READINESS CRISIS: THE EVIDENCE IS MOUNTING
Press reports continue to highlight readiness shortfalls in the realm of Navy and Marine Corps F-18 Hornet fighter aircraft.
Fox News reported on the crisis in military aviation:
F/A-18 Crashes Rise Rapidly As Budget Constraints Have Led To Overused Planes, Undertrained Pilots - Stars and Stripes - Tara Copp - 9.1.2016
WASHINGTON — A year ago, Navy and Marine Corps leaders gave a dire warning to Congress: Budget cuts have hurt nondeployed units and could cost lives during a major conflict.
The losses happened, but not in combat. Pilots died training at home.
Since May, four F/A-18 Hornet or F/A-18E/F Super Hornet crashes involving nondeployed units killed two pilots and destroyed five planes.
The crashes are the latest in a sharp increase in military aviation accidents overall for nondeployed squadrons, which have absorbed the bulk of budget cuts through reduced training and delayed maintenance at home so the best aircraft and personnel can be used on the front lines...
Since 2012, the number of major Navy and Marine Hornet and Super Hornet accidents — incidents causing at least $50,000 in damage and in some cases leading to injury, death or the loss of the $60 million aircraft — skyrocketed 44 percent, according to data collected by the Naval Safety Center in Norfolk, Va.
Miramar Fighter Pilots Aren’t Flying Enough, Reps. Warn - The San Diego Union-Tribune - Joshua Stewart - 9.1.2016
OCEANSIDE — A maintenance backlog of Marine Corps F-18 Hornets is so extensive that pilots aren’t getting enough flight hours to keep their skills well-honed, bipartisan members of Congress said Thursday.
“They’re flying very far below what we would consider an adequate level of training,” said Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista. “We don’t have enough aircraft to get them to 16 or 20 hours (flying the F-18 per month), even if the fuel or assets were available.”
Issa and Reps. Loretta Sanchez, D-Garden Grove; Rep. Scott Peters, D-San Diego and Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, toured Marine Corps Air Station Miramar Thursday and were briefed on efforts to extend the life of its Hornets, the only fighter jet Marines fly from aircraft carriers.
“They’re really struggling with the age of the F-18 fleet,” Peters said at a news conference before the group headed off for a tour of Camp Pendleton...
This has a major impact on the work of the Corps’ mechanics as well as pilots and flight officers, Sanchez said. The number of Marines maintaining the aircraft hasn’t grown, so they’re doing more work than normal. With fewer aircraft available to fly, aviators are getting less time in the air.
Younger pilots, Sanchez said, aren’t getting the training they need with their squadrons and could be weaker during future missions...