NELLIS AFB, Nev. — In response to sequestration actions, the Air Force and Air Combat Command officials have canceled aerial demonstration team performances to include the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds past April 1.
This decision enables ACC to reallocate flying hours to combat readiness training, which will enable more sorties for combat readiness and deployment commitments, ensuring strategic air defense forces are ready to meet the challenges of peacetime air sovereignty and wartime air defence.
The Thunderbirds were scheduled to perform more than 60 demonstrations at 38 locations between March and November, demonstrating the capabilities of Airmen and supporting Air Force recruiting efforts.
Lieutenant Col. Greg Moseley, U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron commander/leader, said the squadron’s mission will continue, even though the 130-person team will not be travelling after March.
“Sequestration temporarily limits our ability to travel, but it doesn’t stop us from reaching out within our community to tell the Air Force story,” said Moseley. “We still have an obligation to educate people about our great Air Force and the incredible things our Airmen do.”
The Thunderbirds will increase focus on engaging local high schools and universities, supporting Air Force recruiting priorities. They also plan to increase support to the 99th Air Base Wing’s community relations program at Nellis AFB. “We’ve always had a robust community relations effort; until this issue is resolved, we’ll continue to engage the public as best we can,” Moseley added.
Details about when the team will resume performances after April 1 are unclear. In the meantime, pilots will take every opportunity to train in an effort to maintain their proficiency within the limits of sequestration. Moseley said the intent is to ensure the squadron is ready to resume demonstrations the moment sequestration is rescinded.