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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The Russian Air Force’s Super Weapon: Beware the PAK-FA Stealth Fighter

 

The Russian Sukhoi T-50 PAK-FA stealth fighter could prove to be a formidable competitor to American fifth-generation combat aircraft such as the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Indeed, in some measures, the new Russian warplane will exceed both U.S.-built jets, but the PAK-FA is not without its flaws.

“The analysis that I have seen on the PAK-FA indicates a pretty sophisticated design that is at least equal to, and some have said even superior to U.S. fifth-generation aircraft,” former U.S. Air Force intelligence chief Lt. Gen. Dave Deptula told the National Interest. “It certainly has greater agility with its combination of thrust vectoring, all moving tail surfaces, and excellent aerodynamic design, than does the F-35.”

Indeed, the PAK-FA appears to be optimized for the air-superiority role like the F-22 more so than the multirole, strike-optimized F-35. Like the Raptor, the PAK-FA is being designed to fly high and fast to impart the maximum amount of launch energy to its arsenal of long-range air-to-air missiles—which would greatly increase the range of those missiles. Continue reading

Syria Facing U.S. Cyber Attacks in Upcoming Strikes

Operation will be testing lab for cyber war capabilities

U.S. military forces are expected to roll out new cyber warfare capabilities during the anticipated military strike on Syria for its use of a deadly nerve agent, according to military sources.

Targets of cyber attacks likely will include electronic command and control systems used by the Syrian military forces, air defense computers, and other military communications networks. Continue reading