Aircraft mission-capable rates hit new low in Air Force, despite efforts to improve

The Air Force?s aircraft readiness continued its multi-year slide in fiscal 2018, as the overall mission-capable rate for the aging fleet dropped below 70 percent ? its lowest point in at least six years.

Of the 5,413 or so aircraft in the fleet, the percentage that are able to fly at any given time has decreased steadily each year since at least fiscal 2012, when 77.9 percent of aircraft were deemed flyable. By fiscal 2017, that metric had plunged to 71.3 percent, and it dipped further to 69.97 percent in 2018, according to statistics obtained by Air Force Times via the Freedom of Information Act. That is an overall decrease of nearly 8 percentage points since 2012.


The Navy’s Fighter Shortage Is Finally, Slowly Improving

The U.S. Navy?s horrible fighter availability rate is gradually improving thanks to increased funding for fighter maintenance. At one point in 2017, just one in three F/A-18 Super Hornet fighters was available, a number that?s increased to nearly half of all fighters. The problem is in large part due to past budget shortfalls and delayed introduction of the F-35 fighter jet.

The U.S. Navy has 546 F/A-18E and F/A-18F Super Hornet fighters, larger, beefier, slightly stealthier versions of the original F/A-18 Hornet. Aircraft readiness rates, or the percentage of aircraft ready for deployment, should typically be north of seventy five percent, depending on type of aircraft, the complexity of the aircraft systems, and the age of the fleet.