The U.S. Military, still the worlds most powerful force, has been left in a shambles by the Obama administration thanks to the sequester agreement that was passed in the congress in 2011. As a result, while North Korea is ramping up for a Nuclear War with the U.S., our forces are in some areas down to as much as 40% readiness. The following is an example of the problems faced by the new administration as it attempts to rebuild our military’s situation.
March 22, as North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un prepared to launch yet another illegal missile, a lone B-1B Lancer bomber took off from Andersen Air Force Base in Guam and flew across the Pacific on a Continuous Bomber Presence sortie designed to impress upon the dictator the error of his ways. The Stealth bomber flew to South Korea for training with their F-15Ks and F-16s. But there was a hitch in the planned exercise, there were supposed to be two B-1Bs in the mission. The second bomber was unable to respond to the threat alert labeled “A clear and present danger to North Korea’s security. ” The second plane was unable to take off due to a maintenance issue, according to Pacific Air Forces Command.
In fiscal 2014, mission-capable rates for all of the Air Force’s airplanes and helicopters were just shy of 74 percent, meaning that of a 1000 planes, they could only get 738 off the ground in an emergency. But in 2015 that number had dropped to just 730. It fell even further in 2016, to about 717 aircraft per thousand. The decline in readiness is partly due to the increasing age of the Air Force’s fleet. The average aircraft age has spiked in recent years, from roughly 24 years in fiscal 2010 to 27 years in 2016.
Air Force generals have been warning about fleet readiness for years, but the last administration chose to ignore their words. But in a March 3rd speech, the new Air Force Secretary Lisa Disbrow told attendees: “Our highest investment priority is in improving readiness.” “The aircraft we have on the ramp are too old. We need to revitalize the fleet.”
Declining readiness is a major concern, because of the small number of plane in the fleet. The Air Force had a total of 5,447 aircraft last year only about 2/3’s of the 8,600 aircraft in the Air Force’s inventory during Desert Storm. The mission-capable rates continuing to fall especially in some of the Air Force’s most crucial aircraft.
Current readiness rates stand at:
- F-22 Raptors 60%
- B-2 Spirit bombers 51%
- B-1 Lancer 52%
Meaning that at any given time, about half of the Air Force’s B-1s and B-2s are grounded. As for the other mainstay of the bomber fleet, the The venerable B-52 Stratofortress which has an average age of 54 years, has the best readiness rating at 74%.