Transport Blues

The Air Force pisses me off. Every time they run a successful program, they try to kill it, and spend the money on a failed program. The two poster children for this are the C-17 and the F-22. While both programs ran long and were hugely expensive, in the end, they delivered what was promised, the most capable platforms of their type in the world. And both programs have faced the long knives of the Air Force leadership, hoping to spend the money elsewhere. In the case of the F-22, just as development was giving way to production and service, the Air Force convinced SecDef Gates to kill it to spur spending on the F-35 Joint PowerPoint Fighter. In the case of the C-17, the Air Force has always low-balled the number of airframes needed, and tried to kill production several times. But as StrategyPages notes, what the Air Force really needs is about twice as many C-17s as it has.

It’s always been an uphill fight getting new air transports built. There were so many delays in the C-17 program that, when the 1991 Gulf War came along, the C-17 was not available and the C-141 transports, that was supposed to keep flying until 2010, were basically worn out and had to be retired early. Now the C-17s are doing more work, to make up for the missing C-141s. Originally, there were to be 120 C-17s (at $135 million each), with production ending in 2004. After September 11, 2001, it was realized that more air transports would be needed, and the production run of the C-17 was increased to 180. But logistics planners insist that 300 will be needed, if wartime needs are to be met. Moreover, the rapid deterioration of the early model C-17s means that eventually 350, or more, will have to be built to maintain a fleet of 300 transports.

10 thoughts on “Transport Blues”

  1. I participated in the USAF’s Reliability, Maintainability and Availability testing for the C17 in 1995. It was ten days in which I learned to love the C17 but hate the USAF. I still complain about them and tell the story.

  2. Thanks. Interesting peek into the challenges faced by this branch of the military.

    Can’t make an intelligent comment or ask questions… it’s simply over my head… *flying over my head, I guess* *snigger*

  3. What are you nuts? You’re using common sense, you ought to know better! Remember, these people working in the perfectly square building with five sites. As a Nation, we need, at some point in time, to begin to understand the dynamics of warfare in general and the politics it takes to fight it. There are no easy answers to a very complex problem. I knew a man who is deeply involved in our Nation’s Air Traffic Control System Computerization. He made an interesting comment which, in my mind, applies here. He said, “Did you ever write an application based on specifications written by Congress?”

    To Cathy, I knew a man, who was taught by Albert Einstein. Many people do not see Einstein as a man with a very funny sense of humor. He would often ask a question of those students, including the one I knew. The question was this, “Are you smart enough to be dumb or dumb enough to be smart?” I tend to think there is a high possibility for the latter of the two choices Cathy, in all seriousness, THANK YOU, for caring enough to write. You have been a good sport with all of my clowning around.

  4. Cathy, it is important that you understand something. You are a very nice person with a bunch of either active duty Military or nasty old Veterans. In a few ways, this is not your world, but in many ways, you’re right at home. Please let me explain. Many of the civilian population are absolutely ignorant of the Military and they are comfortable in that ignorance. But you, actually go in and fight with that very same ignorance. It takes a great deal of courage to fight this battle. Even though, the whole battlefield is between your ears. Do you realize that most people hate that very same battlefield in their own lives, they will turn and run from the fight. I am not just talking about women, but also men, more often than not, it is the man. When I say that, I am not caulking about them going to war, I am just talking about understanding the situation. This is why I see you as a person of great courage and deserving the due respect.

    There are funny stories from my childhood that would blow your mind. I was not in my teens. There was a patch of woods across the street of from our house. On the other side of the woods, there were some new houses. In one of those houses, lived an older couple who had an adult daughter in the Military. I didn’t think much about it, until the day I met her, she had her own detail who traveled with her. I noticed they were Marines, then I met her, see was the Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps. This woman came up to me, I’m still a kid, she said, “I came home to get a little quiet time, I’d like to keep it that way.” You anything I said was “Yes, ma’am.” Well, that Sunday, my mother taught Sunday school and this woman was sitting in her class. My mother never knew who that woman was, my father knew and understood what was going on. This would be remembered at different times, it was the right thing to do. I found it in my “Military Jacket” or file. As a boy, teenager, young man, middle-aged man and starting to be an old man, I could not have been more fortunate, there is only One who can do that, not me. I’ve talked with some of the most historic people in our Country.

    Cathy, this is the reason that to stand out with a special courier each and fight the bottle. You have *earned*I respect. I and the fortunate one here.

  5. Women who like the troops, and like to spend time around them are a treasure. Most of ’em end up as soldier’s girls so they can spend even more time around the troops. Frankly, I like such women and destest the feminista, and femiservatives.

    Feminine women! Real women like real men.

  6. Brad, I wouldn’t blame the long knive on the AF. Yeah they do stupid things, like pretend they’re military, but they can’t help that.

    I blame the F-22 and C-17 debacle on Gates. That’s putting the blame squarely where it belongs.

    The man is a hack opportunist. If he had any ability he’d have left those two programs alone, and cut a number of Navy throats for the real shipbuilding boondoggles that we will suffer from for 30 years.

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