Attrition: Keep Them Flying Over The Pacific


September12, 2008:  Australia and Japan are spending more money to rebuild and maintain older warplanes, because of problems and delays in getting new ones. For example, Australia has ordered the new F-35, but that project has suffered nearly two years of delays, and will not begin mass production for another six years. Japan wants to get the new F-22, but the U.S., not willing to trust the Japanese with so many top secret technologies, refuses to sell.

Since both nations still have older aircraft flying, but coming closer to the end of their useful lives, decisions had to be made. Australia is going to rebuild ten of its 71, two decade old, F-18s. The center section of the fuselage on these aircraft develops stress cracks after about twenty years of hard use, and the only fix is to replace the worn out components. That will cost about $11 million per aircraft. The work will be done in Canada, another F-18 user.

Japan is still trying to get those F-22s, but is looking into the new Eurofighter as well. But even if an order for the Eurofighter were placed right away, they would have to get in line. Sales of the Eurofighter have been brisk, and waiting time would be more than five years. So Japan is spend nearly $900 million to upgrade 60 of its F-15s. It is also cutting back flying hours for many of its 90 F-4s, and eventually replace them with Eurofighters.


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