Good on Paper, Not So Much in Practice

Over the past decade, the Air Force has retired nearly a quarter of its legacy aircraft in order to free up resources, testified AFA President Craig McKinley during the first public hearing of the National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force on Tuesday. Now, the service is left with a fleet of A-10s “riddled with structural cracks,” airmen who are learning to fly on trainers twice their age, B-52s that “pre-date the Cuban missile crisis,” a shortage of fifth generation F-22s, and F-15s that are being extended to 18,000 hours, noted McKinley. “This modernization crisis has also precipitated challenges for maintaining the balance with the Active Duty, [Air Force] Reserve, and Air National Guard,” said McKinley. “There are simply not enough aircraft in the Air Force inventory to sustain all units that currently exist within the Total Force.” Army Maj. Gen. William Wofford, Adjutants General Association president, said the commission must ensure that the “reserve components have the capacity needed to support current and future homeland defense and disaster-assistance missions” inside the United States. Wofford said the greater challenge, however, will be making sure new equipment is fielded concurrently with Guard modernization. Until that happens, there will never truly be a Total Force, he said during the June 4 hearing.