s available to do anything,” said retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Dave Deptula, currently the dean of the Mitchell Institute of Aerospace.

“If anything good comes out of the North Korea crisis,” it should be a wake-up call, he said.

“It’s not just the nation’s bomber force,” that is so stretched, Deptula said. “It’s the military writ large. The U.S. Air Force is the smallest and least ready it’s ever been in history – that should get people’s attention.”

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Growing readiness woes: Only 7 in 10 Air Force planes are ready to fly

Staff Sgt. Shane Dewyar of the 332nd Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron, inspects an engine while deployed to Southwest Asia. Photo Credit: Staff Sgt. Eboni Reams/Air Force

 

On March 22, as North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un prepared to test-launch a missile and tensions rose on the volatile Korean peninsula, a lone B-1B Lancer bomber took off from Andersen Air Force Base in Guam and flew across the Pacific on a Continuous Bomber Presence sortie.

It rendezvoused with Japanese F-15J Eagles for a training mission, before flying on to South Korea to further train with their F-15Ks and F-16s.

But there were supposed to be two B-1Bs there that day. The second bomber that was “scheduled to respond to a clear and present danger in North Korea,” as Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., said in a hearing later that day, was unable to take off. Pacific Air Forces later said a maintenance issue kept the second Lancer on the ground. Continue reading

US Air Force Flies All Three Bombers in Pacific Op

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A U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress, B-1 Lancer and B-2 Spirit fly over Guam after launching from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, for an integrated bomber operation Aug.17, 2016. This mission marks the first time in history that all three of Air Force Global Strike Command’s strategic bomber aircraft are simultaneously conducting integrated operations in the U.S. Pacific Command area of operations. (Photo by Sandra Welch/U.S. Air Force)

 

The U.S. Air Force flew its three strategic bombers — the B-1B Lancer, B-2 Spirit and B-52 Stratofortress — in what was billed as the first-ever integrated bomber operation in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

The flight took place Aug. 17 at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam, according to a press release and photos from the service. The news quickly circulated on social media. Continue reading