Support: May 23, 2001


Aircraft maintenance is big business in the U.S. Air Force, $10 billion dollars a year's worth. And it's not just maintenance, but keeping warplanes flying much longer than originally planned. The average age of air force planes is over 20 years, and this will climb to 30 years by 2015. The extreme example of this is the B-52, which will be flying until 2040, 90 years after the first one entered service. Servicing older aircraft is uncharted territory, as this is the first time high performance jets have been used for this long. The old warbirds constantly surprise the experts by breaking down in unexpected ways. The situation was made worse by a decision in 1995 to cut back on spare parts purchases. This was to be another part of the post Cold War peace dividend. But the air force was called on to do more and more in the late 1990s. As a result, the percentage of aircraft available for action fell from 83 percent in 1991 to 73 percent at the end of the decade. In the last few years, additional billions were spent to get the spare parts inventories increased and this has stopped the slide in readiness. But there remains the unknowns of maintaining more and more aircraft that are older than their pilots.


Article Archive

Support: Current 2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 



Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close