Costly Flight Hours

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An F-16 readies for takeoff.

Last week, Battleland bemoaned the increasing difficulty finding cost-per-flight-hour data for U.S. military aircraft.

In a flash, longtime defense watcher – from a perch on Capitol Hill, as well as a stint at the Government Accountability Office – Winslow Wheeler piped up to say he recently sought, and got, such data from the Air Force comptroller’s office.

He adds that he has tried to get similar data from the Navy, without luck. What’s up with that, Admiral Kirby?

The Air Force provided Wheeler with cost-per-flight-hour for dozens of aircraft.

Here’s a sample of what it costs to keep these Air Force aircraft airborne for one hour last year (the so-called “ownership” cost-per-flight-hour, which includes modifications):

A-10C Warthog Attack Plane — $17,716



AC-130U Spooky Gunship — $45,986



B-1B Lancer Bomber — $57,807

B-2 Aircraft.  USAF Photo by SSgt Mark A. Borosch


B-2A Spirit Stealth Bomber — $169,313



B-52H Stratofortress Bomber — $69,708



C-130J Hercules Cargo Plane — $14,014



C-17 Globemaster Cargo Plane — $23,811



C-20B VIP Plane (Senior Pentagon Officials) — $32,212



C-32A VIP Plane (Vice President, Cabinet Officers) — $42,936



C-5B Galaxy Cargo Plane — $78,817

C-5A/B GALAXY, CARGO, AIRCRAFT, Photo by: Mr. Ken HackmanPrimary function: Long-range, heavy logistics transport. Contractor: Lockheed-Georgia Co. Speed: More than 500 mph at 25,000 ft. Dimensions: Wingspan 222 ft. 9 in., length 247 ft. 10 in., height at tail 65 ft. 1 in., stabilizer span 68 ft. 9 in., cargo compartment--height 13 ft. 6 in., width 19 ft. Range: 5,259 miles with 112,600 lbs. cargo at 507 mph. Crew: six.


CV-22B Osprey Tilt-Rotor — $83,256



E-3B Sentry AWACS Radar Plane — $39,587



E-4B Flying Headquarters — $163,485



F-15C Eagle Fighter — $41,921



F-16C Viper Fighter — $22,514



F-22A Raptor Fighter — $68,362



HH-60G Pave Hawk Helicopter — $24,475



KC-10A Extender Tanker — $21,170



MC-130H Combat Talon II Special Operations Plane — $32,752



MQ-1B Predator Drone — $3,679



MQ-9A Reaper Drone — $4,762



RQ-4B Global Hawk Drone — $49,089



T-38C Talon Jet Trainer — $9,355



T-6A Texan II Turboprop Trainer — $2,235



U-2 Dragon Lady Spy Plane — $30,813



UH-1N Huey Helicopter — $13,634

UH-1N Huey, Helicopter, aircraft, Photo by MSgt Ken Hammond.<br /><br /><br /> Primary function:  Support of distinguished visitors, VIPs missile sites and ranges.  Contractor:  Bell Helicopter Textron Inc. Speed:  150 mph.  Dimensions:  Length 57 ft. 3 in., width 9 ft. 1 in., height 12 ft. 10 in., diameter of main rotor 48 ft., diameter of tail rotor 8 ft. 6 in.  Range:  250 miles.  Armament:  Two 7.62mm machine guns.  Crew:  two


VC-25A Air Force One — $161,591



definetely agree buttholepunch, ownership cost includes all the elements in cost matrix, operating cost may help to judge if the business sustainable.


Without context and the formula used, this is useless


Considering the nature of modern warfare, let's cut it back to the A-10 Warthog  for ground cannot kill those things, predators, F-15's and pick a bomber.  Let Tomahawk cruise missiles handle the rest.  We certainly don't need the vast array of warplanes that we currently field.


@HudsonValleyTim While that sounds great for our current conflict, that would be suicide in any future conflict that may include those with decent air defenses, such as China, Russia, Iran, etc.



Maintaining an Income Stream

Why have America's recent decades been filled with Lengthy Wars ?

"In a political economy that has become dependent on military spending you don’t want either victory or defeat. You want what every company strives for – a steady stream of business. The result is constant, inconclusive war. The people who run it don’t have to be talented warriors, just reliable managers of an enterprise whose sole goal is the destruction and re-ordering of products. The warrior ethos is just one more value system supplanted by financial value"

This quote is from Michael N Moore onBasevitch's review of Filkins' The Generals

America has the "Best military in the world" How is it then that the best we have seen from this very expensively equipped force is a draw in Korea, andlosses in Nam and Afghanistan and Iraq? The United States spends more on its Defence establishment than the rest of the World combined. How has the U.S. benefited from all the blood and treasure that has been expended on our recent wars? A very shabby return it seems.

In Americas' long lasting conflicts with minor opponents, Korea, Viet Nam, Afghanistan and Iraq. In the last several years even Pentagon spokespeoplehave admitted that victory in Afghanistan and Iraq is not the point of the exercise. What then,is the point of these, never-acknowledged wars.

The idea it seems is not victory or defeat but sustaining a reliable stream of income for the suppliers of war . After all, America is an enterprise. We can beat them if we want to but, more important are the incomes of the Corporations and jobs for the people.

A good example of this is America's F-35 Fifth generation fighter / bomber. This plane has actually in some really rigorous test flights and at this time 130 have been built. What is the assessment so far ?Most commentators agree that it is afifth generation disaster. (to get some idea of what is wrong with plane's original concept and the failures currently being experienced see (Foxtrot Alpha ).

It was originally proposed as an all services plane , with Air Force, Navy and Marines functions built in to services' requirements. The Marines wanted STOAL features like it's now aging Harrier fleet, the Navy wanted carrier capability, the Air Force wanted stealth, armament payload, speed and range . Parts of this plane are made all over America, in fact, in 46states and 500 cities. You can imagine the program's popularity in the Senate and House of Representatives. This popularity has kept the program going in spite of the setbacks that has plagued it for a decade.

The cost has risen to $150Ma copy. And America needs 2500 of these at a cost of 375B plus 40 yrs of maintenance, training and operations. All in all over the projected lifetime of 50 years about $800 M per plane. We are told that the security of the at stake. Our terrorist enemies du jour, Al-Qaida, The Taliban or ISIL will be kept at bay with these wonderful aircraft. That intelligent Americanswould buy into such a story, tells us that this thin veil is a sham and that the public knows all this and its true purpose is a Government "make work scheme" for industry.

The F-35 is already 3 years late, foreign buyers are looking around for alternatives So that's the game. It does not matter whether the F-35 is a successful fighter/ bomber or not it matters that the trillion dollars that is being poured into this program becomes the revenue stream of the suppliers. It doesn't matter if the present war's end in victory, a draw or utter defeat: what matters is that the Government's money keeps coming.

Here is a partial list of the requirements for this all-service plane.

1. Stealth - It is not stealthy enough. There is a signature that is left on radars and if the plane has external tanks or external munitions the signature is positive. Much has been sacrificed for this requirement for example: size for more internal fuel-tanks and for internally carried munitions and avionics and radars.

2. STOAL* for B (16%)of the fleet, this requirement has disfigured the fuselage for the other 84% of users ( A and C)The versions ,A, B, and C are for the Air Force, Marines, and Navy respectively. It turns out also that the heat and blow-back are so intense that a Carrier deck would be damaged during landing and that a landing on an air strip must be anticipated with concrete inserts. Hence taking- off or landing on a jungle air strip for example would be impossible without preparations.

3. The range of operations is only 450 miles. With extra external tanks and perhaps aerial refuelling this could be lengthened to 1000 miles. ( see above for not having externals)

4. The Helmet directional function is on hold due to malfunction in present tests.

5. The 24M lines of software code are not complete, and may not be ready for years. Hence the existing units are restricted and several of the proposed functions will not work properly until the coding is complete.

Some commentators have contended that it would have been better if the concept of one aircraft with various versions had been dropped early on. They contend that none of the services requirements will be fully served by the present arrangement.


Cut military spending. Reduce the size and scope of the military. FYI, I vote Republican.


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