We’ve been here before… Under Carter…
NOT A WARM & FUZZY FEELING…..
The U.S. Navy’s F/A-18 Hornet and Super Hornet strike fighters are the tip of the spear, embodying most of the fierce striking power of the aircraft carrier strike group. But nearly two-thirds of the fleet’s strike fighters can’t fly — grounded because they’re either undergoing maintenance or simply waiting for parts or their turn in line on the aviation depot backlog.
There isn’t enough money to fix the fleet’s ships, and the backlog of ships needing work continues to grow. Overhauls — “availabilities” in Navy parlance — are being canceled or deferred, and when ships do come in they need longer to refit.
Every carrier overall for at least three years has run long, and some submarines are out of service for prolonged periods, as much as four years or more. One submarine, the Boise, has lost its diving certification and can’t operate pending shipyard work.
The Navy can’t get money to move around service members and their families to change assignments, and about $440 million is needed to pay sailors. And the service claims 15 percent of its shore facilities are in failed condition — awaiting repair, replacement or demolition.
Congress has failed for the ninth straight year to produce a budget before the Oct. 1 start of fiscal 2017, reverting to continuing resolutions that keep money flowing at prior year levels.
The dire situation of naval aviation is sobering. According to the Navy, 53 percent of all Navy aircraft can’t fly — about 1,700 combat aircraft, patrol, and transport planes and helicopters. Not all are due to budget problems — at any given time, about one-fourth to one-third of aircraft are out of service for regular maintenance. But the 53 percent figure represents about twice the historic norm.
Sixty-two percent of F/A-18s are out of service; 27 percent in major depot work; and 35 percent simply awaiting maintenance or parts, the Navy said.
Under the continuing resolution, the senior Navy official said, another 14 ship availabilities will be deferred in 2018 — one submarine, one cruiser, six destroyers, two landing ship docks, one amphibious transport dock and three minesweepers.
At least there is some fuel, and most of the pilots and crew are able to maintain their basic quals, if not their complete readiness package, unlike when we were going cold iron on entire squadrons for 30-60 days at a time.
I just hope this can be turned around in time, before things get totally out of hand.