General: Air Fleet Wearing Down

May 8th, 2007  
Team Infidel

Topic: General: Air Fleet Wearing Down

USA Today
May 8, 2007
Pg. 1

Warplanes Have Cracked Wings
By Tom Vanden Brook, USA Today
LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. The Air Force's fleet of warplanes is older than ever and wearing out faster because of heavy use in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the service's top combat commander.
Gen. Ronald Keys, who leads the Air Combat Command, points to cracked wings on A-10 attack planes and frayed electrical cables on U-2 spy planes.
Compared to 1996, the Air Force now spends 87% more on maintenance for a warplane fleet that is less ready to fly, Air Force records show.
They also show that as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan continue, Air Force and other military aircraft are flying more missions in harsh environments.
Keys said he's concerned that policymakers will only pay attention when a plane either crashes on takeoff or over a city "because a wing falls off."
"I don't want to write a letter, or have my successor write a letter, 'Dear Mr. and Mrs. Smith, your son or daughter are dead because the wing fell off on takeoff. We knew it was going to fall off, we just didn't know when.' That's kind of what we're getting down to," Keys said.
Arcing wires near fuel tanks recently forced the Air Force to ground its fleet of 33 U-2 spy planes in March for at least a day, Keys said.
The average Air Force warplane is 23.5 years old compared with 8.5 years in 1967. In 2001, the average plane was 22 years old.
The Air Force says it wants to buy new planes to lower the average age of its fleet to 15 years over the next two decades. That will cost an estimated $400 billion.
There are 356 A-10s in service. The plane is often used to support ground forces in close combat. The A-10 carries missiles and bombs, but its cannon is particularly effective in strafing.
The Air Force recently bought replacement wings for 132 of its workhorse A-10s at $7 million per plane. The Air Force wants another $34 million for more replacement wings this year.
In the past week, A-10s have attacked enemy forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. The planes shot at and bombed Taliban rebels in Afghanistan; in Iraq, A-10s performed a variety of reconnaissance missions to find and stop insurgents from burying roadside bombs.
Aircraft age is misleading, said Christopher Bolkcom, a national security analyst at the Congressional Research Service. Some aircraft may have been lightly used for years and have safe flying hours left. Maintaining old planes may be expensive but often cheaper than buying a new aircraft, he said.
"Chronological age is only one measure of aircraft health," Bolkcom said. "Age is not a safety issue."
While refurbished planes often fly as well as new ones, they may also require more crewmembers to fly and maintain them, said James Jay Carafano, a military analyst at the Heritage Foundation. "These life-cycle costs really matter," he said.
May 27th, 2007  
The Other Guy
What's the Far Side cartoon with the cat delivering the mail, and the two old dogs are sitting there and saying "We're getting old."

That's what's going on. The best in the world 10 year ago is starting to show its age now.
May 28th, 2007  
major liability
So what was all that stuff about "world superpower" and "mightiest military in the world"?

And we can't maintain our airplanes? That doesn't sound right.
June 1st, 2007  

Topic: A-10

After reading the following post I can't think of better reason to spend another $400 million to further upgrade the A-10. These aircraft are needed right now period. I know the US Air Force focus is on the F-22 and F-35 but sometimes what's current is important. I assume the production line is long closed for A-10s so there's no chance for new aircraft even if money were found. Did they open part of the production line to produce the news wings? I don't much about there pricing or what's involved in building them but maybe upgrading isn't the way to go. I would like to learn this process better and get more of an understanding of what's involved in upgrading and building A-10s. It's a great aircraft and does many tasks very well but it looks like they need some tender care.
July 1st, 2007  

Topic: Boeing Awarded $2 Billion A-10 Wing Contract

This is very good news and badly needed.

Boeing Awarded $2 Billion A-10 Wing Contract
PLEASE ENTER LOCATION, June 29, 2007 -- The Boeing Company [NYSE: BA] has been awarded a U.S. Air Force contract worth up to $2 billion between 2007 and 2018 for engineering services and the manufacturing of 242 wing sets for the Air Force's A-10 fleet.
"We are pleased that the Air Force has recognized that Boeing has the skilled expertise, engineering know-how and the affordable solution to address the needs of the A-10 program," said Charles T. Robertson, vice president of Boeing Support Systems' Maintenance, Modifications and Upgrades division.
The A-10 wing replacement program calls for the replacement wing sets to be delivered in parts and kits for easy installation. Boeing has teamed with key suppliers to meet all the requirements presented by the A-10 contract, Robertson said. He added that the Boeing solution will allow the nation's A-10 fleet to fly at least 20 more years.
"This contract extends the life of a valuable platform that supports our warfighters in accomplishing their mission to defend freedom around the globe," Robertson said. "Employing our integration expertise and lean manufacturing techniques, we are well-prepared to meet the challenges presented in this contract."
The A-10, first introduced in 1976, is a twin-engine jet aircraft designed for close-air support of ground forces. The simple, effective and survivable single-seat aircraft can be used against all ground targets, including tanks and other armored vehicles.

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