US Air Force facing pilot shortage - Newschannel 6 Now | Wichita Falls, TX

US Air Force facing pilot shortage

Pilot numbers are down by nearly 1100 Pilot numbers are down by nearly 1100

WICHITA FALLS, TX (KAUZ) -- The Air Force is facing a shortage of fighter pilots, down by nearly 1,100.

Sheppard Air Force Base trains nearly 300 fighter pilots per year.

Lut. Con. Matthew Manning, tells me the air force depends on them heavily to train these future pilots.

“The Air Force is really dependent on us producing our pilots, getting them on time and getting them graduated on time so that we can get them to the combat Air Force, to be able to do the nations mission,” said Manning.

The shortage has been a concern for nearly a year, with much of the issue being pilot retention.

The Air Force Times reported last month Congress is poised to boost the maximum annual pilot retention bonus to $35,000 but is still short of the $48,000 the Air Force says is necessary to keep fighter pilots from leaving to fly for commercial airlines

Plus the US isn't the only country relying on Sheppard AFB to help train future fighter pilots.

Manning said other branches of the military are facing a similar challenge.

As airline pilots retire, their replacements must have at least 1,500 flight hours, making the military a fertile recruiting ground for commercial airlines, who for now can offer much larger paychecks.

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