Air Force announces pilot bonus tiers

KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft commander and pilot Maj. Joe, left, and co-pilot 1st Lt. Scott fly the aircraft and maintain radio communications throughout their refueling mission on March 24, 2016, in support of the air campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Crewmembers could not be identified by their full names for security reasons.


By TARA COPP | STARS AND STRIPES Published: June 5, 2017

WASHINGTON — Air Force pilots who are eligible will receive an extra $10,000 to $35,000 annually for staying in the service, the Air Force announced Monday.

Bonuses will be determined using a tier system, with fighter pilots receiving the highest amounts. Air Force leadership hopes the additional pay will help persuade pilots to remain in the service.

The Air Force has said it needs more than 1,200 fighter pilots. More so, Air Mobility Command, which flies military tanker and cargo aircraft, is short 300 pilots, its commander said earlier this year.

“We hope this new approach will make it easier for more airmen to stay in the service,” Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said. “The country needs them.”

However, pay is only one factor cited by pilots who have chosen to leave the service, the Air Force has said. Pilots have also sought private sector employment for other factors, including limited flight training, the number of additional administrative duties and the amount of time deployed overseas, according to the Air Force.

Air Force leadership met with airline industry executives in May to discuss ways to make it easier for pilots to serve as reservist military pilots and work for commercial airlines. Subsequently, the service announced nonfinancial initiatives, such as reducing the number of administrative tasks pilots were required to do.

Here’s the tier system for pilot bonuses announced Monday by the Air Force. It includes what types of pilots are eligible for retention bonuses and new lengths of terms they can agree to serve. The number of years of a service agreement can affect the amount paid to a pilot.


Twitter: @TaraCopp

Fighter pilot 1-year, 2-year, 5-year, 9-year agreements up to 24 years of service $35,000
Bomber/special operations /mobility pilots 1-year, 2-year, 5-year, 9-year agreements $30,000
Surveillance/combat search and rescue pilot 1-year, 2-year, 5-year agreements $28,000
RPA/drone pilots 5-year agreement $35,000
Combat search and rescue combat systems officers 5-year agreement $20,000
Fighter/bomber combat systems officers 5-year agreement $15,000
Special operations forces/surveillance combat systems officers 5-year agreement $10,000

Source: U.S. Air Force

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