Budget cuts ground Blue Angels, Thunderbirds

Budget cuts ground Blue Angels, Thunderbirds
CNN

POSTED: Wednesday, April 10, 2013 - 12:00am

UPDATED: Wednesday, April 10, 2013 - 12:04am

The nation's best military fliers have had their wings clipped, thanks to the forced spending cuts imposed on the federal government this year.

The U.S. Navy on Tuesday announced it was canceling all the air shows its Blue Angels Flight Demonstration Squadron had scheduled for the rest of the year. The Navy action follows the Air Force's April 1 announcement that its Thunderbirds team would not perform again this year.

"Recognizing budget realities, current Defense policy states that outreach events can only be supported with local assets at no cost to the government," said a statement Tuesday from the office of the Commander Naval Air Forces in San Diego. "This is one of many steps the Navy is taking to ensure resources are in place to support forces operating forward now and those training to relieve them."

The Navy, Air Force and the rest of the federal government must deal with $85 billion in cuts for the rest of fiscal year 2013, which ends September 30, that were mandated by a 2011 agreement by Congress that raised the federal debt ceiling.

The cuts targeted agencies and programs dear to Democrats, such as education, and also went after Republican priorities, including the military.

The Air Force had said earlier this year that air shows can cost bases $100,000.

More than two dozen Thunderbirds performances scheduled for the rest of this year were cut, including an Asian tour.

The Blue Angels had 32 performances left this year. However, several of those, including one originally scheduled for this coming weekend at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi in Texas, had been canceled with the expectation that the budget cuts would force the Navy's hand.

The Navy team had also canceled a performance set for MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida, last weekend.

The next performance still on the schedule would have been at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, on May 22, part of the graduation festivities at the academy.

The Navy said the Blue Angels will continue to train at their base in Pensacola, Florida, for when the budget crunch ends.

"The Navy believes there is value in demonstrating the professionalism and capabilities of our Navy and Marine Corps Naval Aviation team, thus inspiring future generations of Sailors and Marines. The Navy intends to continue aerial demonstrations in the future as the budget situation permits," the service's statement said. 

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