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Lt. Gen. James Holmes, the Air Force deputy chief of staff for strategic plans and requirements, testifies before the Senate Armed Services Airland Subcommitee on March 8, 2016. Screenshot photo.

​The Air Force is “accepting risk in areas we don’t want to,” and in areas that combatant commanders don’t want to, because of budget constraints, Lt. Gen. James Holmes told the Senate Armed Services Airland Subcommittee on Tuesday. “We’re just trying to make the best budget we can,” said Holmes, the Air Force’s deputy chief of staff for strategic plans and requirements. “We don’t have enough money to do all the things you expect the Air Force to do.” Lt. Gen. John Raymond, the Air Force’s deputy chief of staff for operations, told the committee that less than half of the service’s fighter squadrons are “full-spectrum ready.” And Darlene Costello, the Air Force’s acting principal deputy assistant secretary for acquisition and logistics, in a joint statement from Holmes, Raymond, Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch, and herself, said the Air Force is 511 fighter pilots short of its manning requirement. That deficit is projected to grow to about 834 by 2022, she said. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), called the numbers “pretty alarming,” and Raymond agreed. “We’re an Air Force, and we need pilots,” he said.