Air Force Raises Fighter Pilot Retention Bonus

Discussion in 'Academy/Military News' started by Stealth_81, Jun 26, 2013.

  1. Stealth_81

    Stealth_81 Super Moderator Moderator Founding Member

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    Air Force Offers $225,000 Bonus to Fighter Pilots

    The Air Force is opening its wallet to keep more fighter pilots for a longer period of time, even as the service faces serious budget cuts that may continue for years.

    About 250 fighter pilots are eligible to receive a $225,000 bonus in exchange for a nine-year commitment under the latest change to the Aviator Retention Pay program, said Lt. Col. Kurt Konopatzke, chief of rated force policy. Pilots can take half the money up front in a lump sum payout of $112,500, minus taxes. The rest is paid out over the nine years of the contract.

    Previously, fighter pilots could only sign up to five-year contracts for bonuses of $25,000 per year, so now they can receive nearly twice the amount of money to stay in the Air Force, Konopatzke said. Other aviators also are eligible for the retention bonus, but for contracts of no more than five years, at up to $25,000 per year for a maximum of $125,000.

    Fighter pilots who have completed 10 years of service after pilot training have until Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year, to decide whether to sign a nine-year contract, Konopatzke said. The Air Force hopes about 162 fighter pilots — 65 percent of those eligible — will take the new option. That would cost the Air Force about $36.675 million, with a payout this fiscal year of $18.337 million.

    The reason the Air Force is being so generous is that it has a current and projected shortage of fighter pilots, Konopatzke said. Last year, the Air Force allowed fighter pilots to take half of their retention bonus up front if they extended their contracts for five years.

    “As we started looking at the data through FY 13 and in the out years, we realized that the shortage hasn’t gone away, and as a matter of fact, as we look at our projections, we think that shortage is going to continue for the next several years,” he said.
     
  2. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    Oh, good. They've had it so rough, I can imagine why they'd all want to get out. :rolleyes:
     
  3. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    So here's a fiscally responsible question, however, likely touchy.

    If I take my bonus is a lump payment (half), and I die a year into that.... is that bonus returned to the government, pro-rated?
     
  4. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

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    Well, I guess some people need more incentive than the opportunity to chairfly the worlds best fighters.
     
  5. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    No. All unpaid pay, allowances, and bonuses are paid out.
     
  6. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    Sounds like a poor investment.
     
  7. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    We get it.
     
  8. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    No YOU don't. You just have to fly for the love of it! :wink:
     
  9. Bullet

    Bullet Member

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    The price to get ONE young person qualified as a Mission Ready fighter pilot has been calculated out to be somewhere in the vicinity of $2.6 Million. The same amount it costs in a bonus to get 10 pilots to stay on beyond the 10 year point. Not only 10 Mission Ready pilots, but 10 highly experienced pilots (I haven't seen a published figure for the price to get that "new guy" to the 10 year experience point, but it has to also be in the millions). Also, this bonus structure gets folks to the 19 year point; they'd be fools to not stay the extra year to retirement. The current structure is a 5 year bonus, with the option to get another 5 year bonus after that ($250K), so Uncle Sam gets to save $25K on the deal.

    So, what is the better investment, paying 10 guys a bonus to stay when there is a significant fighter pilot shortage and a strong hiring market for fixed wing pilots on the civilian side luring them out, or to pay the same price for one new guy?
     
  10. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    The better investment is to return the bonus to the U.S. federal government if someone can't satisfy the terms of the bonus.

    I'm not arguing the merits of a bonus for paying people to do their jobs. I am arguing that allowing that bonus to be paid out either in full, or partially, is a poor choice. The Air Force is welcome to throw money at its problems all it likes, but don't turn around and also cry about the conditions of an Air Force base or the decrease in flying time.

    I took a signing bonus for my job. If I leave before the agreed upon time, I pay the remainder of the bonus back. Why isn't this the case here? Again, I'm not talking about a yearly bonus, I'm talking about pilots taking the lump bonus at once, for the extended period. Or am I confusing this program?

    And if we're giving them a bonus, just to get to retirement, what are the implications there? That retirement $$ is a much better suck of money over the long term than losing pilots to Hooters Airlines. So the Air Force, which can't keep it's C-27s, is paying out millions to keep people doing their jobs, while also inching them closer to retirement... thus requiring a MUCH bigger load.

    And we wonder why local, state, and soon the federal government is crushed in debt and obligations.
     
  11. Bullet

    Bullet Member

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    OK, got it. You're talking about guys not meet the trerms of the agreement. But what you specifically asked for was if the person dies, do they have to give the pro-rated money back.

    You want to be the one who walks up to the widow shortly after they bury their spouse and ask for that money? They can demonstrate they had every intent to meet the contract, and will probalby do so in a court of law. Cold man, Cold.

    Guy chooses to simply leave before the contract is done? Different story entirely, and they should be forced to pay back the money to Uncle Sam.
     
  12. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    LITS,

    They do not get 225K up front when they sign up. The max they can get is 112,500 before taxes. The remainder is paid every Oct.1st for the remaining 8 yrs. Or approx. 14K per yr.
     
  13. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    Right, that's why I said it would be touchy, and I agree, cold.

    So beyond the coldness of the question, if we consider the huge burden that would create. A pilot says "sure I'll take that $125,000 now." He and his wife opt to buy a new house for their expanding family, so they take that big $125,000 and buy one. A week later he dies. It doesn't even have to be in a service related accident. So now he's dead, he agreed to fly for years, to receive the bonus, and he doesn't fly a day. Now the government has spent $125K on... nothing, and that money went into a house, for someone who has also not flown a day.

    Once we get past the fact that it's a widow. And if we ignore the already generous pay of a military officer. And if we ignore the existance of life insurance. There's still a bonus... and terms that have not been met.

    If you want to pay an Air Force pilot an extra $25K a year, as a bonus for doing his job and not turning his back on that job, fine. You can retain ****ty pilots who need that money while the big buck earners may still leave. I have no idea if the Navy, Army, Marine Corps or Coast Guard fixed-wing guys get the same love from their services.

    But WHY, oh WHY, pay the lump bonus NOW?
     
  14. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    Right, 50% of the lump. I've been saying $125K, but you're right, the lump is $225K, so I should be saying $112.5K.
     
  15. aseanag

    aseanag Eagle2013

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    LITS,
    Your bitter and hatred for the AF is obvious. I am sure other see it also. No one knows the details of this bonus payout. Calling AF pilots ****ty is a low blow for your comrades in arms. I believe the Navy pays large retention bonus for nuclear sub officers. If the AF does or say anything you have a negative reaction.
    What has to AF done to make you so bitter?
     
  16. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    We SHOULD know the details of the bonus payouts.

    And, I probably wasn't clear in who the "****ty pilots" are. I'm not saying "****ty Air Force pilots", but the ****ty pilots in the Air Force who were going nowhere have an incentive to stick around while the really good pilots who want to leave will still leave. No fear, every service has ****ty officers, that's the nature of the beast. The Coast Guard has it's ****ty pilots too.

    It's not a retention bonus I have an issue with, it's the lump payment.

    I don't hate the Air Force either. Your experience with my less positive Air Force comments come from my general disdain with you believing the Air Force Academy is somehow above sequestration, and that AFA cadets should have perks that other service members are scraping by for.

    I actually like the Air Force. If I have issues with the Air Force they generally boil down to "The Air Force wastes money like it's no ones business." All you have to do if go to Bolling, see how the Navy spends money and how the Air Force spends it.... there used to be a big line between the gravel of the Navy side and the nicely paved Air Force side.

    The common theme in my perceved "hate" is how money is blown without regard for service members or sister services. It's not that I don't expect it, but I'm always surprised how oblivious some parents can be to it. It's not unique to the Air Force, the Air Force has just made an art of it.
     
  17. aseanag

    aseanag Eagle2013

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    Your disdain for AFA parents believing they are somehow above sequestration? AFA cadets should have perks that other service members are scraping for? Are you serious!!!! Parents raising private funds to have a flyover is not effecting any of our sister services. As a matter of fact if anyone is interested AFA can show others how it can be done without funding from the government. You are correct in AF having nicer facilities but it a newer branch of the military.
    I still see bitterness from you LITS when it comes to the AF. It comes in loud and clear. I am not the one complaining about the bonuses for AF pilots you are, and you need to get the detail before mouthing off about the payout. You have no idea whether there is a clause for payback if the pilot does not live up to the terms.
     
  18. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

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    So, you want to recoup the costs of (already paid) pay and benefits after a service-member dies? That's what it sounds like.
     
  19. Jcleppe

    Jcleppe Member

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    I think that's why he asked the question.
     
  20. aseanag

    aseanag Eagle2013

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    There was no question, just a complaint about how the AF is screwing up again.
     

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