Thursday, February 09, 2017

We are seeing a coordinated "cry fest" to push F-35 buys...

I contend that we're seeing a coordinated "cry fest" by top Pentagon brass to push the meme to the public that US forces are so poorly funded that we need to make a dramatic push to increase already lavish defense spending.

Exhibit number one.  via Marine Times.
More than half of all Marine Corps fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft were unable to fly at the end of 2016, officials said on Wednesday.

The Marines are struggling to keep aging aircraft flying amid budget cuts, delayed spending bills and more than 15 years of wartime wear-and-tear.

Out of 1,065 Marine Corps aircraft, 439 were flyable as of Dec. 31, said Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, deputy commandant for aviation. That represents roughly 41 percent of the service’s fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft.

“My target should be 589 [flyable aircraft]; so I am 150 airplanes shy of what I need to make my flight-hour goal,” Davis told reporters on Wednesday. “In order to meet my operational commitments, I need a little bit more than that.”

Since taking the job in June 2014, Davis has been working furiously to get enough Marine Corps planes and helicopters flyable until the service can receive new aircraft, such as the F-35.
How a Marine General can so easily talk about failure on his part and not be embarrassed/humiliated/drummed out of the service is beyond me.  In essence Davis is telling us that he didn't do his job and while he's comfortable blaming pilots for crashes he is in this interview telling us that he didn't get enough flight hours to those aviators to keep them proficient.

In essence he's telling us that he failed to properly train his Marines.

But ignoring all that we're still faced with this totally weird request.  Exhibit number two.  via Defense News.
 The Marine Corps’ top aviator is hungry for more F-35Bs, telling reporters on Wednesday that he would like to see the service’s buy rate increase to 37 jets per year.
That would almost double the planned rate of F-35B procurement over the next few years, which is projected to sit at 20 aircraft per year from fiscal years 2018 to 2021. 

"We have the infrastructure in place,” said Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, deputy commandant for aviation. "Bottom line is we've had a very anemic ramp, so we've been holding onto the older airplanes longer. If asked by the American people to get the airplanes faster, I guarantee we'd put them into play very, very quickly.
“We'd transition squadrons faster is what we'd do,” he said, adding that if the service were allowed to purchase 37 B-variants a year, it would be able to retire its legacy F/A-18 Hornet and Harrier planes by 2026. 
Do you get the force of connection here?  Coffee Joe Java suspected that supply lines are being starved because preparations are being made to put the F-35 into service and from this article it appears those suspicions are spot on.

The current force is being allowed to wither on the vine in order to fund future priorities.

HQMC likes to talk about assuming some risk.  I call it being foolish with the lives of Marine Aviators.

But the arrogance is stunning.  Did you catch that statement?  If not here it is... "If asked by the American people to get the airplanes faster, I guarantee we'd put them into play very, very quickly."

Why would the American people push to put an airplane into service that hasn't passed testing?  Why would the US Marine Corps push to put a plane into service that hasn't passed testing???

Worse?  We're seeing a coordinated effort by the highest ranks of the Marine Corps to deceive the public and to acquire a weapon system that is not ready for prime time.  The Marine Corps enjoys a special place in the minds of the public and that trust should not be squandered.  The push for the F-35 is not worth risking that trust.

Side note.  One story in this cry fest that hasn't received enough coverage is the news that only 3 Brigade Combat Teams are combat ready.  The rest will need at least 30 days to get up to speed!  I'm guessing those BCTs belong to the 82nd and their Global Response Force which means that we have no Army Armor or Mech units ready to go.  THAT SHOULD BE STUNNING TO POLICY MAKERS, but aviation is the only thing that grabs headlines and most Defense Journalists care about.

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