The Pentagon has authorized the Air Force to pay a $35,000 critical skills retention bonus programs for qualified remotely piloted aircraft pilots.
As reported in August, the increase is part of an Air Force proposal to attract new qualified Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) pilots and keep current RPA pilots in the job. The Air Force previously paid qualifying RPA pilots an annual bonus of $25,000 to extend their active-duty commitment.
Secretary of the Air Force, Deborah Lee James announced the proposal on August 10 as part of the Air Force's RPA "Get Well" plan that seeks to increase RPA manning and incentivize RPA pilots within a community that has operated at surge capacity for more than 10 years.
RPA pilots in the 18S, 11U, 11X, 12U and 13U career fields with expiring undergraduate RPA or flying training commitments in fiscal years 16 and 17 are eligible to receive this bonus of $35,000 per year in exchange for a five-year active-duty service commitment, or in exchange for an additional year of commitment if already on an aviation retention pay bonus or CSRB.
The program manager will send communication directly to affected aviators and encourages all eligible officers to carefully consider the options and make a timely decision. These FY16 programs are retroactive and applications will be accepted by the Air Force Personnel Center through Jan. 31, 2017.