Air Guard Potentially Grounding Large Fleet Portion

The Air National Guard is facing the likelihood that it will ground or significantly reduce flying hours on a large portion of its fleet by week’s end, except for “critical wartime missions,” according to the National Guard Bureau. Several sources told the Daily Report that the budget continuing resolution and impending cuts from budget sequestration were about to force the Air Guard to cancel flying hours on all but essential missions if no progress occurred on budget negotiations. Barring any late night deals on Thursday, the sequester kicks in on Friday, March 1. NGB spokeswoman Rose Richeson told the Daily Report that Air Guard funding in the CR, which expires on March 27, “greatly underfunded” flying hours and did not account for the ANG’s front-loaded depot maintenance schedule in Fiscal 2013. That’s because the CR appropriates at the levels in the President’s original Fiscal 2013 defense spending request and does not factor the changes made to that original request in this fiscal year’s enacted defense authorization legislation, she said on Feb. 27. The Air Guard has identified cost-saving measures and will operate a reduced number of fully mission-capable and partially mission-capable aircraft “by the end of this week,” said Richeson. The most critical missions, such as aerospace control alert, search and rescue, airborne firefighting systems, and pre-deployment activities, will continue to operate, however, she noted.