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.”

Continue reading

US Needs 400 New Nuclear ICBMs to Deter ‘Crazy World’: General

 

NATIONAL Harbor, Md. — “We are in a crazy world” of proliferating nuclear threats that will persist for generations to come and require the U.S. to invest $80 billion to $100 billion in new ICBMs to deter adversaries, Air Force Gen. Robin Rand said Monday.

“There are bad characters around the world” who “need to know we’re ready,” Rand, commander of Air Force Global Strike Command, said during a strategic deterrence panel at the Air Force Association’s Air, Space & Cyber convention. Continue reading

South Dakota Airmen arrive ready to ‘Fight Tonight’ from Guam

Two U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancers assigned to the 37th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, deployed from Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, flew from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, for a 10-hour mission, flying in the vicinity of Kyushu, Japan, the East China Sea, and the Korean peninsula, Aug. 7, 2017 (HST). During the mission, the B-1s were joined by Japan Air Self-Defense Force F-15s as well as Republic of Korea Air Force KF-16 fighter jets, performing two sequential bilateral missions. These flights with Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK) demonstrate solidarity between Japan, ROK and the U.S. to defend against provocative and destabilizing actions in the Pacific theater. (Courtesy photo)

 

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii — Two U.S. Air Force B-1B bombers, under the command of U.S. Pacific Air Forces, joined their counterparts from the Republic of Korea and Japanese air forces in sequenced bilateral missions, August 7.

This serves as the first mission for the crews and aircraft recently deployed from Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota in support of U.S. Pacific Command’s Continuous Bomber Presence missions. Continue reading

US deploys all its nuclear-capable strategic bombers to Britain for the first time amid growing tensions with Russia

Show of force: The B-1 Lancer (left), B-2 Spirit (centre) and B-52 Stratofortress (pictured right) together at RAF Fairford

 

  • Two B-2 stealth bombers arrived at RAF Fairford with three B-25 Stratofortresses and three B-1 Lancers
  • The fleet of nuclear-capable strategic bombers are in Gloucestershire to support planned NATO exercises
  • But they also send a powerful show of strength to Putin’s Russia, in echoes of the Cold War
  • In recent months NATO jets have been repeatedly scrambled to intercept Russian bombers

The US has deployed several nuclear-capable strategic bombers to Britain for the first time as tensions with Russia continue to grow. Continue reading

US Air Force Flies All Three Bombers in Pacific Op

https://i2.wp.com/www.defensetech.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/bomber-trio-1-777x437.jpg

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