The Navy is increasing or maintaining retention bonuses for reserve officers on active duty serving as aviation department heads — with one notable exception.

Lieutenant commanders who agree to serve an additional three to five years are eligible for a bonus of up to $35,000, depending on when the contract is signed.

“A vital part of developing a total force strategy and maintaining combat readiness is to provide appropriate incentives to retain skilled personnel for critical naval aviation enterprise billets,” a new naval administrative message said.

The helicopter maritime strike community is set to receive $25,000 bonuses — a drop from the $35,000 offered in fiscal 2022. It is the only community offered less in retention bonuses in comparison to last year.

Meanwhile, bonuses for helicopter mine countermeasure department heads are set at $25,000 this year and bonuses for the helicopter sea combat and helicopter training squadron community are set at $15,000 — the same offered last year.

Electronic attack squadron pilots are offered $25,000 this year, up from $15,000. But electronic attack squadron naval flight officers are offered the same $15,000 this year that they were in 2022.

Pilots and naval flight officers from the strike fighter community, jet training squadrons and fleet logistics support are offered $35,000 — the same rate offered to them last year. But pilots and naval flight officers from prop training squadrons and the patrol and unmanned patrol communities are also eligible for $35,000 — $10,000 more than last year.

Those eligible to serve in department head billets are lieutenant commanders, who must agree to serve a post-department head aviation staff tour and another three to five years in the Navy. The bonuses will be distributed in three or five equal amounts annually.

“If a signed contract is received before completing 12 months of their initial DH tour, the service member is eligible for the 5-year contract beginning on their 1-year anniversary in the DH squadron,” the naval administrative message said. “Service members may sign up for the 3-year contract at any time during their initial DH tour but will not be approved until after their 1-year anniversary in the DH squadron.”

The bonuses are available to Training and Administration of the Reserve officers who are on active duty, according to the Navy.

The Navy stressed the significance of retention bonuses in its budget request, which dropped earlier this month, amid challenges recruiting and retaining sailors and officers.

“Retention has … been difficult with a strong national economy, so bonuses and incentives to retain our current naval force [are] a priority,” the budget document says.

The Navy surpassed its retention goals for FY22 and is also ahead on FY23 monthly retention targets, Navy Times previously reported.

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