Fixing the Fighter Pilot Shortage

The Air Force is taking a three-pronged approach to address the growing shortage of fighter pilots, said Col. Jason Cockrum, the operations, plans, and requirements [AF/A3] director of staff. Speaking at the annual Weapons and Tactics Conference at Nellis AFB, Nev., Cockrum said USAF is working to reduce requirements for fighter pilots, increase retention among those pilots already serving, and increase the production of new fighter pilots. But that’s not an easy task. “Our problem is capacity. It’s how do we get the throughput up to produce the number of pilots we want. It’s a supply and demand problem,” said Lt. Gen. Chris Nowland, AF/A3 deputy chief of staff. “Air Education and Training Command is working hard on this problem, but it’s not something that can change overnight. There is a lot of infrastructure associated with it and the problem becomes complicated as you consider how to man to the increased capacity that we want to build.” The Air Force is expected to be short a total of 750 fighter pilots by the end of Fiscal 2016—up significantly from the fighter pilot deficit of 511 at the end of FY2015, states the release.

For more on the pilot shortage, read Pilot Shortage Back with a Vengeance from the August 2016 issue of Air Force Magazine.