The Air Force and Space Force are raising the maximum age applicants can enlist as the services continue to search for ways to alleviate ongoing recruiting struggles.
Those interested in joining the Air Force or Space Force will have until they are 42-years-old to sign up, a three-year rise in the age limit that was previously set at 39, according to a report from Military.com. The change means that the two branches will now be accepting the oldest recruits of any Department of Defense military branch
“Air Force Recruiting is glad to see a change in the age component of the accessions process,” Brig. Gen. Chris Amrhein, the Air Force Recruiting Service commander, said in a statement provided to Fox News Digital. “This change, which aligns us with DOD accessions policy, is about identifying opportunity for talent out there. But make no mistake, we are not lowering any of our standards; someone who is 42 still has to meet the same accession requirements as younger applicants.”
The change comes after the Air Force announced last month that it had missed its active duty recruiting goals by 11%, falling nearly 3,000 recruits short of the 26,877 that the service said it needed, according to Military.com.
The failure to meet recruiting goals extended to other branches as well, the report noted, with the Army and Navy also falling short of this year’s goal. Only the Marine Corps was able to meet its recruiting goals this year, though the report notes that the branch “squeaked by” and has also struggled to meet National Guard and officer goals.
Asked about the timing of the policy change, an Air Force spokesperson told Fox News Digital that the move was made to better “align with current DOD policy.”
“This opens the aperture to allow more otherwise qualified Americans the opportunity to serve. The accession age of 42 allows an Airman or Guardian, officer or enlisted, to serve a full 20 years,” the spokesperson said.
The Air Force also brushed off concerns that the new age may be too old for new recruits, arguing that “people are living longer, healthier lives now.”
“We don’t see this as a drawback,” the spokesperson said. “Keep in mind [recruits] still have to meet all the mental, physical and moral qualifications to enter the US Air Force no matter what the age.”
But the move is not expected to completely alleviate the Air Force’s recruiting woes, with the spokesperson estimating that the service would enlist roughly 50 more applicants per year under the new policy. That estimate could change, the spokesperson stressed, noting that the estimate is based on available data and those who would have been ineligible to serve before often weren’t logged into recruiting databases.