Federal budget cuts ground one third of Air Force combat planes
NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — 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.