(CBN News) Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis has ordered the Air Force and Navy to bring at least 80 percent of its key fighter jets to combat readiness by the end of next September. Pentagon sources tell CBN News the planes in question – F-35, F-22, F-16 and F-18 – are currently in a state of trouble. Mattis addressed the matter in a Sept. 17 memo to the secretaries of the Army, Air Force and Navy, along with acquisition

head Ellen Lord and acting Undersecretary for Personnel and Readiness Stephanie Barna. In it he acknowledges “budget constraints and shortfalls in aviation squadrons across the force” have led to “systemic underperformance, overcapitalization and unrealized capacity” in the fighter fleets. “For change to be effective and efficient, we must focus on meeting our most critical priorities first,” Mattis wrote in the memo, which was obtained exclusively by Defense News. READ MORE