Air Force Boosts Pilot Retention Bonuses to $50,000

Latest Legacy Aviation Bonus Program tops previous $35,000 incentive for pilots.

Air Force pilots can apply for retention bonuses up to $50,000 for the 2023 fiscal year. [Courtesy: U.S. Air Force]

Starting Tuesday the Air Force is offering its pilots retention bonuses of up to $50,000 for the 2023 fiscal year under its Legacy Aviation Bonus Program. The latest program marks a significant increase over the $35,000 limit eligible officers could receive previously.

Air Force officials said active-duty aviators eligible for the program have until September 15 to apply for the 2023 bonuses.

The Legacy Aviation Bonus Program is part of a continuing effort to meet readiness requirements by retaining experienced officers. Certain groups of aviators, including traditional pilots, those operating remotely piloted aircraft, air battle managers, and combat systems officers, are eligible for the incentives in exchange for commitments to remain on active duty.

"Reliable personnel forecasts allow the Air Force to continue executing the warfighting mission,” said Major General Albert Miller, the Air Force training and readiness director. “Our experienced aviators are uniquely qualified to succeed in a combat environment, and these incentives are necessary to maintain that talent and competitiveness with our pacing challenge.”

The 2023 fiscal year will be a transition period, the Air Force said in noting the maximum incentive amount of $50,000 offered under the Legacy Program this year will not be offered next year.

Jonathan Welsh is a private pilot who worked as a reporter, editor and columnist with the Wall Street Journal for 21 years, mostly covering the auto industry. His passion for aviation began in childhood with balsa-wood gliders his aunt would buy for him at the corner store. Follow Jonathan on Twitter @JonathanWelsh4

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