the minimum amount of flight hours
needed to keep an aviator current in
type, typically 11 hours of flight time
per aviator per month for most aircraft communities.
Ryan cited a 2009 study by the
Center for Naval Analyses that
concluded that funding 11 flight
hours per month meets baseline
flight proficiency for safety.
“We were able to prioritize de-
ployers for funding [and] the near-
term deployers working up in readi-
ness in FY ’ 13,” Ryan said. “So we
deployed inside of the CNO’s tenets.
We operate forward. We are ready to
fight with those forces that are for-
ward, and those that are building are
going to be at the same readiness
level that we set as a standard.”
As the year progressed, the Navy,
through dogged management of its
funds, managed to keep its 10 carri-
er air wings flying, with two CVWs
— 16 squadrons — reduced to the
“tactical hard deck level for funding,
held to a baseline proficiency as
opposed to a shutdown,” Ryan said.
“It’s easier to recover from tactical
hard deck — and at significantly less
cost — than if you were to shut
down. We maintained the maneuver
room inside of FY ’ 13 to do that.”
Ryan said the squadrons in the two affected CVWs
were in a recovery phase at the end of fiscal 2013 after
a 90-day tactical hard deck period.
The non-carrier squadrons, such as patrol squadrons, were less affected by the sequester, having a
tighter timeline for how they rotate for work-ups and
deployment. Most were already positioned during the
latter half of the fiscal year, but managing their funding
“was a difficult task, nonetheless,” Ryan said.
“We found inside of sequestration some very difficult
maneuvering,” he said. “As the Naval Air Force, [we] flew
almost a half million hours, a success story. We proceeded
in a fashion that kept us at readiness levels fully deployed,
at full strength, and the ashore-based [units], for the most
part, not at any significant handicap.”
Historically, the Navy sometimes experiences a
shortage of flight hours as the end of a fiscal year
approaches, but in 2013 the service managed to avoid
this scenario even with the burden of sequestration.
“In our management of the flight hour program, we
have not come across either wealth or a dearth at the
end of the year,” Ryan said. “As we hit the fourth quar-
ter [of the year], this was closely managed at the indi-
vidual squadron level.”
The Navy also managed to protect its “seed corn” —
its production of new and requalified naval aviation
crews and their qualification in operational aircraft
type in the fleet readiness squadrons. The complexity
of the production requires that the processes be main-
tained at high efficiency.
“When you start to throw a wrench into that program
in terms of anything at all that might slow down that pipe-
line, regaining those pilots and [naval flight officers] that
you may have lost in a backlog is really difficult,” Ryan
said. “So we protected our production pipeline in FY ’ 13.”
The production pipeline included carrier qualifica-
tions for student aviators and those aviators in type
training in fleet readiness squadrons, which the Navy
also was able to sustain in 2013.
The use of simulators to train air crews has spiked
with sequestration’s limit on flight hours, especially
with the squadrons in the two CVWs in the tactical
hard deck mode. Under the Naval Aviation Simulator
17 WWW.SEAPOWERMAGAZINE.ORG SEAPOWER / OCTOBER 2013
An F/A-18E Super Hornet assigned to the Argonauts of Strike Fighter Squadron
147 launches from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz in the Gulf
of Oman Aug. 6. Through dogged management of its funds, the Navy managed
to keep its 10 carrier air wings flying after sequestration went into effect, though
two air wings were reduced to the “tactical hard deck level for funding” that held
them to a baseline proficiency level.