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Constant deployments broke the Air Force's B-1 fleet. Now the service is facing a major bomber shortfall
On April 14, 2018, two B-1B Lancer bombers fired off payloads of Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles against weapons storage plants in western Syria, part of a shock-and-awe response to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's use of chemical weapons against his citizens that also included strikes from Navy destroyers and submarines.
In all, the two bombers fired 19 JASSMs, successfully eliminating their targets. But the moment would ultimately be one of the last — and certainly most publicized — strategic strikes for the aircraft before operations began to wind down for the entire fleet.
A few months after the Syria strike, Air Force Global Strike Command commander Gen. Tim Ray called the bombers back home. Ray had crunched the data, and determined the non-nuclear B-1 was pushing its capabilities limit. Between 2006 and 2016, the B-1 was the sole bomber tasked continuously in the Middle East. The assignment was spread over three Lancer squadrons that spent one year at home, then six month deployed — back and forth for a decade.
The constant deployments broke the B-1 fleet. It's no longer a question of if, but when the Air Force and Congress will send the aircraft to the Boneyard. But Air Force officials are still arguing the B-1 has value to offer, especially since it's all the service really has until newer bombers hit the flight line in the mid-2020s.
The Air Force has pulled roughly one quarter of its C-130 transport planes out of service after "atypical cracks" were discovered on planes' wings during maintenance, Air Mobility Command has announced.
Air Force Magazine reporter Rachel Cohen first reported on Thursday that 123 out of the service's 450 C-130s required the wing crack inspections.
The Navy has identified an F/A-18E Super Hornet pilot killed in a July 31 crash as Lt. Charles Z. Walker, 33, whom his commanding officer described as "an incredible naval aviator, husband and son."
Walker was killed when his Super Hornet crashed about 40 miles north of Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, California, during a training mission.
He was was assigned to the "Vigilantes" of Strike Fighter Squadron 151 based at Naval Air Station Lemoore, California, a Strike Fighter Wing Pacific news release says.
Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.
The new trailer for Top Gun: Maverick was everything an aviator or wannabe aviator could hope for. I'm a sucker for a good military action movie as much as the next guy, so of course I'll go see it. Even a longtime helicopter and tiltrotor pilot like me can appreciate that a Low Altitude Tactics (LAT) flight at 500 knots is pretty badass — and yes, even acknowledge that an F/A-18E Rhino might be almost as sexy as a V-22.
In 1986, Top Gun (or TOPGUN for purists) changed civilians' whole perception of the military in general, and the Navy and naval aviation in particular. Applications for Annapolis skyrocketed. So did enlistments, along with buyer's remorse when thousands of sailors realized the only need for speed they'd feel would be manning their brooms a little quicker during "sweepers."
Top Gun: Maverick will probably be a very entertaining movie. While the Navy definitely would have shit-canned Mav years ago, Xenu has come through for him big time. Tom Cruise will be at his Cruisiest. But while popcorn sales will be through the roof in 2020, recruitment numbers won't skyrocket like they did in 1986. In fact, I'd bet they won't even budge.