Thursday, March 8, 2012

Note from AFA President -- Aircraft Procurement

Many of you have requested a look at how the Services (Army, Navy & Marines, and Air Force) compare in aircraft procurement.  We put together a 4 slide comparison which can be found here.
The brief shows the AF request is for 54 aircraft – which, as you can see from the last slide, is almost a replacement rate of 100 years.  Several of you have pointed out that it is an unfair comparison to do that in the macro – principally because the assumption of a constant (low) rate is not necessarily valid.  And … secondly because the AF has three large systems in R&D and testing – namely the F-35, KC-46, and new bomber.  My comeback is:  “Yes … but the numbers have not gotten any better over the last 5 years … in fact, they are much worse.”
To look at the procurement situation historically, the last time we bought so few aircraft was before the Army Air Force, before the Army Air Corps, and before the Army Air Service.  It was during the time of the Aviation Section, US Signal Corps – in 1915.
Thanks to former AF historian, Dick Hallion, here are the numbers for 1913-1918:
US Aircraft Production from 1913 through 1918 was:
1913:  14 military, 29 civil, 43 total
1914:  15 military, 34 civil, 49 total
1915:  26 military, 152 civil, 178 total
1916:  142 military, 269 civil, 411 total
1917:  2,013 military, 135 civil, 2,148 total
1918:  13,991 military, 29 civil, 14,020 total

After WWI, the Army Air Service and Army Air Corps averaged 500-600 aircraft per year.  For a breakdown of the by-year numbers, see this link:  US_Aircraft_Production_and_Value_1919-1941.pdf.
Bottom line:  If the nation wants to take advantage of our technology, limit projecting ground vulnerability, and avoid attrition warfare, it must continue to keep a modern Air Force – and that means consistently buying aircraft.  Further if we expect defense industry to continue to produce the innovative systems – which have proven to be the best in the world – we have to invest in their products.
For your consideration.

Michael M. Dunn
Air Force Association
“The only thing more expensive than a first-rate Air Force is … a second-rate Air Force.”  --  Senate staff member

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Very well put, sir.