Major hat tip to ELP Blog!
Do not be fooled by these cries of woe! Consider the following...
1. The original plan for the F-18's were for them to be retired BEFORE the AV-8Bs. Instead they've turned that around. The mystery? The USMC has more than enough spares for the AV-8B because we got around 100 British planes that had just been refurbished for a song. If they had kept to the original plan then there would be no crisis.
2. The talk about not having enough Marines to conduct maintenance is also curious. Why? Because while the USMC has cut tanks, artillery, AAVs and others they've ADDED BOATSPACES to the wing!
3. The USMC declared the F-35 operational last year. There is no need to send F-18s on deployment when the Deputy Commandant for Aviation has told us that the F-35 is ready to go. So why the pressure on Marines at Cherry Point to get these planes ready?
Long story short? This is a passion play that is being orchestrated to drum up support for the F-35. It has nothing to do with reality. If there is pain in the wing its because leadership has decided that its good "public relations". They get to scream about Marine Corps end strength, about needing new aircraft AND needing more money in general.
As diabolical as it might seem, I believe this is part of a plan to generate support for the F-35.