Flying Operations Resume for Combat Air Forces Units

Numerous combat air forces units across the Air Force resumed flying operations on Monday, ending a standdown that began for them in April due to budget sequestration, announced Air Combat Command. The move affects units within ACC, US Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa, and Pacific Air Forces, supporting critical test and training operations for the remainder of the fiscal year, which runs through September, states ACC’s July 15 release. It came after the Air Force decided late last week to apply funds to flying hour accounts from other areas of its Fiscal 2013 budget. The restored flying hours represent some $208 million of the $1.8 billion reprogramming allocation that Congress granted the service, states the release. “Since April we’ve been in a precipitous decline with regard to combat readiness,” said ACC boss Gen. Mike Hostage. “Returning to flying is an important first step, but what we have ahead of us is a measured climb to recovery,” he said. For ACC, the restored flying hours will go toward the Air Warfare Center’s Weapons School at Nellis AFB, Nev., as well as aggressor squadrons and the Thunderbirds aerial demonstration team, among others. Hostage said this restoration does little to address the long-term budget uncertainty surrounding sequestration. “We are using investment dollars to pay current operational bills, and that approach is not without risk to our long-term effectiveness,” he said. “We can’t mortgage our future.”