Only a portion of Marine aircraft ready for flight

Although the United States Marine Corps seeks to keep 75 percent of its aircraft ready to fly, the deputy commandant for programs and resources told Congress on Friday that less than half of the Corps’ aircraft are flight-ready.

Lt. Gen. Gary Thomas testified that overall Marine Corp readiness is on an upward trend, readiness in the aviation sector is “still much lower than we would like.”

Thomas said that the Corps’ goal to have 75 percent of its aircraft flight-ready is “reasonable” considering that routine maintenance requires a portion of aircraft to be routinely out of commission.

The Marine Corps now has only 45 percent of its aircraft ready for use, primarily due to aircraft exceeding their planned service life, Thomas said.

“I’m sorry, can we go back for a second?” asked Rep. Michael Turner, R-Ohio, chairman of the House Armed Services Tactical Air and Land Subcommittee during Thomas’ testimony. “That’s pretty abysmal. To have that be closing the gap, we must have been in dire straits.”

According to Thomas, the Marines have also identified a capability gap regarding vehicle safety.

“If you look at some of our current vehicles, they no longer are adequate for the types of threats that they face, in terms of protecting our Marines,” Thomas said.

He noted that Oshkosh Defense is building a new Joint Light Tactical Vehicle for the Marines that will offer better protection for troops against current threats.

Additional capability gaps have also been identified, including an emerging threat from drones and contending with a fleet of 40-year-old amphibious vehicles.

President Trump’s budget for fiscal 2018 includes a proposed $603 billion defense budget aimed at closing some of the aforementioned gaps and improving military readiness in all services.

A group of legislators on Capitol Hill, led by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, claims that the budgeted funds fall short and, instead, are pressing for $640 million.

“While we cannot repair all of the damage done as a result of sequestration in a single year, we can and should do more than this level of funding will provide,” Turner said. “For national security reasons, we cannot afford to wait until 2019 to begin to rebuild our military.”

H/T: Washington Examiner

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