[Editor’s Note: Just like her sister services, the USMC is not immune to the budget woes currently wreaking havoc on the Department of Defense. Arguably, the service has been hit just as hard as the Air Force and Navy, with the bulk of the Corps’ fleet of fighters and attack aircraft aging out at a pretty alarming rate.]

The US Marine Corps (USMC) is working to maintain readiness of its legacy fleets as it continues acquiring new aircraft such as the Bell-Boeing MV-22 Osprey, the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, the Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion, and several types of light helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in the coming decade.

“Our deploying squadrons achieve readiness ‘just in time’, but our next-to-deploy and non-deployed squadrons do not have the resources to train for the fight tonight or for the fight tomorrow,” Lieutenant General Jon Davis, the USMC assistant commandant for aviation, wrote in the introduction to the USMC Aviation Plan 2016, released on 28 January. “I am concerned with our current readiness rates, both in equipment and personnel.”

A USMC F-35B Lightning II conducts a flight test mission loaded with external stores. (Photo courtesy of snafu-Solomon.blogspot.com)
A USMC F-35B Lightning II conducts a flight test mission loaded with external stores. (Photo courtesy of snafu-Solomon.blogspot.com)

In 2015 the corps focused on improving readiness for the two platforms experiencing the most difficulty – the McDonnell Douglas AV-8B Harrier II and the Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallion. “We had dispassionate experts analyze every aspect of our daily operations, at every level from the operational to the depot,” wrote Lt Gen Davis. The lessons learned from the Harrier readiness improvement plan “provided the model for the readiness recovery efforts we are now implementing across every tactical platform in the marine corps”, he added.

The marines now want to balance improving readiness with acquiring new capability, according to the aviation plan. “Marine Corps aviation will aggressively adhere to our readiness recovery plans across the board, making the necessary manpower, training, and policy changes, funding the totality of the recovery plan, and executing same,” the document states.

The corps plans to consolidate its Harriers on the US east coast by 2021, with all its F/A-18 Hornets consolidated on the west coast by 2027, according to the plan.

The original article can be viewed here.

(Photos courtesy of snafu-Solomon.blogspot.com)

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