Air Force Offers New Round of Aviator Retention Incentives

The bonuses range from $15,000 to $50,000 per year for signed contracts extending service commitments from three to 12 years.

The incentives offered in fiscal 2024 include the Experienced Aviator Retention Incentive (EARI), and the new Rated Officer Retention Demonstration bonus. [Courtesy: U.S. Air Force]

The U.S. Air Force is aiming to retain more of its roster of professional aviators in the coming year through two bonus programs.

The fiscal 2024 incentives include the Experienced Aviator Retention Incentive (EARI), formerly known as the Aviation Bonus, and the new Rated Officer Retention Demonstration bonus, the service announced Thursday. 

The Rated Officer Retention Demonstration program is a five-year trial mandated by Congress last year that aims to retain pilots in critical weapons systems. Only active-duty pilots of crewed aircraft with service commitments expiring in 2025 or 2026 are eligible, Air and Space Forces reported.

"In today’s strategic environment, the requirement to preserve critical skills in our Air Force has never been more important,” Major General Adrian Spain, director of training and readiness, and deputy chief of staff for operations at Headquarters, Air Force, said in a statement. “Specifically, aviation-related skill sets, formed through the crucible of combat and daily execution of high-intensity operations, is the foundation necessary to continue to effectively deliver warfighting capability to the joint force and the American people. 

"Retaining these professional aviators’ experience and expertise within the total force is imperative in order to outpace future challenges that may emerge throughout the spectrum of conflict," he added.

The bonuses range from $15,000 to $50,000 per year for signed contracts extending their service from three to 12 years. Other non-monetary perks include assignment of choice, assignment declination or to remain in place.

Those eligible for EARI include rated officers in the Air Force, Air National Guard, and Air Force Reserve. Eligibility for Rated Officer Retention Demonstration bonus program, however, is reserved for only rated officers in the Air Force.

Active-duty aviators who are eligible have until August 1, 2024 to apply for both programs, however, the service warns that the eligibility window could close early if the maximum number of contracts are met before that deadline.

Aviators seeking to review their eligibility and application instructions may do so here, the Air Force said.

Kimberly is managing editor of FLYING Digital.

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