Air Force training cuts hit Arizona bases unevenly

April 11, 2013

The Air Force announced this week that it is slashing some 45,000 hours of training flights across the country in an effort to meet Congressionally mandated budget cuts. 

A-10 at Davis Montham AFB Two aircraft maintainers perform a post-mission inspection on an A-10 Thunderbolt II at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, in November. The A-10 is based Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, in Tuscon. The Air Force is cutting A-10 training flights at Davis-Montham, part of a plan to slash some 45,000 flight training hours to meet sequestration budget cuts. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Chris Willis)

At Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tuscon, which supplies A-10 jets and trains pilots to fly them, the impact of those reductions will be felt right away.

Captain Jonathan Simmons says all A-10 combat squadrons will be grounded until the end of the fiscal year in October, including some jets that just came home.

“Our 354 fighter squadron is just returning from Afghanistan today, with plans to stand down flying operations because of sequestration,” Simmons said.

What will happen come October depends on how defense spending fares in Washington budget talks, Simmons said. 

The Air Force will keep training A-10 pilots at Davis-Monthan, but it’ll be done using flight simulators and other options outside of the cockpit, which means pilots at the base won’t get the flight hours they need to be cleared for combat until December at the earliest.

The plans from flight training cuts to cuts will not affect F-16 fighter pilot training at Luke Air Force Base outside of Phoenix.

“Right now. we’ll continue to train our pilots and maintainers as we always have,” said base spokesman Capt. Ryan DeCamp.

But the base is seeing other sequestration-related cuts. Non-essential flights like flyovers at baseball games have been put on hold, and DeCamp says the base’s more than 850 civilian workers will likely have to take 14 furlough days.

The furlough would save the base an estimated $3.8 million and DeCamp says civillian employees would see their paychecks shrink about 20 percent for however long it lasts.

KJZZ's Chris Connelly contributed to this report.

9 Weeks of Giving, Donate Now!