We face significant fiscal constraints and are making tough decisions about the best ways to continue providing combat airpower to warfighting commanders, which is what we do as the Air Force’s primary force provider.
One decision we’ve made is to sponsor one single-ship demonstration team for the 2012 air show season, scaling back from the six teams we’ve historically sponsored – A-10 East & West, F-16 East & West, F-15E and F-22.
For the 2012 season, we’re sponsoring our F-22 demonstration team to perform at up to 20 shows. In addition to the F-22 demonstration team, the Thunderbirds are set to complete a full season next year, and their schedule will be announced next week at the International Council of Air Shows conference.
Reducing the number of single-ship demonstration teams will allow us to reallocate more than 900 sorties to our wings so they can maximize their flying hours for combat readiness training, offsetting some of the reduction we’ve seen in flying hours. Most importantly, reallocating those sorties will provide an increase in more than 25 combat-ready fighter pilots – that’s a very good thing for our Nation and wise stewardship of our limited resources.
The opportunity to showcase our aircrew at air shows around the country is important – and we’re confident our Thunderbirds, F-22 demonstration team and the Air Force Heritage Flight Foundation will continue highlighting the extraordinary work of all our Airmen.
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