Saturday, July 30, 2016

USMC F-18 Hornet broke apart in flight? The USMC is creating its own tragedy...

Thanks to Moebius for the link!

via Washington Post.
According to a Marine who witnessed the crash, the F/A-18 was in a dive preparing to drop ordnance on a simulated target when the aircraft broke apart in midair and erupted into a fireball. The base’s civilian air rescue immediately responded to the crash site — a strip of canyon roughly 10 miles south of I-40 called Gay’s Pass, said the Marine, who requested anonymity because of his active duty status.
I need to express my sympathy to the Marines family and my hope that he is able to rest in piece.  Next check out this passage from Breaking Defense.
“We’ve been on that track now for two years to get all of our pilots in every type model series the hours they need,” Davis said. “Last year the only guys that got their hours, and the only T-1 unit I have right now, is the F-35s.” He added: “They’re ready for everything.”
Davis said the Corps was on its way to meeting its readiness goals because, “ We’ve had great allies in Congress. They’ve actually helped us out.”
Do you get the implication there?

The only full up fighter attack squadron that we have is with a unit that isn't slated to be sent to war anytime soon!  We have guys that will be sent to combat but the Deputy Commandant for Aviation is bragging that a showpiece unit is the only one that is T-1!

If that isn't enough we saw it coming from a March article of this year  via Marine Corps Times.
Mission-capable rates for all but one of the Marine Corps' 12 fixed-wing, rotary and tiltrotor airframes have fallen since the end of fiscal 2009, according to data obtained by Marine Corps Times via Freedom of Information Act request. While officials stress that the number of flyable aircraft fluctuates daily, the downward trends have alarmed Marine leaders and members of Congress.
Of the Marine Corps' 276 F/A-18 Hornets, only 87 are currently flyable, Marine Corps officials said on April 20. That is less than one-third of all the service's F/A-18A-D variants that can be used to strike the Islamic State group, provide close-air support or fly reconnaissance missions.
But we had a plan to properly mitigate the risk of delays with the F-35...via Telegraph 2011.
The US Navy and Marine Corps is in the final stages of negotiations to purchase all 74 of the planes, which have been permanently grounded since last year’s Strategic Defence Review.

The sale is likely to raise further questions over the wisdom of axing the Harrier as US defence chiefs suggested they were getting a bargain by buying the recently upgraded aircraft.

Rear Admiral Mark Heinrich, chief of the US navy's supply corps, said buying the Harriers made sense because many of the jets had recently undergone a refit, and the US already had pilots who could fly them.

"We're taking advantage of all the money the Brits have spent on them," he told the US newspaper Navy Times.

"It's like we're buying a car with maybe 15,000 miles on it. These are very good platforms. And we've already got trained pilots."
Then this from Defense Tech 2012.
Yup, you read that correctly. With the help of spare parts scavenged from Britain’s old GR9 Harriers that the Marine Corps just bought from the UK, the Marines could keep their AV-8B Harrier jump jets flying until 2030. Yes, the Harriers could serve alongside, F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, EA-18G Growlers, and whatever jet is selected as the Navy’s Unmanned Carrier-Launched Surveillance and Strike jet. Remember, the F-35B short-takeoff and vertical landing version of the JSF was originally supposed to start replacing the Marines’ Harriers and F/A-18 Hornets by oh about now. You all know what’s happened to that plan. The AV-8B entered service with the Marines in the mid-1980s.
Naval Air Systems Command has done a structural analysis of the Harriers’ airframes and concluded that the jets will be good, with plenty of maintenance, to fly through 2030, said Rear Adm. Donald Gaddis, the Navy’s program executive officer for tactical aviation during the Navy League’s annual Sea, Air, Space conference in National Harbor, Md.
What is my point with all these links?

Its really quite simple.

HQMC had a solid plan to mitigate risk to the fleet and preserve the airwing.  The answer was a buy of British Harriers and to use them to hold the line till the F-35 came online.  The elderly Hornets which we don't have parts to (remember officers going to a museum to scavenge parts?) would be retired post haste and the Harriers which we DID have parts to would soldier on.

That all changed and the Harrier would be retired early and the Hornet would soldier on.


My suspicion?

Leadership wanted to ensure the F-35 purchase.  The old idea of saying that the plane is perfect and then "fixing it after we get it" made a come back.

The problem?

Now Marines are dying.  Marines are being overworked.  Planes are breaking up mid air.

Now I ask.  What does it take to get a Marine Corps Deputy Commandant fired?  One dead Marine in a F-18 Hornet that breaks apart in midair?  12 in the back of a CH-53E off the coast of Hawaii?  How about 6 Marines in a UH-1Y in Nepal?

Even if you think Davis is blameless then you can't deny the facts.  The USMC is creating its own tragedy.  This can be fixed but its gonna take some balls and its gonna take putting Marines ahead of an airplane.

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