The stand down of active-duty units lasting until the end of the fiscal year in Oct. 1 still allows the Air Force to be sufficiently ready and conduct operations worldwide, according to its officials.
Support for major operations in Afghanistan will still be mission capable as the stand down will be on a rotating basis, said Air Combat Command (ACC) commander Gen. Mike Hostage on the Air Force website. But Hostage said there is a risk that combat planes would not be able to respond immediately in case of new crisis.
To partly curtail operations, the ACC will conduct 45,000 hours fewer training hours for pilots, though ground training, including the use of flight simulators, will continue as funding allows. Active-duty aircrews assigned to Air Force Reserve or Air National Guard A-10 or F-16 squadrons will also stop flying. Maintenance crews will continue their duties.
When pilot don’t fly for 90 to 120 days, they lose their mission-ready capability and will need 60 and 90 days of retraining to be ready again, said Hostage in explaining the impact of the fewer training hours of pilots.
Affected by the stand down are fighter, bomber, aggressor and airborne warning and control squadrons stationed in the U.S., Europe and the Pacific. The U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels are also grounded for the fiscal year. Thirty stunt shows of the flight demonstration squadron scheduled until November were cancelled Tuesday to save $20 to $25 million. Outreach events can push through if local organizers will sponsor them. The Blue Angeles pilots, however, will continue to train in their home station in Pensacola.
Last month, the Air Force’s stunt team, Thunderbirds, also cancelled its remaining shows.