Interesting how supposedly “obsolete” but great military airplanes never disappear:
- USA has chosen the B-52 (first flown 1952) to outlast the B-1 and B-2 due to high maintenance costs and low dispatch rate of the newer stealth bombers. More.
- USA relies on the F-5/T-38 (first flown 1959) for a large percent of its “behind-the-scenes” training and testing military operations. So much so that Cold War Military Assistance Program (MAP) versions are being repatriated from overseas and overhauled for drone use. (NASA’s forward-swept X-29 was a modified F-5.)
- India lost a MiG-21 (first flown 1959) in the Kashmir air battle in Feb. 2019
- India is buying more MiG-29s (first flown 1977) for $40 million each
What those planes all have in common is that they had all-metal airframes that required low maintenance – none are fly by wire or composite. The fighters can all land on grass strips and be maintained without a hangar or special tools.
nytimes.com: After India Loses Dogfight to Pakistan, Questions Arise About Its ‘Vintage’ Military
reuters.com: Washington wants to know if Pakistan used U.S.-built jets to down Indian warplane
ainonline.com: India Requests Additional MiG-29 Fighters
Pentagon To Retire USS Truman Early, Shrinking Carrier Fleet To 10