F-35 Training at Eglin to Escape Budget Ax

The Air Force would protect F-35 pilot training at Eglin AFB, Fla., if sequestration takes effect on March 1, Air Education and Training Command boss Gen. Edward Rice told reporters on Thursday at AFA’s Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Fla. The Air Force would be forced to reduce flying hours by about 20 percent under the sequester, with the exception of initial flight training and a few other prime missions, service officials have said. Although F-35 training is considered “advanced” and, therefore, would normally be subject to cuts, Rice said he would be able to absorb those hours elsewhere across AETC’s fleet. “We don’t have that many F-35s or flights at Eglin, and since we are dealing with fairly large numbers in terms of flight hours across my command, I can afford to train at Eglin,” he said. “It’s really not an either/or question at Eglin and it’s important to continue maturing the fleet,” he added.