The Marine Corps is offering as much as $280,000 in bonuses for the 2020 fiscal year in an attempt to retain more pilots.
The bonuses are geared towards Marine aviators of the captains and major ranks who fly certain fighter jets, tilt-rotor aircraft, cargo planes and helicopters, in an attempt to retain pilots who typically leave the service and take on jobs with commercial airlines, Stars & Stripes reported last week.
Marine spokesman Maj. Craig Thomas said those eligible for the bonuses include pilots of the F-35 Lightning II, the F/A-18 Hornet, the AV-8 Harrier, the MV-22 Osprey, the C-130 Hercules, the UH-1 Huey, the AH-1 Cobra and the CH-53 Stallion.
The aviation bonuses have been offered for the past three years, but for the 2020 fiscal year, more pilots will be eligible and the contracts are longer. Additionally, weapons system officers will not be eligible, and there will be no one-time lump sum payment involved.
Lt. Gen. Michael A. Rocco, the Corps’ deputy commandant for manpower and reserve affairs, said the bonuses are a way to keep the best of the best to meet their specific needs. “It adds one more positive benefit when Marine aviators weigh their options whether to continue serving or move on from the military,” he explained.
“Marines usually stay in uniform because they enjoy being a Marine and serving with their fellow [Marines]. I hope our aviators see this expanded bonus program as a genuine effort to keep their talent and leadership in the squadrons to continue flying and mentor the next generation of aircrews,” Rocco added.
The biggest bonuses will go to the pilots of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and the MV-22 Osprey who have fewer than 11 years of commissioned service and are eligible for an eight-year extension that includes a $35,000-per-year bonus, worth $280,000 overall. Those who have more experience will be eligible for contract extensions.
F/A-18 Hornet, AV-8 Harrier, and the C-130 Hercules pilots can get a six-year extension with a bonus of as much as $210,000. The amount would be based on their time in commissioned service.
Pilots who fly the AH-1 Cobra, the UH-1 Huey and the CH-53 Stallion helicopters may also qualify for a six-year extension and a bonus of up to $150,000 based on their time in commissioned service.
The bonuses are only available to active-duty Marines who are recommended by their commanders and submit an application for the bonus before April 1, 2020.
Marine Corps pilots who took advantage of the two-year bonuses in 2018 and 2019 could still qualify for the new retention bonuses if they meet the qualifications, haven’t received a lump sum payment, and submit the new bonus application ahead of the deadline.