To correct the existing and deepening fighter pilot shortage, Air Education and Training Command is taking two F-16 squadrons freed up by the arrival of F-35s at Hill AFB, Utah, to train more pilots, Brig. Gen. Andrew Croft, AETC director of plans, programs, requirements, and assessments told reporters at ASC16. The boost in production of 15-20 percent will result in annual production of 1,325 fighter pilots, Croft said. The change is happening “right away” but will take time to pay off, Croft said. “We have to absorb more in the existing pipeline,”Croft said. AETC chief Gen. Darryl Roberson said AETC is looking across the board to “maximize production with existing facilities.”
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.