The U.S. Air Force would see flying hours reduced by 18 percent, readiness drop to “sub-optimal levels” and the service could furlough about 180,000 civilians if Congress allows the “sequestration” cuts to defense spending to kick in next month, according to a presentation from the Air Force to Congress.
The presentation provides the most specific information to date about how the Air Force would be affected if lawmakers fail to agree on how to reduce the deficit by March 1, triggering $500 billion in defense spending cuts over 10 years.
The combination of a projected $1.8 billion in cuts to wartime funding and $12.4 billion for sequestration on top of that would be devastating, according to the presentation.
In total, sequestration would cut about 203,000 flying hours, and that means it would take six months to repair the damage to readiness levels, the presentation says. Civilians could be furloughed for 22 days, translating into a roughly 20 percent loss in bi-weekly pay for each furloughed civilian.
Sequestration would affect more than 30 weapons systems, postpone 146 depot inductions and cause 85 engines to be pulled from service. The cuts would also lead to a 75 percent reduction in the sustainment of the Defense Satellite Communications System, and that would hurt military communications worldwide.
Certain radar sites for missile warning and space surveillance would see operations reduced from 24 to 8 hours per day. Further, the Air Force could not participate with certain missions outside of Afghanistan, such as the continuous bomber presence in the Pacific.
The presentation provides a series of suggestions of what Congress can do to help the Air Force get through the fiscal storm. The final suggestion: “undo sequestration.”
Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, issued a statement calling the Air Force presentation on sequestration “highly troubling news.”
“Sequestration will affect mission readiness and our deployed personnel around the globe. Civilian furloughs will delay systems testing — ultimately increasing end costs to the taxpayer and the amount of time it takes to deliver equipment to our warfighters,” Turner said. “The president’s plan to gamble with our national security has turned out to be a losing bet — one I predicted when voting against sequestration in August of last year. The deficit of leadership from the President and the Senate will ultimately be paid back by those who have already sacrificed so much: our men and women in uniform.”