The Decline of the U.S. Air force Under President Obama

Mothballed aircraft in Arizona
Mothballed aircraft in Arizona

In the past four years, President Obama added to the unemployment figures. He cancelled or delayed seven aircraft production lines that reduced the U.S. Air force's capability but also put 10 million people out of work and ended $50 billion in export profits.

Because of this, America's air force has the fewest aircraft since its creation, which was 1947. Then, it had over 12,000 planes, today, only 5200. Since Obama became president in 2008, the air force has been forced to retire 700 more aircraft than it bought, in 2013, they will have to retire another 300 while replacing it with only 54. The last time so few aircraft for military purposes were bought was back in 1915!

Forget about the numbers. Many feel the US have the technology advantage, while it is true, that edge is being eroding, so less better aircraft does not offset the numbers. Think, 10 F-22 or F-35's in an air battle with 50+ older generation aircraft of China\Russia. Eventually, numbers always prevail. But both of these countries and now India, already have aircraft as good at the US 4th generation aircraft-the F-15 and F-16. China and Russia are busy on their F-22 equivalents. Both countries state they plan to make these new aircraft in much larger numbers than what the US plans to. Both countries plan to export them to other countries.

The fleet of aircraft in the U.S. Air force averages 25 years old, some are 50 years old. They need maintenance because of the thousands of hours on them. Cutting the military assets also creates unemployment in numerous industries affiliated with them. The biggest employer in many ways is the military machine.

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Comments 17 comments

maxoxam41 profile image

maxoxam41 3 years ago from USA

$700 billion allocated to the military, is it what you call a decline? I call it prosperity!


perrya profile image

perrya 3 years ago Author

How much to the Air force?


brblog profile image

brblog 3 years ago from Chicago, Illinois

I can't argue the numbers with you but it seems as that the air force is moving toward Drones. They now train more drone pilots than actual pilots. Plus, let's not forget, the army, navy and marine corps all have their own Air Force.


junkseller profile image

junkseller 3 years ago from Michigan

The US Air Force has badly mismanaged it's main programs over the past decade. The F-22 was way over budget and then shut-down, The KC-X next generation tanker, the Next Generation Bomber, and the F-35. They have also seemed to have had a hard time establishing a definitive role for themselves. On top of all this, there are some major transformations taking place throughout the whole military: a shift from platforms to systems, a shift from manned to unmanned, and a significant geopolitical shift towards Southeast Asia. None of this has much of anything to do with Obama. Even so, the US military, including the Air Force is unmatched. No one is really even close. Yes, others have decent technology, no one has the operational experience, logistical capabilities/facilities, training, or global ISR as the American military does. I agree, numbers matter, but they are also relative. Russia's most advanced jet is the Su-35. They have about 10 of them and it isn't considered to be on par with the F-22. China's alleged 5th gen fighter, the J-20, isn't expected to even be operational until 2017-2019.


Jim 3 years ago

@br

You stated "the army, navy and marine corps all have their own Air Force." Please get a clue about the roles and capabilities of the aircraft in these services before you post more of these stupid comments.

Also, training more drone pilots? Are you just stupid and making up your own numbers?


perrya profile image

perrya 3 years ago Author

There are some ignorant comments about this topic- the army and marine corps have aircraft and helicopters to assist their tactical mission with ground support. The air force and Navy have a more strategic mission in air superiority over a battle area, or no fly zone but they also can assist with with tactical missions as both did in Vietnam. America does have one of the best air force's now, but like anything, numbers can prevail and other nations could catch up.


Jim 3 years ago

@ perrya

Correct and the Air Force is the only service that has the ability to strike any target on Earth from the continental U.S. This can be done using stealth aircraft that our enemies will never see coming and our pilots will return home. Pick any building on Earth and the U.S Air Force can engage it. The ignorant posters on this hub like br and junkseller need to think about what that means for a minute.

The last thing we should ever want is for our military to engage in anything near a fair fight. We always need to have a definite advantage over our adversaries.


junkseller profile image

junkseller 3 years ago from Michigan

Jim - ignorant means uninformed, so perhaps you'd like to put on some big-boy pants and actually point out something I said that was specifically incorrect.

This is an important issue and worth discussing as adults. I can appreciate different perspectives and think it is reasonable to ask the same. Thinking differently does not mean a lack of thought.

Even so, I said nothing about the Air Force being unimportant or unnecessary. I was simply making the point that their decline (if it actually has declined) isn't somehow the fault of Obama. It is a result of shifting paradigms and mismanagement of key programs by the Air Force itself.

The F22 is a good example. Awesome plane, but super expensive, designed and built to fight an enemy which has never existed. It has never seen combat and probably never will. Or the B2. Again, an awesome plane, but with a price tag of $2 billion each and $3 million/month maintenance costs! For what? bombing Kosovo and Libya. Give me a break. Being opposed to spending which returns very little value is not being opposed to the Air Force per se. Define a clear mission and build effective tools to accomplish that mission. Is that too much to ask?

BTW, in 2011, they did train more drone pilots than traditional pilots. http://thenewamerican.com/tech/item/12322-drone-te... The drone budget is rapidly increasing (unlike most everything else) and I don't see it slowing down for some time, if ever.


Jim 3 years ago

@junk

They are counting sensor operators in the UAV pilot numbers. I'm also quite certain that the F-22 will see combat. As for the B-2, read up more on its combat history. Also, what do think will lead the way into Iran and have you ever heard of deterrence?


Jim 3 years ago

@junk


Jim 3 years ago

@junk

I'm sorry I didn't check out your profile earlier. I didn't realize that your dad took you to some air shows as a kid and you have experience in this area.


swordsbane profile image

swordsbane 3 years ago from Wisconsin

Point of fact: and this isn't strictly Obama's problem, but he's the one in the driver's seat at the moment; The F-22 isn't as awesome as people think. In dogfight wargames, it fared no better than much cheaper aircraft. It's the iPod of aircombat. A few key features that give it a big advantage at long range, but close up, it's just another fighter. I'm not surprised they aren't that plentiful. They're not that good. The modern plane with the best overall dogfighting record to date is the F-15; 1972. The best ground attack aircraft is the A-10 warthog; 1975. The best bomber is the b-52; 1948!! Seeing a pattern here? The only reason the Stealth fighter (which isn't a very good fighter... it only does ground attack) and the stealth bomber are valuable is because of their stealth technology.

They had the same problem with the F-16. It was a sport's car, but it was (is?) a bitch to maintain. In any protracted war, the losses from mechanical failures would more than make up for it's edge in a dogfight. The Apache was a problem in the Gulf War(s) too. Arguably the best attack helicopter in combat, but grounded almost half the time during the Gulf war. The old Cobras were better machines than the Apache's if you take into account useage.

Thank God we got the Israeli's to try out the M1 Abrams in combat and managed to fix it's problems before Desert Storm. Otherwise, that war could very well have turned into a huge disaster.

We like Nintendo warfare, but after the first few engagements, the equipment that doesn't break down usually counts for more than whiz-bang. If we don't figure that out in the design stage, one of our enemies will and we'll be fucked in the next war. I would say our problem isn't how much money the Air force is getting, but where the money is spent.


Jim 3 years ago

@ perrya

Great, another idiot (swordsbane) has weighed in. The F-22 has the capability to engage and destroy an enemy aircraft before it's detected (first shot, first kill). There have been numerous mock combat tests between the F-22 and the F-15. The F-15 almost always loses due to stealth.

The F-22 has the capability to penetrate enemy airspace undetected and serve in a ground attack role. It can also provide air superiority in hostile territory without having to worry as much about surface to air missiles.


junkseller profile image

junkseller 3 years ago from Michigan

The original F-22 program called for 750 planes at a cost of around $40 billion. They spent $28 billion on development and testing alone and ended up delivering 187 planes at a cost of $62 billion. That's almost 6 times the original per unit cost.

So, even if someone believes that the capabilities of the F-22 or the B-2 are necessary (which I am not sure about), we should still demand that those capabilities are provided at least within range of expected costs. It isn't like our F-22 fleet is too skimpy because the money wasn't there. It is too skimpy because the government completely failed at its procurement oversight and the contractor completely and massively failed to deliver a product at cost. For anyone who cares about the military being able to carry out its mission, this should make them mad as hell. Why do we keep letting these people make our planes? The F-35 is similarly plagued with huge development delays and ballooning costs. So I agree with the Obama administration shutting down the F-22 and the Next Generation Bomber. If it were up to me, I'd dump the F-35 too and sue Lockheed to get my money back.


MG Singh profile image

MG Singh 3 years ago from Singapore

As a pilot I can comment that the weak link in US airpower is the man behind the wheel, the pilot. I cannot write more because of the OS Act.


perrya profile image

perrya 3 years ago Author

But also, cancelling aircraft production costs millions of jobs. Let's not forget it.


swordsbane profile image

swordsbane 3 years ago from Wisconsin

Perrya: It's not the loss of jobs that is the major problem. Doing it right will create jobs, but if you're starting at horribly inefficient like defense spending currently is, then there WILL be a net loss in jobs. There's no way you can get around it. This is what pisses me off about the Reps and the Dems, they view every lost job as a bad thing and every job created as a good thing, never mind whether or not that particular job needs to be done or not. NASA had the same problem. The Shuttle cost almost a $billion a launch. Space X can do three launches for half the cost and get more tonnage and people to LEO than one launch of the shuttle. The reason the shuttle went on for as long as it did was because no one wanted to put people out of work. The shuttle program was seen as "proof" of US leadership in space, when in reality it was old technology that didn't even do what it was designed for (cheap and reusable)

To get the USAF (and the other branches) organized and efficient, it means killing jobs. It means telling the current contractors to shape up or we're not going to buy their stuff anymore. As soon as you get them to take a look at cost overruns and useless projects, the jobs start to go away. It can't be helped, and in the long run, things will work better. The problem is that no politician wants it to happen on their watch because their opponents will use it to show the country how cruel they are and how much they hate the american worker.

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