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?
- ?Lv 62 months agoFavorite 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.
- GEORGE BLv 72 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
Major, Squadron Commander, 42nd Bomb Wing, 2nd Air Force, Strategic Air Command (SAC), US Air Force, 1960-74
- DanielLv 72 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.
- jeeper_peeper321Lv 72 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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- Anonymous2 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.
- Weasel McWeaselLv 72 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.
- SquidLv 72 months ago
Because it is competitive against the standards, not against other applicants.
There are not enough applicants who meet the standards.
- u_bin_calledLv 72 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.
- MrsjvbLv 72 months ago
They don’t lower standards just because they need slots filled.