1. Improve warfighting readinessAs outlined by Chris Cavas over at DefenseNews, here is something that should be at the top of the short-list;
...nearly two-thirds of the fleet’s strike fighters can’t fly – grounded because they’re either undergoing maintenance or simply waiting for parts or their turn the aviation depot backlog.How we got to this point in such relative silence? That is a different story.
Overhauls – “availabilities” in Navy parlance – are being cancelled or deferred, and when ships do come in they need longer to refit. Every carrier overall for at least three years has run long, and some submarines are out of service for prolonged periods, as much as four years or more. One submarine, the Boise, has lost its diving certification and can’t operate pending shipyard work, and leaders claim that if more money doesn’t become available five more will be in the same state by the end of this year.
The Navy can’t get money to move around service members and their families to change assignments, and about $440 million is needed to pay sailors. And the service claims 15 percent of its shore facilities are in failed condition – awaiting repair, replacement or demolition.
The backlog is high. “There’s about six to eight billion dollars of stuff we can execute in April if we got the money,” the senior Navy source said. “We can put it on contract, we can deliver on it right away.”
“Our priorities are unambiguously focused on readiness -- those things required to get planes in the air, ships and subs at sea, sailors trained and ready,” a Navy official declared. “No new starts.”
The dire situation of naval aviation is sobering. According to the Navy, 53 percent of all Navy aircraft can’t fly – about 1,700 combat aircraft, patrol and transport planes and helicopters. Not all are due to budget problems – at any given time, about one-fourth to one-third of aircraft are out of service for regular maintenance. But the 53 percent figure represents about twice the historic norm.
Sixty-two percent of F/A-18s are out of service, 27 percent in major depot work and 35 percent simply awaiting maintenance or parts, the Navy said.
With training and flying hour funds cut, the Navy’s air crews are struggling to maintain even minimum flying requirements, the senior Navy source said. Retention is becoming a problem, too. In 2013, seventeen percent of flying officers declined department head tours after being selected. The percentage grew to 29 percent in 2016.
There is more; read it all.
On yesterday's Midrats we covered a little bit of SECNAV Mabus's legacy. Perhaps this should be part of it.