HAMPTON - The stalemate over the budget has forced Langley Air Force Base to cancel its hugely popular air show.
In a release Friday, officials said cancelling the May Air Power Over Hampton Roads Open House and Air Show was "driven by the dual threat of operating under a continuing resolution and a potential sequestration,"
“The Air Force has to consider the fiscal challenges affecting the Department of Defense and the nation,” said Col. Korvin Auch, 633rd Air Base Wing commander. “We’re taking prudent steps now in order to be good stewards of taxpayer resources while focusing on maintaining readiness.”
The show was scheduled for May 3-5 in Hampton and the US Air Force Thunderbirds, the service's premier demonstration team, was to headline the show. The event is designed to showcase the Air Force's weapons systems, aircraft and missions.
City of Hampton spokeswoman Robin McCormick called the decision a disappointment.
“It's an extremely popular event for thousands of families. However, we understand the Air Force's fiscal realities. With sequestration looming and uncertain budgets, of course they have to focus on military readiness over an air show,” she told WVEC.com
“Frankly, if sequestration happens, the economic impact of other cuts could hit Hampton much harder.”
Even if Congress agrees to a budget, the show will not go on.
"Unfortunately, the decision will stand regardless. Due to timing and budget concerns, there are some decisions we had to make now and this is the most prudent resolution for us," spokesman Michael E. Martin told WVEC.com.
Langley AFB is the oldest continuously active air base in the US.
The cancellation is a second blow to the Peninsula economy. Earlier this month, the Navy delayed the scheduled overhaul of USS Abraham Lincoln at Newport News Shipyard. The carrier was due at the yard on Feb. 14.
Gov. Bob McDonnell spokes Paul Logan told WVEC.com,"This is an unfortunate consequence of what has become an inexcusable continuing trend in Washington. The governor has been clear in sounding the alarm that sequestration is a direct threat to our economic recovery, and to the jobs of thousands of Virginians. As today’s announcement makes clear, the threat of sequestration along with the uncertainty surrounding future budgets represents a dual impact. This uncertainty prevents localities and the services from prudently and strategically planning for our defense and for future development. The President and Congress must come together to provide financial certainty to our federal agencies and ensure that sequestration does not take effect; what we are seeing now is only the beginning of the devastating financial impact that the implementation of sequestration would have on our state and our nation."
The potential for the automatic cuts, called a sequester, to kick in on March 1 is the result of Congress' failure to trim the deficit by $1.2 trillion over a decade.
The Pentagon faces a $46 billion budget reduction in the seven months starting in March and ending in September, and additional cuts would come in future years as long as the sequester remains in effect. The automatic cuts would be in addition to a $487 billion reduction in defense spending over the next 10 years mandated by the Budget Control Act passed in 2011.
Associated Press contributed to this report.