Procurement: July 2, 2001


SPARE PARTS CRISIS REACHES ALARMING LEVELS; The Navy, Air Force, and Marines remove parts from one aircraft to get another one into the air about 30,000 times a year, requiring extra work equivalent to another 500 full-time mechanics. This extra work amounts to unpaid overtime and is hurting morale. (The Army doesn't even keep track of the times it cannibalizes one aircraft to get another working.) The spare parts shortage is so bad (due to years of budget cuts and diversions to peacekeeping costs) that it has gone far beyond taking needed parts from aircraft that are grounded due to other problems. Some parts are in such short supply that they must be taken from one perfectly good aircraft that just landed in order to allow a different aircraft to take off. One major part of an EA-6B actually flew on four different aircraft in a period of six days. This situation is vastly worse than the supposedly bad times of the Carter years, when aircraft carriers just returning from six-month patrols had to meet other carriers just leaving for such patrols in mid-ocean to transfer the missiles and other key parts.--Stephen V Cole


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