Friday, February 6, 2009

So we took a couple decades off

If you don’t invest in your 401K or IRA for 17 or 18 of your prime earning years, the results are predictable: the desired income just isn’t there. So too with our nation’s investment in airplanes. We want the air dominance to keep us safe, but we just haven’t wanted to invest in fighter airplanes for nearly two decades.

A Daily Report graphic (here) captures the nation’s quandary now that the airplanes are aging and technology is leaving them behind.

If you want to know why USAF fighters are so old, look no further. In the Sixties, Seventies, and Eighties, fighter purchases (vertical bars) generally oscillated between 150 and 400 a year. Turnover was heavy, so average age (red line) hovered around 10 years. Then, in 1992, came the crash. Fighter purchases fell to almost nothing and have stayed in that desolate spot through three presidencies. With no replacements, fighters have stayed in service, growing long in the tooth. The average fighter is now an unprecedented 21 years old.

1 comment:

ELP said...

While I like the guy because he started us down the road to get the JDAM.

In part the USAF and General Merrill McPeak who stated that we aren't going to buy any more aluminum fighters, is partly to blame. We should have been getting at least a squadron of new build F-16s per year since the end of the Cold War. Not all AEFs require stealth. And for a number of AEFs and home defense, the F-16 is good enough.

Not being more aggressive on C-5 modification is also a big mistake. The C-17 is useful but we need good MC rates on a good portion of C-5s. And I could go on.

USAF not sticking to their knitting on core bread and butter mission stuff has put us where we are. All while we waste money on putting the gold plated Osprey in the USAF. Money spent on the Osprey is money wasted. Ditto with the C-27 when we have other recap issues to spend money on.

Yes there is plenty of blame to go around. Once USAF starts by looking in the mirror, we can press on.