ONE day they’re pummelling Islamic State jihadis, the next they’re fending off menacing incursions by Russian bombers.
But now the RAF have another predator to contend with – a budget airline poaching their top guns.
Low-cost airline Jet2 is to publish an unprecedented full-page advert in the RAF’s official newspaper tomorrow, encouraging serving pilots to join them.
If the extra pay is not enough of an inducement, the airline is offering prospective military pilots extra bonuses to join its burgeoning fleet.
It is not the first time the Leeds-based carrier has courted personnel with RAF pedigree.
Last year it held a recruitment day for former military pilots in Bradford, boasting “excellent salaries” for all who attend.
The advert in RAF News, said to have cost £5,000, is the first time serving airmen have been targeted.
It states: “Jet2 is the North’s leading leisure airline. As we continue to grow, we remain committed to delivering outstanding quality in Flight Crew Training and Development.”
Next week the RAF is due to announce new and improved salary scales for its ranks, ranging from £25,472 per year for a basic entry pilot officer to £39,236 for a flight Lieutenant and £49,424 for a Squadron Leader.
However, the sums pale in comparison to the £65,000-a-year being offered to new pilots joining Jet2.
The airline revealed a bumper year in 2015, flying 4.5 million passengers to 55 destinations across 364 holiday resorts in the six months to September.
It has now revealed plans to expand its fleet with 27 new Boeing 737 aircraft.
While the RAF claims it has enough pilots, a review by the National Audit Office last year warned that a £3.2bn programme to train pilots was actually six years behind schedule.
This was made more acute by November’s defence review, which boosted the RAF with two new squadrons but left experts warning of pilot shortages.
“We advertise across a range of publications and look for exceptional people and, indeed, many of our pilots and engineers are ex military personnel.”
An RAF spokesperson said: “We have enough people to meet all of our commitments and help keep Britain safe.
“It is understandable that commercial airlines will try to recruit from our dedicated and highly skilled pilots.
“However, we are confident the RAF will be able to recruit and retain enough personnel to man all its current squadrons and commitments.”