Is it just me, or does anyone else in the F/A- 18 community think that the way we procure parts and airframes is a little off base? When I arrived as executive officer of my squadron in January 1995, I was new to the community-the last Harley holdout. The squadron was still reeling from a three-month stand down, during which its jets were preserved and removed from reporting status as a "cost cutting" measure (although the cost of preserving and depreserving the airplanes far exceeded projected scheduled maintenance costs). We had six airframes (normal load for cruise is 11-12) with three or four flying at any given time. The others were "hangar queens," used to cannibalize parts to keep the flyers up. As an old maintenance officer, I cringed at that prospect. Robbing parts doubles the maintenance effort while giving the robbed part twice as many opportunities to fail. As the inter-deployment training cycle progressed, we weathered an engine crisis, a switching-valve crisis, a hydraulic-drive-unit crisis, and a trailing-edge-flap-servo crisis. These critical parts were failing way before their military specifications mean-time-before-failure cycles, creating massive shortages. Each shortage caused individual, large amplitude spikes in the cannibalization rates and drove down the Hornet's fabled mission capable rate.