Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has directed the Air Force and Navy to raise the mission capable rates for four fighter jets — the F-35, F-22, F-16 and F-18 — to 80 percent within 12 months, a significant challenge in light of current readiness rates for those aircraft fleets. While the Air Force’s F-16C had a mission capable rate of 70 percent in fiscal 2017, the other aircraft had significantly lower readiness rates. Mattis issued the directive in a Sept. 17 memo to the three service secretaries, along with Ellen Lord, undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, and Stephanie Barna, acting undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness. It’s “not impossible” to hit those benchmarks, but “it’s going to be difficult to do it and to sustain it,” Todd Harrison, an analyst with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told Defense News.
Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Agustin Salazar