Fighters, drones, reconnaissance aircraft and tankers – in 2022, the US Air Force will write off about 160 combat vehicles. The Pentagon expects in this way to free up funds for the modernization of more modern models. The Americans are forced to economize – the technical condition of their aircraft fleet is far from ideal. About which planes will be cut into metal – in the material of RIA Novosti.
The United States has the most military aircraft in the world – the Air Force alone has about 5800 aircraft. Keeping this armada in good working order is an eternal headache for the Pentagon. Many cars are already over 30 years old: they simply take up space in hangars and only require money for repairs. Technic-ians are forced to maintain essentially useless aircraft.
The US Air Force command regularly tries to convince Congress to allow the decommissioning of obsolete equipment. However, zealous legislators take this extremely painfully. So, the military has long wanted to get rid of 280 shock A-10 Thunderbolt II – they do not allow it. These subsonic a-ttack aircraft have been in service since 1977, have fought in many armed conflicts, and have earned a re-putation as a reliable means of supporting infantry. But the most “fresh” are about 35 years old, and their tasks are quite capable of more modern machines.
However, the congressmen nevertheless went to meet the Air Force: in 2022, about 160 aircraft will be scrapped. These include 48 F-15C / DEagle – 20 percent of the total fleet, as well as 47 light F-16C / D Fighting Falcon. The fighters, many of whom still remember Desert Storm, will be replaced by the F-35 and F-15EX.
Four E-8 JSTARS combat control and target designation aircraft will be withdrawn from the Air Force. They are relatively young – in service since 1996, but the operation is too expensive. What will be replaced is unclear: the development of a new flying headquarters in 2019 was suspended.
The most serious losses will be suffered by the fleet of strategic reconnaissance drones. Of the 29 drones RQ-4 Global Hawk Block-30, 20 will be written off. These UAVs are capable of patrolling and conducting reconnaissance for 30 hours at an altitude of 18 thousand meters at a distance of up to 22 thousand kilometers from the operator. By the way, they regularly visit the Russian borders in Crimea and the contact line in Donbass.
Americans have been us-ing RQ-4 extensively arou-nd the world since the 20-00s. Drones break. And the maintenance is extremely expensive – it is cheaper to send a manned high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft U-2 on a mission. Probably, the functions of the Global Hawk will be transferred to the “stealth” drones RQ-170 Sentinel.
Bigger birds will also be sawn: 32 KC-135 Stratot-anker and KC-10 Extender tanker aircraft. Their average age is 52 years. And if the “Extenders”, which w-ere put into service in 1981, have not yet exhausted their resource, then most of the “Stratotankers” manufactured from 1954 to 1965 are long overdue for a landfill. The replacement is also not so smooth: the newest KC-46 tanker was diagnosed with a whole bunch of “childhood illnesses”. They will spend $ 55 million to eliminate them. In the meantime, the Pentagon has postponed the supply of promising tankers to the army until at least 2024.
Rounding out the list are 13 military transport C-130H Hercules. Five of these will replace the more modern C-130J Super Hercules with new engines and avionics. The US Air Force will still have 279 of these machines. Various modifications of the “one hundred and thirtieth” have been in operation since 1954 – these are the most common military transports in the world.
The massive write-off of aircraft is a direct consequence of, to put it mildly, the imperfect technical condition of American aviation. In last year’s report by the US Audit Office, based on inspections of the Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and Ground Forces aircraft fleets, they concluded that many vehicles would not even be able to take off.
According to the regulations, at least 80 percent of the aircraft must be ready to take off at any moment. From 2011 to 2019, inspectors checked 46 types of aircraft and helicopters – only three models more or less met the requirements.
The aircraft fleet of 24 types has never reached the 80% technical readiness level in nine years. The Accounts Chamber called this state of affairs almost catastrophic. This also applies to F-16 fighters, and V-22 Osprey tiltrotors, and E-2 Hawkeye deck reconnaissance aircraft, and many others. And the combat readiness of 11 types of aircraft did not exceed 55 percent at all.
Moreover, many questions with the repair of equipment arise due to an acute shortage of components. In particular, for the deck F / A-18E / F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler no longer produce spare parts – their manufacturers have left the market.
Worst of all with the B-1 Lancer strategic bombers. Last year, the deputy chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General John Haiten, reported that out of 62 aircraft, only six are operational. B-1s have flown thousands of sorties, mainly in the Middle East, in climatic conditions for which they are not adapted. As a result, the cars were very worn out. Recently it became known that the Pentagon will write off 17 of the most problematic bombers.