Valdosta Daily Times

Top News

April 10, 2013

Federal budget cuts ground Air Force aircraft

NORFOLK, Va. — A third of the U.S. Air Force’s active-duty force of combat planes including fighters and bombers will be grounded due to federal budget cuts, and only the units preparing to deploy to major operations, such as the war in Afghanistan, will remain mission-ready, a top general said Tuesday.

Other units would stand down on a rotating basis, said Gen. Mike Hostage, commander of Air Combat Command at Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia.

“The current situation means we’re accepting the risk that combat airpower may not be ready to respond immediately to new contingencies as they occur,” Hostage said in a statement.

The Air Force didn’t immediately release a list of the specific units and bases that would be affected, but it said it would cover some fighters like F-16 Fighting Falcons and F-22 Raptors, and some airborne warning and control aircraft in the U.S., Europe and the Pacific.  

The Air Force says, on average, aircrews “lose currency’ to fly combat commissions within 90 to 120 days of not flying. It generally takes 60 to 90 days to train the crews to mission-ready status.

Returning grounded units to be ready for missions will require additional funds beyond Air Combat Command’s normal budget, according to Air Force officials. The stand down will remain in effect for the remainder of fiscal year 2013 barring any changes to funding.

“Even a six-month stand down of units will have significant long-term, multi-year impacts on our operational readiness,” Air Combat Command spokesman Maj. Brandon Lingle wrote in an email to The Associated Press.  

The Defense Department overall faces a $487 billion reduction in projected spending over the next decade and possibly tens of billions more as tea partyers and other fiscal conservatives embrace automatic spending cuts as the best means to reduce the government’s trillion-dollar deficit.

On Wednesday, when President Barack Obama submits his fiscal year 2014 budget, the Pentagon blueprint is expected to include requests for two rounds of domestic base closings in 2015 and 2017, a pay raise of only 1 percent for military personnel and a revival of last year’s plan to increase health care fees and implement new ones, according to several defense analysts.

On Monday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said another huge concern is the uncontrollable cost the Defense Department is paying for health care and other benefits. He said money spent on that is not being used on preparing pilots for missions and troops for combat.

The greatest fiscal threat to the military is not declining budgets, Hagel warned, but rather “the growing imbalance in where that money is being spent internally.”

For affected units, the Air Force says it will shift its focus to ground training. That includes the use of flight simulators and academic training to maintain basic skills and aircraft knowledge, Lingle said. Aircraft maintainers plan to clear up as much of a backlog of scheduled inspections and maintenance that budgets allow.

On the same day, the U.S. Navy confirmed that the Blue Angels aerobatic team would be cancelling the rest of its season.

Tom Frosch, the Blue Angels lead pilot and team commander, announced the news late Tuesday at the team’s Pensacola Naval Air Station headquarters while standing in front of the one of the iconic blue-and-gold jets. Frosch said the news marks the first time since the Korean War that the team would not make the air show rounds.

“The Navy held off as long as possible with the hope of salvaging some of the season,” Frosch said. “We hope we’ll be turned back on for 2014.”

———

Associated Press writer Melissa R. Nelson contributed to this report from Pensacola, Fla.

 

For more on this story and other local news, subscribe to The Valdosta Daily Times e-Edition, or our print edition

1
Text Only
Top News
  • Obama_Stew.jpg Obama views mudslide scene

    Swooping over a terrain of great sadness and death, President Barack Obama took an aerial tour Tuesday of the place where more than three dozen people perished in a mudslide last month, then mourned privately with those who lost loved ones in the destruction.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Wall Street_Stew.jpg Earnings and corporate deals lift U.S. stocks

    Corporate deals and some solid earnings reports propelled the stock market to its sixth straight gain Tuesday.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Economy College Gradu_Stew.jpg Job market for college grads better but still weak

    With college commencement ceremonies nearing, the government is offering a modest dose of good news for graduating seniors: The job market is brightening for new grads — a bit.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Supreme Court TV On t_Stew.jpg Internet TV case: Justices skeptical, concerned

    Grappling with fast-changing technology, Supreme Court justices debated Tuesday whether they can protect the copyrights of TV broadcasters to the shows they send out without strangling innovations in the use of the internet.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Today in History

    In 1791, the 15th president of the United States, James Buchanan, was born in Franklin County, Pa.

    April 23, 2014

  • Stowaway teen forces review of airport security

    A 15-year-old boy found his way onto an airport’s tarmac and climbed into a jetliner’s wheel well, then flew for five freezing hours to Hawaii — a misadventure that forced authorities to take a hard look at the security system that protects the nation’s airline fleet.

    April 22, 2014

  • South Korea Ship Sink_Rich copy.jpg Death count in ferry sinking tops 100

    One by one, coast guard officers carried the newly arrived bodies covered in white sheets from a boat to a tent on the dock of this island, the first step in identifying a sharply rising number of corpses from a South Korean ferry that sank nearly a week ago.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • AP520422034 copy.jpg Today in History for Tuesday, April 22, 2014

    Today is Tuesday, April 22, the 112th day of 2014. There are 253 days left in the year.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Commission to vote to purchase new computers

    Lowndes County commissioners discussed replacing outdated computers, a bid for an emergency bypass pump, an annexation request from the City of Hahira, a juvenile justice grant application, and an appointment to the dangerous dog board.

    April 22, 2014

  • KLVB receives Governor’s Circle Recognition Award

    Keep Lowndes/Valdosta Beautiful received the Governor’s Circle Award. These inaugural, statewide awards were presented by Gov. Nathan Deal at the State Capitol .

    April 22, 2014

Top News
Poll

Given the amount of rain recently, what's your favorite “rain” song?

Singing in the Rain
Purple Rain
Have You Ever Seen the Rain?
November Rain
Rainy Night in Georgia
Other
     View Results