On Wednesday, the Air Force announced that as many as 1,000 recently retired Air Force pilots, combat systems officers and air battle managers could return to active duty under a major new expansion of a recall program.
In the announcement, the Air Force said it will expand the Voluntary Retired Return to Active Duty (VRRAD) program as part of its efforts to ease serious manning shortages in the rated community.
The service said it is roughly 2,000 pilots short of where it needs to be, which is about 10 percent of its overall pilot force. "We’ve got a deficit across the rated force,” said Rob Romer, chief of the Air Force Personnel Center’s accessions, work force planning and career programs division. “This is just one of the initiatives that we have out there to grow the force and address our rated shortfalls, as well as retention concerns.”
The VRRAD expansion will be for all 11X pilots, 12X CSOs, and 13B air battle managers who meet qualifications.
The Air Force said when it announced its previous VRRAD program last summer, it was only for fighter pilots, and participation was capped at 25 returning retirees. So far, it has authorized 10 fighter pilots to return, five of whom are still on active duty but are about to retire.
The previous VRRAD program allowed pilots to come back for 12 months, but the Air Force said that most retirees who were interested felt that wasn’t long enough to be worth the family upheaval that would come form returning. Under a new Defense Department policy, the latest version of the program will allow retirees to serve from 24 to 48 months.
According to the Air Force, the rated officers who return could serve in rated and flying staff positions, training positions, testing and even operationally, They could volunteer to deploy and potentially fly combat missions, though that would not be a requirement.
For more information: Air Force Times