FighterSweep Fans, remember that bit we ran about the Marine Corps scrounging for parts at a museum? Well, it should come as no surprise the Marine Corps isn’t the only service resorting to drastic measures to keep its aging fleet of combat aircraft flying. Anyone out there familiar with AMARG? The Boneyard in the Arizona desert is now a place where the USAF is getting parts for their airplanes. Is this an indication the Air Force is wiped out?
It was just a few years ago, in March 2011, when a pair of U.S. Air Force B-1 bombers – during a harsh winter storm – took off from their base in South Dakota to fly across the world to launch the air campaign in Libya, only 16 hours after given the order.
Today, many in the Air Force are questioning whether a similar mission could still be accomplished, after years of budget cuts that have taken an undeniable toll. The U.S. Air Force is now short 4,000 airmen to maintain its fleet, short 700 pilots to fly them and short vital spare parts necessary to keep their jets in the air. The shortage is so dire that some have even been forced to scrounge for parts in a remote desert scrapheap known as “The Boneyard.”
“It’s not only the personnel that are tired, it’s the aircraft that are tired as well,” Master Sgt. Bruce Pfrommer, who has over two decades of experience in the Air Force working on B-1 bombers, told Fox News.
Fox News visited two U.S. Air Force bases – including South Dakota’s Ellsworth Air Force Base located 35 miles from Mount Rushmore, where Pfrommer is stationed – to see the resource problems first-hand, following an investigation into the state of U.S. Marine Corps aviation last month.
Many of the Airmen reported feeing “burnt out” and “exhausted” due to the current pace of operations, and limited resources to support them. During the visit to Ellsworth earlier this week, Fox News was told only about half of the 28th Bomb Wing’s fleet of bombers can fly.
“We have only 20 aircraft assigned on station currently. Out of those 20 only nine are flyable,” Pfrommer said.
“The [B-1] I worked on 20 years ago had 1,000 flight hours on it. Now we’re looking at some of the airplanes out here that are pushing over 10,000 flight hours,” he said.