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Washington (AFP) – The US Air Force will ground all of its aircraft for a day while it conducts a safety review following a series of deadly accidents, officials said Tuesday. 

Active duty wings and their maintainers can choose when to conduct the stand-downs, though they must do so by May 21. 

Pilots and crews in combat areas will be given longer.

“I am directing this operational safety review to allow our commanders to assess and discuss the safety of our operations and to gather feedback from our Airmen who are doing the mission every day,” Chief of Staff of the Air Force General David Goldfein said.

The US military has been beset by a series of air accidents and crashes in recent years, and the rise has been shown to correlate with budget cuts introduced in 2013.

The most recent incident occurred May 2, when a Hercules WC-130 cargo plane belonging to the Puerto Rico Air National Guard crashed in the southern state of Georgia, killing all nine people on board. 

The Air Force insists that, overall, it is seeing fewer mishaps but says 18 pilots and crewmen have been killed since October 1.

During the safety review, senior officials will gather feedback from airmen and ask them to identify issues that may cause a future mishap, the Air Force said.

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