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The Army is Bringing Back Pilot Retention Bonuses

By Meghann Myers / Army Times: By the numbers, the Army has 110 percent of the certified aviators it needs. The issue is keeping the right experience levels in each formation.

Army AH-64E Apache helicopters land at Orchard Combat Training Center, Idaho, Sept. 29, 2016. The Army is planning new retention bonuses to encourage experienced pilots to stay. (Army)

To get at the problem, the service is eyeing a new set of retention bonuses to encourage seasoned pilots to stay in the Army.A revival of the bonus program is due later this month, the director of aviation in the Army G-3/5/7 said Thursday at an Association of the United States Army aviation forum outside Washington, D.C.

“In terms of attracting aviators, that’s not a problem,” said Brig. Gen. Frank Tate. “Everybody wants to be an aviator. Just about.” But not everyone wants to stay an aviator.

The Army particularly needs to retain pilots at the seven-year mark — when they finish their initial service obligations — and the 17- to 22-year mark, when many are weighing the benefits of retirement, Tate said.

He did not provide any additional details about when the bonuses will be available, how much they might be worth, or how someone might qualify for the payments.

Sequestration made a dent in the number of new pilots earning their wings at Fort Rucker, Alabama, so the Army recently sent more helicopters down to flight school. As a result, the service has been able to increase training throughput by 30 percent over what it was during sequestration, officials said.

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