NORFOLK, Va. (AP/WAVY) - The U.S. Air Force said many of its combat air forces would start flying again on Monday after being grounded since April because of budget cuts.
The grounding affected about one-third of active-duty combat aircraft, including squadrons of fighters, bombers, and airborne warning and control craft.
Officials at Air Combat Command at Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia said planes in the U.S., Europe and the Pacific would become airborne again starting Monday. The popular Thunderbirds demonstration team will also be going through training hours. The team will not be flying in any aerial demonstration shows this year, but could participate in limited engagements in 2014.
The Defense Department received authority from Congress to shift about $7.5 billion from lower priority accounts to more vital operations. The Air Force said the restored flying hours represent about $208 million of that allocation authorized by Congress.
The restoration of flying hours will last through Oct. 1.
It wasn't immediately clear whether the Thunderbirds would participate in any of the air shows it was previously scheduled to perform at before its season was canceled. Among others, the team had been scheduled to perform at shows in Milwaukee and Chicago in August.
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