The lead story at Military.com this morning adds a bit of clarity to why the Pentagon ordered mothballed Tomcats to be crushed into little bits: They were covering their asses.
A GAO report issued yesterday states that roughly 1,400 parts that could be used to fix F-14s were sold in February. These sales happened after the Pentagon announced it had suspended sales of all parts that could be used on the Tomcat while it reviewed the security situation.
According to the article “the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service, the Pentagon’s surplus sales division, told investigators the parts were sold because it failed to update an automated control list and remove the aircraft parts before they were listed on its Internet sales site.
“A Democratic senator said the investigation shows why legislation he proposed that would ban the sale of all F-14 parts is needed.
“‘The Pentagon’s system is still riddled with holes,’ Sen. Ron Wyden said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. ‘These are the very parts that they said they wouldn’t be selling, and they still are, and so you’ve got to make sure the changes are going to actually have teeth and work.'”
Sen. Wyden also added that his legislation recognizes “that the Pentagon has bumbled to the point where they can’t make the distinction” between sensitive and innocuous surplus.
So, again, the crushing of Tomcats was in essence a grand closing of the barn door after the livestock had escaped. As the GAO report circulated around the Pentagon (weeks before you and I knew it was coming out) the powers that be knew they had to do some damage control to keep other pesky lawmakers like Wyden from making a big deal of their fumble. Okay . . . now it makes sense.
Of course, as members of the savvy DT audience have pointed out before and as anyone who’s every worked around Tomcats knows firsthand, it’ll take more than a few Black Market items to keep the ridiculously old Iranian Tomcat fleet airborne. Remember these are first-gen airplanes . . . like 158XXX bureau numbers. Can you imagine their maintenance man hour per flight hour stat? Good friggin’ luck keeping those puppies FMC.
I say we slip ’em just enough parts to keep the maintainers pulling their hair out while the aviators twiddle their thumbs in the ready room.
Here’s an AP video report on the GAO report:
Pentagon Sold F-14 Parts Sought by Iran
Associated Press - (APTN)
Aug. 01, 2007. 11:13 PM EST
Government investigators say roughly 1400 parts that could be used on F-14 ‘Tomcat’ fighter jets were sold to the public in February, a move that could jeopardize national security because Iran is seeking such components. (August 1)