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The US Navy doesn’t have enough spare parts to keep its fighter jets in the air

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  • The US Navy doesn’t have enough spare parts to keep its fighter jets in the air

    https://qz.com/1754793/us-navy-lacks...z9LjlZSl9r65jE

    For a variety of reasons Super Hornets are cannibalized to keep other Super Hornets flyable. This had been going for well over a decade, initially with the F-18C/D, but apparently the Super Hornet is having the same troubles.

    The most important reason is the delays that came with the development of the F-35 (initial operational capabilty was once thought to be in the 2010-2012 time frame).
    Budgets and spare needs were assumed to be reduced beginning from then on, which of course didn't happen.

    Other reasons:
    Spending loads of money on new concepts rather than spending it on maintaining older systems.
    Obsolete materials, production delays at suppliers.

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  • #2
    But Trump tells us that the military has never been stronger

    Politics drive the military in ways that may not be optimal. Determining what is optimal is unfortunately often a deal shoot. Reagan arguably pushed for star wars in ways that ended up wasting a lot of money. Could that money had been better spent on spare parts, probably not. New technology is always risky. Many people thought the Atomic Bomb program diverted resources away from "practical" expenditures. New technology is not only risky it is disportionately expensive. What gambles to take should probably not be left entirely to the military because the military for a variety of reasons will often pick battleships over carriers.

    We live in a capitalist society that the military industrial complex is a part of. Capitalism is not about being efficient it's about the "wisdom of the crowd". It is antithetical to the top down management style of corporations and the military. Other systems may be highly efficient but they have a tendency to produce the wrong things at the wrong time and not "waste" money on a diversity of options. The rigidity of top down management pushes out opposing opinions.

    The chaos we see in the military today is largely due to evolutionary growing pains. There is a great deal of uncertainty as to how it should be constituted. There have been no major wars to forge a consensus. Everything is open to question even the seemly obvious need for aircraft carriers. How the limited funds should be spent is really anyone's guess. Perhaps we should be spending the bulk of our resources on long range drones and a decentralized strategy?

    The challenge for the military is to keep the existing system functional while a consensus for the future emerges. Change is going to be very wasteful and expensive but I doubt the political will exists to fund it.
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    • #3
      The companies that made the original spare parts have probably broken the molds to make new parts. Looking at the Harrier Jump Jets, the US could not buy new builds so they bought all the inventory that the British had. Then they fought two wars! The Super Hornets were supposed to be replaced by now by F 35's.

      Pruitt
      Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

      Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

      by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

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      • #4
        Seems to me they were going to cannibalise the super hornets sooner or later because of the transition to the F-35, but that hasn't gone to plan.

        The current tempo of maintaining all those carriers, planes and building new ones is proving to be more and more exorbitant but they cannot change that due to constitutional requirements in how many carriers they can use. I'm cautious to lay blame completely on other failed or less successful projects if the navy isn't allowed to be flexible in the amount of carriers they want, or need.
        "In modern war... you will die like a dog for no good reason."
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        • #5
          It's a bloody disgrace, a kick in the nuts for those who have to make things happen. Operational readiness & capability, anyone?
          Well, it's happening everywhere, so I guess balance is maintained.

          But geez, removing parts from a museum plane to keep another one flying. That's how warbirds are kept in the air, not first line jet aviation.
          "For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return"

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          • #6
            Why has the B-52 been around so long? It's had upgrades over the years. It does its job. The Air Force wants to get rid of the A-10 Warthog. With some new ooh ahh replacement. Why? From what I have read the troops like it, and it's very effective. I read about the Zumwalt ships and the littoral ones. So much technology to run everything. I don't like that. What happens when in a real combat situation the systems go out? I would rather have an experienced crew running the ship especially the weapons.
            "Advances in technology tend to overwhelm me."

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Rutger View Post
              It's a bloody disgrace, a kick in the nuts for those who have to make things happen. Operational readiness & capability, anyone?
              Well, it's happening everywhere, so I guess balance is maintained.

              But geez, removing parts from a museum plane to keep another one flying. That's how warbirds are kept in the air, not first line jet aviation.
              We have all worked places that we thought could have been managed better. But you are right it is a disgrace because for the most part we didn't die because somebody messed up the inventory.

              I think however that it is fair to say that our entire society has drunk the Kool-Aid of "post industrial society". The collapse of California's infrastructure being an example of the decline of common sense. The kind of common sense that understands the importance of getting the basic stuff right. The basic stuff that can be parts for planes or building new dams for the water supply.
              We hunt the hunters

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Slug View Post
                I would rather have an experienced crew running the ship especially the weapons.
                I would, too, but the decision to run with smaller crew for vessels such as LCS was a cost consideration. As with many organizations, the long-term personnel cost recruitment, training, salary, pension, etc. are a significant proportion of the lifetime operational costs.
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                • #9
                  Then they have issues like this... https://www.military.com/daily-news/...w-existed.html

                  "In modern war... you will die like a dog for no good reason."
                  Ernest Hemingway.

                  In english "silence" means yelling louder than everyone else.

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                  • #10
                    Nothing new here. The Navy spends heavily on new ships and equipment rather than on maintenance and support for sailors. The Admirals want hulls in the water. This isn't unique to the Navy either. Many corporations short sheet maintenance and support for things they deem more important to their bottom line. Workers often have to make do with worn out, obsolescent equipment that gets jerry rigged.
                    This was one of the findings after the McCain collision occurred. The ship's crew couldn't maintain their equipment properly and were often operating it in makeshift ways to get by.
                    It doesn't help that the DoD supply system is a creaking, marginally competent system that most can't efficiently navigate. This makes it hard for your typical sailor (officer or enlisted) at the deck plate level to work the system to get the parts they need to fix something.

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                    • #11
                      This practice is designed to get the old equipment out and new equipment in. The only thing I see different is some of the equipment is wearing out before the replacements are coming online. The scary part is the new equipment is designed to be disposable.

                      Pruitt
                      Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

                      Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

                      by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
                        Nothing new here. The Navy spends heavily on new ships and equipment rather than on maintenance and support for sailors. The Admirals want hulls in the water. This isn't unique to the Navy either. Many corporations short sheet maintenance and support for things they deem more important to their bottom line. Workers often have to make do with worn out, obsolescent equipment that gets jerry rigged.
                        This was one of the findings after the McCain collision occurred. The ship's crew couldn't maintain their equipment properly and were often operating it in makeshift ways to get by.
                        It doesn't help that the DoD supply system is a creaking, marginally competent system that most can't efficiently navigate. This makes it hard for your typical sailor (officer or enlisted) at the deck plate level to work the system to get the parts they need to fix something.
                        This principle of needing to "work the system" to acquire needed supplies is immortalized by Petersen "the scrounger" in the film The Green Berets. In the film it takes a thief to deal with military "efficiency" .

                        The backbone of any military is it's logistical organization. The irony is If course that a system can be highly organized but that organization does not necessarily correlate with purpose. This disconnect is the Achilles heel of every bureaucracy.

                        Does it really take "sociopaths" to break bureaucratic log jams? I think the terms sociopath and psychopath are misleading. We simply didn't evolve to work in large hierarchical societies. Supply chains are actually based on abstractions such as money, math, the future, and reduction of humans to units. To the extent that the ability to work with abstractions is associated with autistic characteristics it's easy to confuse indifferent with malevolent. The ability to systemitize in this light could be seen as a "defect" selected for in an "artificial" environment we call culture. If a sociopath is someone who doesn't follow the rules then the military is a bad fit.

                        I'm not arguing that the military needs more sociopaths. Military discipline requires rule followers. What the system needs is random inputs to break parasitic looping. When each part acts on it's given objective it becomes self serving. Each bureaucracy over time becomes a macrocosm of microcosms. Each going about it's business oblivious to the overall objective.

                        It takes real genius to see the big picture. That is why civilian control of the military is so important. Internal the military must run like a machine but every machine requires a mechanic to tinker with it. The situation is really much worse than a lack of efficiency. Liberal democracy is not efficient it stops runaway system looping.
                        We hunt the hunters

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                        • #13
                          It doesn't take sociopaths to break bureaucratic log jams. It takes a degree of anal-retentive study and a well researched understanding of the rules of the bureaucracy to do it. I know, I got really good at "massaging" the military bureaucracy and supply system.

                          For example, bureaucracies run on rules and paperwork. If you know the rules better than the bureaucrat(s) standing in your way, and can manage the paperwork they get brushed aside and you get your way.

                          Example from my experience: I wanted to install a sandblasting cabinet in the shop I ran. I was told "No" by the officers in charge over me. So, I researched all the NavOSH rules on sandblasting. Then I wrote the head of the EPA's air quality division (Bob Blaskowitz at Research Triangle NC at the time) asking for his opinion on sandblasting and the cabinet I wanted. I got his reply. I packaged up the whole of this (about 2" thick of paperwork) and sent it along with a new request for the cabinet up the chain of command. At each step the officers I had to deal with had nothing they could object to. I had them cold. I had every answer for every question. I got the cabinet. They couldn't find a reason to say "No" when I had every reason for them to say "Yes."
                          That's how bureaucracies roll.

                          On money, the military, like other government budgets requires you spend every penny you have allocated by the end of the fiscal year (October 1). One year I had $93,000 in my OPTAR left near the end of the year. I was told, well ordered, to spend all of it in under 30 days. The First Class Storekeeper I worked with doing that said she learned more about how to finesse the supply system and justify spending in those 30 days than she had in the previous eight years she'd been in the Navy.
                          It's all a matter of knowing what the rules are and how to apply them to your advantage.

                          The problem is the military doesn't really teach you that, you have to learn it on your own. Most people simply don't bother and slog along with the system in place within their chain of command however inefficient or lethargic it might be. Bureaucracies simply don't encourage innovation and self-reliance.

                          If I was in aviation, I'd find a way to get the parts for the planes I serviced. It might be unconventional but it also wouldn't necessarily require theft.

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