NORFOLK—Sequestration is going to cost the Navy command in charge of all East Coast aviation operations $80 million between now and the end of the fiscal year on September 30, according to Commander of Naval Air Force Atlantic, Rear Admiral Ted Branch.
To compensate, Branch said the plan is to cut flight hours. All non-deploying aviation assets will be placed in what’s called “tactical hard deck status.” This means pilots who normally train 26 hours per month will be slashed to 11, the lowest amount possible in order to maintain minimal safety, but without any tactical training conducted.
“We only have one lever to pull, and that’s the flight hours,” Branch said at Naval Station Norfolk.
Branch acknowledged this change will result in a “degradation” of safety, but within acceptable limits.
“We’ll have a reduction in readiness because we will have some air wings on a tactical hard deck. That will have an impact on those squadrons’ readiness,” he said.
As of right now, no air wings or squadrons have been targeted for being fully shut down, but Branch left that as a possibility going forward in the fiscal year.
Branch said the squadrons and wings will make maximum use of simulators, but he admitted they aren’t as effective as flying. “It’s just not the same thing as the airplane,” he said.