Maths Solve US Navy Fighter Shortfall
(Source: defense-aerospace.com; issued June 12, 2009)
It’s amazing the kind of idiocies US military leaders are allowed to get away with during their Congressional testimonies, and a stunning example was unwittingly provided on June 11 by Navy News.

The paper reported that Rear Adm. Allen Myers, the Navy’s director of warfare integration, told the Senate Armed Services Committee’s Air-Land subcommittee that the Navy’s projected fighter shortfall will widen because 8,000-hour inspection F-18 Hornet fighters are taking longer than planned. The implication, of course, is that additional fighters should be bought to plug the gap.

The fighter shortfall has been variously estimated at between 60 and over 200 aircraft, and would peak in 2017 or 2018.

“Now Navy officials suggest that gap could reach 243 [fighters] — or more than 20 percent of the fleet – and come several years earlier,” Navy News quoted Myers as saying. “Initially estimated to take less than six months, the inspections are taking upwards of 11 months. And instead of the anticipated 1,100 man-hours per aircraft, they need closer to 2,400 man-hours for the complete inspection process, Myers said.”

The risk, Myers added, is that the fighter shortfall “will materialize sooner — possibly as early as 2013 — because the Hornets will have to spend more time in the depot for the 8,000th flight hour inspection.”

Is anybody awake out there? Did the admiral really say that there will be a fighter gap because inspections last too long?

A quick look at the Navy’s figures shows how questionable Myers’ argument is.

If each inspection requires 2,400 hours (ie, 300 man-days, assuming an 8-hour working day) but last 11 months, the implication is that they are being carried out by only two people working full time.

So here’s a revolutionary suggestion: double the number of workers to four, which cuts inspection times to 5.5 months, and the gap will close, if not disappear outright.

That will dispense the Navy from having to buy additional F-18E Super Hornets to fill this variable-geometry fighter gap, and so save a few hundred million dollars.

Anyone who thought it was only the US Navy’s management of shipbuilding programs that was deeply troubled will not be relieved to see that aviation programs are no better served.


Click here to read the Navy Times article.

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