The Navy’s aircraft arsenal is so depleted it would take several years to rebuild the fleet even if the Trump administration allotted the funding needed to repair inoperable aircraft, according to a policy expert and former Air Force pilot.
John Venable, a senior research fellow for defense policy at the Heritage Foundation, cited a report released Monday that found two-thirds of the Navy’s strike fighter jets are unable to fly due to maintenance problems exacerbated by several years of military budget cuts.
Thirty-five percent of grounded fighter planes are waiting for parts, while 27 percent are undergoing major depot work, according to the report published by Defense News. A full 62 percent of F/A-18 Hornet and Super Hornet strike fighters are out of service, a concerning figure because of the essential role the planes fill in the fleet’s combat power.
In all, more than half of the Navy’s planes are grounded, including some 1,700 combat transport aircraft, patrol aircraft, planes, and helicopters.
“The throughput right now is so far behind and has such a backlog that it’ll take them several years to refit, refurbish, and repair the F-18s that are in unserviceable condition,” Venable told the Washington Free Beacon. “They can’t catch up even if the Trump administration gave them all the money they need.”
Naval and Air Force pilots have been unable to train adequately due to a shortage of operable aircraft in both services, impacting readiness levels and depriving the military of pilots who are unable to log needed flight hours.