The Marine Corps will pay pilots up to $210,000 to stay in uniform

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The Marine Corps will pay some of its pilots retention bonuses of nearly a quarter-million dollars in order to address "shortfalls" in the service's aviation community.

In a message released on Wednesday by Lt. Gen. David Ottignon, deputy commandant for manpower and reserve affairs, the Corps said its aviation bonus program provides "a proactive, short-term incentive for aviation officers in certain grades and communities with current or forecasted inventory shortfalls."

The bonuses will be paid out to skilled aviators trained on at least one of the Corps' main aviation platforms, including the F-35 Lightning, AV-8 Harrier, and F/A-18 fighter jets; MV-22 Osprey, AH-1 Cobra, CH-53 Sea Stallion, and UH-1 "Huey" helicopters; and KC-130 aircraft, which is mainly used for aerial refueling.

AH-1Z "Viper SuperCobra" pilots 1st Lt. Michael "Shitshow" Tetreault and Capt. Travis Patterson aboard USS Makin Island prepare to fly Oct. 5, 2010. The pilots (originally from Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 367, AKA "Scarface") serve with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit's (MEU) Aviation Combat Element (ACE). The 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit is the first amphibious landing force to embark Makin Island, which set sail for San Francisco Oct. 1 to participate in the city's 2010 Fleet Week. There the 11th MEU plans to showcase to the public the Marine Corps' men and women, its aircraft and equipment, and its ability to conduct missions that span the overlapping spectrums of peace and combat, from disaster relief to war. Tetrealt is from Killingly, Conn., and Patterson is from Austin, Texas.

AH-1Z "Viper SuperCobra" pilots 1st Lt. Michael "Shitshow" Tetreault and Capt. Travis Patterson aboard USS Makin Island prepare to fly Oct. 5, 2010.

Fixed-wing pilots seem to be in the highest demand: Flyers in those categories with less than 12 years of service can get $210,000 if they sign up for an additional six years of service, or receive $100,000 for an additional four.

Pilots of the Osprey, a tiltrotor aircraft capable of vertical takeoff and landing, can get up to $125,000, while pilots of traditional helicopters, such as the Huey, Cobra, or Sea Stallion, can receive up to $75,000.

The bonuses will be paid out in equal annuities over the length of a Marine's contract, according to the message. "For example, an AV-8B pilot with less than 12 YCS, with a 72-month contract will receive six equal payments of 35,000 dollars," the message said.

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