Stop-Loss an Option to Keep Pilots?

sheriff3

5-Year Member
Virtually every RPA operator and ABM likely put pilot as their first choice. Why not ramp up the program making enlisted folks the primary operators of RPAs? If you feel you need officers in the ABM role then the AF should bring back warrant officers. The military as a whole needs to start thinking outside the box and get creative in their solutions. Throwing $$$ at people or forcing a stop loss is neither creative nor a long term solution to this issue.
 

Jcleppe

5-Year Member
Virtually every RPA operator and ABM likely put pilot as their first choice. Why not ramp up the program making enlisted folks the primary operators of RPAs? If you feel you need officers in the ABM role then the AF should bring back warrant officers. The military as a whole needs to start thinking outside the box and get creative in their solutions. Throwing $$$ at people or forcing a stop loss is neither creative nor a long term solution to this issue.
Great idea and one the AF has finally started implementing. I agree, this would keep pilots in the cockpit rather then taking a rotation with the drones, would save on the budget as well since they are not spending the same amount for higher priced officers flying drones. Seems logical to me, but then you know how logic works in the military sometimes.

https://www.airforcetimes.com/articles/meet-the-air-forces-first-enlisted-drone-pilots

The first classes of enlisted operators will fly unarmed Global Hawks to start out while they evaluate them before they start flying the armed MQ-9 Reaper.

I read some articles that stated that flying the Armed Reaper was something they felt required a commissioned officer, I always thought that was strange, the military has no issue with enlisted personnel using their weapon up close and personal. Glad to see they have not ruled out enlisted personnel flying the Reaper.

They seem to be only having more senior enlisted ranks go through the training in contrast to the Army where it's not uncommon to see Drone operators go to training right out of Basic. Maybe that will change down the road as well.
 

Hurricane12

USNA 2012
5-Year Member
Virtually every RPA operator and ABM likely put pilot as their first choice. Why not ramp up the program making enlisted folks the primary operators of RPAs? If you feel you need officers in the ABM role then the AF should bring back warrant officers. The military as a whole needs to start thinking outside the box and get creative in their solutions. Throwing $$$ at people or forcing a stop loss is neither creative nor a long term solution to this issue.
I'm not sure that logic makes sense. Correct me if I'm wrong but you're basically saying jobs that people don't want to do shouldn't go to officers? Or that it sucks to not get what job you wanted, so make enlisted or warrants do it instead of officers?
There are plenty of crappy jobs out there that need officer involvement. Unfortunately for guys who get RPA or ABM and wanted something else, theirs involves a longer commitment.
The solution doesn't involve having people who are less likely to leave because they're closer to retirement (Warrants) or cheaper/theoretically "easier to please" (what I guess you're getting at for enlisted), it's probably fixing the reasons people want to leave.
 

Jcleppe

5-Year Member
I'm not sure that logic makes sense. Correct me if I'm wrong but you're basically saying jobs that people don't want to do shouldn't go to officers? Or that it sucks to not get what job you wanted, so make enlisted or warrants do it instead of officers?
I see it as a complete opposite. The Army has been utilizing enlisted personnel as UAV operators for years. This is a MOS that is highly sought after and always has a waiting list to get. These enlisted soldiers don't see it as a job that's not good enough for officers but as a job that they want, one that allows them to work in Aviation with greater responsibility. These soldiers like their job and their damn proud of it and not because they're easier to please.

My only comment is if the AF is short on pilots in the cockpit, why remove them from it.
 

raimius

10-Year Member
It's not simply an issue of picking more UPT students. The capacity to train them to combat mission capable pilots is already maxed out in several places.

The AF doesn't have trouble recruiting, but rather in retaining experience. Unfortunately, AF personnel command is out to lunch more often than not, on these kinds of issues.

Most pilots I've talked to want a reasonable balance of time at home, enough flight time to master their tactics, and not get overloaded with administrative duties. Those issues tend to be the decision points. A personnelist I talked to said the major factor was opportunity to travel.......
 

Jcleppe

5-Year Member
It's not simply an issue of picking more UPT students. The capacity to train them to combat mission capable pilots is already maxed out in several places.
The same thing is true right now for Army AV, they are very short on WO Pilots, the issue with the Army is the same, not an issues of recruitment but rather with capacity to train. The current training budget has created a backlog at Rucker, add to that the transitions for the OH-58 pilots to different airframes. Like the AF, retention has been an issue as well.
 

NTWLF ONE

Member
After years of crying wolf and the sky is falling, this commercial pilot shortage is the real deal...my company is hiring over 850 new pilots this year.... we hired two of my former Navy peers who were non-current in any aircraft. Raising the retirement age to 65 was only a bandaid on the sucking chest wound.

As far as the USAF pilot shortage goes....when the previous SECAF's primary manpower initiative was "transgender integration" vice addressing the looming pilot shortage...the message was heard "Lima Charlie" by the force...I hear it regularly from the new hire, former USAF first officers I fly with...
 

sheriff3

5-Year Member
Hurricane, not my point at all. The AF will NEVER allow an enlisted airframe pilot IMPO. I was not implying one job was better or worse that the other . My point is the AF is doing a poor job of managing their pilot shortage and they seem to have a supply of officers that wanted said slot but did not get it. Take these officers and plug them in to the pipeline to fly aircraft. As for the enlisted folks I'm sure there are hundreds of folks that given the opportunity would like a shot at these RPA positions. Just like the officer RPA operators if given the proper training I'm sure these enlisted operators would do exceptionally well. I still think a comprise would be to select , train and promote qualified members to be RPA operators and make them a WO. Seems to work well for Army aviation.
 

Stealth_81

Super Moderator
10-Year Member
Founding Member
Hurricane, not my point at all. The AF will NEVER allow an enlisted airframe pilot IMPO. I was not implying one job was better or worse that the other . My point is the AF is doing a poor job of managing their pilot shortage and they seem to have a supply of officers that wanted said slot but did not get it. Take these officers and plug them in to the pipeline to fly aircraft. As for the enlisted folks I'm sure there are hundreds of folks that given the opportunity would like a shot at these RPA positions. Just like the officer RPA operators if given the proper training I'm sure these enlisted operators would do exceptionally well. I still think a comprise would be to select , train and promote qualified members to be RPA operators and make them a WO. Seems to work well for Army aviation.
As jcleppe said above, the AF is already training enlisted RPA operators so that point is covered. I don't think having enlisted ABM personnel is really going to happen. Just by the nature of the job (controlling an entire air battle) it is a command position and will stay with officers.

The problem is not with incoming pilot trainees at all. As was said, there is no shortage of young, bright-eyed kids wanting to be Air Force pilots. The serious shortage is in the senior Captain and Major ranks when their 10-year ADSC is over and hardly any of them are staying in. That's $10 million worth of training and experience walking out the door with each one. It's also the seasoned pilots who should be training the new crop, and that experience cannot be bought at any price.

I certainly don't have the answers, but what the AF is doing right now is not working. Just the fact that senior leadership is mentioning stop-loss probably has made anyone who is on the fence choose to leave before they get caught in it. It is good to see others feedback on this. My son still has a few years to go to make the decision and I hope things improve before then.

Stealth_81
 

Hurricane12

USNA 2012
5-Year Member
Stealth_81 pretty much covered what I was going to say. A pilot has years in service before being useful to their squadron/the Air Force. A billion bright eyed and bushy tailed copilots doesn't help the Air Force (or Navy, or Marine Corps, who have similar problems keeping pilots in), an appropriate distribution of senior instructors, mid-grade pilots, and junior guys does...especially if they're happy to be there.
 

UHBlackhawk

Member
Part of the problem I have heard is line pilots having issues getting flight time due to years of budget cuts and a lack of spare parts. My nephew is an FA-18 driver. He was hoping for an instructor assignment so he could fly, but he was told he was needed in the fleet due to a shortage of experienced pilots. He's only flying 5-10 hours/month. No thanks. He's getting out.
 
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