FighterSweep Fans, it really is that bad. We’ve recently heard horror stories about units getting ready to deploy “robbing Peter to pay Paul” as it applies to making sure there are parts available to generate aircraft for combat sorties. What that means is jets going overseas are being held together by parts from squadrons staying behind. Now we have Marines pilfering parts, literally, from a museum.
House defense Republicans really do seem worried that US weapons are so old, new gear so rare and training dollars so short that US troops may soon begin paying the ultimate price for the military’s creaky state after 15 years of war. As with every problem, you need an easily understandable and shocking example of just how bad things are to jumpstart jaundiced and overworked lawmakers.
So, when House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry went to Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort and heard this story, it became part of yesterday’s hearing with Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Joe Dunford.
The only mention at the hearing was about aircraft parts being scrounged from a museum. I asked around today and it turns out an F/A-18 based at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort that flew in the raid against Libya in 1986 needed a part. The part is no longer made and there were none on hand. Crew and pilots checked the F-18s on display at Beaufort to see if they might find a part. No luck.
A lieutenant colonel visiting the USS Yorktown aircraft carrier about two hours away in Charleston, South Carolina. saw an F/A-18 of the same model, a HASC staff member told me today. They scrounged the part from what would appear to be the A model on the carrier’s deck.