Budget shortfalls created partly by better-than-expected demands on marine patrol aircraft are forcing the Navy to reduce flight hours for many squadrons on the East Coast, per a naval aviation delegate.
The shortfall, roughly $100 million, will strike helicopter pilots the hardest, with marine strike squadrons and sea combat expeditionary units that assist cruiser and destroyers’ deployments taking a 25% reduction, the official said, talking on condition of anonymity.
Maritime patrol squadrons, test pilots and line air support units will all see a 10% reduction.
Healthy operational demands placed on P-8 marine patrol plane account for the shortfall and will have to be considered for going ahead, the official mentioned.
Flyovers will also be diminished, although earlier scheduled events will go on as decided, the official mentioned.
The reductions to flight hours for the hit squadrons recount the days of budget caps and sequestration which have been in the rearview mirror since President Trump took office and since defense budgets started growing. However, with the U.S. Army focused on great energy competitors, the Navy seems to be running into more problems as it strives to fulfill further demands.
The aircraft carrier Harry Truman is deploying for the third time in four consecutive years, with the latest deployment coming in the same Optimized Fleet Response Plan cycle.
Truman recently came back from a two-part, eight-month deployment, throughout which it operated in the Mediterranean Sea. It returned to Norfolk, Virginia, for maintenance, then went back out once again, an overture toward more random deployment models designed by ex-Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.