Editor’s Note: We’ve been talking a lot about budget woes across the Department of Defense recently. On the Air Force side of the house, F-35 and the A-10 have been hot topics of discussion, while the Navy side is dealing with some of its own JSF issues, as well as the UCLASS. Now, as part of the FY 2017 budget request, an entire Carrier Air Wing–CVW-14–is on the chopping block. Very tough times in our military, ladies and gentlemen.

The fleet is losing one of its 10 carrier air wings this fall, and with it thousands of personnel and dozens of aircraft will be scattered to plus-up the rest of the fleet. If the 2017 budget plan is approved, the carrier air wing will begin its shutdown in October, Navy spokesman Lt. j.g. Kara Yingling told Navy Times.

The one to go is Carrier Air Wing 14, based out of Naval Air Station Lemoore, California, which hasn’t deployed since 2011 or been fully staffed since 2013. Squadrons have rotated in and out since then, Naval Air Forces spokeswoman Cmdr. Jeannie Groeneveld told Navy Times.

Navy To Lose Entire Carrier Air Wing in FY 2017!
HSC-15 Seahawk. (Courtesy of seaforces.org)

The ones that will leave the wing are:

  • Strike Fighter Squadron 15 out of Naval Air Station Oceana. It’s the Navy’s oldest legacy F/A-18 Hornet squadron, and the aircraft could end up at training squadrons or in the reserve, Groeneveld said, after the squadron shuts down.
  • Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 112 at Naval Base Ventura, California, to shutter in fiscal 2017.
  • Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 15 out of Naval Station North Island, California, slated to be disbanded in fiscal 2017.
  • Electronic Attack Squadron 134 at Whidbey Island, Washington. This squadron will not deactivate, but will become a land-based expeditionary squadron that will deploy with detachments, Groeneveld said.
  • Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 76, which cancels the planned 2017 stand-up of the squadron in Jacksonville, Florida.

The squadrons were chosen based on where they were in their training cycles, their transitions to newer airframes and which coast they were on, with respect to the strategic rebalance, Groeneveld said.

For naval aviation, she added, it means less dwell time in deployment cycles, because there won’t be an extra wing for a carrier that won’t deploy.

“As carriers go through availabilities, we’re not going to see a squadrons’ readiness go down in the meantime,” she said.

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The decision to do away with the Navy’s tenth CVW was based on several factors, Yingling said: Efficiency from the Optimized Fleet Response Plan, predictable carrier maintenance schedules, increased training phase readiness and fiscal constraints.

“Where applicable, the aircraft will be redistributed within existing squadrons in order to support enduring fleet requirements,” she said.

Shutting down CVW-14 could make a small dent in the Navy’s F/A-18 gap, if the serviceable aircraft are sent to other active squadrons.

Right now, the gap means fewer flying hours during the basic and maintenance phases of the training cycle, air warfare director Rear Adm. Mike Manazir told Navy Times in November.

The 2017 budget proposal lays out a plan to buy 16 more F/A-18E/F Super Hornets — two in 2017 and 14 in 2018, a big bump considering last year’s budget asked for none.

The original article from the Navy Times can be viewed here.

(Featured photo courtesy of Wikipedia)