As the Pentagon drives the Air Force and Navy to bring key fighter aircraft to an 80 percent mission-capable rate, the head of the Pacific Air Forces said today he is working with his wing commanders to better understand what they need to increase aircraft availability.
Gen. Charles Brown told reporters during a Nov. 26 briefing at the Pentagon that in response to Secretary Jim Mattis' September memo calling for F-35, F-16, F-22 and F/A-18 fleets to achieve an 80 percent mission capable rate by the end of fiscal year 2019, he has provided wing commanders guidance on changing maintenance and supply chain practices. He's also asked them to describe the primary readiness barriers, which he will provide to the Air Staff as it makes decisions about shifting and requesting additional funding to support Mattis' directive.
PACAF hasn't made any dramatic shifts, Brown said, but plans to make some changes to its maintenance practices to increase aircraft availability. The major command's director of logistics and sustainment has been meeting with individual wings to offer advice on how to operate more efficiently.
"When you're really close to it, you don't always see the things and the techniques that might be available to you," Brown said, adding, "It helps us in the long run -- not just because the secretary put out a memo. If we've got a conflict, I want to have aircraft availability. So to me, it's pretty important."
Brown said he is also working to operationalize his command's strategy, particularly as it works to make sure its capabilities are interoperable with partner assets and to ensure the command is making the most out of the military and training exercises it runs.
Because PACAF covers such a larger area of responsibility, Brown said it's important that the command considers platforms and supporting equipment it is using and where it is going to be sent so that key capabilities don't get tied up in training exercises when they are needed operationally. He is also working with PACAF partner nations to evaluate the value of certain longstanding exercises to make sure they are still providing relevant training and experience.