South Viet Nam Air Force - 1975 - Maintenance and Supply
VNAF made the wise decision to put 224 aircraft in storage. All of the A is were placed in storage at selected airfields. The condition of these war weary aircraft was such that their life expectancy was short. Even though about 500 people were devoted to the inspection of storage aircraft, the net effect yeas to increase the readiness of remaining aircraft. Since there had been no replacement for aircraft losses since the cease fire, the force at tile end of December 1974 was approximately 1,484 aircraft. A total of 299 aircraft had been lost due to combat, operational causes or transfers.
Of an authorized manpower strength of 64,905 there were 62,585 assigned, or 96.4%. There were some shortages in skill levels but this followed about the same ratio as in the USAF. The main deficiencies were in the seven and nine level airmen. From a number of evaluations that were made, with one team visit as late as January 1975, it was concluded that VNAF maintenance was in a good condition. The skill level was sufficient #o support ongoing operations. The operational ready rate was better than seventy percent for the fighters. The C 130 rate was poor because of fuel leaks and structural problems which were common to the C 130A prior to transfer to VNAF. The ready rate of these aircraft was about 30%. The OR rate for the other aircraft was higher than the fighters with the exception of the AC 119 which had an inadequate radar which caused the utility of the aircraft to be low for adverse weather operations.
There were some problems with supply. Stock levels were low which could be attributed to a reduction in funds. Units were not replenishing bench stocks which in time would have had a limiting effect on the force, but at the time of the North Vietnamese offensive stock levels were not a limiting factor on the capability of VNAF. In December, supply fill rates from the depot were running at about 34%. Chronic problems with the depot were still prevalent although assistance by USAF teams was rectifying the trouble until political factors forced a withdrawal of these teams. The depot had progressed to the point where many advanced capabilities existed; however, VNAF still could not manage the complex logistics system. For example, the main problem in the depot was not inadequate spare parts, but accounting procedures to determine where the parts were. There was a backlog of engines for overhaul which could have been a factor with time, but did not limit the operational readiness of the force to fly a major effort in support of ARVN on the eve of the offensive.
Ammunition and fuel stocks were declining but these were sufficient for approximately 55 to 60 days at an accelerated rate of operation. VNAF had cut back about 51 % in flying hours and reduced bomb loads from four to two. Upon reevaluation of this policy in late November, it was decided to return to four bombs per aircraft: and reduce the number of sorties. The effect of this decision was to force ARVN to evaluate more thoroughly requests for air strikes and approve only those that were worthy of a full expenditure of ordnance. It was the opinion of USAF personnel that reducing the number of sorties increased the overall effectiveness of VNAF. Pressure had been exerted on ARVN commanders to stop requesting so much effort against ill defined targets, such as suspected locations of North Vietnamese forces that had not been confirmed by hard intelligence. It is concluded that even though stocks were declining, this factor did not limit the capability of VNAF to fly an all out effort of several weeks' duration.
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