OTS-Fighter Slot


New Member
Nov 6, 2017
Not necessarily related to the academy but similar. Essentially I am currently in college (Cornell University) and am considering the Air Force post graduation. I'm legitimately interested in being a fighter pilot but since I'm not at the academy and am not in the ROTC on campus, as far as I can tell I would have to go to OTS for the nine week program and go from there. If anyone could provide some color on how many people the OTS takes and out of those who gets a fighter assignment that would be much appreciated. Also, timeline wise, I graduate spring 2019 so loosely how long after that would I be on a deployment if (I realize thats a big if) everything goes smoothly?
You should contact an officer recruiter. OTS would be your commissioning path. If you qualify (AFOQT) for UPT (Under Graduate Pilot Training) and you attend UPT after OTS, your performance in UPT will dictate the platform(fighter/bomber or tanker/transport). You might consider joining a guard or reserve unit that flys fighters and have them sponsor you through UPT. That way you are guaranteed a fighter if you meet the required performance measures for such an assignment. Often you can fill a full time ART ( Air reserve technician) and fly full time just as if you were active duty regular. My wife took this route to a KC-135 pilot position in the USAFR 25 yrs ago (she retired in 2005) and is now a Capt for Delta
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There is a possibility of picking up a slot for ENJJPT while in OTS. I was actually just talking to some OTS grads about that yesterday. It doesn't guarantee you any airframe, but going to ENJJPT means you're definitely getting a T-38, which is a step closer to fighters.

T-38 drops have been sort of weird lately-some of the fighter follow-on training is backed up, which means there's a higher number of non-fighter or bomber drops coming out of 38s. I think the last couple of ENJJPT classes have been averaging less than half fighters.

HuskyPilot makes a good point-if you want a specific airframe, guard or reserve can make that more likely-IF a unit with the airframe you want is willing to pick you up after interviews.
The good news is that USAF is way short on pilots in general so if you meet other qualifications you have a good shot.

Before enlisting have you had your own comprehensive physical and vision testing done? That's the biggest obstacle - read up on DQ medical conditions including allergies etc.
Also you know there are other forums on this site for ROTC and other commissioning questions right... might be worthwhile to ask there as well
You might check out ROTC. It might not be too late. They traditionally get about 40% of UPT slots, whereas OTS is about half that, if numbers have held the past decade.

Guard or Reserve can get you a guaranteed aircraft, because the units hire people, vs the "big Air Force" doing it...of course you still have to do well at UPT (total numbers for these jobs are lower, as well)
Back in my day, being an ancient OTS grad (12-week program at the Lackland AFB Medina Annex), only the top 10% of the class was offered UPT slots. However, I'm not sure we had a pilot "shortage" back then.
As a possible OTS Candidate. You may want to look into the Air National Guard. If you can find a Guard unit near you that flies fighters, and they need new pilots, you can go that route. You can go to UPT knowing you will get a fighter unless you screw up or are deemed to not be satisfactory for a fighter.

Please correct me if I am wrong. I talked to some of the guys that went thru UPT with my son, and that is what I took away from them.
While i would agree there is a pilot shortage, the main issue is with senior pilots. They are the ones leaving in droves due to the problems with the Air Force and the fact that the major airlines are willing to pay them much more money. The Air Force has more than enough ROTC and Academy graduates entering the pipeline in order to be trained at UPT. In fact, there are currently only 4 UPT bases with no news ones being scheduled to open in the near term. One of those is ENJJPT which is for Nato training and they only produce a limited number of American pilots each year. Additionally, they have all the training planes they are ever going to get so it would be hard to expand the class size dramatically . Not only is UPT backed up but in order to facilitate the large number of pilots coming into the system, they are making the classes sizes bigger which makes it even more competitive within each class. My point is that while it seems to be easier to get a pilot spot these days, the Air Force has no shortage of people who want to be pilots so it is still competitive with the edge going to USAFA, then ROTC and finally OTS.