Edwards already has been looking for ways to work more efficiently. The base’s military personnel have dipped from about 3,000 to 2,150, with the biggest change resulting from converting 900 military positions into about 450 civilian posts. [email protected] (661) 267-5743160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! The average age of an Air Force aircraft is 24 years old, Carlson noted. The average is 48 years old for the Air Force’s KC-15E tankers, the flying fuel stations that keep other aircraft airborne, he said. The Air Force aims to retire older aircraft and use the money saved from maintaining and operating those planes for newer technologies. Retiring the U-2 reconnaissance aircraft and the F-117 stealth fighter could provide $2 billion in savings, he said. Congress is blocking the retirement of the U-2 until it can be proved that its capabilities can be replaced by other aircraft. The F-117, however, is in the process of being phased out. Of 52 of the fighters, six have already been retired, four more will be retired this year, and the rest will be retired between 2008 and 2009. The F-117 is worked on in Palmdale by Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co. The retirements won’t result in any layoffs, however, because work is picking up on other programs, including parts work in support of the F-22 and F-35 fighter programs, company spokeswoman Dianne Knippel said. Edwards will see cuts, but the extent remains to be seen, said Maj. Gen. Curt Bedke, Edwards commander. LANCASTER – The Air Force will be drawing down its ranks and investing in newer aircraft as it tries to meet the emerging threats around the world, according to a key Air Force general. The Air Force plans to reduce its ranks by 57,500 airmen by 2011. The savings from that drawdown will be invested in updating aircraft, said Gen. Bruce Carlson, commander of the Air Force Materiel Command, which includes Edwards Air Force Base. He said some Air Force planes still in service are more than 50 years old. “We simply have to re-capitalize the fleet to be ready to fight the next war,” Carlson said in a recent interview. Carlson’s command is responsible for buying, testing and maintaining the service’s aircraft. The command has 10 bases, with 73,000 people, and manages about 37 percent of the Air Force budget.