Back to Squawk list
  • 29

Inside the geriatric unit: US Air Force struggles to keep aging aircraft flying

For decades, the U.S. Air Force has grown accustomed to such superlatives as unrivaled and unbeatable. These days, some of its key combat aircraft are being described with terms like geriatric, or decrepit... ( More...

Sort type: [Top] [Newest]

Gene Ciri 6
The writer knows so little about a modern Air Force that I really did not want to take the time to respond, but the fundamental gauge of the effectiveness of an Air Force is not the numbers of aircraft in the inventory. The fundamental measure of an Air Force's efectiveness is it's lethality, and that includes:

1. The ability to deliver ordnance on target, be it on the ground or in the air.

2. The ability to survive the attack mission, be it air intercept or ground attack.

3. The ability to rapidly deploy it's forces to the most critical areas of battle, be it in the air or on the ground.

4. The ability to sustain those objectives until the battle has been won.

In WW II we sent 300 B-17's against the ball bearing works at Schweinfurt, 100 were shot down, 1000 men were lost and ball bearing production resumed not too long after the bombing.

In Korea B-29 bombers became so vulnerable to air attack by MIG-15's that daylight bombing was halted and the B-29's were relegated to night bombing only, and heaven only knows what they were hitting at night.

In the Vietnam War we sent wave after wave of 105's carrying 2000 lb "dumb bombs" against the Than Hoa bridge in N Vietnam and the Thuds were never able to destroy that bridge, but we did lose about 20 of them trying to take out the bridge.

Then one day we sent two F-4's, repeat TWO lonely F-4's against that bridge, one carrying Laser Guided Bombs (LGB's) and one carrying a Laser Designator. Those two F-4's dropped that bridge that we had been trying to take out for two years with ease and without any losses.

Today we have 500 lb and 2000 lb LGB's, GPS guided bombs with 5 meter accuracy that can be dropped from 10 miles away and 40,000 ft, 30,000 lb GPS guided bombs that can penetrate just about anything, Maverick Missiles that can optically lock onto a target and guide themselves right to the target, airborne radars in our fighters that can lock onto a target 75 miles away, and kill it from 40 miles away with an AMRAM missile, Attack aircraft that can kill a tank with 3 or 4 rounds from a 30mm cannon, and radars in our AWACS that scan huge swaths of the sky and can vector our forces where they are most needed.

It is the lethality that correctly measures an Air Force's capability, not the numbers.

The numbers game is a stupid game for armchair generals.

Col. Gene Cirillo, USAF (Ret)
A Vietnam Combat veteran (F-105)
Roland Dent 2
And of course there is a bunch of stuff that is not on record too. They need to keep the back office stuff flying to make logistics work. And when that fails we just use FedEx.
Electioneering gobble-de-gook. No real point to this article, just a rehash of common knowledge. Congress needs to decide how much to spend and the flyboys need to specify a reasonable stable of next generation aircraft. In my opinion, we do not need a one box fits all, which grow to be too expensive and don't get the job done.
linbb 5
Very good comment its too bad that it is posted at all as keeping aging AC flying sometimes is easier than getting a new one due to the learning curve it takes to bring it on line let alone the cost. Most dont think of the cost before one even is in service let alone the ones who didnt even make the grade and program had to be shut down.
FOX - say no more!
James Carlin 0
I could use the same words to describe the people on Fox News. It is a simple matter of money. Do we have it or not? And do we want to run up more debt, or raise revenues to pay for it all now? We can give the USAF billions more, but that will mean cuts to other programs and/or tax increases. Or more debt.
Tomasz Fiszer -1
In my opinion, US should stop continuously re-arming, racing to be first all the time, stick to what it already has, and what's proven effective, stop wasting money on war, and start feeding people instead, especially now, in the aftermath of the hurricane.
Sir, we have no food shortage in the US. Even the stricken people hit by Sandy can get food. We even feed those too damn lazy to work.
boughbw -2
It is amusing that they say "General Accounting Office" in an article discussing how out of date the Air Force is. But then, it is Fox "News."
boughbw 1
Fact: The article discusses how the planes of the Air Force are out of date.
Fact: The article calls the GAO the "General Accounting Office."
Fact: The GAO was renamed the "Government Accountability Office" in 2004.
Fact: The article was written by Fox News.
Irony: Fox News is calling the Air Force's planes out-of-date while it refers to the GAO by a name that is out-of-date.
Thumbs down? You have to be a conservative to have such a disdain for the facts and their well-known, liberal bias.
Semantics on the GAO. Where is the article so far off base. Most of it looks right to me.


Don't have an account? Register now (free) for customized features, flight alerts, and more!
Did you know that FlightAware flight tracking is supported by advertising?
You can help us keep FlightAware free by allowing ads from We work hard to keep our advertising relevant and unobtrusive to create a great experience. It's quick and easy to whitelist ads on FlightAware or please consider our premium accounts.