Budget cuts ground Air Force, Navy aircraft

BROCK VERGAKIS, AP
Tue Apr 9, 6:46 PM UTC

PENSACOLA NAVAL AIR STATION, Fla. (AP) — The U.S. Navy has canceled the remainder of the elite Blue Angels demonstration team's 2013 season and the Air Force is grounding about a third of its combat force because of federal budget cuts.

The commanders of the Air Force's Air Combat Command and the Navy's air forces announced the moves Tuesday.

The Blue Angels have performed at air shows around the world for more than 60 years. A spokesman for the Navy said team members would be allowed to fly minimal hours to maintain flight proficiency in the F/A-18 fighter jets, but the six-jet squadron would discontinue group practices for the remainder of the season.

The Air Force began grounding about one-third of its active-duty combat aircraft, including squadrons of fighters, bombers and airborne warning and control craft.

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Vergakis reported from Norfolk, Va.