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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Asia Times: Chinese Espionage and Intelligence Activities at All Time High, Experts Say

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The US announced criminal charges in 2014 against five Chinese army hackers for stealing trade secrets from American companies

 

Chinese intelligence operations worldwide to steal important information both through human agents and cyber attacks are a growing threat, according to experts who testified at a US congressional commission last week.

Beijing’s spies, operating through the civilian Ministry of State Security and People’s Liberation Army Intelligence Bureau (IB), have scored impressive gains against the United States in particular, where economic espionage — the theft of trade secrets and high technology — remains at unprecedented levels.

Technology espionage by China was highlighted by the conviction in California last week of Wenxia Man of San Diego who was convicted of illegally conspiring to export fighter jet engines and an unmanned aerial vehicle to China. Continue reading

The Wars of the Near Future (II)

BERLIN (Own report) – At the International Aerospace Exhibition (ILA), which opens today in Berlin, the Bundeswehr is demonstrating its ability to wage wars of aggression. The program includes various “troop proficiency demonstrations,” performing, for example, the “evacuation” of German nationals from a “crisis zone” for the audience at the Air Show. The demonstration calls for the use of elite combat units, particularly assault helicopters, considered generally by the military as the ideal weapon for anti-guerilla operations. The ILA management has installed a central area on the fair grounds for the aerospace industry to provide information on special helicopters for police and military missions. The event is again also focusing on the Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) – or drones. The Bundeswehr, alone, will introduce four different types of UAS, which had been used in Afghanistan to reconnoiter enemy positions in preparation of targeted attacks. At the US Air Force stand, the MQ-9 “Reaper” combat drone will be on display, which is being used around the world to illegally assassinate so-called terrorist suspects, regularly causing large numbers of civilian casualties.

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China’s armed drones appear built from stolen data from US cyber intrusions

China is also using them to engage in the Middle East war.

 

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China’s vibrant military blogosphere presented a video this month revealing a missile-firing unmanned aerial vehicle in action, dropping bombs against ground targets.

The Caihong-4, or CH-4, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is a testament to the remarkable success of China’s military in copying vital high-technology weapons that currently are considered among the most cutting edge arms systems used in modern combat operations for both ground strikes and intelligence-gathering. Continue reading

Revealed: Chinese Killer Drones in Iraq

Iraq defense ministry unveils new Chinese unmanned vehicle

Iraq’s Ministry of Defense unveiled its new China Aerospace and Technology Corporation CH-4B “Rainbow” unmanned aerial vehicle on Saturday. Continue reading

China hovers on the outskirts of Syria military action

China may not be participating directly in military strikes against the Islamic State jihadist group but its hovering presence continues make an impact in other ways, according the Beijing-based Sina Military Network.

To date, China remains the only permanent member of the UN Security Council that has not engaged in combat operations against ISIS in Syria and Iraq. Continue reading

Russia to Deploy Long-Range Attack Drone by 2016

Russia is developing its first long-range drone aircraft capable of conducting ground attack missions, but lags behind other militaries in building unmanned aerial combat vehicles, according to U.S. officials.

The new drone is being developed in secret and was first revealed in online images earlier this year.

U.S. officials familiar with intelligence reports said the drone is being called the Altius-M and work is being done at the Sokol Design Bureau in Tatarstan, a Russian republic. Continue reading

Air Guard unit authorized to fly MQ-9 Reaper drones in Syracuse region

SYRACUSE (AP) — The commander of the Air National Guard unit that operates remotely piloted drones from its central New York base held a news conference to discuss the expansion of the airspace in which it operates.

Col. Greg Semmel of the Air National Guard’s 174th Attack Wing spoke to the media Monday morning at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base in Syracuse, to announce the Federal Aviation Administration has authorized the use of 20 nautical miles more of air space for training missions, including, for the first time, parts of Onondaga and Madison Counties, and more of Oswego Counties. Semmel says the added airspace means fewer missions will be scrubbed or delayed because of weather, especially in lake effect season, when some parts of the current training range in the Adirondacks and over Lake Ontario get shut down by snow. Continue reading

Breath-Taking Progress

What you see here is the notion that without humans in combat, there’s less risk involved, therefore there is stronger public support for the usage of UAVs in war, and war itself. Such might be the current situation in America today, as it’s waging 74+ wars, both declared and undeclared. If there’s no human intervention (i.e. drone strikes) or a small teams of special ops are being used, it’s not thought of as a war.

BERLIN (Own report) – The German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) is propagating in favor of the deployment of combat drones. The influential think tank, headquartered in Berlin, has published an opinion poll indicating that more than two-thirds of the German population are in favor of using Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles or UCAVs in warfare. The results of this poll can be found in the current edition of “Internationale Politik,” the journal published by the DGAP. The journal extensively treats the subject – with an unambiguous tenor: UCAV development is characterized as an “enormous technological leap” that the German armed forces cannot evade. The authors consider the construction of combat drones, which, based on artificial intelligence can quasi “autonomously” carry out killer functions without human intervention, to be a “logical consequence.” The PR campaign, launched by the DGAP, accords with the German government’s intention to increase the reliance on UCAVs in future wars. Continue reading