Norfolk, Va. – Air Wing 7 on the USS Eisenhower and Air Wing 1 on the USS Theodore Roosevelt are set to have their flight hours cut in half, and Admiral Ted Branch says that will make the Navy less prepared.
Naval Air Force Atlantic is cutting the flight hours to just 11 hours per month for those two air wings.
“We’ll have a reduction in readiness, because we will have some air wings at tactical hard deck, and that will have an impact on those squadrons’ readiness,” Branch said.
Rear Admiral Branch says he worries about the long term effects, grounding pilots means fewer of them will hit bench marks and won’t be as skilled.
“That’s not training to the war-fighting mission, that’s essentially just safe operations of the airplane.” Branch said.
There were concerns that Navy-wide four air wings would be shut down.
Rear Admiral Branch says that’s still a possibility, one he is hoping to avoid.
“You really start seeing some significant readiness degradations and the rule of thumb is it costs about three times as much to bring that air wing back as it would have to maintain the profile,” Branch said.
Moving the pilots to 11 hours a month saves the Navy two million dollars each month