Both Air Reserve Components have equipment issues that bear fixing. In general, the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Command forces fly the oldest of the Air Force’s aircraft. The service knows this and wants to retire old systems, replacing them with “new missions or newer equipment,” Lt. Gen. Daniel James III, Air Guard head, told Senators last week. At the same Capitol Hill hearing, Lt. Gen. John Bradley, AFRC commander, acknowledged that AFRC “aircraft are going to wear out sooner” because they are being flown “a lot harder and a lot more than our projections would have predicted.” (We call this more evidence of the increased use of reserve forces.)
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.