USMC Pulling Old F/A-18s Out of Desert Storage

Discussion in 'U.S. Marine Corps' started by Pathfinder, Jun 21, 2016.

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  1. Pathfinder

    Pathfinder Lieutenant Colonel

    Dec 17, 2015
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    The U.S. Marines Are Pulling Old F/A-18s Out of Desert Storage


    The U.S. Marine Corps has received the first two old F/A-18 Hornet fighters that Boeing is pulling out the U.S. military’s retired-warplane storage facility in Arizona and refurbishing for continued service.

    Under a contract the U.S. Navy signed with Boeing in 2014, the Chicago plane-maker is “reconstituting” 30 first-generation F/A-18s that have been sitting for years in open desert storage at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base near Tucson.

    This is not the first time the military has brought back decommissioned aircraft from Davis-Monthan. Perhaps most famously, during the height of the war in Iraq, the Marine Corps pulled several retired CH-53E heavylift helicopters from the desert and restored them to help alleviate shortfalls in the CH-53E fleet resulting from crashes and heavy use in the Middle East.

    But the reconstitution of old Hornets reflects an arguably more serious crisis for Marine aviation. In the late 1990s, the Marines chose not to adopt the second-generation F/A-18E/F Super Hornet that the Navy was developing as a bridge from older planes to the stealthy F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which at the time was scheduled to begin entering front-line service as early as 2006.

    Reasoning that they couldn’t afford the Super Hornet and the JSF, the Marines decided to operate their existing F/A-18s, AV-8B Harriers and EA-6B Prowlers without replacement until the F-35 was ready. In short, the Marines bet their whole tactical aviation future on the JSF.

    It was a bad bet. Design, management and quality-control problems delayed the F-35’s service debut by nearly a decade, forcing older planes to serve even longer than the Marines had planned. Moreover, the JSF’s problems added tens of millions of dollars to the cost of each JSF, compelling the military to cut maintenance funds in order to avoid huge spikes in overall budgets.

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