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No Plan to Recall Retired Air Force Pilots, Even with Executive Order

af pilot

By Debbie Gregory.

Despite the fact that President Trump invoked the National Emergencies Act to address the Air Force pilot shortage, Air Force officials have indicated they have no current plans to act on the authority granted to them by the president’s order to increase pilot numbers.

The Air Force needs roughly 20,000 pilots to accommodate its various needs and fly its wide array of aircraft. Roughly 10 percent of its positions remain unfilled.

While appreciative of the leeway granted by the act which allows the Air Force to voluntarily recall up to 1,000 retired aviators for active duty, the Air Force is responding to the pilot shortage with various incentive programs to keep officers in uniform longer.

Incentives such as promotion opportunities and pay bonuses worth up to $350,000 over a 10-year term may help ease the crisis.

But it doesn’t always come down to dollars and cents. Brig. Gen. Mike Koscheski, the Air Force’s Aircrew Crisis Task Force director said that incentives that focus on work-life balance and quality of life are paramount to retention.

“We’re looking to provide more time for the air crew member to have with their family and some work time at home,” said Koscheski.

But Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Senator John McCain, a veteran who was a U.S. Navy pilot during Vietnam, disagrees. A critic of how the Air Force has handled the pilot shortage, Sen. McCain feels the problem is actually linked to a desire to fly and the fact pilots feel they’re grounded far too often due to budget cuts.

“You are addressing this issue of pilot shortage from exactly the wrong direction,” said Sen. McCain. “I talk to too many [pilots] all the time. They say, ‘Senator McCain, all I want to do is fly. I want to be in combat.’ That’s what they’re all about…So this whole idea of trying to outbid the airlines on the keeping people in the Air Force is foolish.”

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Air Force Officials Warn of Fighter Pilot Shortage

fighter

By Debbie Gregory.

Several Air Force officials have reported that the U.S. Air Force is facing a shortage of more than 1,000 fighter pilots.

The acute shortage of fighter pilots could grow even worse, with nearly a third of all jobs becoming vacant in the coming years, senior service officials said.

Lieutenant General James Holmes, the deputy chief of staff for strategic plans and requirements for the Air Force, said only about four experienced fighter pilots are being produced each year. Retention is also a major issue.

The current goal is to try to retain as many pilots as possible in the short term, but there is a lot of completion from commercial airlines who are hiring thousands of fighter pilots.

Air Force Secretary Deborah James is looking to Congress for the ability to boost financial incentives to recruit and keep pilots. She and Gen. David L. Goldfein, the service’s new top officer, attributed the shortfall to a wave of hiring in the commercial airline industry, high demand for air power keeping pilots deployed and away from their families, and a reduction in training while at home prompted by heavy usage and budget constraints.

James and Goldfein said they want to improve pilots’ quality of life and their military service conditions, including training and housing.

The Air Force currently can pay pilots an extra $25,000 per year after they complete their initial service contract, which concludes 10 years from the completion of pilot training, a number that has not been changed in 17 years. The Air Force has proposed an increase to $48,000 per year, and a proposal in the House would boost the figure to $60,000.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Do We Have A Fighter Pilot Shortage?

shortage

By Debbie Gregory.

Several Air Force officials have reported that the U.S. Air Force is facing a shortage of more than 500 fighter pilots. The divide is expected to widen to more than 800 by 2022.

The shortage stems from a reduction in the number of active duty fighter squadrons.

In a written statement, Air Force officials stated that “without these fighter pilots, the Air Force will be very challenged to continue to provide the air supremacy upon which all our other forces depend.,” The statement said the shortage would affect air operations expertise and lead to a “gradual erosion of fighter pilot experience in test and training.”

Lieutenant General James Holmes, the deputy chief of staff for strategic plans and requirements for the Air Force, said only about four experienced fighter pilots are being produced each year.

In the early ‘90s, the Air Force had 100+ squadrons, compared to the current 54.

Holmes said to make up the deficit, the Air Force would likely put new active duty pilots into guard and reserve squadrons to gain experience.

“But ultimately we’re going to have to increase production and we’re going to have to increase absorption so we can fix the problem,” he said.

The current goal is to try to retain as many pilots as possible in the short term, but there is a lot of completion from commercial airlines who are hiring thousands of fighter pilots.

There is also a shortage of drone operators. In Capitol Hill testimony, Gen. Herbert “Hawk” Carlisle said that the Air Force needs approximately 200 more drone pilots in order to adequately carry out current missions. He added that the “remote piloted aircraft enterprise is one that’s in high demand, we are in high demand for fighters as well, we don’t have enough of either.”

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.