WASHINGTON — The Air Force Chief of Staff said he has concerns with plans to trim the fleet’s total flight hours by 10 percent in fiscal 2008, and told Congress he may re-examine the cost-cutting move.

“I’m on the verge of not being comfortable with this, and I’ve asked our folks to look at ways to get some of that money back,” Gen. Michael Moseley told members of the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday.

“We have a variety of simulators, some of them are really magnificent, some of them are just procedural trainers. But the notion that you can substitute simulator time for flying time … in my view, this reaches the limit.”

The reduction of about 200,000 flight hours, resulting in a projected savings of $428 million, will come from training exercises and not affect any missions or current operations, officials said.

Moseley and Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne said the moves will help preserve the service’s current aircraft — the average age of the planes is nearly 25 years, Wynne said — and also save money to help pay for the future fleet.

Wynne said at least part of the reduction is connected to the force’s planned personnel reductions next year. The budget plans drop the active duty end strength by 5,600 to 328,000 and the reserve by 7,400 to 67,500.

But Moseley said that won’t account for most of the reduction, and will cut into air time for many pilots’ training.

“The simulator business is interesting, but at the end of the day, it’s a simulator,” Moseley said. “You have to actually be able to fly the planes.”

The service officials said they will be studying the long-term impact of reduced training this summer.

In addition, Wynne said they’ll look at increases in the Army and Marine Corps end strengths and if that will require the Air Force to rethink plans to reduce the force to 316,000 active airmen by 2010, if those services will continue to need additional transport and combat support.

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