Army pilot, pilot project,pilots getting a job in the military may be “not welcome”, an official with the US military has warned.
Private pilots have become a key source of recruits in the US armed forces and have been used to help pilots fly F-16 fighters, Chinook helicopters and other combat aircraft.
The pilot program, started in 2009, is the most important source of airman training in the Pentagon and has drawn criticism from members of Congress and some retired US military officials.
US air force pilots earn about $70,000 (£48,000) a year, but are not allowed to fly the military’s combat aircraft or to fly on official missions, like special operations and rescue operations.
One-third of the pilots who join the armed forces are in private pilot training, according to a 2015 analysis by the Government Accountability Office.
But the US Army is one of the only places in the world where private pilots can fly military aircraft, and the pilot program is considered a key part of the Army’s training.
A 2014 military study said pilots in private aviation were responsible for about half of all military aircraft crashes in the past decade.
In March, a private pilot pilot died when he crashed his helicopter while in a traffic accident, according, to US media reports.
Military officials have defended the pilot training program, saying the pilots can train with their units, and that they are needed in the fight against ISIS, al-Qaida and other militant groups.
“They have to be trained to get them through the air, the ground, on the ground,” said US Army Colonel Tim McGovern, a Pentagon spokesman.
However, the Pentagon has acknowledged there is a need for more private pilots in the army.
An estimated 200,000 people, including about 500 military members, work in the aviation industry in the United States.
More than 80,000 of those workers are part of private pilot programs.
On Thursday, the US Air Force said that it had signed a $20 million contract with a pilot training firm that would bring up to 100 private pilots to its elite wing of the military.
Air Force officials did not say whether any pilots would be joining the service in the future.