The US Air Force is about 500 fighter pilots under strength, with Air Force officials blaming budget cuts and force reductions.
According to Air Force Times, the Air Force was forced to rebalance their fighter wings in 2012, after severely limited budget parameters forced the USAF to cut 100 aircraft, reducing the number of fighter squadrons to 54, as opposed to the 134 squadrons that existed during the Gulf War.
Unfortunately, the remaining active squadrons do not have enough experienced pilots to produce the results the USAF demands.
“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 statement reads.
One of the reasons the Air Force is having trouble keeping pilots is the recruitment by commercial airlines, who hire about 3,500 fighter pilots a month.
While the USAF is planning to devise a strategy to slow the bleeding of pilots who are leaving the Air Force, the shortage is expected to grow from 500 to 800 by 2022.
Despite this, Air Force officials are planning to set up additional fighter training units, as well as incentive bonuses to keep experienced pilots on active duty or in Air National Guard and Reserve units.
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