US Air Force grounding combat jets as part of spending cuts
NORFOLK, Va. - The Associated Press
A F-16 fighter jet being refueled at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base. REUTERS photoThe Air Force began April 9 grounding about one-third of its active-duty combat aircraft because of automatic federal spending cuts, including squadrons of fighters, bombers and airborne warning and control craft.
The stand down will affect units stationed in the U.S., Europe and the Pacific, though the Air Force didn’t immediately provide a list of the units and bases that will be affected.
Some units that include F-16s, F-22s, A-10s and B-1s will stand down after they return home from their deployments.
“We must implement a tiered readiness concept where only the units preparing to deploy in support of major operations like Afghanistan are fully mission capable,” Gen. Mike Hostage, commander of Air Combat Command at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, said in a statement. “Units will stand down on a rotating basis so our limited resources can be focused on fulfilling critical missions.”
The Air Force says the stand-down is the result of cuts to the command’s operations and maintenance account. The Air Force says it must reduce its flying by about 45,000 fewer training hours by Oct. 1 than previously scheduled.