The Air Force’s F-22 Raptor is a heavily armed air superiority fighter capable of flying twice the speed of sound. The Air Force invests a lot of money in the three years of training an F-22 pilot requires. To retain them, the Air Force rewards them with incentive pay and bonuses on top of their basic salaries.
Raptor Pilot Basic Pay
F-22 pilots are commissioned Air Force officers. Basic pay is set by Congress and increases with promotions in rank and years of service. For example, an F-22 pilot with six years active duty in the Air Force and the rank of captain received basic pay in 2015 of $5,469.60 per month. A lieutenant colonel with 20 years active duty got a monthly salary of $8,506.50.
Aviation Career Incentive Pay
All F-22 pilots are entitled to Aviation Career Incentive Pay, informally called flight pay. The amount depends on her years of experience as an Air Force pilot, not total years of service. A Raptor pilot with less than two years flight duty received $125 per month in 2015. The amount gradually increased to $650 with six years time and to $840 per month after 14 years. At 22 years, the monthly amount started going down until it reached $250 after 25 years.
Aviation Continuation Pay
F-22 pilots are some of the most highly skilled aviators in the world. Keeping them in the Air Force in the face of salary competition from private industry is no easy task. For instance, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data say airline flight crew members earned medial pay of $114,200 in 2012, or $9,517 per month. Aviation Continuation Pay is a bonus the Air Force pays an F-22 pilot when he signs a contract to stay in the service after he has fulfilled his original obligation. As of 2015, the annual bonus was $25,000. The Air Force offers Aviation Continuation Pay based on personnel requirements, so eligibility and bonus amounts can vary from year to year.