The Government Accountability Office has recommended that the Defense Department reassess fighter pilot squadron requirements across military services to mirror existing and emerging conditions such as the rise in workload and use of unmanned aircraft systems.
GAO said in a report publicly released Wednesday officials at the Air Force, Navy and the Marine Corps noted that they have not reviewed or updated squadron requirements in the last two years.
Squadron leaders said fighter pilot workload has climbed in recent years due to a decline in administrative support and changes in fighter jet technology and tactics.
The congressional watchdog analyzed gaps between the actual fighter pilot staffing levels and authorizations from fiscal year 2006 to FY 2017 across the three services and found that the Air Force showed the widest gap at 27 percent in FY 2017, followed by the Navy at 26 percent and Marine Corps at 24 percent.
Service officials said the gaps could be associated with reduced training opportunities, rising attrition rate driven by career dissatisfaction and aircraft readiness challenges, according to the report.