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originally posted by: Zaphod58
a reply to: mazzroth
The problem isn't the dumbing down of the West, it's the fact that they don't make spares for planes that are 30 years old. There is some commonality between the F-18C/D and the E/F, but there is a lot that is unique to each model. You're going to have a hard time finding parts for an 84 Datsun 210 too, does that mean it's because the West is dumbed down?
The Marine F-18 fleet is averaging 28 for the A model, 21 for the C, and 20 for the D. The oldest of each is 28, 25, and 25, respectively, and they were planned to last 15 years, before they went through the SLEP. With the exception of the KC-130J, AH-1Z, UH-1Y, and MV-22B, every aircraft fleet in the Marine inventory is either approaching 20 years, or is over 20 years, in the case of the CH-46 and UH-1N, well over 20 (45 and 41 respectively).
The Air Force is worse, but has more aircraft to spread the workload out over.
Rising operations and support costs could affect the Air Force’s ability to modernize as it prepares to fund the F-35 joint strike fighter, KC-46 tanker and long-range strike bomber in the mid-2020s, service officials and experts said.
One cost driver that has been scrutinized in recent months is the extension of aircraft beyond their anticipated life spans. The service’s planes average more than 27 years in the fleet, according to Air Force Materiel Command documents.
“Some of the challenge with the rising costs is the fact that the parts aren’t available,” said Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski, commander of AFMC. She noted that with older platforms many of the companies that once supplied aircraft components have gone out of business.
At the same time, skills that were required to sustain those aircraft decades ago may not be relevant anymore, she said. For example, some systems still use floppy disks, which may not be familiar to modern maintainers, Pawlikowski said.
“As the age of aircraft increase, the amount of maintenance they require goes up,” said Todd Harrison, the director of defense budget analysis at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “That’s not much of a surprise. It’s like if you have an old car, more things are going to break. That’s part of what’s happening because the average age of aircraft in the Air Force inventory has been getting older and older. Now it’s the oldest it has ever been.”