WASHINGTON --- Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis has ordered the Air Force and Navy to get mission capable rates for four key tactical aircraft up above 80 percent by the end of next September, a daunting challenge given the current readiness rates of America’s fighter fleets.
In a memo issued Sept. 17 to the secretaries of the Army, Air Force and Navy, along with acquisition head Ellen Lord and acting Undersecretary for Personnel and Readiness Stephanie Barna, Mattis acknowledges “budget constraints and shortfalls in aviation squadrons across the force” have led to “systemic underperformance, overcapitalization and unrealized capacity” in the fighter fleets.
“For change to be effective and efficient, we must focus on meeting our most critical priorities first,” Mattis wrote in the memo, obtained exclusively by Defense News.
Specifically, that means achieving a minimum of 80 percent mission capability rates for the Pentagon’s F-35, F-22, F-16 and F-18 inventories — a number well above the mission capability rates those aircraft now achieve. In addition, Mattis wants to see reduced operating and maintenance costs on the platforms, starting in FY19.
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