Get Well Soon, Not

The damage from sequestration to the Air Force’s readiness “will extend into Fiscal ’14” even if sequestration is undone before the end of this fiscal year, said Air Force Secretary Michael Donley on Tuesday. He told defense reporters in Washington, D.C., that standing down pilots and weapon system operators due to slashed flying and training hours means it will take “anywhere from three to six months” into Fiscal 2014 to get proficiency levels back up to “combat mission-ready status.” The problem will be much worse in weapon system sustainment, he said. Deferring depot maintenance on aircraft and engines will be harder to catch up on because “that’s a capacity-limited sort of situation,” and it may not be possible to accelerate it. The deferrals will “ripple through the depot maintenance system over many months, and in some cases, may take a year or more,” said Donley. “It will take a while to dig out” of the deferred maintenance hole, he said during the April 23 meeting.