There has been talk in the media about the difficult recruiting environment the military is facing due to the surplus of fat, stupid, criminally inclined, and all-around unmotivated sluggards that now constitute a majority of the prime recruiting market of 17-21 year-olds; see Military Recruiting Numbers Lowest Since the Vietnam War, What’s Happening to America’s Military?, and Army Backs off Enlisting High School Drop Outs but the Woke Cancer Killing Enlistments Remains Stronger Than Ever. This is serious, but at least one service, the USAF, is facing a more critical problem: a critical shortage of mid-career aviators. Truth be told, I would bet Navy Aviation has the same issue.
This is how the problem is framed in a Breaking Defense story headlined Avoiding empty cockpits: Addressing the Air Force’s pilot shortage problem.
Beijing demonstrated its growing military strength this month as the People’s Liberation Army conducted large-scale air and naval exercises around Taiwan and even fired missiles over the island. Eyeing a possible conflict with China in the coming years, the US Air Force is trying to field next-generation aircraft in sufficient quantities to help deter aggression and achieve victory if deterrence fails.
The problem is that the service consistently struggles to retain enough aviators to fly those aircraft. In fact, the Total Air Force (Active, Guard, and Reserve) was short 1,650 pilots in 2021, and the shortfall will likely only get worse. Read more…