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Anonymous
Anonymous asked in Politics & GovernmentMilitary · 2 months ago

Why is becoming a fighter pilot so competitive if the Air Force has such a shortage of pilots?

Every time I look at military news, I see the Air Force complaining that it is grossly undermanned in pilot slots and the problem is only growing, and yet, I am also told that becoming a fighter pilot is extremely competitive and there are very few slots available to college/academy grads. Apparently this problem also permeates Reserves and National Guard. Can someone explain this to me?

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  • ?
    Lv 6
    2 months ago
    Favorite Answer

    As many people have written in answer, the standards are high and are not lowered to any degree.  So the intake is from the AF Academy and AFROTC with a small addition from OTS applicants. What people didn't mention is the outgo from officers completing their initial obligation and those not completing a career but just going into civilian life at some point.

    • Rowan2 months agoReport

      That makes the most sense. The basic standards are simple (not easy). OCS, degree, grades, etc. But I guess the problem lies in the fact that not enough qualified/experienced pilots are sticking around

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  • 2 months ago

    Technical complexity. EXAMPLE: After graduation from college (or USAF Acedemy) it is going to take 3 more years of aviation academics and flight training before a pilot is assigned to a unit flying F-106s

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    GB

    Major, Squadron Commander, 42nd Bomb Wing, 2nd Air Force, Strategic Air Command (SAC), US Air Force, 1960-74

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  • Daniel
    Lv 7
    2 months ago

    The shortage isn't just in total pilots.  The Air Force categorizes its manpower by year groups.  So, they aren't just short overall, they are short in mid-career and late-career pilots, a probably that can't be fixed quickly by running people through UPT.

    Speaking of running people through UPT, they only have the capacity to produce a certain number of new pilots each year.  In order to make pilots, you need instructor pilots.  If you add to the number of IPs, then you are taking them out of the cockpits of fighters, bombers, tankers, and cargo planes to do so.  

    Also, there aren't 'very few' slots available to Academy grads.  527 out of 989 members of the Class of 2019 went to pilot training. I haven't found numbers on the class of 2020, but from what I've seen, the majority of PQ cadets are getting pilot slots.  

    • Daniel
      Lv 7
      2 months agoReport

      Also, the shortage is across the boards for all types of pilots.

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  • 2 months ago

    because they cannot find enough people to meet the standards that they have for fighter pilots

    the standards are not gonna change-- its better to not have enough pilots than to let unqualified people be pilots

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  • Anonymous
    2 months ago

    Personally I think become a pilot is like learning to operate a vehicle. But big picture, these guys/girls will one day become the wing commanders and generals, so I would think you’d select your best officers for this role. 

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  • 2 months ago

    Because wanting to be a pilot and being   QUALIFIED to be a pilot are two different things. 

    yeah   everybody wants to fly jets, Sir !  but it helps if you meet even the basic requirements. 

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  • Squid
    Lv 7
    2 months ago

    Because it is competitive against the standards, not against other applicants.

    There are not enough applicants who meet the standards.

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  • 2 months ago

    Part of it is the sheer difficulty of "making the cut" because of the mental acuity and physical fitness involved. 

    A Navy fighter pilot once described the demands as being like "having to solve rapid-fire calculus problems while playing the piano on your back with an 80 lb. weight on your chest...knowing that one error will cost you your life."

    Another part reveals a difference in mindset between our military and those of other nations that boils down to "quality vs. quantity."  Our military focuses on achieving victory with decisive strikes supported by superior technology.  Other nations focus on victory through attrition supported by superior numbers armed with mass-produced weaponry.

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  • Mrsjvb
    Lv 7
    2 months ago

    They don’t lower standards just because they need slots filled.  

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