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Pentagon Grapples With Response After 3 Dozen Troops Killed In Aviation Incidents

via US Military Channel
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In the past year, at least 36 service members have died in non-combat military aviation mishaps, raising concerns about training and readiness.

The Joint Safety Council, established to address aviation safety, discussed motorcycle accidents instead of focusing on aviation mishaps.

“Without empowered leadership focused on aviation safety at a high level within the department, aviation safety will never get the consistent emphasis and resourcing it needs to make saving lives and protecting investments in personnel and equipment a priority,” the commission wrote.

Reduced flying hours, leadership priorities, and maintenance issues have been cited as contributing factors.

Members of Congress have requested investigations into the causes of these accidents, as concerns about readiness persist.

“You don’t get many missteps. You actually have to be very good at that,” Heritage Foundation senior research fellow Jon Venable said.

The decline in high-intensity training scenarios and low-altitude training has been highlighted as a potential factor in the increasing mishaps.

“It’s benign training. They’re flying at medium altitude; they’re not responding to threats,” he said. “And so, you come all the way to today. We’re still flying benign training. The military is flying medium altitude, very low threat tactics, by and large, almost across the board and training to that.”

“They’re not training at low altitude,” he said.

“It is a spike, and the spike should be disconcerting because of the way we’re flying — because of the lack of high-intensity training scenarios and low-altitude structure. We’re doing it at medium altitude, and we’re still suffering a growing number of accidents,” he said.

“Many of the accidents and mishaps are going to and coming from airspace, or they are actually in the landing or takeoff phase,” he added.

“When you get into the aircraft…you look at all the switches in the jet, and you just say a little prayer, ‘Lord, please don’t let me mess up today.’ And that second-guessing is occurring across the services and across the board. And when you’re at that stage, things are not innate. Things are not natural,” he said. “That’s where we are right now across the services but particularly with regard to the Air Force.”

“The more maintainers fix broken aircraft, the better they are at fixing broken aircraft. And so if you don’t give them a lot of hands-on training that comes with a lot of flying hours, a lot of sortie rates, then those folks get rusty too, and they’re very liable to miss fundamental things that will cause an aircraft to have issues when they’re airborne or even suffer a catastrophic loss where a single engineer plane loses its motor, and the guy glides in, or he has to eject,” Venable said.

“And so, that’s why it’s the more you fly, the better you get at everything. And that’s true for maintenance. It’s true for pilots, and right now, we’re flying at such a low rate that you can expect everybody to be rusty and mishap rates go up,” he added.

“It’s gotten much worse under the Biden administration,” he said, noting, “The Air Force is basically more enamored with things that are not involving flying than they are with things that are involved in flying.”

“They continue to invest for something that will be here ten or 15 years down the line, but they don’t invest in procuring aircraft today, nor do they invest in procuring flying hours,” he said. “This year, the Air Force will fund fewer flying hours than it has in its history — that’s through the Carter administration, that’s through the lows of sequestration. It is significantly below even sequestration numbers.”

“And it is horrific what the service’s leadership is doing to the service,” he added.

“There is no screen for competency going through flight school,” he said.

“It actually works in the opposite direction. That means that you had an advantage, and you should have that advantage taken away from you in the consideration process,” he said.

“If I was China, I would attack on October 31 of this coming year. And the reason why I would do that is not because the next president — whoever he is — can, will turn it around and fix it,” he said.

“It will be because we are at such a low state of readiness that we will not be able to thwart the attack on Taiwan or anyplace else that they want to go.”

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