Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Too Few Raptors, Too Many Deployments

Too Few Raptors, Too Many Deployments

If anyone wants to know what having only 186 F-22s means, they need look no further than today’s's "Daily Report." Halting production to 186 F-22s means only about 100 combat coded F-22s to support operations around the world. This means the F-22 will be deployed on a regular basis to fulfill commitments in several theaters of operations.

Raptors Heading Back to Pacific: Contingents of F-22s from Langley AFB, Va., and Elmendorf AFB, Alaska, will be heading to Japan and Guam, respectively, this month for four-month stints as part of a normal rotation of US forces in the Pacific region. Plans call for 12 Raptors from Langley’s 94th Fighter Squadron to deploy to Kadena AB, Japan, and another dozen from Elmendorf’s 525th FS to go to Andersen AFB, Guam, 13th Air Force said in a release May 11. More than 500 personnel will accompany these aircraft. These two deployments will be the fifth and sixth time that Raptors have supported US Pacific Command theater security packages in the Western Pacific since February 2007. They follow the mid-April departures of 12 F-22s belonging to Langley’s 27th FS from Kadena and 14 Raptors of Elmendorf’s 90th FS from Andersen after three-month stays.

Seems we are going to do to the F-22 what was done to the F-15 and F-16 over the last nineteen years and continually abuse these aircraft and crews until they start reaching their breaking points and remember, there are no more F-22s in production.

1 comment:

Chris Taylor said...

There is another angle; an as-yet unidentified and uncounted cost to maintaining an aging and overworked aircraft fleet.

That is the people, specifically the skilled technical trades (aircraft maintainers etc).

The example of the Canadian Forces may be instructive. They have been flying ancient gear for a long while and have some of the highest-time C-130s on the planet.

They are also, not coincidentally, suffering from a retention problem in skilled trades (not just aircraft technicians but vehicle, marine and electronics techs too). Seasoned professionals are getting tired of being overworked for years at a time, and are voting with their feet.

This is why the CF is subjected to operational pauses every couple of years. Its skilled technical trades are tired of years of long hours working on broken down gear. It has to pause combat ops to catch up, but because the maintenance requirements never go down, they never quite catch up.

This is also the entirely foreseeable (and avoidable) future of the USAF—if you don't learn from our lesson.