Based on official data we’ve seen, the average annual cost per flying hour of Air Force aircraft types is up across the board with one exception: intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance platforms. From Fiscal 2003 through 2007, the annual CPFH of ISR types actually declined on average by 4.1 percent, aided by the reduced complexity of unmanned aircraft. Over that same period, though, the annual CPFH was up about 8.1 percent per year for bombers, 9.8 percent for fighters, 10.2 percent for tactical airlift, and a whopping 17.2 percent and 18.1 percent, respectively, for strategic lift and VIP transports. The annual cost increases of flying tankers, trainers, and special operations platforms ranged from roughly six percent to seven percent during that five-year span.
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.