Congress Fails The Troops, Part XVI: Many Air Force Planes Older Than Some Politicians

There’s really no excuse for this, but then again, it is Congress that I’m referring to.

U.S. Air Force pilots are flying planes so old that some were built during the Eisenhower administration, and still Congress is delaying new appropriations to modernize America’s aging fighters, bombers and other military aircraft.

The average age of today’s Air Force fleet is 24 years.

Big B-52 bombers, which played a critical role in America’s recent efforts to liberate Iraq and stabilize Afghanistan, are over 45 years old.

Read the rest of the story and you’ll realize that the “we support the military” mantra from many members of Congress is just lip service that is occasionally fatal to our service members.

The article refers to an incident in 2002, when Maj. James Duricy was flying a 30-year-old F-15 and was killed after ejecting over the Gulf of Mexico. An investigation showed that part of the aircraft’s internal structure had corroded.

Why are the planes, many of which aren’t even operable, being allowed to rust to death with Ike’s golf clubs, not to mention pilots, inside without supplying the money for replacements? Simple Congressional oversight? Of course not. Like they always say, “follow the money, power and vote trail”:

The lawmaker (U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga.) says the Air Force reported spending about $4 million daily and $1.7 billion annually to maintain 330 aircraft “they can’t use and are not planning to use.”

Included are a mix of ancient KC-135 tankers, C-130 air lifters, F-117 fighters, U-2 reconnaissance planes, and C-5As.

It’s not the Air Force brass’s idea to nurse along this old iron. Restrictions on retiring the nation’s oldest aircraft are written into law — thanks to some members of Congress who worried that deep-sixing the planes would make bases in their district or state targets for the dreaded base closing process.

So, once again, politicians place their political lives above and beyond military lives, and in some cases, items that are crucial to the very long-term survival of the United States.

I’ll bet if these planes were going to be used to fly the fat butts of Congress around, there would be appropriations for a brand-spankin’ new fleet of planes before they can say “I fully support the troops.”

Author: Doug Powers

Doug Powers is a writer, editor and commentator covering news of the day from a conservative viewpoint with an occasional shot of irreverence and a chaser of snark. Townhall Media writer/editor. alum. Bowling novice. Long-suffering Detroit Lions fan. Contact: