Post Adolescent, But Still Often Grounded

In addition to not meeting the speed, payload, and range requirements for the Air Force’s missile field security mission, USAF’s Vietnam War-era UH-1 fleet suffers frequent groundings. “UH-1’s advanced age is shown in groundings due to cracks in rotor hubs, lift-beam area, and tail-boom assemblies,” Lt. Gen. James Kowalski, Air Force Global Strike Command boss, said Wednesday during a presentation on Capitol Hill. He added, “We continue to deal with the challenge of keeping a 40-year-old aircraft mission-ready, while working through the issues of parts availability and obsolescence.” Kowalski said he’s confident the UH-1 can bridge the gap until its targeted replacement arrives, but it remains substandard. “The UH-1, when it’s not grounded has about the highest mission capability rate of any platform in the Air Force, but at the end of the day, even if we had brand new UH-1s . . . it still doesn’t meet the mission requirement.”