Airlift Report Card

Air Mobility Command is in “pretty good shape,” according to its commander, Gen. Arthur Lichte. In an address to AFA’s Air & Space Conference Wednesday, Lichte said that because of apparent success with the C-5 re-engining program tests, the continued excellent performance of the C-17, and steady modernization of the C-130 fleet, air mobility would get “a B+ or an A-.” Aeromedical evacuation would get an A+, he said, since injured troops routinely get airlifted to a hospital within a few hours and their survival rate exceeds 95 percent. However, in aerial refueling, he assessed the situation as “a D, and if there’s no new tanker contract soon, an F.” The KC-135 has had to be upgraded with global air traffic management equipment, which is money that could be going to a new tanker, and some emergency modifications have been needed for stabilizers, wheels, and brakes following structural accidents. It takes “seven to 10 hours” of maintenance time on the ground for every hour the KC-135 flies, Lichte said. Moreover, the KC-10 is “no spring chicken” and is already facing numerous modification needs.