The Air Force has announced bonuses for select fighter and drone pilots.
The categories of pilots eligible for the bonus – which go as high as $225,000, with half of it paid up front in a lump sum – include 11F fighter pilots, 11U remotely piloted aircraft pilots and 11X pilots who agree to move into the 11U specialty for their entire career.
Some "uncommitted" manned aircraft pilots and those who have switched to becoming drone pilots could see lower bonuses, according to a report in Air Force Times.
These include pilots whose undergraduate flying training active-duty service commitment expired before fiscal 2015, or those who completed 11 years of aviation service by then. These pilots are eligible for a $15,000 a year bonus for each year they extend their contracts. The extensions could be for five years, or until they hit the 20-year mark, up to nine years.
Pilots taking up the offer of moving to the 11U RPA field can take 50 percent of the bonus money up front.
The Air Force did not say how many aviators would be eligible for the bonus program.
Last month, however, officials said that fewer than 10 drone pilots were expected to receive a $1,500 per month bonus being offered. That amount doubled what had been on the table for Predator drone pilots. But the low number of eligible aviators stemmed from the fact it was only available to those who had completed a six-year service commitment.
It was also established as a temporary fix until the Air Force came up with aviation continuation pay similar to that given pilots of manned aircraft.
Under the bonus plan just announced, the Air Force will also be awarding smaller bonuses to select combat systems officers, such as navigators, weapons systems officers and electronic warfare officers, the paper reports
Combat system officers in the 12U RPA field may extend contracts from five to nine years, receiving an annual bonus of $15,000. They can take half up front.
12H rescue combat systems officers and 12F fighter combat systems officers are eligible for the $15,000 annual bonus, but may extend only for five years. Also, they may not collect any lump sum at signing.
Annual bonuses of $10,000 are available to 12U RPA combat systems officers whose undergraduate CSO training service commitment ended before fiscal 2015, or those who completed seven years of aviation service before then. They may extend from between five and nine years.
The Air Force told the paper it expects 50 to 60 percent of those initially eligible in fiscal 2015 will take the bonuses.
Capt. Brooke Brzozowske told the Air Force Times: "Having aviators take any one of the available categories at these rates provides a stable, predictable inventory of mid-career pilots and combat systems officers with the requisite knowledge, skills and experience to fill requirements."
Those who complete their undergraduate flying training service commitment during fiscal 2016, which begins Oct. 1, will be deemed "early eligible" and may apply to lock in a contract extension next year under current year terms and conditions, the Air Force said.
Between 25 and 35-percent of those early-eligible officers will act on that option, the Air Force said.