The Air Force will allow limited fighter aircrew to extend their time at certain assignments in an effort to improve quality of life, quality of service and help retain experienced aviators for longer than 20 years.
Beginning Sept. 7, 2017, the Air Force will implement the Second Assignment In-Place Pilot Program for active duty, late-career fighter pilots and weapon system officers.
The SAIP pilot program is one of a wide range of initiatives the Air Force is pursuing to increase retention, particularly among late career aviators whose expertise is needed to train future generations and allow the Air Force to recover from its pilot manning crisis in the face of a surge of airline hiring. The Air Force also recently expanded its aviation bonus program to include senior pilots whose contracts either expired or who didn’t sign one.
“We’re in a retention crisis, which means changing the way we do business such as looking at an expanded bonus window as well as trying something new like the Second Assignment In-Place Pilot Program” said Lt. Gen. Chris Nowland, the Air Force deputy chief of staff for operations. “Second Assignment In-Place is another way to incentivize experienced aviators to stay in uniform and shape future generations of warriors.”
Airmen in career fields 11F and 12F who have less than a three-year active-duty service commitment and fill instructor pilot or evaluator pilot billets may be eligible for SAIP if they are lieutenant colonels or lieutenant colonel selects with 17 or more years of Total Active Federal Military Service, or majors not selected for promotion with 14 or more years TAFMS.
“We asked our aircrews for feedback and learned that late in their careers, people want stability for their families. This program gives our Airmen an opportunity to create stability in their personal lives while ensuring we don’t lose the expertise they’ve gained through years of applying airpower against our nation’s enemies,” said Nowland.
Sixteen bases at three major commands; Air Education Training Command, Air Combat Command and Air Force Materiel Command, are selected to participate in SAIP. Each base will be assigned SAIP quotas by the Air Force Personnel Center.
The following bases are eligible for the SAIP program:
- 12th Flying Training Wing, Randolph Air Force Base, Texas
- 14th Flying Training Wing, Columbus AFB, Miss.
- 81st Fighter Squadron, Moody AFB, Ga.
- 33rd Fighter Wing, Eglin AFB, Fla.
- 47th Flying Training Wing, Laughlin AFB, Texas
- 56th Fighter Wing, Luke AFB, Ariz.
- 54th Fighter Group, Holloman AFB, N.M.
- 550th Fighter Squadron, Kingsley Field, Ore.
- 71st Flying Training Wing, Vance AFB, Okla.
- 80th Flying Training Wing, Sheppard AFB, Texas
- 53rd Wing, Eglin AFB, Fla.
- 4th Fighter Wing, Seymour Johnson AFB, Fla.
- 325th Fighter Wing, Tyndall AFB, Fla.
- 355th Fighter Wing, Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz.
- 96th Test Wing, Eglin AFB, Fla.
- 412th Test Wing, Edwards AFB, Fla.
As part of the pilot program, it will be up to wing commanders to implement the program at approved units. Airmen can remain on SAIP as long as eligible and approved by the wing commander. Those selected for SAIP will be placed on non-permanent change of station status for three years, explained Brig. Gen. Michael Koscheski, the Air Force Aircrew Crisis Task Force lead.
Although this program is currently limited in nature, it aims to address the critical shortfall in the fighter community, and could be expanded to other critical career fields if proven effective.
“The limited implementation is a decisive action on the part of the Air Force to take immediate steps to improve retention in its most impacted specialties,” said Koscheski. “Through limited implementation, the Air Force can move faster and apply any lessons learned to the rest of the force.”
Eligible Airmen interested in SAIP should talk with their chain of command.