In early 2018, the Air Force will decide whether to expand an experiment that offers pilots longer assignments in an effort to retain them.
In September, the Air Force said it would allow some experienced active duty 11F fighter pilots and 12F weapon systems officers to serve three more years in their current assignments under the voluntary Second Assignment In-Place program.
Brig. Gen. Mike Koscheski, the head of the Aircrew Crisis Task Force that is focused on correcting the pilot shortfall affecting the force, expected fewer than 100 officers would take part in the initial pilot program.
But after the program’s first four months — right around January — the Air Force will take a look at how the program is working, how many officers accepted the extension, and whether any changes need to be made to the program. The Air Force also will decide then whether to broaden the program to other pilots.
Koscheski said that officials studying the pilot retention problem have frequently heard about the need for more stability in their lives — such as when officers have families and children in school that they would prefer not to uproot every three years or so.
To be eligible, the pilots or WSOs must be either lieutenant colonels or lieutenant colonel-selects with at least 17 years of service, or majors passed over for promotion with at least 14 years of service. They also must be serving at one of 16 wings, squadrons or groups under Air Education and Training Command, Air Combat Command or Air Force Materiel Command.
Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter for Defense News. He previously covered leadership and personnel issues at Air Force Times, and the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare at Military.com. He has traveled to the Middle East to cover U.S. Air Force operations.