Even after the Air Force last month lifted the grounding of nearly a third of its combat fleet, squadrons across the service are having a range of challenges getting aircrews back up to combat-mission-ready status. For the “Triple Nickel,” the 555th Fighter Squadron at Aviano AB, Italy, this involves several months of retraining in F-16 operations, according to a July 31 base release. After the standdown began in April, the squadron relied on ground training, flight simulation time, and study in basic skills for its pilots. However the pilots said the downtime has eroded some of their edge, states the release. “I am nowhere near the level of proficiency I should be at, and I feel like I’m restarting the process in some areas,” said Capt. Rob Glenn, a unit pilot. Squadron Commander Lt. Col. John Peterson wants his crews to spool up gradually, “so that we don’t end up falling forward and hurting somebody or breaking our assets and resources.” (Aviano report by SSgt, Justin Weaver)
These are the complete remarks by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III at the Reagan National Defense Forum, Dec. 3, 2022, in Simi Valley, Calif.