You already paid for the bomber fuel

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You already paid for the bomber fuel

Whin­ing about costs for a B-​2 over­flight is silly.

The B-​2 flies over the Utah Test­ing and Train­ing Range at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, dur­ing the test run Sept. 10, in which the B-​2 dropped 80 inert Joint Direct Attack Muni­tions. (Photo by Bob­bie Garcia)

It’s not even Mon­day and already there are com­plaints about the cost of the July 4th cel­e­bra­tion. Sud­denly there are online debates about the cost of jet fuel. Sud­denly there are quotes about the cost per hour to oper­ate and run vary­ing aircraft.

Relax. Over­flights for July 4th, foot­ball games and other events are a rou­tine thing for the mil­i­tary. The mil­i­tary even has a form (DoD Form 2535) that you can fill out to request sup­port, from an over­flight to a sta­tic dis­play. If you do, it comes with a lot of caveats: the event must be open to the pub­lic, the spon­sor­ing group must not be dis­crim­i­na­tory, etc. etc. You also pay for costs: fuel, trans­porta­tion, meals. There’s a part of the form that cov­ers this.

Notice the last line about mil­i­tary recruiters. That’s a big deal, espe­cially when the econ­omy is good. Remem­ber that most peo­ple can’t join the mil­i­tary due to some med­ical issue, being too fat, poor edu­ca­tion or a crim­i­nal back­ground his­tory. That totals up to 24 mil­lion peo­ple not eli­gi­ble to join out of a pool of 34 mil­lion peo­ple. That num­ber should frighten us, so any oppor­tu­nity for recruiters to keep the flow of young peo­ple com­ing in is important.

But let’s say you still care about that cost per flight hour of a jet you’ve never stepped into before. Again, relax. Pilots and air­crew mem­bers have to main­tain cur­rency on air­craft, so they fly them a set num­ber of hours every month. For exam­ple, I had to fly some­where between 5 to 10 hours at a min­i­mum each month just to keep cur­rency as an air­crew mem­ber. Pilots and other flight offi­cers have to do much more than that. Mul­ti­ply this by the num­ber of pilots you have, and you have plenty of flight hours to sched­ule time for.

So guess what hap­pens when you get mul­ti­ple requests for B-​2 fly­overs on July 4th? You rack and stack them, get every­one that needs cur­rency hours into work that day, and then fly 1012 fly­overs all over the United States from one air­craft. Pilots get their hours, peo­ple get a nice show, and recruiters keep the flow of young peo­ple com­ing into the military

If we want to be sav­ing money on the mil­i­tary, let’s tackle the harder prob­lem of mil­i­tary acqui­si­tion reform. Our fly­overs and sta­tic dis­plays are a drop in the bucket com­pared to that.

This post rep­re­sents the views of the author and not those of the Depart­ment of Defense, Depart­ment of the Navy, or any other gov­ern­ment agency.

Whining about costs for a B-2 overflight is silly.

The B-2 flies over the Utah Testing and Training Range at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, during the test run Sept. 10, in which the B-2 dropped 80 inert Joint Direct Attack Munitions. (Photo by Bobbie Garcia)

It’s not even Monday and already there are complaints about the cost of the July 4th celebration. Suddenly there are online debates about the cost of jet fuel. Suddenly there are quotes about the cost per hour to operate and run varying aircraft.

Relax. Overflights for July 4th, football games and other events are a routine thing for the military. The military even has a form (DoD Form 2535) that you can fill out to request support, from an overflight to a static display. If you do, it comes with a lot of caveats: the event must be open to the public, the sponsoring group must not be discriminatory, etc. etc. You also pay for costs: fuel, transportation, meals. There’s a part of the form that covers this.

Notice the last line about military recruiters. That’s a big deal, especially when the economy is good. Remember that most people can’t join the military due to some medical issue, being too fat, poor education or a criminal background history. That totals up to 24 million people not eligible to join out of a pool of 34 million people. That number should frighten us, so any opportunity for recruiters to keep the flow of young people coming in is important.

But let’s say you still care about that cost per flight hour of a jet you’ve never stepped into before. Again, relax. Pilots and aircrew members have to maintain currency on aircraft, so they fly them a set number of hours every month. For example, I had to fly somewhere between 5 to 10 hours at a minimum each month just to keep currency as an aircrew member. Pilots and other flight officers have to do much more than that. Multiply this by the number of pilots you have, and you have plenty of flight hours to schedule time for.

So guess what happens when you get multiple requests for B-2 flyovers on July 4th? You rack and stack them, get everyone that needs currency hours into work that day, and then fly 10-12 flyovers all over the United States from one aircraft. Pilots get their hours, people get a nice show, and recruiters keep the flow of young people coming into the military

If we want to be saving money on the military, let’s tackle the harder problem of military acquisition reform. Our flyovers and static displays are a drop in the bucket compared to that.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.