12/12/11 — Commander comments on F-15E team cut

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Commander comments on F-15E team cut

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on December 12, 2011 1:46 PM

More than a week after Air Combat Command officials cut the majority of its air show acts -- including the 4th Fighter Wing's F-15E Demonstration Team -- Seymour Johnson Air Force Base officials are breaking their silence.

But installation Commander Col. Patrick Doherty chose not to look at the announcement as a black eye for the Strike Eagle community.

If anything, it presents an opportunity to thank those who have represented the 4th for their commitment to telling stories of sacrifice that date back more than 20 years.

"I personally want to thank the team for their professionalism, attention to detail and the pride to perform and sacrifice their time away from their families as they traveled across America and the globe to recruit and build partnerships," Doherty said. "Team Seymour has a lot to be proud of when it comes to the F-15E Strike Eagle Demonstration team. They ... were incredible ambassadors in blue."

Air Force officials confirmed Dec. 1 that the Seymour Johnson-based demonstration team, in light of continuing federal budget woes, was among several being cut from the 2012 air show season -- the East and West Coast A-10 and F-16 teams were also put on the chopping block, leaving only the F-22 Demonstration Team and Thunderbirds to represent, and recruit for, today's airmen.

Reducing the number of single-ship teams -- a single-ship team is a team that consists of only one aircraft displaying its capabilities -- would allow for the reallocation of more than 900 sorties to fighter wings, a move that would maximize flying hours for combat readiness training and provide an increase in more than 25 combat-ready fighter pilots.

"That's a very good thing for our nation and wise stewardship of our limited resources," a statement from Air Combat Command read.

And while countless fighter pilots and weapon systems officers told the News-Argus that going to an air show and watching jets fly was a turning point for them -- that it sold them on a future in the skies and if demonstration teams are cut, the move could impact recruiting -- those who made the cuts said they were not concerned.

"The opportunity to showcase our aircrew at air shows around the country is important, and we're confident our Thunderbirds, F-22 Demonstration Team and the Air Force Heritage Flight Foundation will continue highlighting the extraordinary work of all our airmen," the statement read.