Operating costs of military aircraft using reimbursement rates as an approximation
The Department of Defense has established reimbursement rates for the airplanes and helicopters in the military inventory. If I’m reading this right, these are the hourly rates for reimbursement when an aircraft or helicopter is loaned out.
This seems to be usable as an estimate for the operating costs of airplanes. I previously discussed Operating costs per hour for USAF planes. This post provides more detailed descriptions.
There are separate rates for loans to another US military organization, other federal agencies, and two other categories I don’t understand (FMS and All Other).
Sure would be fun to put together a tongue-in-cheek conversation for which these rates would be used (Short outline: British Defense Minister: “Say old chap, we’re putting together a strike in our little squabble and we’d like to borrow two flights of Strike Eagles and a half-dozen tankers for a couple of days. Can you do that and what’ll the tab be?” U.S. Secretary of Defense: “Sure, for you, no problem. Um, yeah, we have the resources available. Hold on a second while I look up the list price.”)
More seriously, I’m guessing this provides a simple way to calculate the dollar amount of assistance we provide our allies, say the French need air transport to land a brigade of troops in Africa to deal with a new round of shooting in a civil war, like in Mali or Central African Republic. Or, say we provide refueling for the superb fighters of our French and British allies while all three of us launch a coordinated air strike in Syria.
Anyone care to share your guesses on how these reimbursement rates would actually be used?
On a practical basis, this reimbursement table provides a frame of reference for the operating costs of U.S. airborne resources. The rates are broken out between operating and maintenance (O&M) and personnel costs (MilPers) on tab F2. That likely approximates the hourly operating costs and the hourly compensation for a standard crew.
The personnel costs are built on $90 an hour for the Air Force officers. That rate is obvious from the tables – just look at the rates for planes that have only one crew member. That would be about $180,000 annually, which would appear to include benefits and a blended rate probably of Captain or Major in the pilot seat. I haven’t bothered to calculate the implied rate for the enlisted crew.
The table is found in a Financial Management page from The Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller). Tables from FY 2019 back through FY 1997 are available. The Fixed Wing and Helicopter Reimbursement Rates for FY 2018 is the one I will work with below.
Rates by airframe
Here is some of the data I extracted and reorganized for your pondering and my future reference:
For the bomber info, I’m not sure why the B-2 is as close to the B-1; seems the B-2 would be a lot higher:
Here is the fighter info:
For dedicated ground attack, here’s the reimbursement rates:
The drone costs show one major reason they are so popular with commanders, in addition to the very long loiter time along with two of them capable of being armed:
Modern jets are really, really thirsty, so here is the cost to run the refueling ops:
Here are the rates for surveillance and command & control:
|E-3B||16,575||1,607||18,182||Sentry – AWACS – 707|
|E-3C||16,575||1,607||18,182||Sentry – AWACS – 707|
|E-3G||16,575||1,607||18,182||Sentry – AWACS – 707|
|E-4B||74,050||1,545||75,595||Airborne command post – 747|
|E-8C||27,122||1,375||28,497||JSTARS – 707-300|
For moving lots of cargo and troops, here’s the reimbursement rates:
For moving the VIPs, this is what the Air Force has available:
|C-12C||2,412||270||2,682||Beech King Air|
|C-12F||2,412||180||2,592||Beech King Air|
|C-12J||2,412||180||2,592||Beech King Air|