Saturday, April 5, 2008

Faulty Data Drove Tanker Decision

In an eye opening article "Air Force Decision Driven by Faulty Data" on Human Events, Jed Babbin provides insight on the model that was used to evaluated the two aircraft and how it may have erroneously determined that EADS's A330 operational utility.

Mr. Babbin writes that the complex computer model, called the Integrated Fleet Air Refueling Assessment (IFARA), that the Air Force used to rate the capability of each aircraft was not accurate. And, he further states that the data which determined the capacity of airfields to accept the weight and size of the aircraft was especially flawed.

He goes on to say his source who was briefed on the IFARA results,
"said that the Air Force 'rounded up' the data on each airfield’s capacity -- the weight-bearing capacity of runways, taxiways and parking ramps and the size of the parking ramps to base enough aircraft -- so that if any of those aspects was judged adequate, the entire facility was judged capable of having the aircraft operate from

That person said that the IFARA computer model could only accept one variable on the issue of airfield capability. It could not include any differences to account for variances in different parts of each airfield’s capabilities. Thus, the model was flawed and the data fed into it were further skewed by the assumption that the larger aircraft could operate from airfields which in fact it cannot. "

Mr. Babbin reports that at least one Congressional office is investigating this issue and he poses the following questions:

  • Why didn’t the Air Force correct its computer model so that it could accept more accurate data on airfield capabilities?
  • Why was the “rounding up” of airfield capabilities allowed to skew the results to the larger tanker?
  • And -- specific to each airfield -- which other air assets (fighters, cargo aircraft, etc.) will be crowded out by the bigger tanker?

Another issue that members of tanker war blog will investigate is that in time of conflict, when we will need the tankers most, we may well find airfields being degraded by enemy action. If the model assigned overly optimistic peacetime airfield capabilities we can only imagine the inaccuracy of the assessed wartime airfield capabilities.


Aurora said...

Does the fact that Russia owns at least 5% of EADS' stock matter at all? Last reports indicate that they transferred their stake to another Russian government entity and are NOT backing down from their demands for representation (i.e., "a blocking stake") on the EADS board.

Way to go, Air Force!

Anonymous said...

Better than Jed Babbin's article are the more than 100 comments. Not all are really well but some are very interesting to read with more explanation than in the article itself.