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In order to meet the half-trillion dollar spending cuts, Pentegon cuts members of its fleet. This move left the tactical air force with limited and aging fleet. The tactical air force are the jets that support and protect ground troops as well as strike difficult subjects.
Retired fighter pilots are worried about the situation of “TacAir.” Reduced budget means that no new jets will replace the airplanes that had been in service since 1970s. It also makes the US Airforce vulnerable and inferior against rising military power like China, who just acquired its own J-20 stealth fighter.
Retired Lt. Gen. David A. Deptula said “With the exception of our airlift fleet, we have a geriatric Air Force. We’re flying fighters that are 30 years old. What people seem to miss is, a fighter is not like an airliner, where you take off from Point A and go to Point B. Our pilots put six to nine [gravitational forces] on these things every day.”
Gen. Deptula was an F-15 Eagle pilot and Operation Desert Storm war planner. He now heads an aerospace company. He illustrated the danger of elderly jet fighters by sighting the 2007 event when an Air National Guard F-15C, the premier air superiority jet, broke apart in the sky during combat training. Fortunately, the pilot ejected safely.
Recently, the Airforce grounds the entire F-15 fleet due to a manufacturing flaw.
Compared to its 2001 fleet, the total number of Air Force fighters has reduced by nearly 25%. This includes the F-16 Falcons, F-15 Eagles, A-10 Thunderbolts and F-22 Raptors. Budget cuts will drive down the number even further. The Military is retiring over a hundred of A-10s and 21 F-16s. The tactical squadron will probably lose six to ten percent of its fighter planes when more fighter jets are retired due to old age.