Air Force leaders will cut flying hours by nearly 20 percent and prepare for a possible end to all noncombat or noncritical flights from late July through September if Congress can’t agree on a budget and billions of dollars in automatic cuts are triggered.
In an Air Force internal memo obtained by The Associated Press, Air Force Secretary Michael Donley laid out broad but grim steps the service will be taking in coming days and weeks to enforce a civilian hiring freeze, cancel air show appearances and flyovers, and slash base improvements and repairs by about 50 percent.
Beyond those immediate actions, Donley and Gen. Mark Welsh, the Air Force chief of staff, said in the memo that the service will make plans to chop aircraft and depot maintenance by about 17 percent and initiate widespread civilian furloughs if there is no resolution to the budget issue by March. The cut in flights would reduce flying hours by more than 200,000, the memo said.
In a similar memo, the Navy said it faces a $4 billion shortfall in its operations and maintenance accounts and called for “stringent belt-tightening measures” if a new budget is not passed and the military has to operate with the same funding it got for the previous fiscal year.