While the Air Force has put money back into its flying hour accounts for the remainder of the fiscal year, time will be the critical factor in getting the units that stopped flying in April combat-capable once again, said Adm. Sandy Winnefeld, the Joint Chiefs vice chairman. “What I can tell you is that if you take one of these squadrons that hasn’t been flying at all, it’s gonna take anywhere from one to three months for them to bring their proficiency back up just in terms of basic airmanship skills,” Winnefeld told the Senate Armed Services Committee on July 18 in response to questioning from Ranking Member Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.). It will take another three months beyond that for the units to get their combat skills up to standard, said Winnefeld. He said he would provide Inhofe with the monetary costs associated with the retraining of these units, for the record.
Just days after Air Mobility Command cleared the KC-46 to start refueling Air Force F-15s and F-16s, a tanker from the 22nd Air Refueling Wing completed the Pegasus’ first Tanker Airlift Control Center-tasked F-16 Coronet, flying from Naval Station Rota, Spain, across the Atlantic.