Faced with multiple deployments overseas and an airline industry on a hiring binge, fewer Air Force pilots are staying and have created a growing crisis for the nation’s air power.
The Air Force says it’s about 2,000 pilots short – out of a total force of about 23,000 — of the number it needs to carry out the United States’ security demands.
The service branch significantly pumped up aviation bonuses and promised pilots a reduction in administrative tasks not related to flying, but the numbers keep decreasing and have left Air Force leaders scrambling.
Commercial airlines, facing their own aviator shortages as aging pilots retire and the demand for air travel rises, have snatched some of the nation’s most seasoned military aviators into flying Boeing 767s instead of F-15s.
The “greatest problem” is within the ranks of fighter pilots — the Air Force says its short about 1,300 on active duty, in the Air National Guard and the Air Force Reserve, said Air Force spokeswoman Erika Yepsen.
The “greatest negative trends” between 2016 and 2017 surfaced in the bomber and mobility pilots ranks, she added. The Air Force did not immediately release shortfall numbers in those categories.
The shortage of pilots flying manned aircraft has reached about 1,800 while the remaining shortfall of 200 or so fly drones, according to Yepsen. (end of excerpt)
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