Air Force faces shortage of fighter pilots: officials
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[March 09, 2016]
By Idrees Ali
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States
Air Force is facing a shortage of more than 500 fighter pilots which is
expected to widen to more than 800 by 2022, Air Force officials said on
The shortage stems from a reduction in the number of active duty
fighter squadrons, according to a statement by several Air Force
officials at a U.S. Senate Armed Services subcommittee hearing.
"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 Air Force officials said in the written
The statement said the shortage would affect air operations
expertise and lead to a "gradual erosion of fighter pilot experience
in test and training."
Speaking with reporters after the hearing, Lieutenant General James
Holmes, deputy chief of staff for strategic plans and requirements
for the Air Force, said the shortage had been caused by a decrease
in the number of squadrons, which produce about four experienced
fighter pilots a year.
There are currently 54 squadrons in the Air Force, compared with
more than 100 fighter squadrons at the time of the Gulf War in
"The remaining active component fighter squadrons do not produce
enough experienced fighter pilots to meet all of the staff, test and
training requirements," the statement added.
Holmes said to deal with the issue, the Air Force would likely put
new active duty pilots into guard and reserve squadrons to gain
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"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
Holmes told lawmakers at the hearing that the Air Force would
provide a plan next year try to retain as many pilots as possible in
the short term.
Lieutenant General John Raymond, deputy chief of staff for
operations, said retention was made difficult by airlines hiring
thousands of fighter pilots.
According to a 2015 study by the Rand Corporation, the Air Force
faced a persistent shortage because there was a gap between the
requirements for a fighter pilot and the Air Force’s capacity to
(Editing by Matthew Lewis)
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