In 2005, the average age of Air Force aircraft is up to 23.5 years, Maj. Gen. Frank Faykes noted. B-52s and KC-135s are all over 42 years old. USAF is stemming the march of years somewhat by using leaner, smarter procedures at its depots, getting the equivalent of more aircraft in service because they spend less time out of action. Faykes said, the overhaul period for C-5s has been trimmed from 339 days to 171 and for the KC-135, from 400 days to about 200. The flip side to this rosier picture: All aircraft are being used at higher rates than forecast, meaning life expectancy could be shorter.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.