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US Air Force Struggles With Aging Fleet

By Eric Talmadge

In this Aug. 14, 2012 photo, a U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker sits on the tarmac at Kadena Air Base on Japan's southwestern island of Okinawa. For decades, the U.S. Air Force has grown accustomed to such superlatives as unrivaled and unbeatable. Now some of its key aircraft are being described with terms like decrepit. (AP Photo/Greg Baker)


TOKYO (AP) – For decades, the U.S. Air Force has grown accustomed to such superlatives as unrivaled and unbeatable. These days, some of its key combat aircraft are being described with terms like geriatric, or decrepit.

The aging of the U.S. Air Force, a long-simmering topic in defense circles, made a brief appearance in the presidential debates when Republican nominee Mitt Romney cited it as evidence of the decline of U.S. military readiness. His contention that the Navy is the smallest it’s been since 1917 got more attention, thanks to President Barack Obama’s quip that the Navy also has fewer “horses and bayonets.”

But analysts say the Air Force has a real problem, and it will almost certainly get worse. It was created in part by a lack of urgency in the post-Cold War era, and by design glitches and cost overruns that have delayed attempts to build next-generation aircraft.

Looming budget cuts limit the force’s ability to correct itself, they argue, as China’s rise as a world power heightens its need to improve. And though the world’s most formidable air force never had much use for bayonets, it’s got more than its share of warhorses.

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Posted by FanSite on Dec 1st, 2012 and filed under Techline. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response by filling following comment form or trackback to this entry from your site

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