Skip to comments.USAF Aircraft Availability on Long Downward Trend, CBO Says
Posted on 01/11/2022 9:51:42 AM PST by Alas Babylon!
The Air Force and Navy are both seeing a long-term, downward trend in aircraft availability and flying hours per aircraft, which is actually worse than the Pentagon reports because of the way the Defense Department counts aircraft as ready for duty, according to a new report from the Congressional Budget Office. While USAF availability recovered a little during the COVID-19 pandemic, flying hours continued to fall, the CBO said.
The Pentagon’s stated aircraft availability is higher than the CBO’s because the Defense Department counts some aircraft as ready for action even if they are torn down for maintenance at their owning unit—not in depot—or are in storage, the audit agency said. The Air Force measures “availability” as “mission capable” rates, and these metrics have changed over the last couple of years.
While the CBO provided only broad graphs and not specific numbers, it showed USAF’s availability for all aircraft as declining from about 60 percent in 2000 to less than 45 percent in 2020, with a similar performance in fighter/attack aircraft (though the F-35 reports differently and was not reflected in the CBO’s charts).
Over the same period, flying hours for all USAF aircraft declined from an average of about 300 per year to about 230. Air Force fighter/attack aircraft flew an average of about 200 hours per year in 2000, gradually declining to about 125 hours per year on average. The peak of both availability and use was in 2008.
For a more granular look, the CBO examined the F-15C/D and F-16C/D and found that their availability declined from just under 70 percent for both aircraft in 2000 to about 55 percent for the F-16 in 2020, while the F-15 came in about 45 percent. In flying hours per year over the same period, both were running about 260 in 2000 but had fallen to about 150 for the F-16 and 110 for the F-15 by 2020. Peak availability for the F-15 and F-16 was in 2008.
For rotary and tiltrotor aircraft, USAF saw availability rates at around 60 percent through 2012; followed by a decline to about 55 percent through 2016; and a subsequent recovery to about 58 percent. Flying hours per aircraft per year were at 275 in 2000, and after ticking up to 300 by 2010, have declined to about 240 hours per year.
With ups and down of as much as 10 percent over the past 20 years, Air Force trainers are where they were in 2000, at an availability of just over 60 percent. From just under 300 a year in 2000, trainer flying hours per aircraft got up to about 320 per year by about 2006 and have since declined to about 270.
It’s not a problem it’s a feature
Covid is simply revealing America’s bloated, over-controlled, dysfunctional government, massive debt - and our national de-population.
Air Force fighter/attack aircraft flew an average of about 200 hours per year in 2000, gradually declining to about 125 hours per year on average.
They’ll fly a lot more once they are all electric.../s
Having worked at companies that supplied repair and maintenance spares, I can attest spares and repair parts are the first things that get cancelled whenever a Democrat comes into office. The move the money into other things.
When Bush II was elected his office called all the CEO’s directly and asked them to go to 24 hour shifts. They said they’d talk price when Bush actually got into office. Bush came through and paid the bills. It is now against the law to build anything the military has not previously approved.
Doesn’t matter, as the current regime doesn’t have the will to fight or any recognition of America’s external enemies.
The older airframes seem generally more dependable. They don’t make ‘em like they useta!
Get woke, lose wars.
Eh. As long as the USAF personnel are getting the proper attitude adjustments, i.e. seeing straight white Americans as enemies, this is all just fine. Priorities matter.
I don’t know about that. There are a lot of ‘bent & cracked’ airframes that are red lined below their designed g-limits (among those older aircraft). That’s why the USAF is buying more F-15’s to replace the old F-15C’s. It’s an affordable stopgap solution to keep the available airframes from cratering.
I was thinking more of the Herc and BUFF in their various configurations, but you’re right - the higher-G airframes take a beating.
“Air Force fighter/attack aircraft flew an average of about 200 hours per year in 2000, gradually declining to about 125 hours per year on average”
These numbers seem very low. Question for some of the FR experts. If we get in a war and need to fly nightly sorties, are our planes capable of thousands of hours of flight time per year?
Exactly - aircraft availability is directly proportional the the service’s budget and major expenses for new toys (like the useless F-35).
If we get in a war and need to fly nightly sorties, are our planes capable of thousands of hours of flight time per year?
They could be, but they still won’t fly because there will be no supporting budgets, maintenance or spare parts availability. Funds will be drained off to support important woke causes and social justice issues.
When I was in Air Force aircraft maintenance we could fix damn near anything at the home base level, IF we had the parts.
Yeah... the big bodies just seem to last forever.
My USAF friends said they are spending lots of time, money, and effort going to gender and sex lectures, etc. So at least we are dong that right!
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