Retired USAF General: “Geriatric Air Force” is “least ready in history”

Retired Air Force Lieutenant General David Deptula (Air Force)
Retired Air Force Lieutenant General David Deptula (Air Force)

The United States Air Force is under-equipped and suffers poor readiness, according to one military expert.

Speaking at the DC-based American Enterprise Institute last Friday, retired Air Force Lieutenant General David Deptula said that the USAF suffers from old equipment that is used constantly, budget constraints and lack of effort when it comes to modernizing the force.

“The Air Force has been at war not since 9/11, but since January 1991. That’s 25 years,” Deptula said. “That 25 years of continuous combat, coupled with budget instability and lower than planned top lines, has made the Air Force, the smallest, the oldest and least ready in its history.”

Deptula went on to cite that in those 25 years, the USAF has 30 percent fewer personnel, 60 percent fewer “combat-coded fighter squadrons” and 40 percent fewer aircraft, with 25 percent fewer aircraft per squadron.

“The bottom line is: We’re operating a geriatric Air Force,” said Deptula, who now serves as the dean of the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies. “We have fighters that are 55 years old. Tankers that are just as old. We’re operating training aircraft that are 40 years old.”

According to CNS News, the former general and current dean of the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies compared the current USAF to the one that struggled in the 1970’s (also colloquially known as the “hollow force”) before the Reagan administration revamped it- at great financial cost.

“So back then in the ‘70s -hollow force- half our military planes couldn’t fly, because there weren’t any spare parts or proper maintenance,” Deptula said. “Guess what folks? It’s just like that today.”

Deptula concluded saying that when Reagan was in office, the average aircraft age was 12 years, while today the average military aircraft is 27 years of age. In contrast, the average commercial aircraft is around 10 years old.

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