Air Force Grounds Squadrons Of Fighter Jets, Drones Due To Shut Down
Hopefully Great Britain doesn't get the idea of finally reclaiming its rebellious colonies lost over two hundred years ago, because the US certainly is making it easy. As part of the numerous non-essential services shut down in the current government funding crisis, Foreign Policy reports that the Air Force's Air Combat Command (ACC) - home to the service's fighter jets, B-1 bombers and most of its drones and spyplanes -- has grounded squadrons that are not set to deploy abroad after January.
"If you're on to the hook to deploy before January, we're saying go ahead and train," ACC spokesman Lt. Col. Tadd Sholtis told FP. However, if a unit is waiting until after that, its aircraft will remain on the ground. A striking example of this can be found at Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho. None of the 366th Fighter Wing's squadrons of F-15E Strike Eagles are slated to deploy before January. This means the only fighters based at Mountain Home flying this fall are the F-15SGs of the Singaporean air force that are permanently stationed there. Interestingly, German and Canadian air force jets are also flying out of the Idaho base on training deployments of their own.
While the Canadians are relatively safe, one may want to keep an eye on those Germans. Because somehow it makes sense that a tiny fraction of the NSA's homeland espionage "introverts" may be furloughed, but a whopping 75% of the ACC civilians are now forced to sit at home, twiddling their thumbs. There is a silver lining though: drone command crews have also been grounded which means America's spreading of US moral superiority and liberating of various natural resource assets around the world by remote control, may be paused.
In addition to squadrons set to deploy, ACC squadrons that train F-22 Raptor, MC-12 Liberty and the command's various drone crews will remain airborne. Of ACC's 10,000 civilians, 7,500 are at home. Given the fact that the command is still providing fighters, bombers and spyplanes around the globe, it may have to find a way to bring some of these people back to work if the shutdown continues for too long.
"There continues to be a high demand for combat airpower during the shutdown, and unfortunately we have fewer people supporting only moderately reduced operations," said Sholtis. "Should the current shutdown persist, we may need to bring additional personnel back to work in order to continue to support operational requirements."
Mountain Home AFB is not the only one to be impacted. As BND reports, Scott Air Force Base in Illinois is also feeling the brunt:
More than 3,400 civilian workers were sent home Tuesday on unpaid furlough from the air base as a result of the partial government shutdown that took effect at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday.
About 1,800 civilian workers, whose work is deemed mission critical, showed up for work, but won't be paid the money they are owed until the shutdown ends.
A reduction in training hours caused by the government shutdown led the 126th Air National Guard Refueling Wing on Tuesday to ground its eight KC-135 Air Stratotankers for the time being, according to Col. Pete Nazamis, the wing commander.
Since Congress has not passed a 2014 fiscal year budget, "right now we don't have any flying hours, so we can't even do training sorties because there's no budget, there's no appropriation," Nezamis said. "We can't fly just normal training missions every day because we don't have an appropriation for training for this fiscal year. ... All training has been terminated until further notice."
Also as a result of the goverment shutdown, the wing gave unpaid furloughs to about 200 civilian employees Tuesday morning. As with other units at the base, exemptions were made for nearly 108 fulltime fulltime national guard members deemed critical to the wing mission, Nezamis said.
However, the KC-135s may be deployed to fly critical missions to support national security, "then we could be asked to fly in support of contingency operations or critical missions, things like that," he said.
Well, if anyone ever needed a window of opportunity to attack the US, be it the US "allies" in the failed attempt to overthrow the Syrian government or the domestic, tea-party types, or if the media needed a credible narrative in which to frame just such an event, now is the perfect time.
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