The Sustainment Numbers Game

When Lt. Gen. Mark Shackelford, the Air Force’s acquisition military deputy, told lawmakers earlier this month that the smaller F-22 Raptor fleet would pose long-term sustainment challenges, he was referring to a wide range of issues, from depot requirements to unscheduled maintenance and repairs and the need to upgrade the older Raptors with enhanced capabilities. Air Force spokesperson Lt. Col. Karen Platt told the Daily Report Tuesday that Shackelford was comparing the sustainment of larger fleets with a sizeable inventory of backup and attrition reserve aircraft where there is less difficulty in removing aircraft from operational squadrons to undergo maintenance, repairs, or retrofits, to the sustainment of a smaller fleet—in this case, only 186 Raptors. Platt said, “The F-22 fleet, however, has a small backup aircraft inventory and no attrition reserve aircraft,” so taking Raptors from an operational squadron for critical maintenance and upgrades has a greater impact on readiness and must be more carefully planned to mitigate impacting mission requirements. And any further losses, due to accidents or combat, would increase this effect, she added.