The Air Force is shifting resources and manpower to squadrons it considers most critical in response to last month’s directive from Defense Secretary Jim Mattis for the services to raise the mission capable rates for four fighter jets to 80 percent within 12 months, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson told the Senate Armed Services’ Readiness and Management Support Subcommittee on Wednesday. Wilson said the Air Force is aiming to ensure 80 percent of 204 core fighting units are “properly trained and equipped” by the end of 2020, which is six years faster than previously projected, reported Air Force Magazine. To help address its pilot shortfall and improve its fleets’ readiness, the service is investing in its operational training infrastructure, ranges and airspace, as well as increasing the use of simulation, she said. … Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and Marine Corps Chief of Staff Gen. Robert Neller acknowledged that the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps may need to retire older aircraft to help bring the mission capable rates for their F-35, F-22, F-16 and F-18 fleets to 80 percent. “You gotta get rid of airplanes. At some point, you gotta get rid of the old ones,” Neller told reporters Wednesday, reported Defense News. He added that such a move would be only one component of a strategy that includes improving the quality of parts from vendors, being more efficient with maintainers and adjusting the number of flying hours.
Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. DeAndre Curtiss