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America’s aging aviation force: Father, son flew same fighter jet 30 years apart
Hotair ^ | 05/18/2012 | Rob Bluey

Posted on 05/18/2012 8:14:30 AM PDT by SeekAndFind

Dave Deptula, a retired three-star general, knows the risks associated with flying older aircraft. While serving as the joint task force commander in 1998 and 1999 for Operation Northern Watch, Deptula flew 82 combat missions over Iraq. On one mission, as he was headed to a tanker to refuel, the master caution light came on, revealing a problem with the plane. His fuel gauge went to zero. Meanwhile, he was 500 miles away from his base. Fortunately, he was able to land safely.

“The insulation was so old it simply had deteriorated to the extent where it came off and all of the wiring shorted out,” Deptula recalled. “Those are the kinds of things that happen when airplanes get to certain ages.”

Deptula’s aircraft was grounded for repairs, requiring another set of planes to travel from Kadena Air Force Base in Japan, on other side of the world. It’s not an isolated incident. In the years that followed, the Air Force was forced to ground its entire F-15 fleet in 2007 after one fighter disintegrated during a training mission in Missouri.

These frightening experiences demonstrate the consequences of an aging aviation force. Deptula worries that fiscal constraints imposed on the military — including more than $492 billion of mandatory defense cuts on the horizon — will result in future challenges.

“I hear people talk about, well you know, the U.S. military spends more money than the next 17 nations combined,” Deptula said. “Well, the next 17 nations combined are not committed to maintaining peace and stability around the world. We are.”

The Heritage Foundation featured Deptula’s story as a part of a three-part series highlighting the risks of budget cuts to the nation’s military. The first part told the story of Col. Kerry Kachejian, an Army Reserve engineer, who relied on sport-utility vehicles during his service in Iraq.

Deptula uses the term “geriatric aviation force” to describe the current state of affairs. He has firsthand experience. He earned his wings and flew an F-15 for the first time in 1977. Thirty years later, another Deptula boarded the aircraft. His son, Lt. David A. Deptula II, flew the same F-15 at Kadena Air Force Base in Japan.

The Wall Street Journal documented the amazing father-son story last fall to illustrate the challenges facing the aging force. The elder Deptula recounted how the fighter was originally designed for a 4,000-hour service life. That was later extended to 8,000 hours.

“We have really flown these aircraft well beyond what originally would be believed as their replacement lifetime,” Deptula said of the F-15s. “And now, because of some of the fiscal constraints that are being imposed on the Department of Defense, there is consideration being given to extending the lifetime even further.”

Before retiring from the Air Force in 2010 as a lieutenant general, Deptula traveled to Kadena for a high-aspect mission with his son. He flew the F-15 and saw some of its deficiencies compared to newer aircraft like the F-22 and F-35.

Heritage’s James Jay Carafano, an expert on defense and national security issues, worries that under the Obama administration, the military will continue to suffer from ill-advised budgeting.

“Today’s air forces are the oldest in the history of U.S. air forces,” Carafano explained. “Replacing old airframes and ensuring the U.S. maintains its superiority over potential adversaries is a national security priority. Yet Obama has done little to show he takes the challenge of modernizing the air fleets seriously.”

The result is troubling: The U.S. military is jeopardy of sacrificing dominance in the air environment that came with advancements in the 1960s and 1970s. Simply modernizing and updating aircraft won’t provide the same edge against adversaries.

With more budget cuts looming, however, will Congress do anything to reverse course?

Rob Bluey directs the Center for Media and Public Policy, an investigative journalism operation at The Heritage Foundation.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: airforce; budgetcuts; defense; defensebudget; deptula; doj; f15; f22; f35; jetfighter; military

1 posted on 05/18/2012 8:14:38 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

I’ve often wondered that if new, stronger metals and upgraded powerplants and electronic avionics and deadlier weapons if a P-51 wouldn’t suit our third world incursion wars much better.


2 posted on 05/18/2012 8:31:49 AM PDT by Gaffer
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To: zot

first father and son BUFFs now father and son F-15s


3 posted on 05/18/2012 8:32:20 AM PDT by GreyFriar (Spearhead - 3rd Armored Division 75-78 & 83-87)
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To: SeekAndFind

And I know many of the young men who fly these ancient aircraft. You can only upgrade for so long.

We have flown our airplanes to death these last 20+ years.

Think about a car, no matter how much you maintain it and baby it parts wear out. Now, make it a race car built to the highest specifications with the metal stressed to the highest limits to save all the weight possible. Load it with tons of dead mass (bombs and rockets), driving on a rough track and see what happens. It will not last, the metal will fatigue and fail. If for some reason you don’t understand the analogy, we have built extremely high performance aircraft with the lightest frames possible, load them with bombs, fly them in very rough air, put them through high G maneuvers at high speeds and expect them to last forever. They simply will not last.

What this country is doing to our military is shameful. We will pay a terrible price for it some day. I am afraid it will not be long from now.


4 posted on 05/18/2012 8:32:40 AM PDT by Sequoyah101
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To: Gaffer

Further, I submit that there are sometimes cases where inspiration of a higher order have influenced development of materiel for the good of mankind. Two come to mind: 1) the marvelous 120 design-build-fly of the P-51 and a similarly impressive feat for the Willy’s Jeep.


5 posted on 05/18/2012 8:34:00 AM PDT by Gaffer
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To: Gaffer

Because of the limitations of the Mustang’s liquid cooled Merlin, I’ve been partial to the Skyraider, P-47 Thunderbolt, or F4U Corsair.


6 posted on 05/18/2012 8:34:04 AM PDT by GreyFriar (Spearhead - 3rd Armored Division 75-78 & 83-87)
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To: GreyFriar

I can sypmathize, but to me the Mustang was true inspiration.


7 posted on 05/18/2012 8:35:11 AM PDT by Gaffer
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To: SeekAndFind

My father and I did the same thing. He went to Vance AFB for pilot training. He graduated with 66-A class. I was born there while he was in pilot training. Later I went to Vance for my pilot training. I graduated with 87-05 class. We later compared logbooks and had flown many of the exact same airplanes. Both T-37’s and T-38’s.


8 posted on 05/18/2012 8:37:29 AM PDT by PilotDave (No, really, you just can't make this stuff up!!!)
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To: SeekAndFind

The B-52 is old just like the A-10 but those were the planes the Iraqis feared the most. I almost had a BUFF crash on top of me at Fairchild AFB.

Our planes are still the best in the skies.


9 posted on 05/18/2012 8:39:40 AM PDT by Azeem (There are four boxes to be used in the defense of liberty: soap, ballot, jury and ammo.)
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To: Gaffer

The Atomic Bomb was a good one............


10 posted on 05/18/2012 8:39:57 AM PDT by Red Badger (Think logically. Act normally.................)
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To: Gaffer

Even if it wouldn’t, they should build them anyway. It is the finest looking aircraft ever built.


11 posted on 05/18/2012 8:40:33 AM PDT by HerrBlucher
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To: Gaffer

They would and thus the reason for the Tucano or something like it.

The A-26 was such an outstanding counter insurgency aircraft they were completely worn out in the early days of Vietnam. We need a moderate performance, survivable aircraft with a high end weapons delivery system for these crap wars we continue to fight.

We do instead is take what is out best remaining high performance aircraft and fly it around for thousands of hours to drop bombs on people armed with shoulder fired weapons. It is the equivalent of making your daily commute in an Formula One race car.

The only part of sitting in traffic that makes it remotely fun is to see the guys in very high end sedans and sports cars creeping forward one foot at a time. I marvel at the waste and vanity. They have converted something like a thoroughbred I prize and appreciate into a nag pulling a trash cart.


12 posted on 05/18/2012 8:40:47 AM PDT by Sequoyah101
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To: GreyFriar

Agreed. The Air Force found that out the hard way in Korea when the brass insisted on using Mustangs as ground-attack aircraft.


13 posted on 05/18/2012 8:41:55 AM PDT by M1903A1 ("We shed all that is good and virtuous for that which is shoddy and sleazy... and call it progress")
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To: Gaffer
“If a P-51 wouldn't’t suit our third world incursion wars much better.”

While not as pretty, the A10 Warthog probably fills that role very nicely.

14 posted on 05/18/2012 8:44:17 AM PDT by Tupelo (GARY JOHNSON will cut spending. Will Mit?)
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To: SeekAndFind
I can only imagine what the continuous cycling of desert baking and high alt freezing does to insulation, hoses, synthetics...the chlorine begins to unwind from the long molecular chains and it all starts to turn to either a soft goo or turn brittle and crack.
15 posted on 05/18/2012 8:50:25 AM PDT by Sirius Lee (When we cease to be good we'll cease to be great. Be for Goode.)
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To: SeekAndFind

“I hear people talk about, well you know, the U.S. military spends more money than the next 17 nations combined,” Deptula said. “Well, the next 17 nations combined are not committed to maintaining peace and stability around the world. We are.”

__________________________________________________________

And maybe we ought to rethink our self-imposed world policeman status.


16 posted on 05/18/2012 8:51:32 AM PDT by JohnKinAK
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To: SeekAndFind

Taking out an insurgents Toyota pickup truck with $500,000 cruise missles doesn’t make much economic sense either.


17 posted on 05/18/2012 8:52:02 AM PDT by Minutemen ("It's a Religion of Peace")
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To: SeekAndFind

I doubt there are many parts left in the plane the father flew. Everything’s replaced over time. Other than a few airframe parts, it’s essentially a different plane.


18 posted on 05/18/2012 8:55:50 AM PDT by wolfman
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To: Sequoyah101

Task the Air Force with selecting & operating all long range bombers, fighters and interceptors.

Let the Marines & the Army do the same for Close Air Support (CAS).

The Navy has veto on selection of all carrier based aircraft. ( A significant number are CAS. A hot-dog Air Force fighter/interceptor that can’t handle carrier landings is useless. Same for single engines)


19 posted on 05/18/2012 8:56:33 AM PDT by BwanaNdege (Man has often lost his way, but modern man has lost his address - Gilbert K. Chesterton)
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To: Sequoyah101

True, to a point.

Some of these AC are like the “original” axe George Washington used to cut down the cherry tree.... They have replaced the handle six times and the head four...

Still...Most people would be amazed at what is allowed in the air.


20 posted on 05/18/2012 8:57:55 AM PDT by NY.SS-Bar9
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To: Sequoyah101

Turbofan Killer Bee: Rutan ARES “Mudfighter” for U.S. Army Close Air Support

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zG9LlHcX8lg

http://www.scaled.com/projects/ares

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scaled_Composites_ARES


21 posted on 05/18/2012 9:00:49 AM PDT by BwanaNdege (Man has often lost his way, but modern man has lost his address - Gilbert K. Chesterton)
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To: Tupelo

The A-10 went through my mind, of course. However, the WWII equivalent of the A-10 was the Republic P47 Thunderbolt, often called “The Jug”. Like the A-10, the Jug was a flying tank that could drop ordinance, blast the crap out of a target with its 8 airborne version M-2s and take a holy hell beating.

However, the P-51 was pure elegance, taken from idea to flyable prototype in 120 days! Pure beauty, inspiration and a viper’s bite rolled into one machine.


22 posted on 05/18/2012 9:03:40 AM PDT by Gaffer
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To: GreyFriar
first father and son BUFFs now father and son F-15s

Yes, and probably also C-130s and KC-135s.

23 posted on 05/18/2012 9:07:57 AM PDT by zot
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To: SeekAndFind

The British Canberra were in service for almost 60 years.


24 posted on 05/18/2012 9:08:44 AM PDT by C19fan
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To: SeekAndFind
“Well, the next 17 nations combined are not committed to maintaining peace and stability around the world. We are.”

Missions that cannot be funded, will not continue. And that particular bit of Neo-Con grandiosity has simply run into a brick wall.

Defense is headed for a 50% haircut, just like the rest of the Federal budget - whether Welfare Statists and Neo-Cons like it or not. That's half the aircraft, half the ships, half the carrier battle groups, half the personnel, 2/3 of the bases, 3/4 of the land-based ICBMs and 100% of the nation-building administrative overhead. That leaves room for expanded funding of badly needed technologies that don't reward Congressional repsentatives, defense contractors, and generals with so many shiny new toys: drone technology, cyber-defense, ground and space-based anti-missile systems, and modernized intelligence-gathering capabilities.

You can kill a terrorist with a Craftsman screwdriver if you know who he is and what he is going to do. Government thinks it needs to use an F-22, instead. :)

25 posted on 05/18/2012 9:15:53 AM PDT by Mr. Jeeves (CTRL-GALT-DELETE)
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To: NY.SS-Bar9

Likewise, true to a point.

The head and handle changes apply to a lot of structures but not so much the high performance airframes... there are only so many of those.

Wings on t-38s have been changed like socks but we’re all out of socks.

Eventually the attachment points wear out as well and it is not just the 38s though they are probably the worst of the lot for having been around the longest. An airplane can only be banged into the ground so many times even though they are amazingly rugged.


26 posted on 05/18/2012 9:29:46 AM PDT by Sequoyah101
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To: Sequoyah101
I have been told be DOD aviation acquisition types that it takes 25 years from DOD aircraft design concept to first flight. Almost all of that is due to the hidebound bureaucratic DOD acquisition process.
27 posted on 05/18/2012 9:31:39 AM PDT by Reily
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Heck, this is nothing. Many of the guys flying BUFFs (B52 bombers) are younger than the planes they fly!

Mark


28 posted on 05/18/2012 9:35:02 AM PDT by MarkL (Do I really look like a guy with a plan?)
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To: SeekAndFind
Remember this folks: The fighter community is the darling of the Air Force and has been since Vietnam (late 1960s) when the tactical fighter community took over from the bomber mafia.

If the F-15 community started in the mid 1970s how about the bomber community? The B-52H’s still flying are 1960 and 1961 manufactures - that's a decade older than the F-15 story lead. Plus they are expected to remain in front line service until the 2040s.

Look at the HC-130, rescue aircraft. Most of them are mid 1960 builds - a few years older than the B-52.

The KC-135s are from that same era.

Most of the tactical airlift, C-130s, are from the same era.

Why do I bring this up? In 2009 I came across a young AF Captain, navigator, type whose name tag read “Savage”; I pronounced in the French manner and was immediately told I was the only one who had done so in years. Why did I know how - I flew with the man's father as student navigators in 1970/71. Capt Savage was going into the AC-130 community - the same community I transferred to in 1975. While not a father/son story it shows how old almost all of the Air Force's tactical platforms really are.

29 posted on 05/18/2012 9:50:06 AM PDT by Nip (TANSTAAFL and BOHICA)
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To: MarkL

Again, another statement that is only true to a point.

The pilots flying the airplanes are younger than the B-52s they fly and so are most of their father’s now who flew the same aircraft.

The same point can be made for the T-38.

If you’ll look at the tail numbers on most USAF aircraft the first two large digits of the SN are the year the AC was accepted into inventory.


30 posted on 05/18/2012 9:52:50 AM PDT by Sequoyah101
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To: Gaffer
No way. Get a big air cooled radial fighter like a P-47 or a Hellcat or Corsair.

The radiators on liquid cooled fighters like the P-51s are too vulnerable.

And the best part, the eight .50s on a P-47 can chew up anything.

31 posted on 05/18/2012 10:06:34 AM PDT by GBA (Read: The Harbinger by Jonathan Cahn If you read this anything this year, read this book!)
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To: GreyFriar

Should have read your post before I posted mine. Can’t beat those big P&W radials.


32 posted on 05/18/2012 10:10:15 AM PDT by GBA (Read: The Harbinger by Jonathan Cahn If you read this anything this year, read this book!)
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To: SeekAndFind

Put F-15 out to pasture?

We have a new fighter mentioned in the article, the F-22. It’s extremely costly, and a linked-to LA Times article states that the F-22 was designed to compete with a new Russian fighter that never came into existence.

The LA Times article says that the F-15’s problems can be fixed, and we know that their weaponry and electronics can be upgraded, so the question to be answered is whether the F-15 still plays a useful military role. Does the F-15 do certain jobs just as well as the F-22 but at a lower cost?

Furthermore, we may be moving toward pilotless aircaft and increasingly precise guided missiles. I’ll bet maintaining and upgrading old planes like the F-15 and B-52 makes sense.


33 posted on 05/18/2012 10:12:23 AM PDT by cymbeline
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To: Sequoyah101

The A26 was not worn out they put turbo-prop engines on it to increase the speed of it. Do not lie the reason for this mess is the fighter mafia alone with there billion dollar toys that they now refuse to fly......

The 26 is still flying in 8 countries . I know cause I was a 26 weapons mech an worked on Brazilian 26s at Opa Locka Airport in Miami.....Great planes like the 135 are still flying with new engines while our great fighters sit on the ground over engineering failures...The USAF Fighter Types refused to buy the F5 Tiger 2 an 6 years later had to buy them as agressor planes cause our F4s were getting shot out of the air over Nam....They buy the wrong a/c the 747 is as old as the c5 yet it flys triple the hours of the 5 an turn around as much as 4 times every 48 hours. It takes 72 hours to turn a 5 around....


34 posted on 05/18/2012 10:30:05 AM PDT by straps (Ex-Pan Am Mechanic)
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To: SeekAndFind

The Army issued me with a musket that had “Down With The Redcoats!” carved into it.


35 posted on 05/18/2012 10:37:00 AM PDT by blueunicorn6 ("A crack shot and a good dancer")
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To: SeekAndFind; LucyT

Ping to article of interest.


36 posted on 05/18/2012 10:38:36 AM PDT by rockinqsranch (Dems, Libs, Socialists, call 'em what you will, they ALL have fairies livin' in their trees.)
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To: straps

And to you, you would be well advised to take much greater care whom you accuse of lying. If I were where you are there would be consequences.

It is a comfort to know there are geniuses like you around working for Brazil and other countries.

You are insignificant and will always be so.


37 posted on 05/18/2012 10:52:09 AM PDT by Sequoyah101
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