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Federal budget cuts to ground one-third of Air Force aircraft

A top general says federal budget cuts that will ground one-third of the U.S. Air Force's active-duty force of combat planes including fighters and bombers means "accepting the risk that combat airpower may not be ready to respond immediately to new contingencies as they occur."

Gen. Mike Hostage, commander of Air Combat Command at Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia, issued the warning Tuesday as the Pentagon braces for more effects of the automatic spending cuts triggered by the lack of a budget agreement in Washington.

Hostage said that only the units preparing to deploy to major operations, such as the war in Afghanistan, will remain mission-ready. Other units would stand down on a rotating basis.

For affected units, the Air Force says it will shift its focus to ground training.