U.S. Air Force laments that it’s short of pilots

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A member of the U.S. Air Force stands in front of an F-22 Raptor at Seoul Airport in South Korea, on Oct. 19, 2015. The Air Force says it faces an imminent shortfall of 700 pilots by the end of 2016. SeongJoon Cho Bloomberg

 

 

The U.S. Air Force faces a shortfall of 700 fighter pilots by the end of the year and as many as 1,000 pilots within a few years, Air Force officials said Wednesday.

“It is a crisis,” said Gen. David Goldfein, the Air Force chief of staff. “Air superiority is not an American birthright. It’s actually something you have to fight for and maintain.”

Aggressive hiring by commercial airlines has helped thin the ranks of Air Force pilots, and lengthy deployments overseas, long separations from family and reduced flying time when back on U.S. soil have exacerbated the problem, Goldfein said.

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