Air Force leaders are concerned about a trend in the readiness of their aircraft.
A report in the Air Force Times cites a continued drop in what’s called “mission capable rates” of major aircraft in the Air Force.
Jim Olson is live in Minot to tell us if the slide includes B-52 bombers, two dozen of which are stationed at the local base.
In fact, the flight readiness of B-52 bombers did drop last year. More on that in a moment.
According to an Air Force study, mission capable rates across all aircraft dropped to 71.3% – down from 72.1% the previous year.
It’s feared the readiness decline could hurt Air Force effort to retain pilots and respond to situations around the world.
The former head of Air Combat Command, General Hawk Carlisle told the Air Force Times, “It scares the heck out of me.”
Some of the most critical aircraft have had significant drops in readiness, including the F-22 Raptor- which dropped to 49% from 60% a year earlier.
And the F-35, called the most advanced fighter in the Air Force, has a mission capable rate of 55%, down from 65% in one year.
As for the B-52 specifically, the Air Force reports a mission capable rate of 72% in 2017, more than two percentage points lower than a year earlier.
Minot is one of two B-52 bomber bases in the country – the other is Barksdale in Louisiana.
We reached out to the Air Force, but were not given anyone to talk with locally about the situation.
But the bottom line is this: there is concern about the ability to keep pilots and keep the Air Force at the desired state of readiness.