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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More Mysterious Drones Spotted Flying Over Paris

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On Wednesday morning, Parisians awoke to news that there were even more mysterious drone night flights over the city. After a failed car chase to identify the pilots, authorities are still at a loss as to who’s responsible, and why.

French authorities received reports of 12 drone sightings late Tuesday night, according to Le Monde. Like other sightings in past months, last night’s UAVs were spotted over one of the French capital’s key landmarks, the Eiffel Tower. Drones were also reported hovering around three of the famed gates of old Paris. The Vincennes, Charenton, and Bagnolet gates are all located in the city’s east. Continue reading