Regarding these two stories, one thing stands out: seems to me that Russian pilots are sure having themselves a lot of fun these days.
Some smart-ass Russian pilot decided to channel Tom Cruise in Top Gun and perform a barrel roll over a U.S. reconnaissance plane in international waters. The incident was the second such provocation against the American military in the last few days. On Thursday, Russian jets buzzed the USS Donald Cook destroyer, flying 30 feet above its deck.
You can’t dismiss the notion that this was just a case of hijinks by a lone Russian pilot. But neither can you rule out some kind of coordinated activity dreamed up in Moscow to humiliate the U.S.
Both the flyover of the destroyer and the barrel roll over the reconnaissance plane are maneuvers that could easily lead to a deadly incident. It’s a dangerous game the Russians are playing and you have to wonder how long the Russians’ luck will hold.
Oh, it’s not all that dangerous, really, and luck doesn’t enter into it; the Russians know full well just how likely it is that we’d respond forcefully to any sort of provocation at all, no matter how extreme. Which is to say, not even remotely so. The Legal Department would never approve such a response, for one thing. And it’s not as if we have the equipment necessary to mount any prospective response effectively anyway.
Since 1775, the U.S. Marine Corps has prided itself on being “The Few” and “The Proud.” But while the Corps takes pride in doing more with less, senior Marine officers are warning that the Corps’ aviation service is being stretched to the breaking point.
Today, the vast majority of Marine Corps aircraft can’t fly. The reasons behind the grounding of these aircraft include the toll of long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the fight against ISIS and budget cuts precluding the purchase of the parts needed to fix an aging fleet, according to dozens of Marines interviewed by Fox News at two air stations in the Carolinas this week.
Out of 276 F/A-18 Hornet strike fighters in the Marine Corps inventory, only about 30% are ready to fly, according to statistics provided by the Corps. Similarly, only 42 of 147 heavy-lift CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters are airworthy.
U.S. military spending has dropped from $691 billion in 2010 to $560 billion in 2015. The cuts came just as the planes were returning from 15 years of war, suffering from overuse and extreme wear and tear. Many highly trained mechanics in the aviation depots left for jobs in the private sector.
That’s via WeaponsMan, who has some choice commentary of his own. Myself, I envision the Ready Five aircraft being launched off the deck of a carrier sputtering around the Baltic or the Persian Gulf as a response to provocation, with broken parts falling off the aircraft and tumbling slowly into the sea, the jets making that clanking, sputtering sound you hear from machinery in an old Warner Brothers cartoon just as it breaks down entirely. The old rustbuckets wallow drunkenly around the sky for a couple of minutes, trying unsuccessfully to locate their tanker (which has wandered off-station due to an UNEXPECTED! avionics malfunction) before bursting into flames, whereupon the poor undertrained pilots will be killed by their faulty ejector seats and defective chutes.
At least one of those pilots will be wearing a dress, the way things are going. Attempts to determine shimx’ actual “gender” for internal report-writing and next-of-kin-notification purposes will be greeted with derision and lawsuits.
And lest you think the problem is just with aircraft and other hardware alone…well, don’t.
The aircraft shortage means pilots spend less time in the air.
“This last 30 days our average flight time per pilot was just over 4 hours,” said Thomas.
Ten years ago, Marine Corps pilots averaged between 25 and 30 hours in the air each month, according to one pilot. “This is the worst I’ve seen it,” he added. Another pilot who asked to remain nameless told Fox News that Chinese and Russian pilots fly more hours each month than Marine Corps pilots.
Of course they do. The Chinese and Russians are realistic about the necessity of defending their nations from outside threats, and what doing so requires. We’re not. In fact, we’ve allowed our primary domestic threat to take control of the government. The Russians needn’t concern themselves with humiliating us; with our collective nihilistic lunacy in deciding to allow Barrack Hussein Obama and the America-hating Left to run things, we cheerfully did the job ourselves.
Twice. We did it twice.
Then again, it’s not as if we’d have an available, functioning carrier to launch modern, properly maintained aircraft (if any) from in the first place.
Longer deployments and the high pace of operations have taken their toll on the U.S. aircraft carrier fleet, reducing the number currently at sea to five and leaving the Mideast without a carrier on station for the first time since 2007, Navy officials said Tuesday.
The official requirement is for the Navy to have an 11-carrier fleet, but the reality is that the service has been operating with 10 since the retirement of the Enterprise in 2013.
Currently, four of the Navy’s 10 carriers are in “deep maintenance” and a fifth, the USS George Washington, was headed back from South America for repairs, Stackley said. The result is that there are now “five carriers then that are carrying on the operating cycle,” he said.
Stackley and the three admirals who joined him in testifying said there was little hope in the Navy getting back up to 11 carriers before 2021, when the USS Gerald R. Ford is finally scheduled to come on line after lengthy construction delays and cost overruns.
That’s from back last fall, you’ll note. Anybody out there think things have improved since then?
But that’s okay. I mean, I’m sure none of our adversaries would be dastardly enough to take advantage of our self-inflicted sorry situation and make a move before we’ve had time to get back up to snuff, right? That wouldn’t be fair, would it? We’re still the Most Powerfulest Nation EVAR, and they wouldn’t DARE, right?
Historically, we’ve always disarmed ourselves after winning a war, defunding and de-equipping the military beginning just about the moment the shooting stops, thereby leaving ourselves unprepared and ripe for attack in the next one. This time, though, we didn’t even wait until we defeated the enemy; we half-heartedly fought to something approximating a stalemate, declared victory, and started dismantling our defenses. We’ll see soon enough how that works out for us, I guess.