The ‘surprising’ truth about the performance of US Fighter Aircraft

The GAO's latest review report revealed the truth about the performance of U.S. fighter jets and warned it was at risk of becoming an "empty force."

According to a recent report by Popular Mechanics magazine, a new U.S. government report recently warned that, in the past 9 years, almost none of the U.S. Air Force's fighters have achieved 80% combat performance, with only 2 of the 46 fighters "mission capability."

U.S. Air Force F-22 fighter jets.Source:

The report, produced by the U.S. Government's Office of Government Accountability (GAO), focuses on the issue of U.S. fighter jets having exceptionally low combat readiness rates for years and nearly no fighter being able to maintain a high level of "mission capability."
The report, titled "Sustainability of Weapons Systems," studied 46 types of U.S. Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and Army military aircraft, focusing on aircraft such as the F-22 Raptor, F-35, F/A-18C and A-10 attack aircraft, and mission-critical support aircraft such as transport aircraft. loaded C-17, KC-135 tanker and E-6B nuclear command and control aircraft.

The report decentralizes 46 aircraft types according to mission retention capacity of at least 80%, i.e. at least 80% of each aircraft type can perform at least one designated mission.For example, if 80 percent of F-22 fighter jets are declared airworthy, the model will be assessed as capable of performing missions this year.

However, such a situation has never really happened in the last 9 years, and the F-22 fleet has never reached 80% combat readiness.In addition, the F/A-18E/F, F-16, F-15C/D and AV-8B fighters, which have the best performance as the F-15E, have achieved a combat readiness rate of 80% for 4 consecutive years over the past 9 years.

The overall performance of the American bomber force was very poor.B-2 stealth bombers and B-52 bombers have achieved 80% combat readiness in just the last 3/9 years, B-1B bombers have not achieved this goal in 9 years.

U.S. Air Force B-1B bomber.Source:

The performance of U.S. support aircraft was also not positive.As the "eyes and ears" of US aircraft carriers, the E-2D early warning aircraft are almost ineffective when they have not once achieved 80% combat performance.

The KC-135 tanker, the mainstay of the U.S. Air Force's tanker fleet, has achieved an 80 percent combat readiness rate in just three of the past nine years.Army CH-47 Chinook aircraft also made no sorties.

It is difficult to find bright spots in this report, the only positive assessment is that the US F-35 units, including the F-35A, F-35B and F-35C, in terms of overall combat capability have achieved some improvements.

Another notable aspect of the report is that the cost of 22 of the 46 aircraft assessed has dropped.This is important because operating and maintenance costs can account for 70% of the total cost of a fighter.

The GAO report warns that U.S. fighter units risk becoming an "empty force."Fighters, especially advanced fighters and bombers, have a very complex composition, no one expects them to always be in 100% waiting mode at any time, but 80% is a reasonable number.

However, most U.S. Army fighters fail to achieve this.The Pentagon is currently facing a "dangerous" situation, although it has hundreds of fighter jets, which may seem dangerous, but in fact cannot carry out the mission.

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