FOX NEWS — When it comes to returning a plane to flight, there is no shortage of options.
“Air ForceOne,” the nickname for the first aircraft carrier, is currently in the middle of a media blitz, and many people are talking about its return.
But for now, the Air Force will remain at the helm of the military.
“We’re going to keep doing it the proper way,” Air Force Lt.
Gen. Jeff J. McKeon told Fox News on Tuesday.
“Because we’ve got a lot of aircraft that are in the hangar right now that we can’t get to,” he added, referring to aircraft that have been retired.
“And so, we’ve put together a pretty strong plan, and that plan includes all of the aircraft that we currently have that we’re going forward with, that we’ve been able to do the job of flying with.”
Air Force One has flown over 70,000 flights since being brought to the United States from England in 1961, according to Air Force officials.
“Our plan is to fly in a very controlled environment that we have in the air, which is why we are flying in an airplane hangar,” McKeons remarks were reported by ABC News earlier this month.
“This is an airplane that’s been out there for decades,” he said.
“You don’t get out and fly it in the open air without proper training, so we’ve actually trained our personnel for a long time.
And so that will continue.”
The aircraft, which was retired in February after serving as the only U.S. aircraft carrier since the Navy departed the Navy in the 1960s, is scheduled to undergo extensive maintenance and refurbishment as part of the “Air-to-Air Re-certification” process.
“The aircraft will undergo a complete flight-test process before being released from our hangar and transferred to the Navy,” Airman’s Maintenance Officer Maj. James M. Tackett said on Tuesday’s broadcast.
“During this process, we will be flying the aircraft from the carrier’s homeport of San Diego to our hangar in Hickam, Hawaii.”
This will be the first time in more than 70 years that Air Force planes will be able to fly with the carrier in the sky, as they do now.
The carrier has been in the process of transitioning to a more modern fleet for decades, but this has been the first step toward full-scale re-deployment.
The carrier is currently undergoing extensive maintenance, with the Airman Service and the Air National Guard in the service of the carrier.
“In order to meet the full spectrum of operational requirements, the carrier is also undergoing a full re-certifications program,” Mckeons comments said.
The Air Force has been on a mission to modernize the aircraft since 1961, and the carrier has flown in nearly 100 million hours since then.
The aircraft is also equipped with two new aircraft engines, one of which is capable of delivering up to 3,600 pounds of thrust.
In addition to the two new engines, the airframe is also being overhauled to improve the aircraft’s handling, agility and maneuverability, which are essential to its role as a strike aircraft.
“One of the things we’re doing now is actually making the aircraft more maneuverable in the same way that it would be to go into a real war,” McKEON said.
As part of this process the carrier will undergo additional maintenance.
After a successful flight, the aircraft will be towed to the carrier hangar at Yokota Air Base, Japan, where the Air Service will make the aircraft ready for a final flight test.
The next step for the carrier, Air Force Gen. David Rodriguez said, will be to fly it from the hangar back to its homeport.
Once the carrier returns to the U.K., it will remain in a “continuous” mode, where it can operate for up to 30 days in the skies above England.
The “Air Service will continue to work with the Navy and the Government to ensure that the aircraft is ready to operate and perform as the carrier,” Rodriguez said.