The U.S. Army is struggling to maintain
air and ground platforms in the Iraqi desert.
Officials said numerous platforms have been damaged or required
additional maintenance because they could not function in the heat and dust
that characterize the Iraqi summers. They said the army has requested
additional funds for spare parts as well as research to prolong operations
of the systems.
"This near-term objective of repairing or replacing equipment returning
from Iraq and Afghanistan will not be easy," House subcommittee chairman on
readiness, Rep. Joel Hefley, said.
The issue was discussed during a meeting by the House panel with senior
service leaders on Oct. 21. The chairman and the service leaders said many
air and ground platforms have been damaged by operations and harsh
conditions in Afghanistan and Iraq.
One example was the operation of the CH-53E heavy-lift helicopter.
Officials said the Super Stallion, deployed by the Marine Corps, was found
to have contained an average of 150 pounds of fine sand throughout the
The Defense Department has been awarding contracts to a range of
companies for the supply of spare parts. Parker Aerospace, based in Irvine,
Calif., was awarded an $11.1 million contract for delivery of parts for the
AH-64A Apache attack helicopter, the UH-60 Black Hawk, the CH-47 Chinook and
the OH-58 Kiowa helicopters.
Gen. Richard Cody, the army's deputy chief of staff for operations, said
his service requires additional armored Humvees as well as ceramic-enhanced
body armor. He added that the army needs repair or replacement of some
250,000 pieces of equipment, including aviation systems, communications and
electronics systems, tracked and wheeled vehicles, missile systems.
"We must continue to resource our operations with the right equipment to
complete the mission in Iraq and to continue the pursuit of the global war
on terrorism," Cody said.
Much of the marine platforms sustained failure or battle damage during
the drive from Kuwait to Tikrit during the first two weeks of the U.S.-led
war in March, Gen. William Nyland, assistant marine commandant, told the
House panel. The corps plans to obtain additional supplies and maintenance
through the $87 billion supplemental allocation in the fiscal 2004 budget.
Air force Chief of Staff Gen. Michael Moseley said his service must
replenish his stocks. This includes replacement of precision munitions kits,
old-tech bombs, and other ordnance.