Apr 9, 2018
Defense Drumbeat

Military Times - By: Tara Copp - April 8, 2018

Read the entire piece here.

In the last three weeks, six military aviation crashes have killed 16 pilots or crew — a tragic development that has cast a spotlight on a growing crisis: Accident rates have soared over the last five years for most of the military’s manned warplanes.

Through a six-month investigation, the Military Times found that accidents involving all of the military’s manned fighter, bomber, helicopter and cargo warplanes rose nearly 40 percent from fiscal years 2013 to 2017. It’s doubled for some aircraft... At least 133 service members were killed in those fiscal year 2013-2017 mishaps, according to data obtained by Military Times.

The rise is tied, in part, to the massive congressional budget cuts of 2013. Since then, it’s been intensified by non-stop deployments of warplanes and their crews, an exodus of maintenance personnel and deep cuts to pilots’ flight-training hours.

“We are reaping the benefits — or the tragedies — that we got into back in sequestration,” said retired Air Force Gen. Herbert “Hawk” Carlisle, referring to the 2013 cuts.

The sharp increase in mishap rates is “actually a lagging indicator. By the time you’re having accidents, and the accident rates are increasing, then you’ve already gone down a path,” said Carlisle, who led Air Combat Command until 2017.

“If we stay on the current track ... there is the potential to lose lives.”

The rise in aviation mishaps has not surprised former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who led the Pentagon in 2013 when the cuts were enforced.

“We stopped training, for months,” Hagel said. “Of course, all of that affected readiness. It’s had an impact on every part of our defense enterprise,” he said. “And that means, surely, accidents.”...

Light at the end of the tunnel?

On Feb. 9, Congress passed a two-year budget deal. It provides $700 billion to DoD for fiscal 2018 ― now six months into the spending year ― and $716 billion for fiscal 2019. President Trump signed the spending pact into law the same day.

115th Congress