The pilot and maintenance shortage isn’t just hitting the Active Duty Air Force, the Air Force Reserve is dealing with a shortfall as well that is impacting its ability to conduct operations and train for the future. The Air Force Reserve needs 445 more pilots and 1,500 more maintainers, along with stable funding in the future to stave off a growing shortfall in its ranks, AFRC chief Lt. Gen. Maryanne Miller said at a Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee hearing Wednesday. While the command has met its annual recruiting goals, that still “masks shortages in full time support and critical force management,” Miller said. AFRC has been forced to increase accessions from people “off the streets” as opposed to prior service pilots, which has meant more stress on the training pipeline. In addition to manpower, AFRC is facing issues with training availability and funding, weapons systems funding, and the concurrent fielding of aircraft and equipment, Miller said. The prospect of a long-term continuing resolution could make this worse, she added echoing concerns raised across the Air Force.
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.