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​Pentagon acquisition chief Frank Kendall gives the keynote address at AFA's Air & Space Conference in National Harbor, Md., on Sept. 17 2014. Staff photo by Kristina Parrill.

The Air Force “has taken too many blows already” to its readiness due to budget instability, said Pentagon acquisition chief Frank Kendall on Wednesday. “The men and women of the US Air Force have coped with all of these challenges with remarkable grit, ingenuity, and dedication,” he said at AFA’s Air & Space Conference in National Harbor, Md. “But there are limits to what we can ask airmen … to do with quick fixes and stopgap measures. They deserve better. You deserve better,” he said to the airmen and guests assembled for his keynote address. If budget sequestration returns in Fiscal 2016, the Air Force’s readiness would continue to erode, eating into traditional advantages the service has enjoyed over potential opponents, such as giving its fighter pilots more time in the cockpit for training each year, he said. “Today, even with temporary relief from sequestration, a constrained budget leaves most of our fighter pilots flying an average of 160 training hours per year, about half the hours they flew a decade ago,” said Kendall. “Their Chinese and Russian counterparts, meanwhile, are moving to the opposite direction, some averaging more than 100 hours a year, and elite squadrons flying up to 200,” he said.