Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Military Readiness: A Priority for My Family and for Missouri

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Military Readiness: A Priority for My Family and for Missouri

Article excerpt

Ever since my grandfather served as a member of Charles Lindbergh's ground crew in the National Guard and during the historic flight of The Spirit of St. Louis from New York to Paris, aviation has defined our family. My parents worked at local aviation plants, and 25 years ago my husband and I founded Patriot Machine, which helps build parts for a number of U.S. military aircraft, including the Navy's F/A-18 Super Hornet strike fighter. For more than two decades, our company has built some of the most complex structural parts on the Super Hornet's wing, flight control, refueling system and landing mechanism.

So the readiness and capability of our military its air superiority in particular is a very personal thing. We watched with pride as the first Super Hornets came into service nearly two decades ago. We cheered reports of Navy pilots completing their missions over Afghanistan after 9/11, then Iraq, and most recently against ISIS, when the Super Hornet provided virtually all the airstrikes during the first phase of the campaign.

At this stage, the biggest challenge facing the Super Hornet and naval aviation generally is not a foreign navy or enemy air defenses. It is the fact that the Navy's carrier fighters have reached the end of their service life prematurely through heavy use in recent years. Because not enough new F/A-18s were bought to make up the difference, the Navy reports a growing shortfall of Super Hornets relative to its mounting requirements in a world that seems to grow more unstable every week.

Last year the chief of naval operations testified before Congress that the Navy has a shortfall of three squadrons of Super Hornets. He pointed out that our older F/A-18 Hornets were originally built for 6,000 hours of flight time. But the Navy has been forced to extend their lifespan to around 10,000 flying hours. …

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