Concerns over Navy’s readiness raised at congressional hearing

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WAVY) — At the same time that two F/A-18F Super Hornets went down off the coast of Cape Hatteras Thursday, lawmakers in Washington were meeting with the Navy to talk about readiness.

Republican Congressman Randy Forbes, who chaired the joint Seapower-Readiness hearing, said it is not clear yet what caused the crash and an investigation is ongoing. All crew members survived.

In the meantime, Forbes said he is concerned about what he heard about the Navy’s preparedness as a whole.

“If we were in a fight today, in a major conflict around the globe, only one out of four of the Navy’s strike fighters would be able to be in that fight. The rest of them, it would take as much as a year to get them ready to be in that fight,” Forbes said he learned from the Navy.

Capt. Randy Stearns, Commodore of the Navy’s Strike Fighter Wing Atlantic, testified that the Navy has frequently been forced to take parts from planes to fix other ones, a process known as cannibalization.

“Our Super Hornets, we’ve had parts problems over the past few years, starting in 2012 with sequestration, and there was some other factors that played into that as well, but we’ve never caught up,” he said.

Republican Del. Scott Taylor of Virginia Beach, who is running against Forbes in the race for Virginia’s second congressional district, agreed that readiness is a problem. He said it has been a problem for several years.

“We have to repeal sequestration and deal with it in a way that actually does targeted cuts to reduce the budget, not things that we don’t need, not indiscriminate cuts, which is really hurting this military and hurting our national security,” he said.

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