Winning: Readiness Resolved


Date:2020-06-06 Source:strategypage By:Globalmil Viewed:

June 5, 2020: In late 2018 the U.S. Secretary of Defense ordered the air force and navy to raise the readiness rate (percentage of available aircraft able to do their job) to 80 percent for several key combat aircraft and get it done during fiscal 2019 (which ended September 30 2019). The aircraft involved were the air force F-16, F-22 and F-35 as well as the late model navy F-18s (F-18E/F and EA-18G). Only the navy made it, hitting 80 percent in September 2019. The navy had the hardest job because when the order was given, these F-18s had a readiness rate of 50 percent. Even though they came up short some of the air force aircraft made remarkable progress, The F-16 went from 70 to 75 percent while the F-22 went from 52 percent to 68 percent and the F-35 went from 50 percent to 74 percent. The air force pointed out that the average readiness of all this aircraft increased by 16 percent and those selected to be sent overseas within 30 days of an emergency increased readiness by 35 percent. The navy had a similar policy, with air wings assigned to a carrier being brought up to a higher readiness rate than those air wings operating from land bases until a carrier completed maintenance, upgrades and other work needed before the carrier and its air wing went off on another six months (or more) at sea.

Overall the “80 percent challenge” did have a positive effect because when the Secretary of Defense ordered the effort, readiness rates had been falling for over a decade. There were reasons for that. Since 2001 air force and navy aircraft have been largely operating under wartime conditions. American military aircraft readiness rates have traditionally been high compared to all other major air forces. But age and two decades of heavy use has taken its toll. The workload for maintenance personnel is higher while budgets for maintenance were not keeping up. This has reduced readiness rates noticeably in the last few years, but compared to a decade ago the air force was doing rather well. Readiness rates or the percentage of your aircraft that are “mission-capable” varies by aircraft type and technology an aircraft is based on. Age is important but has less to do with it than you might think.
总体而言,“ 80%的挑战”确实产生了积极的影响,因为当国防部长下令努力时,战备就绪率已经下降了十多年。 这是有原因的。 自2001年以来,空军和海军飞机一直在战时条件下运作。传统上,与所有其他主要空军相比,美国军用飞机的战备就绪率很高。 但是,机龄和二十多年的大量使用已经造成了巨大的损失。维护人员的工作量更高,而维护预算却跟不上。在过去几年中,这明显降低了战备就绪率,但与十年前相比,空军的表现还不错。战备就绪率或“可执行任务”的飞机百分比因飞机类型和飞机所基于的技术而差异。机龄很重要,但关系比你想象的要小。

For example, the readiness rates for fighters in late 2016 (rate from a decade earlier in parenthesis, NA means not applicable because the aircraft was not in service back then); F-15C, 71.5 (71) percent, F-15E, 71.2 (72.5) percent, F-16C, 70 (75.4) percent and recently hit 75 percent, F-22A, 51.7 (60.9) percent and recently hit 68 percent, A-10, 72.5 (70.5) percent, F-35A, 49.6 (NA) percent and recently hit 74.5 percent.
例如,2016年末战斗机的战备就绪率(括号内为十年前的战备就绪率,NA表示不适用,因为当时飞机还没有服役); F-15C,占71.5(71)%,F-15E,占71.2(72.5)%,F-16C,占70(75.4)%,最近达到了75%,F-22A,占51.7(60.9)%,最近达到了68%, A-10,百分之72.5(70.5),F-35A,百分之49.6(NA),最近达到了74.5%。

The F-22 rate was higher a decade ago partly because it had overcome the problems of being a new aircraft. But the problem of high maintenance costs and lack of durability led to a slide from a high of 65 percent readiness in 2014 to the low rate in 2018. The many stealth features of this aircraft required special, time consuming and expensive attention, and provided more items that can break. The F-35A was not yet in service a decade ago so this new stealth fighters is where the F-22 was back then. The F-35 was designed to overcome the readiness problems of the F-22.

For bombers, the rates are; B-1B, 51.7 (43.8) percent, B-2A, 60.7 (54.9) percent, B-52H, 69.3 (74.6) percent. A decade ago the B-1B was cursed with additional components (especially hydraulics) that enabled it to fly fast and low. That capability was not used anymore, but the equipment is still there, and when any of it broke, the aircraft doesn't fly. The unused equipment was eventually removed, solving a lot of readiness problems. The air force recently decided to retire all the B-1Bs. The B-2 has lots of stealth stuff but the air force has overcome many of its unique maintenance problems. Meanwhile, the ancient, but relatively simple, B-52 had the highest readiness rate and still is the cheapest to operate. But the B-52s were built in the 1960s and despite ongoing upgrades, age is catching up with the elderly but reliable heavy bomber. Heavy bombers, in general, have, because of smart bombs, been heavily used since 2001. The B-52 will remain in service until at least 2040.
对于轰炸机而言,这个比率是:B-1B,51.7(43.8)%,B-2A,60.7(54.9)%,B-52H,69.3(74.6)%。十年前,B-1B受到了额外部件(尤其是液压系统)的困扰,这些部件使它能够飞得又快又低。这种能力已不再使用,但设备仍在那里,当任何一个坏了,飞机就不能飞行。最终,未使用的设备被拆除,解决了许多准备工作上的问题。空军最近决定退役所有B-1B。B-2有很多隐形装备,但是空军克服了许多独特的维护问题。 同时,古老但相对简单的B-52战备就绪率最高,而且操作最便宜。但是B-52战斗机是1960年制造的,尽管进行了不断的升级,它的机龄正在赶上老年人但是可靠的重型轰炸机。自从2001年以来,由于使用了智能炸弹,重型轰炸机总体上一直在使用。B-52至少在2040年之前都会服役。

Transports also are relatively simple in terms of tech, and their readiness rates show this; C-130E, NA (76.7) percent, C-130H, 68.3 (73.8) percent, C-130J, 76.7 (82.3) percent, C-17A, 82.6 (84.4) percent, C-5, 62.6 (52.7) percent, CV-22, 59.4 (54.3) percent. The lowest rates are either the result of age (the C-5) or lots of tech (the tilt-rotor CV-22).
就技术而言,运输机也相对简单,其战备就绪率表明了这一点。 C-130E,NA(76.7)%,C-130H,68.3(73.8)%,C-130J,76.7(82.3)%,C-17A,82.6(84.4)%,C-5、62.6(52.7)%, CV-22,占59.4(54.3)%。 最低的战备就绪率是机龄(C-5)或很多技术(倾斜螺旋桨CV-22)的结果。

Electronic warfare aircraft, despite all the complex electronics carried, are basically transports full of electronics and operators. E-3, 69 (71.6) percent (AWACS), E-8, 66.9 (81.1) percent (JSTARS), MC-130H, 84.3 (70.6) percent, MC-130J, 79.3 (65.2) percent.

Aerial tankers are transports, and quite elderly as a result; KC-10A, 79.7 (74.8) percent, KC-135R, 73 (81.1) percent, KC-135T, 73.8 (80.4) percent. The readiness rate for these old, and heavily used, aircraft does not reflect the large number (up to 20 percent) of aircraft that are pulled for major rebuilds. Thus the most decrepit tankers are not counted, keeping the readiness of aircraft in squadrons at a high rate. While the tankers are being replaced with a new model, that KC-46 aircraft is behind schedule because of quality control issues. Not a good sign because the new tanker is based on a proven and widely used Boeing 767 commercial transport.
空中加油机是运输工具,因此相当古老。 KC-10A,79.7(74.8)%,KC-135R,73(81.1)%,KC-135T,73.8(80.4)%。 这些老旧且使用频繁的飞机的战备就绪率不能反映出为大量改造而撤出的大量飞机(最多20%)。 因此,不算最破旧的加油机在内,从而使飞机在中队的战备就绪率很高。当加油机被换成新型号时,由于质量控制问题,那种KC-46飞机落后于计划。这不是一个好兆头,因为新的加油机是基于久经考验且广泛使用的波音767商业运输机。

UAVs are simple aircraft, and their high readiness rate reflects this; MQ-1B, 73.7 (93) percent, MQ-9A, 90.2 (91.9) percent, RQ-4B, 73.7 (41.6) percent. One exception is the RQ-4 Global Hawk, which is a jet-propelled, trans-oceanic aircraft. It is a much more complex beast and has long had more maintenance problems. The air force is not happy with this and 24 older RQ-4s are being retired with all Global Hawks likely to be phased out after that. The MQ-1 is officially retired and only a few remain. The MQ-9 is the main UAV, with over 300 in service. That’s more than many types of manned aircraft. UAVs are still seen as the future and by removing the crew, and all the gear needed to sustain them, aircraft become easier and cheaper to maintain.
无人机是简单的飞机,它们的高战备就绪率反映了这一点。MQ-1B,73.7(93)%,MQ-9A,90.2(91.9)%,RQ-4B,73.7(41.6)%。 RQ-4全球鹰是一个例外,它是喷气式跨洋飞机。 它是一种更为复杂的野兽,长期以来存在更多的维护问题。空军对此不满意,有24架较陈旧的RQ-4退役,所有“全球鹰”很可能在此之后被淘汰。MQ-1已正式退役,仅剩少数。MQ-9是主要的无人机,有300多架在服役。这比许多类型的载人飞机都多。无人机仍被视为未来,通过撤走机组人员以及维持它们所需的所有装备,飞机变得更容易维护且成本更低。

Trainers are simple aircraft, and their readiness rates reflect this; T-1A, 58.9 (79.7) percent, T-38A, 72.6 (80.4) percent, T-6A, 66 (80.3) percent.
教练机是一架简单的飞机,其战备就绪率反映了这一点。 T-1A,58.9(79.7%),T-38A,72.6(80.4)%,T-6A,66(80.3)%。

The air force only has one type of strategic (long distance, high altitude) recon aircraft. More than most jets, the U-2 is a powered glider. It is old (in design), simple and very reliable. U-2, 76.9 (81.2) percent.
空军只有一种战略(远程,高空)侦察机。 与大多数喷气机相比,U-2是动力滑翔机。它是很旧(在设计上),简单且非常可靠。 U-2,76.9(81.2)%。

The air force doesn't have many helicopters, and they are army models. The army designs its helicopters for easy maintenance and heavy use. HH-60G, 70.7 (74.6) percent (search and rescue), UH-1N, 83.6 (80.9) percent (transport).
空军没有很多直升机,它们是陆军型。陆军将其直升机设计为易于维护和大量使用。 HH-60G,百分之70.7(74.6)%(搜寻和救援),UH-1N,百分之83.6(80.9)%(运输)。

There are two other issues that remain unresolved. One is the age of combat aircraft. The F-35 was late arriving in large numbers and the F-16s and F-15s they were to replace are still in service. As aircraft age, maintenance costs rise and the air force budget is not rising to deal with that. As a result readiness rates for these older aircraft have been falling during the last few years. At the same time, most of the aircraft have benefitted from tech upgrades. Not just new electronics but also components made of new materials. Despite all that, age and increasing maintenance costs eventually prevail in the form of lower readiness rates. However with enough money and motivation the older aircraft can still maintain high readiness rates. Sometimes that additional cost is found to be cheaper than developing and building a new aircraft.

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