Washington (CNN) -- The U.S. Air Force began grounding a third of its fighter jet fleet on Tuesday because of forced spending cuts, one of the most prominent consequences so far of government-wide austerity that began in March.
Dozens of units in the United States, Europe and the Pacific ultimately will stand down, according to a statement from Gen. Mike Hostage, the commander of the Air Force's Air Combat Command.
The move involving jets assigned to fighter, bomber, airborne warning and other squads aims to ensure that remaining units can maintain sufficient readiness through the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends September 30.
F-15 y F-16 de la US Air Force.
The cuts impact operations and maintenance, which must be implemented in part by flying approximately 45,000 fewer training hours through that period.
"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. Units will stand down on a rotating basis so our limited resources can be focused on fulfilling critical missions," Hostage said.
"The current situation means we're accepting the risk that combat air power may not be ready to respond immediately to new contingencies as they occur," he said.
The Pentagon is expected to absorb about half of the $85 billion in sweeping budget cuts, called sequester, that resulted from the inability of Congress to reach a deal on deficit reduction.
The Defense Department had warned the cuts could threaten readiness. It is also expected to furlough civilian employees and cut contracts to meet the budget target.
Separataely, the Navy on Tuesday announced it was canceling all the air shows its Blue Angels Flight Demonstration Squadron had scheduled for the rest of the year.
The Navy action follows the Air Force's April 1 announcement that its Thunderbirds team would not perform again this year.
Some Air Force fighter units currently deployed will stand down after they return from deployments. The cutback will also affect Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard units.
"We're entering uncharted territory in terms of how we've had to take this year's cuts and make adjustments to mitigate the most serious impacts," Hostage said. "Remaining as mission-ready as possible for combatant commanders is our priority, and we're prioritizing spending to ensure this imperative is met."
Units that stop flying will shift their emphasis to ground training. They will use flight simulators to the extent possible within existing contracts, and conduct academic training to maintain basic skills and knowledge of their aircraft.
(FoxNews.com) The Blue Angels, the Navy's revered aerial acrobats, have been grounded for the rest of the year due to sequestration cuts.
The Navy announced the cancellation Tuesday of over 30 shows for the stunt-flying team that were planned through November, citing budget cuts imposed by the Department of Defense.
“The Navy has cancelled the remaining 2013 performances of its Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels. The Squadron will continue to train to maintain flying proficiency until further notice at its home station in Pensacola,” a statement from Navy officials said. “Recognizing budget realities, current Defense policy states that outreach events can only be supported with local assets at no cost to the government.”
foto: (US Navy)
The Navy is following in the steps of the Air Force, which last month cancelled all remaining shows for its stunt team, the Thunderbirds, and the Army, which cancelled remaining 2013 shows for its parachute skydiving team, the Golden Knights.
The cancellations are the product of military-wide cuts that also trimmed back on ship and plane upkeep -- and could result in furloughs for hundreds of thousands of civilian Pentagon employees.
Navy officials add that the cancellation is not only due in part to the sequester, but also from a DOD policy to prioritize funding for Armed Forces.
The cancellation of the Blue Angels season, the first since the Korean War, will save the Department of Defense between $20 million and $25 million.
Enthusiasts say that this, coupled with the cancellation of the Thunderbirds season, is a major blow to the air show industry.
“The Blue Angels are the Rolling Stones of the Air Show World and losing them, whether it’s a few days, a few months, or a few years, it is a crushing blow, not only to the industry, but for thousands of fans,” John Cudahy, president of the International Council of Air Shows, told FoxNews.com.
“The Blue Angels and the Thunderbirds are huge draws for our industry and when they don’t participate in an air show it not only hurts attendance -- it makes it less than it was,” he added.
Organizers for Seafair, a yearly summer festival in Seattle, Wash., shared the sentiment with a release on their website Tuesday.
“Today we were officially informed by the U.S. Navy Blue Angels that their season has been cancelled, including the Seafair performance, due to federal budget cuts resulting from sequestration,” reads the statement. “The Blue Angels have flown at Seafair for over 40 years and are an important part of our history. The team will be deeply missed by Seattleites…”
Also announced in recent days were the cancellations of Navy Weeks across the country. The events, which are similar to New York City’s Fleet Week, normally take place from spring through fall in cities like San Antonio, Indianapolis and Salt Lake City.
fuente: CNN y Fox News.
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