The U.S. Air Force has been tasked with supporting air strikes in combat theaters around the world since the onset of the Global War on Terror 16 years ago, but a growing pilot shortage is placing the branch’s ability to maintain continued combat operations at the same tempo at risk. In order to address this serious dilemma, the Air Force just announced new strategies intended to retain experienced pilots, and even draw qualified pilots back out of retirement to fill mission critical roles. Although there are three different strategies about to be employed, the unifying factor between the three potential solutions to this problem are simple: throw more money at it.
At the end of fiscal year 2016, the U.S. Air Force was a whopping 1,555 pilots short of their required force total. Of those gapped positions, 1,211 of them were for fighter pilots relied upon to provide close air support for troops on the ground, as well as a number of other airborne combat operations. These numbers, frightening as they may appear already, are only expected to grow as fiscal year 2017 winds to a close, leaving America’s aerial warfighting branch scrambling to find a way to stop hemorrhaging skilled aviators.
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