As details broke yesterday of the initial impact of sequestration on the United States Air Force (USAF), GAR provides a pictorial guide to the squadrons most deeply affected.
Sequestration, the thing that was designed to be so preposterous, so outlandish and so potentially harmful to the United States that it forced the Democrats and Republicans to sit down and thrash out a debt-reduction plan balancing cuts in spending with increases in taxation, is now taking effect as a result of the two sides failing to reach agreement over a new fiscal budget.
Starting today, 9 April 2013, a number of USAF squadrons will be grounded completely or have their combat readiness state reduced. The plan, which will be effective through September, is in response to USAF’s budget for flying hours being cut by some $591m over the period.
In order to help absorb these cuts whilst retaining as much capability as possible, the difficult decision has been made to ground 17 combat squadrons with immediate effect or upon their return from deployments.
By doing so, the USAF will be able to allocate a total of 241,496 funded flying hours between the remaining squadrons to meet Air Combat Command (ACC) requirements, allowing them to maintain either full combat ready status or at the reduced “basic mission capable” level.
While there does appear to be some confusion over the exact impact for some units based on initial reports, it seems certain that the following squadrons will stand down from the regular Air Force:
18th Aggressor Squadron, 354th Fighter Wing – F-16C/D Falcon – Eielson AFB, AK.
34th Bomb Squadron, 28th Bomb Wing – B-1B Lancer – Ellsworth AFB, SD.
37th Bomb Squadron, 28th Bomb Wing – B-1B Lancer – Ellsworth AFB, SD.
77th Fighter Squadron, 20th Fighter Wing – F-16C/D Falcon – Shaw AFB, SC.
81st Fighter Squadron, 52nd Fighter wing – A-10C Thunderbolt II – Spangdahlem AB, Germany (NB this unit was already slated to close in 2013).
94th Fighter Squadron, 1st Fighter Wing – F-22A Raptor – Langley AFB, VA.
336th Fighter Squadron, 4th Fighter Wing – F-15E Strike Eagle – Seymour Johnson AFB, NC.
391st Fighter Squadron, 366th Fighter Wing – F-15E Strike Eagle – Mountain Home AFB, ID.
492nd Fighter Squadron, 48th Fighter Wing – F-15E Strike Eagle – RAF Lakenheath, UK.
494th Fighter Squadron, 48th Fighter Wing – F-15E Strike Eagle – RAF Lakenheath, UK.
555th Fighter Squadron, 31st Fighter Wing – F-16C/D Falcon – Aviano AB, Italy.
The Thunderbirds, 57th Wing – F-16C/D Falcon – Nellis AFB, NV.
Additionally an as yet unidentified squadron of B-52H Stratofortesses from the 2nd Bomb Wing at Barksdale AFB, LA, and a squadron of EC-130H Compass Call aircraft from the 55th Electronic Combat Group at Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ, will also stand down.
The Air National Guard, meanwhile, will lose the following:
158th Fighter Wing, Vermont ANG – F-16C/D Falcon – Burlington Air National Guard Base, VT.
169th Fighter Wing, South Carolina ANG – F-16C/D Falcon – McEntire Joint National Guard Base, SC.
187th Fighter Wing, Alabama ANG – F-16C/D Falcon – Montgomery Air National Guard Base, AL.
Air Force Reserve Command will sacrifice two A-10 Thunderbolt II operators:
442nd Fighter Wing – A-10C Thunderbolt II – Whiteman AFB, MO.
47th Fighter Squadron, 917th Fighter Group – A-10C Thunderbolt II – Barksdale AFB, LA.
The regular Air Force’s 44th FS, 18th Wg (F-15C/D Eagle – Kadena AB, Japan), 75th FS, 23rd Wg (A-10C Thunderbolt II – Moody AFB, GA) & 79th FS, 20th FW (F-16C/D Falcon – Shaw AFB, SC) will all be reduced to basic mission capable levels until the end of July when they will return to combat mission ready status.
Beyond that, the 4th FS, 388th FW (F-16C/D Falcon – Hill AFB, UT), 14th FS, 35th FW (F-16C/D Falcon – Misawa AB, Japan), 27th FS, 1st FW (F-22 Raptor – Langley AFB, VA), 67th FS, 18th Wing (F-15C/D Eagle – Kadena AB, Japan) & 421st FS, 388th FW (F-16C/D Falcon – Hill AFB, UT) will operate at basic mission capable levels until the end of the period.
The implications of these cuts are immense, particularly at a time when North Korea seems intent on threatening the US vocally, if not with actual immediate action. Air Force officials say that it could take six months for readiness levels to be returned to normal should a budget agreement be reached and funding be reallocated.