AMERICAN service men and women are being recruited for the Australian army, navy and air force as the Obama administration cuts its military budget.
The Australian Defence Force is inviting former foreign military personnel to apply for roles it says cannot be filled here.
The scheme is attracting huge interest overseas with officers tempted by the higher pay and the ADF's offer to cover relocations costs.
Vacancies in the Australian army range from surveillance and field artillery specialists to intelligence and military police officers while the Royal Australian Navy is inviting serving or recently discharged officers and sailors with expertise in maritime warfare.
"The introduction of the three Hobart-class air warfare destroyers from 2014 also demands skill sets not available in the RAN, including AEGIS weapons-system experience," it said.
US military publications have seized on the ADF overseas recruitment offers. The latest Stars and Stripes edition highlighted the often-improved pay rates Down Under.The Royal Australian Air Force wants overseas fighter pilots and qualified test pilots with fixed wing, multi-engine aircraft experience.
The annual base pay for an E-5 staff sergeant with six-years experience in the US was $31,946 compared with $57,277 here.
An O-3 captain with six years experience earned $63,263, compared with $66,417 in the ADF.
An ADF spokesman said the scheme was opened to all countries and aimed to address capability shortfalls that could not be satisfied in the short term through standard recruitment. "Overseas candidates bring skills and attributes to the Australian Defence Force that will strengthen its overall operation and success rate," he said.
The army has so far hired 507 overseas recruits in the past four years and the RAAF has enlisted 107.
The spokesman said overseas recruits received the same pay as Australian officers with the ADF paying their relocation costs.
Squadron Leader Bart Langland joined the RAAF four years ago as a fighter pilot instructor after 20 years in the US Air Force and encouraged others to follow suit.
"While flying for a major US airline, I heard from another pilot that Australia was a fantastic place to live and work," he said.
"The ADF website listed a need for fighter pilots who could teach, so I filed an EOI with the RAAF.
"I wanted the opportunity to fly and teach again in fighter jets."
The F-16 and U2 spy plane pilot now trains young Australian pilots at RAAF Base Williamtown.
The Sunday Times