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Aircraft readiness goals for 2019 unlikely to be reached, officials say

Navy officials told Congress on Wednesday that while overall readiness is in poor condition, it is improving.

By Stephen Carlson
USS John S. McCain is pictured leaving dock. Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Jeremy Graham/Navy Public Affairs Support Element Japan
USS John S. McCain is pictured leaving dock. Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Jeremy Graham/Navy Public Affairs Support Element Japan

Dec. 12 (UPI) -- Pentagon officials testified Wednesday that many goals for aircraft readiness next year are not tenable, as Congress questioned why overall readiness issues continue to plague the Navy.

During testimony at a joint hearing between the Senate Subcommittees on Sea Power and the Subcommittee for Readiness and Management Support, the Government Accountability Office's John Pendleton said that goals for 80 percent of aircraft being mission capable by next year, including the F-35, were untenable.

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"That is the 80 percent question. We have to understand what mission capable means. That does not mean the aircraft can do all the missions that are assigned to it," Pendleton said.

"The F-35 last year, it typically had a 15 percent fully mission capable rate," Pendleton said.

He noted that depot level repairs and maintenance were six years behind. "I understand the rush to field the F-35 ... we feel that additional attention has to be paid to sustaining the F-35."

"It will take significant time to re-establish readiness in the ship, submarine and aircraft fleets," though he also said that he saw significant steps towards improvement.

Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer, Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Robert Neller and Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. William Moran said at the hearing that readiness was in poor condition, though it was improving.

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