Logistics: Getting Down To Fighting Weight


July 15, 2008: The rising cost of aircraft fuel has forced the U.S. Air Force to get more efficient. Some 73 percent of the Department of Defense fuel goes to aircraft, and in the air force, 42 percent of that fuel goes to transports. Noting the measures airlines are taking to cut fuel costs, the air force is following suit. For example, every piece of equipment carried by transports is being reviewed, and lots of unneeded stuff (extra parachutes, life-rafts, tech manuals, even seats) is being removed. This adds up to big bucks when you have several hundred transports, being used heavily.

Another big savings was long overdue. It had long been the custom to have reserve unit transports to fly around to several air bases to pick up crew members and equipment. Now the distant crew members find their own way to the transport (by commercial air, car, train or whatever, at air force expense). Any equipment needed can be mailed. For transport pilots, it's now a lot cheaper to spend a lot more time (about 95 percent) in a simulator, when learning how to fly a new aircraft type, than to fly the actual aircraft. The pilots are just as well trained, and lots of fuel is saved. The air force is also paying more attention to exactly what it costs to fly its transports, and to send gear by cheaper commercial freight haulers, when possible, instead of using the air force plane.

The air force is examining all uses of fuel, on the ground as well as in the air. Some of the new practices can be applied to combat aircraft as well. The air force has little choice, as the tax payers are not going to raise their budget to pay for the higher fuel costs.



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