Ellsworth Commander: Stand-down will affect pilot readiness - KOTA Territory News

Ellsworth Commander: Stand-down will affect pilot readiness

Colonel Kevin Kennedy (ellsworth.af.mil) Colonel Kevin Kennedy (ellsworth.af.mil)

In an unprecedented move, the United States Air Force is grounding all B-1 Bombers that are not currently deployed.  The planes will stay grounded for the rest of the 2013 fiscal year which ends September 30.

The Air Force says it must cut 45,000 training hours to absorb $41 billion in defense spending cuts.

The consequences will be significant, according to Ellsworth Air Force Base Commander, Colonel Kevin Kennedy. He says due to a lack of training, by October 1, more than half of the pilots at Ellsworth won't be qualified to fly.  Colonel Kennedy say while pilots will utilize flight simulators, they'll still miss out on training they can get only in the air.

"They're going to be less ready to respond to crisis across the globe," he said. "It's not a state that the Air Force usually operates in," Colonel Kennedy continued.

Currently deployed B-1's from Ellsworth's 34th Bomb Squadron will continue to fly in support of ongoing combat operations until their return this summer.  The 432nd Attack Squadron will also continue their mission flying unmanned drones.

Colonel Kennedy says flying will resume in October.

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