Aviation readiness is the Marine Corps' biggest challenge after suffering 12 Class A aviation mishaps last year, according to the service's top officer.
Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller said the service is in the process of purchasing new aircraft and streamlining its parts supply process so that more jets are on the ramp ready to fly.
"We had a horrible year last year -- we had 12 Class A mishaps," he said speaking at a Center for Strategic and International Studies event in Washington. "The majority of them were not the result of the materiel condition of the airplane."
In fiscal year 2018, the Marine Corps has suffered one Class A mishap. On Oct. 10, a CH-53E engine fire occurred in flight forcing the pilot to make an emergency landing. There were no injuries to the aircrew, according to the Naval Safety Center.
On average, Marine Corps pilots fly 11 to 16 hours per month, Neller said. "We've got to get more hours, we've got to get more time in the air," he said.
Many of the service's pilots are leaving to work for commercial airlines where they can get more flight hours. "You can't blame them," Neller said. "The best thing we can do is provide ready, basic aircraft for them to fly."