The comings and goings of two Joint Base Lewis-McChord Air Force squadrons this week show that local airmen are still at war overseas even as the Pentagon is cutting spending at home.
Lt. Gen. Darren McDew in a visit to the base last week told reporter Christian Hill that flying hours are being cut about 20 percent to help the Air Force control costs this year.
Previously, senior officers told the newspaper Lewis-McChord’s 62nd Airlift Wing was not seeing much of a reduction in training because its crews are constantly deploying to support the war in Afghanistan. Their training is viewed as mission critical.
McDew, commander of the 18th Air Force, said the service could step up its use of virtual programs to make up for some of the lost hours.
“With a 20 percent cut of flying hours across the board, it has had an impact. And what we’ve got to do is figure out how we move forward with those kinds of cuts: where we can economize, where we can take advantage of technology through simulation. But we have to make sure we’re focusing in on the right things,” he said.
Time Magazine’s Battleland blog this week published data on how much it costs to fly different Air Force jets for one hour. The C-17 Globemaster IIIs that make up McChord’s fleet clocked in at $23,811 per hour.
On Sunday, about 60 airmen from the 4th Airlift Squadron left McChord for a two-month assignment supporting the war. This week, about 60 airmen from the 8th Airlift Squadron are coming home.