Too Costly to Fly

Maj. Gen. Frank Faykes, USAF budget director, explained to reporters Monday that the average age of USAF aircraft in 2006 is 24 years, whereas the average age in 1973—at the end of the Vietnam War—was nine years. USAF needs to retire as soon as possible the oldest of its aircraft—KC-135Es, C-130Es, F-117s, and U-2s—as well as older B-52Hs. Faykes said that right now 14 percent of the fleet is grounded or has mission-limiting restrictions. Unfortunately, he said, Congress has prevented USAF from retiring “as many of our legacy systems as we would like.” (Read “Under Lockdown.”)