The US Air Force today announced that it has begun curtailing operations of about one-third of the active-duty combat aircraft following recent budget cuts.
“The stand down is the result of cuts to Air Combat Command's operations and maintenance account, which must be implemented in part by flying approximately 45,000 fewer training hours between now and October 1,” the Air Combat Command (ACC) said in a statement.
The grounding will affect aircraft assigned to fighter, bomber, aggressor and airborne warning and control squadrons stationed in the United States, Europe and the Pacific.
"Units will stand down on a rotating basis so our limited resources can be focused on fulfilling critical missions," said Gen. Mike Hostage, the ACC commander.
The Air Force's budget for the fiscal year ending in October has been reduced by $591 million as part of the series of deficit reduction measures that took effect on March 1 after the US politicians failed to agree an alternative to sweeping federal budget cuts totaling $85 billion this year, according to Ria Novosti.
"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," Gen. Hostage warned.
According to the statement, on average aircrews lose currency to fly combat missions within 90 to 120 days of not flying and it generally takes 60 to 90 days to conduct the training needed to return aircrews to mission-ready status.