Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Welsh on Aging Fleets: 'Airplanes Are Falling Apart' | DoD Buzz

Welsh on Aging Fleets: 'Airplanes Are Falling Apart' | DoD Buzz: Top U.S. Air Force officials said the service must protect funding to upgrade aging fleets of aircraft while investing in new technologies despite automatic budget cuts.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh was blunt in his warning about the condition of such aircraft as the F-16 fighter jet and the B-1 bomber, both of which have been flying for decades. The service recently grounded dozens of F-16D two-seater models made by Lockheed Martin Corp. after finding cracks between the front and rear pilot seats in a section called the canopy longeron sill, a strip of metal that affixes to the fuselage.

“Airplanes are falling apart,” he said during a presentation Tuesday at the Air Force Association’s annual conference. “I don’t care if it’s B-1 oil flanges that are breaking and starting fires or if it’s F-16 canopy longerons that are cracking. There’s just too many things happening because our fleets are too old. They’re just flat too old. We have to re-capitalize.”