A Texas congressman says Marine aviation units are being forced to salvage aircraft parts from museums and scrapyards in order to keep their birds in the air.
According to Military Times, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, says he’s been informed by Marines that they’ve been paying for their units’ supplies like pens and are forced to scavenge decommissioned aircraft for parts.
“I have heard firsthand from service members who have looked me in the eye and told of trying to cannibalize parts from a museum aircraft… getting aircraft that were sent to the boneyard in Arizona back and ready to fly missions, pilots flying well below the minimum number of hours required for minimal proficiency,” Thornberry said.
“The part they took off the museum aircraft did not fit the aircraft they were trying to keep flying,” he said. “But they’re looking for whatever they can do to keep these things up in the air. It’s just amazing.”
While lawmakers are less than happy with the situation, constant squabbling on Capitol Hill is one of the reasons the budget has fallen short.
As a nation that has spent over a decade in a state of war, military readiness accounts are already drying up. In addition, the past four years have been tight when it comes to military budgets, something military brass have brought to Congress’ attention.
While Thornberry chose not to identify which Marine air station informed him of the parts shortage, Joint Chiefs Chairman Joseph Dunford did not dispute the claim, seemingly confirming the problem during a hearing earlier this month.
“What you saw in the Marine Corps I think reflects in some part what you’ll see in all the services, perhaps not to the same degree as Marine aviation,” he told the chairman. “But that same dynamic exists in each one of the services.”
The Marines have requested a much-needed $460 million from Congress, with a large portion of the funds going to their stricken aviation units- unfortunately, Marine Air would continue to have issues until at least 2020.
“The fight in (ISIS) continues to put stress on equipment, particularly aviation,” Commandant General Robert Neller told Congress. “We’re in the process of resetting our equipment and then you’re trying to maintain legacy gear, and at the same time modernize every model type series of aircraft.”
While other services have had similar problems, officials point to spending caps imposed by Congress as the culprit- the lack of money eventually equates to lack of maintenance and readiness.
“It just makes you think”, Thornberry said. “my gosh, can’t we do better than this?’”
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