A member of the U.S. Air Force stands in front of an F-22 Raptor at Seoul Airport in South Korea, on Oct. 19, 2015. The Air Force says it faces an imminent shortfall of 700 pilots by the end of 2016. SeongJoon Cho Bloomberg
McClatchy: U.S. Air Force laments that it’s short of pilots
WASHINGTON: The U.S. Air Force faces a shortfall of 700 fighter pilots by the end of the year and as many as 1,000 pilots within a few years, Air Force officials said Wednesday.
“It is a crisis,” said Gen. David Goldfein, the Air Force chief of staff. “Air superiority is not an American birthright. It’s actually something you have to fight for and maintain.”
Aggressive hiring by commercial airlines has helped thin the ranks of Air Force pilots, and lengthy deployments overseas, long separations from family and reduced flying time when back on U.S. soil have exacerbated the problem, Goldfein said.
But Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James said legislators on Capitol Hill, locked in partisan gridlock, shouldered part of the blame. She said lawmakers had failed to approve military budget requests that would increase retention bonuses for fighter pilots, which have been at $25,000 a year since 1999, to $35,000 a year.
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More News On The U.S. Air Force Facing A Pilot Shortage
U.S. Air Force struggling to fill a shortage of 700 fighter pilots -- CBS/AP
Air Force: Service will be short 1000 fighter pilots -- Stars and Stripes
US Air Force facing bigger pilot shortage than thought -- CNN
Air Force chief says pilot shortage is a 'crisis' -- Washington Examiner
Stretched US Air Force faces fighter shortage -- AFP