Air Force Not Able to Fly Enough Flights to Train Pilots: As the U.S. military continues to rely heavily on air power in its combat missions abroad, a shortage of maintainers needed to keep Air Force planes flying is preventing the force from completing its training mission.
“We’re not able to produce the sorties at home for training for our pilots,” Lt. General John Cooper said in an exclusive interview with VOA.
Cooper, who is in charge of managing maintenance manpower, said the Air Force had been “living on the edge” with its maintainer numbers and hit a 3,800 maintainer shortage in 2015 due to a series of shrinking budgets from Congress.
“We were driven to the force structure that we were at last year and growing from sequestration. There’s no doubt about it. That’s in the history books,” he said.
A training increase was approved this year that added about 500 maintainers, but there's still a shortage of about 3,300.
Cooper told VOA that even if the Air Force consistently maximizes the training pipeline, the force won’t be out of the maintainer manpower hole until 2021.
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