WASHINGTON (AP) — The Navy's Blue Angels and the Air Force's Thunderbirds will be back at air shows across the country through the coming year. But continued budget cuts mean the military won't participate in some 1,000 other community events.
The impact in the Omaha area is not yet clear, Air Force officials said.
The Pentagon plans to spend $129 million in the new budget year on community activities such as Blue Angels and Thunderbirds performances.
That's more than in recent months. Community programs were eliminated midyear over so-called sequestration budget cuts. Because the military precision flying teams were the main draw at many air shows, dozens of shows were canceled across the country.
But the money planned for the budget year that started Oct. 1 is still only 45 percent of the $233 million budgeted in 2012. It will mean the military can attend perhaps 1,000 to 1,500 events, compared with 2,800 in 2012, said Navy Cmdr. Bill Urban, a Defense Department spokesman.
“We are going to be doing most of the same things we did before but doing fewer of everything,” he said Thursday.
Officials at Offutt Air Force still don't know whether the Defenders of Freedom Open House and Air Show — a budget casualty in 2013 — will happen next year.
Last month, the Navy announced that it would be holding Navy Week festivities in the Omaha area next summer, ending with a performance by the Blue Angels at the Offutt air show July 19 and 20.
The announcement surprised the 55th Wing command at Offutt, which puts on the air show each year in August.
The command is still waiting for any official word confirming the Navy's earlier press release, said Delanie Stafford, a 55th Wing spokesman.
While the impact at Offutt remains unclear, Urban said the Pentagon's slimmed-down public relations budget stands to save $1 billion over 10 years.
Each individual service has put together a list of the things it wants to participate in. Those have not been announced.
World-Herald staff writer Steve Liewer contributed to this report.
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