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Combat air forces to resume flying

Posted 7/15/2013   Updated 7/15/2013 Email story   Print story


from Air Combat Command Public Affairs
Air Combat Command Public Affairs

7/15/2013 - JOINT BASE LANGELY-EUSTIS, Va. -- Combat Air Forces units from multiple commands will begin flying again July 15 after many stopped flying in April of this year due to sequestration.

The restored flying hour program represents Congressional action on the $1.8 billion overseas contingency operations reprogramming action made peacetime dollars available. The Air Force Council has approved the use of $423 million of those dollars to restore flying hours for affected units.

The money re-instates critical training and test operations for the CAF fleet across the Air Force for the remainder of FY13. This impacts not just Air Combat Command units, but also CAF units assigned to United States Air Forces Europe and Pacific Air Forces.

For ACC, the restored flying hours will be allocated to combat aircraft and crews across the command's operational and test units, including the Air Warfare Center's Weapons School, Aggressors and the Thunderbirds aerial demonstration team. Previously announced decisions to cancel some major exercises and all Thunderbirds demonstrations for 2013 remain in effect.

While the return to the skies means a return to crucial training and development for pilots, navigators, flight crews, mission crews and maintainers, the leader of the Air Force's CAF fleet cautions that this is the beginning of the process, not the end.

"Since April we've been in a precipitous decline with regard to combat readiness," said Gen. Mike Hostage, commander of Air Combat Command. "Returning to flying is an important first step but what we have ahead of us is a measured climb to recovery."

"Our country counts on the U.S. Air Force to be there when needed--in hours or days, not weeks or months," General Hostage said. "A fire department doesn't have time to 'spin up' when a fire breaks out, and we don't know where or when the next crisis will break out that will require an immediate Air Force response."

The restoration of flying hours only addresses the next two and half months of flying up until October 1.

"This decision gets us through the next several months but not the next several years," the general said. "While this paints a clearer picture for the remainder of FY13, important questions remain about FY14 and beyond. Budget uncertainly makes it difficult to determine whether we'll be able to sustain a fully combat-ready force."

Additionally, the restoration comes at a cost to future capability, including reduced investment in the recapitalization and modernization of the combat fleet.

"We are using investment dollars to pay current operational bills, and that approach is not without risk to our long-term effectiveness," General Hostage said. "We can't mortgage our future. America relies on the combat airpower we provide, and we need to be able to continue to deliver it."

7/17/2013 4:06:13 PM ET
Please ignore my impetuous and rude comment.
Ryan, USA
7/17/2013 8:48:23 AM ET
Ryan you are an . . . well the website won't allow me to write it but it rhymes with crass.
DMPI, Arlington VA
7/17/2013 8:10:58 AM ET
I hear what some are saying but I doubt anyone can say there are not dead weights in the civil service. A majority are worth their wages but the few that only show up for waork and dont expect to do more than that give the rest of the truely good civil service people a bad name. I think it is time for managers to call it like it is and weed out the non performers in early 2014 if it is not too late in 2013. Those number will be amazing and the mission will continue because the non performers did not contibute before they were let go. However how to get past the union rules is another crutch the non performers lean on or protected by.
SNCO Ret 89, SW Ohio
7/16/2013 5:41:44 PM ET
Ryan your comments truly offend me as a 30 retired veteran that served as an NCOs and o type. If it weren't for vets and the brave men and women serving you could say what you did. Curious what branch of the military you served in
Major Tom, Chicago
7/16/2013 12:13:14 PM ET
Agree with LG. Just one week of furlough has significantly affected my unit. Lets cut the furloughs
7/16/2013 11:06:14 AM ET
They have given enough hours to begin to get back to CMR status. Pretty much the same hours as before the sequester.
zach, USA
7/16/2013 9:55:19 AM ET
My opinion of AFDoD leadership continues to errode. Putting the air shows flying teams back in the air while civilians are on furlough is a hard slap in the face.
TL, Dayton OH
7/16/2013 9:29:09 AM ET
So what happens when we put a bird in the drink Will Dupont's Dirty Dozen have something to do with that
20yr licensed maintainer, any airfield
7/16/2013 2:49:11 AM ET
should be just the minimum hours to fufill RAP requirements I figure...
Blue Wolf, Australia
7/15/2013 8:45:08 PM ET
I'm glad that our combat pilots will be able to get back in the cockpit and hone the flying skills that make them the best in the world. That includes the pilots of the Thunderbirds. They too are combat ready pilots and need to keep their skills up to par as well. If another conflict should erupt somewhere in the world that would require combat ready pilots they would return to a fighting unit. I'll be glad when there is enough in the budget to get them back to the shows that the people love. That includes the Blue Angels and the Army's Golden Knights.
WP Blake, United States
7/15/2013 6:26:44 PM ET
I am really annoyed that the AF can move money around to bring back these flying squadrons but can not move money around to end the furloughs of civilian workers. Just more proof that if you need something back enough they will go to all ends to get what they want. Just another slap in the face of the CIVILIAN airman. You can take your mission statement and core values and flush them.
Annoyed Furloughed Civilian, OK
7/15/2013 3:22:46 PM ET
The Thunderbirds will just resume flying for pilot currency it does not put them back on the road at air shows. The unit is combat coded as they can be deployed as a combat squadron if needed. While we all know that won't happen I do believe keeping the pilots and maintainers current is a good move as a portion of them will move on in 2014 and need to be combat ready in their next assignment. Also I think their flying as well as the other units will be limited to just enough to get them and keep them current. I don't believe they will be putting six jets in the air five days a week.
Jason, Colorado Springs
7/15/2013 3:08:23 PM ET
We don't need more show ponies. Put the money we spend on the Thunderbirds Blue Angles and Golden Knights into real aircraft demos with real Airmen who can tell their real stories of Service to America.
Mike, Colorado
7/15/2013 3:04:08 PM ET
I believe what the commenter meant is why is the Air Force spending the money to have the Thunderbirds fly while numerous civilian federal employees are furloughed and losing 20 percent of their pay each week.
Furloughed Fed, Stateside
7/15/2013 1:21:27 PM ET
The previous commenter mentioned their negative view of restoring the Thunderbirds flying hours restored I am a novice in this area but I believe their presence at air shows gives a phenomenal boost to those shows' local economies. If I'm wrong let me know but the Fort Lauderdale Air and Sea Show a single example is a big economic event and sequestration killed it for the first time in decades.
danstermeister, florida
7/15/2013 1:01:47 PM ET
Looks like Christmas came early for the neocons. Spending money we don't have on the bloodthirsty military industrial complex
Ryan, USA
7/15/2013 12:42:11 PM ET
I'm relieved to see the operational CAF resuming ops but not so much the Thunderbirds. Financially I think waiting until next fiscal year at the least would be a more prudent decision. I work with many wonderful civilians and I'm disheartened to see this. No to Thunderbirds yes to less furlough days.
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