When in doubt, follow the money…
This is a long article, but well researched and with footnoted links. Pilot retention is an issue service wide, and becoming MORE of an issue in the Navy as deployments lengthen, with less time between deployments, due to carrier force shrinkage.
Military aviation has always been on a seven year cycle, either leading or lagging the curve, based on various progressions. There have been a number of discussions in a couple of groups I’m in, and this article gives probably the best ‘overview’, if you will, of the issue.
Without qualified and experienced TacAir pilots (strike fighter/electronic attack), global air superiority is in jeopardy, regardless of the aircraft technology. Today, the main competitor for those pilots is the airline industry. It is the easiest adversary the Navy has ever faced, yet it is losing the battle. Why are people doing a job most have dreamed about their whole lives so willing to walk away?
The full article is HERE, from the January issue of Proceedings.
One of the better comments, in one thread was this one, bold is mine- The fact of the matter is this: Being a Naval Aviator (and NFO) is a tough job. Long hours, plenty of sea time and little, if any, real family life. And, if everything goes swimmingly well you’re still done at 20 or 25 years. And then what? You start over in civil life – at the bottom or mid-ranks.
I look at some of my former squadron mates… some have gone to the airlines and they like it. Several others have started their own businesses, or become very successful executives OUTSIDE of aviation and done very well… think seven figures per year kinda well. They learned a lot as a JO!
For many, the fun of flying an F-18 goes away after a few years… The “One mistake Navy” is risky, too. No guarantees of a long career... Finally, there are other things to achieve in life which makes it hard for the Navy to compete with just money alone.
Stay or go? Same conversation we’ve been having for 20+ years.
The biggest change from ‘my’ service days is the “One mistake Navy”… THAT wasn’t something we had to deal with. As more pushes occur for ‘UAVs’ off the carrier and in other military endeavours, there is less support for funding. Manpower has always been expensive, and always will be, but as a percentage of the military budget, it’s stayed fairly stable. I don’t have a good answer, other than to say updated the damn compensation, otherwise, all those millions/billions of dollars of acft aren’t worth a pot to piss in, if there are no pilots to fly them, or leaders to lead them…
Kicking the soapbox back in the corner… Sigh.