The Marine Corps is offering up to $280,000 to certain pilots as it faces shortages in certain billets, Corps officials have announced.

“The aviation populations targeted are Captains (O-3s) and Majors (O-4s) within the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, F/A-18 Hornet, AV-8 Harrier, MV-22 Osprey, C-130 Hercules, UH-1 Huey, AH-1 Cobra, and CH-53 Stallion communities,” Lt. Gen. Michael Rocco, deputy commandant for Manpower & Reserve Affairs, said in a statement.

Effective as of Oct. 1, the aviation bonuses were recently announced in MARADMIN 360/19. The Marine Corps has expanded eligibility to pilots with more than 14 years' commissioned service.

The largest bonus is being offered to F-35 and MV-22B Osprey pilots with less than 11 years of service, who can receive $35,000 a year for eight years – $280,000 in total. By way of comparison, the fiscal 2019 aviation bonus program offered the same pilots $210,000 to extend for six years.

All the bonus award levels are before taxes, said Maj. Craig Thomas, a spokesman for Manpower & Reserve Affairs.

About 850 Marine pilots are eligible for the fiscal 2020 bonuses, Thomas said. That's roughly 100 more pilots than were eligible for this fiscal year's bonuses.

“We are aiming for around a 70% take rate,” Thomas told Task & Purpose.

While the Marine Corps has enough qualified aviators for deployed units, it faces shortages in other billets, such as flight instructors and air officers with the operations section, Thomas said.

Unlike this fiscal year's program, the Marine Corps will not offer aviators two-year contracts because it wants to keep pilots longer.

In another change, weapons systems officers are not eligible for any of the fiscal 2020 bonuses because the Marine Corps already has enough aviators filling those roles, Thomas said.

“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 said.

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