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The Air Force’s mission capability rates of some aircraft have remained in the low 70% range over the last few years. The rates need to be much higher for the United States to counter Russia or China.

  • Deborah Lee James, former secretary of the Air Force, said the service is working to improve the rates through process improvement teams, predictive analytics, artificial intelligence, 3D printing for spare parts and efforts to do better at scheduling.
  • She said there are a few major problems contributing to the low rates: old aircraft, spare part shortages, a mismatch of skills and budget uncertainty.
  • James also commented on her experience as the second female Air Force secretary, in light of Women’s History Month, saying it was the most humbling and purposeful job she has had and advising women to play to their strengths.

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