Grounded Seymour Johnson squadron returns to skies
Posted July 18, 2013
Updated July 19, 2013
SEYMOUR JOHNSON AFB — A squadron of F-15 Strike Eagles at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base that was grounded in April because of federal budget cuts resumed operations on Wednesday, officials said.
The 336th Fighter Squadron of the 4th Fighter Wing was ordered to stand down as part of an effort to fly 45,000 fewer training hours through the end of September.
The squadron, known as the World Famous Rocketeers, is one of two operational F-15E units based at Seymour Johnson, near Goldsboro.
“The Rocketeers are excited to be back up and running,” Lt. Col. Jim Howard, 336th Fighter Squadron commander, said in a statement. “We have a significant hill to climb to get the squadron back to our previous readiness level, but the Rocketeers are anxious to get back to doing what we do best – preparing and employing world famous Strike Eagle Airmen and aircraft to execute the missions our country demands."
With no allocated flying hours, the air crews have performed ground training, worked on flight simulators and studied in recent months to maintain basic skills and knowledge of their aircraft.
“Since April we’ve been in a precipitous decline with regard to combat readiness,” said Gen. Mike Hostage, commander of Air Combat Command. “Returning to flying is an important first step, but what we have ahead of us is a measured climb to recovery.”
Congress authorized Air Combat Command to reallocate $1.8 billion to restore flying hours.