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Sequestration Grounds B-1 Training Flights

B-1 Bombers won’t be taking to the skies on training missions over the summer.

The bombers stationed at Ellsworth Air Force Base are grounded  due to sequestration cuts.  

As tensions escalate in North Korea, base officials say the grounding reduces their ability to respond quickly to a call of action.

SDPB’s Charles Michael Ray has this story.

Colonel Kevin Kennedy is the 28th Bomb Wing Commander at Ellsworth Air Force Base.   He’s says the funds saved by cutting back on training hours will be used to maintain other resources that are assigned to combat.  Kennedy says cutting back on B-1 training over the next six months will mean some pilots will lose their flight qualification and the overall B-1 fleet will take longer to gear up for combat down the road.   

“Bottom line though is this something that we need to do to continue to be ready for the fight down range.  We need to make sure we don’t hollow-out our force and that when you say a squadron is combat ready it’s combat ready," says Kennedy. 

The Air Force is cutting 45-thousand training hours nationwide.   Base officials say so far this year B-1's have flown 180 hours per month.   They add that on average it costs over $14-thousand dollars per hour to fly a B-1 in fuel alone.  The total average cost per B-1 flight hour is over $43-thousand dollars. Officials say this number includes fuel, parts, flight crew, maintenance, and other costs.