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Tight budgets are forcing the Air Force's combat squadrons to cut back their training hours by nearly 60 percent -- "leaving frontline units unprepared to go to war," according to Defense News.
Air Combat Command (ACC), the primary provider of combat airpower, is cutting 32,000 flying hours to help compensate for its $825 million operations and maintenance shortfall.
The cuts come as Air Force aircrews are heavily worked, flying missions in Iraq, Afghanistan and over some U.S. cities in an attempt to prevent another terrorist attack.
"Starting early this summer, units may have aviators unable to get required training to maintain full combat-ready status," Col. Jim Dunn, deputy director of flight operations for ACC, said in a written statement. "Overall effectiveness will become a growing challenge."
With this cut, the command now has 21,000 flying hours left of the original 53,000-plus hours programmed for the rest of this fiscal year -- a 60 percent reduction...
Retired Gen. Hal Hornburg, former ACC commander, said the cuts are "a big deal" and show the military's grim financial situation.
"They're not cutting fat, they're cutting to the bone," Hornburg said, noting the Pentagon has taken large sums of money away from the Air Force to pay for the Army in Iraq.
Reducing flying hours will free up about $272 million, not quite a third of the command's shortfall, said Col. Dave Goossens, ACC comptroller.
This is bad news -- another sign of how the Iraq war is slowly grinding down American military readiness. But are times really that tight at the Air Force? I mean, if the generals there wanted to save $272 million, couldn't they just take a F-22 Raptor or two out of the budget, instead of staging a giant PR campaign for the dubious stealth jet? Is an extra fighter plane that much more important than every pilot's training time?
And how's this for poor choices: two of the only groups not affected by the flight-time cuts... are the "Raptor squadron [and] the Thunderbird aerial demonstration team," says Defense News.
Training Cuts: Ex-Pilots React
Former Navy F/A-18 pilot Harry Hirschman is disgusted by the Air Force's decision to drastically cut back on training time for fighter jocks.
F-5_3-plane_SandMntn.jpg"There's a lot of gamesmanship that goes into the training and readiness numbers. But you can't game the number of hours each pilot gets to fly," he tells Defense Tech.
In the Navy, it took at least 32 hours per month to even come close to full combat readiness. And that needs to be maintained for several months per squadron per pilot in order to be able to get the myriad types of training in. It's impossible to be 100% efficient on the training too, because senior pilots end up repeating certain types of sorties with junior pilots in order to move them along the learning curve.
A cut like the one described below will hurt across the board because it's so deep. Squadrons will give as much time to the junior pilots as they can in order to get them up to a minimum level of competence and safety but they won't be able to do it all because they'll have to send senior guys along to teach. It's a very difficult situation for a squadron commander and training officer.
But then, there may be some gamesmanship in what the Air Force is doing. By cutting so dramatically into something that defense watchers know will impact combat readiness, they may be hoping for a reprieve.
"The irony is the savings projected are a pittance," adds retired Gen. Tom Wilkerson, who logged over 3,000 hours in the front seats of F-4s and F/A-18s. "What is $272 million against one F-22 [stealth fighter] purchase?"
Originally posted by gooseuk
I am not sure if that was a friendly comment or attack- Phil
Originally posted by Daedalus3
hey.. This TSR, what was its nick?...
I have traced connections of the TSR-2 and the BOR12 enegine design back to the InAF HF-24 MArut.. interesting..
Originally posted by W4rl0rD
With the F-22s, there will be less need for longer flying hours. After all, you can't shoot what you can't see
Originally posted by waynos
I think XR219 met its end at the Shoeburyness gunnery range.
The shocking thing for me regarding the scrapping of TSR 2 (apart from the madness of it) was that 40 aircraft were in various stages of manufacture when the axe fell (on the very day I was born, no less) and yet we cancelled it to order 50 F-111's instead! If the root of all that isn't in some sort of conspiracy I don't know what is.
"whats that over there in the distance? Oh yes, its the topic"