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  • Morning Bell: America's Antique Air Force

    America’s flying fortress, the Cold War-era B-52 bomber, has been in service for the last 50 years, running missions in Vietnam, Operation Desert Storm, Afghanistan and the war in Iraq. It’s a striking example of how America’s military is being forced to do more with less, relying on decades-old technology to confront today’s challenges. Unfortunately, the B-52 is only one example of the United States’ geriatric fighting force, and with mounting cuts to the military, America’s ability to defend itself is increasingly called into question.

    In a new “America at Risk” video from The Heritage Foundation, David A. Deptula, a retired three-star general, gives his view of America’s aging Air Force. It’s a story he has experienced first hand. Deptula flew an F-15 for the first time in 1977, and 30 years later, his son, Lt. David A. Deptula II, flew the same F-15 at Kadena Air Force Base in Japan. The fighter, which was initially planned to have a 4,000-hour service life, later saw its mission extended to 8,000 hours. Heritage’s Rob Bluey reports on one harrowing incident where Deptula came face to face with the consequences of stretching U.S. forces to their limits:

    While serving as the joint task force commander in 1998 and 1999 for Operation Northern Watch, Deptula flew 82 combat missions over Iraq. On one mission, as he was headed to a tanker to refuel, the master caution light came on, revealing a problem with the plane. His fuel gauge went to zero. Meanwhile, he was 500 miles away from his base. Fortunately, he was able to land safely.

    ‘The insulation was so old it simply had deteriorated to the extent where it came off and all of the wiring shorted out,’ Deptula explained. ‘Those are the kinds of things that happen when airplanes get to certain ages.’

    While his aircraft was grounded, another set of airplanes traveled from Kadena Air Force Base in Japan, on other side of the world, to replace the one that was being repaired.

    Ultimately, the Air Force was forced to ground its entire F-15 fleet after one fighter disintegrated during a training mission in Missouri in 2007. In a new paper, Heritage’s Steven Bucci explains the consequences of continuing the trend of cutting the military and stretching U.S. forces:

    The Obama Administration is seemingly trying to find ways to pay for the expansion of entitlement spending programs at the expense of the military force, arguing that military spending is a drain on the economy rather than a protector of American society.

    While everyone, including military leadership, wants more efficiencies, cutbacks in military programs motivated solely by cost savings are ill-advised. Cutting many of the at-risk programs will leave the U.S. military where they were post-World War II and post-Cold War: hollow and ill-prepared for growing threats.

    Stretching the life of military aircraft puts our fighting men and women in mortal danger, and it poses threats for the U.S. armed forces as a whole. In Heritage’s video, Deptula says, “I hear people talk about, well you know, the U.S. military spends more money than the next 17 nations combined. Well, the next 17 nations combined are not committed to maintaining peace and stability around the world. We are.” But in order to keep that commitment, Congress and the Administration must ensure that the U.S. military has the resources it needs to carry out its mission of protecting America.

    Don’t Miss It: Be sure to watch Dave Deptula’s story in Heritage’s newest “America at Risk” video! Click here to watch.

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    Posted in Security [slideshow_deploy]

    18 Responses to Morning Bell: America's Antique Air Force

    1. Jeanne Stotler says:

      While our AirForce flies in obsolete planes, the POTUS flies in luxury, he logged fights over 1/2 of the year in 2011 at the cost of almost $200,000 anHOUR, this does not include Marine 1 or flying the limo and staff plus the extra flights his family used at tax payer expense. I do not know why, but BHO does not like our military Men. To help the moral I hope you all will do as I do, If you see a person in Uniform, go up and shake their hand and thank them for serving, remember they are volunteers serving for YOU.

    2. Brad Wright says:

      My Goodness! If all this is really true then we should just transfer all that money out of the Social Security Trust fund into DOD right now! Of course, maybe we wouldn't need to do that if we spent our military resources more wisely….If the Bush administration hadn't lied to the American people about the weapons of mass distraction in Iraq in the first place, then there would have been more money to keep our aircraft in better working order. After all, if there's no reason to go to war, then logic would suggest that we not do so. Of course, the above referenced piece also didn't bother to mention that our brand new fleet of F-22's is having problems too, with pilots asking not to fly them because of disorientation when they are ion the air. So gee, maybe it's not really about the age of the air craft that's a problem. Maybe the real problem is lame justification for trying to avoid sequestration. After all– we all know there's no waste, fraud or abuse in those hefty DOD contracts, right? KBR? they earned every cent like the great patriots they are.

    3. Marvin E. Fox says:

      I know our Air Force is relying on the old to the ancient, such as our old friend the B-52. I have enormous respect for our air crews. I workded on B-26 during the korean war and was an AF tech. until retirement in 1972. I recently enjoyed the picture of one of two F/A 37s and it was right out of Star Wars. I am sure it is magnificent in performance. But, how many are going to be actually produced, and when? The aircraft appears to be an expensive piece of hardware but highly usable in a fight. We do not have a wealth problem in our Republic. We have a political problem with socialist planning how they can produce lasting control over our people. Socialist thinking doesn't seem to share a view of national safety that has equality with their political ideals. Their thinking seems to flow from inept to ridiculous. The socialists must go to keep this nation safe and intact.
      Marvin E. Fox

    4. Aaron says:

      The Stratofortress is an incredibly durable airframe. With the proper maintenance and avionics upgrades our current fleet could continue serving for decades to come.

    5. Dave Connell says:

      Obama is bass ackwards as usual. Money spent on the military not helps ensure the securtiy of our nation, it creates jobs in private industry while money spent on welfare only creates more useless welfare recipients.

    6. The last paragraph explains the REAL problem. Why is it that we have to be the policemen of the world? I say, lets take care of our own, and let the other countries put their big boy pants on and fend for themselves for a change. We would then have the funds to upgrade our equipment and supplies so when the shtf, we will be ready.

    7. whick12 says:

      This is really weird the US is not even real any more Just a collection of thieves and debtors.

    8. OldVietVet says:

      They wear out–they become obsolete–airframes detiorate–PILOTS and CREWS get the most out of what they have!

    9. LAURIE JONES says:

      We have enemies from outside that have penetrated into our courtry to bring us down so they can take over as happens when the individual voters get comfortable with our freedom and do not understand how it is lost and how one by one……the monster emerges and takes away our children, our homes and finally our lives, as happened in Russia, Germany and many communist countries where dictators took over. It happens when the people are asleep. WAKE UP AMERICA, NOW. DON'T YOU SEE OUR BELOVED PRESIDENT IS SPENDING MONEY (21 MAIDS FOR MICHELLE) AND CAMPAIGNING WITH OUR TAX MONEY WITH BILLIONS AND PLACING OUR COUNTRY AT TERRIBLE RISK FOR ENEMY TAKE-OVER.

    10. RennyG says:

      Hey, no worry, the big "O" is here. We won't be fighting a physical combat war, we will be fightilng a MESLUM war. This is what is ment by "change!!!"

    11. ahsido says:

      How about a much smaller Air Force with newer planes that is not based and deployed all over the world? We don't need to choose, we can have a modern, top of the line Air Force (already far better than anything else in the world) and reduce military spending, if we stop playing policeman to the world. National defense means defense of our nation, not a public policy arm to enforce America's will. The conservative movement looks silly every time we call for a smaller government while simultaneously advocating for unlimited military spending.

      • jeffscism says:

        It has been illegal since the 1800s to use the military to defend the USA. Since then the US Military has ONLY been an expeditionary force which fights overseas for political reasons. In 1947 the War Department was converted to the Department of Defense, BUT Posse Comittatus forbids the military from acting HERE.

        If politicians can keep the Military away, they can do whatever they please art home.

    12. Conrad says:

      Dismantling of our Military by Obama and this thing we call a Democrat Party is no mistake. It Is on purpose for there is no other rational explanation.

    13. Lincol Denton says:

      Tell me Mr.Obama the milatry cuts who is going to protect our country? The best way to keep us safe is to engage terriosts over seas and not on our soil or skies. I agree with Jeanne make sure you thank any one in uniform for our freedom for they and their peers have paid a tremendous price for us and they pay it willingly. To All of our men and women in Uniform thank you for your serivce and sacrafice. it is appreciated but not expressed often enough/ Lincon Denton

    14. Oscar Manful says:

      Our military installations can always be improved. The Gulf War saw many timely as well as elite innovations in the combat tactics of the American Government. But, a War that is fought without casualties cannot be a war. Can it ? Hence encouraging the act ! Casualties can be in terms of morale, doctrine, inclination. But these are all crucial elements missen in the Gulf War. The second chapter offers lessons, hence a deterrence to war. Stealth bombers and F 16 Eagles work fine, but policies and projects for their proper use is noteworthy. BRAC Base Realignment and Closings can include such major recommendations from the second Gulf War. President Bush is a great president !

    15. Allan says:

      We have built unnecessary aircraft like the F-22 instead of more cost effective, pilot-less fighters that have higher capabilities. We have the B-1 to replace the B-52 but if it works, why shelve it? The problem is appropriations. The house and the senate buy airframes that now last over 25 years with constant upgrades of electronics and weaponry. The F-15, F-15 and F-18 are still considered some of the top aircraft in the world, all in he top 10, 2 in the top 5 and add in the F-22 (#1). But ALL military equipment is too expensive because the appropriation system encourages it. The congress solves problems by throwing money at it. There is nor checks on the system via real domestic competition. AND we use & wear our our military defending overseas energy supplies when we should be able to keep it in our, modern, bases.

    16. yeah about that... says:

      they use the same arguments ever time they want to waste money replacing the m16 too.

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