Jennifer Griffin Exclusive: Steep Military Cuts Leave Marine Aircraft Grounded
Fox News national security correspondent Jennifer Griffin is reporting exclusively today on how steep military cuts are impacting the U.S. Marines' fleet of aircraft.
Griffin found that the majority of Marine Corps aircraft are grounded due to a lack of parts for its aging fleet.
She reported on America's Newsroom this morning that she encountered a "very frustrated force" when she traveled to the Marine Corps Air Station in Beaufort, South Carolina.
Due to budget cuts, force reductions and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan lasting longer than expected, it's becoming more difficult to maintain the planes.
A Marine major told Griffin that the planes were meant to fly for a life span of 6,000 hours, but are now being pushed to 8,000.
"Imagine taking a 1995 Cadillac and trying to make it a Ferrari," Sgt. Argentry Uebelhoer said days before embarking on his third deployment.
"You're trying to make it faster, more efficient, but it's still an old airframe … [and] the aircraft is constantly breaking."
The Marines say they don't have enough manpower to do all of the added maintenance work that's necessary. And it can take as long as 18 months to receive parts for their early-model F/A-18 jets, which went out of production in 2001.
Lt. Col. Harry Thomas deployed to the Pacific with 10 jets last year, but only seven made it.
A fuel leak caused his F/A-18 to catch fire in Guam. Instead of ejecting, he landed safely, saving taxpayers $29 million.
Thomas spoke to Griffin in a hangar, in front of a disassembled jet that had been "cannibalized" so its parts could allow other planes to deploy.
"We plan to have it flying [again] by the summer," he said.
Griffin explained that Marine pilots are supposed to be training for 15 hours a month before combat, but at Beaufort they are only receiving four hours.
Watch her full report above and read more at FoxNews.com.
Fox News military analyst Gen. Jack Keane (Ret.) gave us his reaction, saying that the piece was an "excellent" example of how the severe cuts are actually impacting the military day to day.
Bill Hemmer asked whether this is also the result of being at war for 15 years after the 9/11 attacks.
Keane said that is part of the problem, but that the U.S. is making the same mistakes it did after Vietnam and after the end of the Cold War.
"Our equipment is worn out. We have to buy new equipment," said Keane, adding that the Army's chief of staff recently said the Army is at "high-risk" when it comes to fighting a conventional war against an enemy like China, Russia or North Korea.
Watch his analysis below.