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Air Force grounds 17 squadrons amid cuts

April 9, 2013 at 4:06 PM

WASHINGTON, April 9 (UPI) -- The Air Force said it has clipped the wings of more than a dozen fighter squadrons as part of its response to strict budget cuts known as the sequester.

The squadrons, mostly stationed in Europe and not tied directly to ongoing missions in the Middle East or North Africa, will see greatly reduced flying time. The Air Force's budget for flying hours was reduced by $591 million for the remainder of fiscal year 2013, Stars and Stripes said.

That led Gen. Phillip Breedlove to prioritize squadrons supporting the French military intervention in Mali and standing missions in Afghanistan over other squadrons stationed in Europe.

"We will be able to keep [North Africa squadrons] in the appropriate mission readiness for a much longer time," he said.

Defense News obtained documents that show 17 squadrons are being grounded through September, eliminating more than 44,000 flying hours.

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