US Transportation Command has devised a “pallet sandwich” approach to moving military material around the globe, with the introduction of the Associate Intermodal Platform, an 82-inch by 10-inch by 8 inch rectangle of plastic that looks like a large burnt waffle. Cargo is loaded up on the AIP, which is then strapped onto the traditional—and more expensive—silver 463L pallet. Why the seeming redundant “sandwich”? Cost. The 463L costs more than four times as much as the AIP. The problem was that the 463L was also very popular on the receiving end, where troops often keep them to use as tent flooring. TRANSCOM officials estimate the new dual pallet system “equates to a $1.3 million cost avoidance per 1,000 pallets sent into theater.” The cargo will still be on a pallet that will see it through to its final destination. Don’t look for them yet, though. The new AIPs are still in development and heading into test mode.
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.