Modernizing Our Air Force

Diem Salmon /

According to recent Gallup polling, a record 47% of Americans believe the U.S. national defense is not strong enough. A quick look at the average age of the planes in our Air Force shows they are definitely on to something. In 1973 the average age of the fleet was 9 years old. Today the average plane used by the Air Force is 24 years old.

Aging Air Force

Secretary of Air Force Michael W. Wynne took his concern on the issue to Capitol Hill last month, telling the House Armed Services Committee:

Sir, I know that the debate is very robust over whether or not the base funding has been adequate over the years. I would say that since we went into the procurement holiday, we built up quite a backlog of procurement actions to be done — hence, the growth and age of my fleet. We have stipulated, I think, that we would love to see an increase. You’ve heard that, you’ve seen it in the unfunded requirements. I know that the chairman of the Joint Chiefs has talked about the 4 percent being an appropriate and likely area and a good one for starting the debate. I think I come down in that same vein.