Murphy's Law: Reservists Get Screwed By Robots


October 27,2008:  The U.S. Air Force is going to war with its reservists. Not on purpose, not exactly. It's all about money. The air force is retiring 324 older fighters in order to save $3.4 billion in maintenance and operating costs. With age , comes higher costs to keep elderly aircraft flying. Over the last decade, as the average age of air force fighters went from 12.2 years to nearly 20 years, availability of these aircraft went from 68 percent to 58 percent. Maintenance and repair costs went up as well. Older aircraft are more expensive to keep going, and the additional time needed for maintenance means they are available for operations less.

Most of the older aircraft are in the reserves. So many reservists will no longer have an aircraft to fly. Well, not exactly. The air force is offering reservists the opportunity to operate UAVs (Predator and Reaper). That's a mixed blessing, because, while the pilots no longer fly, they operate the UAVs flying over Iraq or Afghanistan, from bases in the United States. This is done using a satellite communications link. The maintenance crews do go overseas. The reservists are not happy with this trend, but the air force is basically giving them a choice of either going along or getting out.



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