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Offline S.M.A.

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Drone Pilot Shortage worries US officials- article
« on: September 10, 2015, 14:48:27 »
Not enough people from other US military trades/MOSes going into the drone pilot trade?

The Hill

Quote
Drone pilot shortage worries Dem senator
Getty Images
By Kristina Wong - 09/03/15 05:50 PM EDT
Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) sent a letter to Defense Secretary Ashton Carter on Thursday expressing concern over the Pentagon's plans to dramatically increase drone flights over the next four years amid a drone pilot shortfall.

"There is indeed a need for broadened surveillance and intelligence collection, but I remain very concerned that the anticipated growth is unsustainable without corresponding growth in recruitment, training, and retention," he wrote in a Sept. 1 letter.

Heinrich is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and represents Holloman Air Force Base and Cannon Air Force Base in New Mexico, which he said are the nation's premier drone pilot training locations.
Last month, the Pentagon confirmed a Wall Street Journal report that it was planning to increase by 50 percent the number of daily drone flights to cover hotspots including Ukraine, Iraq, Syria, the South China Sea and North Africa.

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Offline tomahawk6

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Re: Drone Pilot Shortage worries US officials- article
« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2015, 20:54:58 »
Kids out of high school could fly drones and be happy doing it.

Offline Loachman

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Re: Drone Pilot Shortage worries US officials- article
« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2015, 21:02:30 »
No more than a manned aircraft, armed or not.

The actual flying skill is only one part of the job.

And I despise the misuse of the term "drone". A remotely-piloted aircraft is not a drone.

Offline Dimsum

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Re: Drone Pilot Shortage worries US officials- article
« Reply #3 on: September 10, 2015, 23:26:20 »
Kids out of high school could fly drones and be happy doing it.

Let's put it into perspective - RPAs can be large (Global Hawk wingspan is more than the length of a 737 airliner) and/or armed with Hellfires and laser-guided bombs.  Would you be comfortable with "kids out of high school" flying large armed aircraft? 
Philip II of Macedon to Spartans (346 BC):  "You are advised to submit without further delay, for if I bring my army into your land, I will destroy your farms, slay your people, and raze your city."

Reply:  "If."

Offline tomahawk6

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Re: Drone Pilot Shortage worries US officials- article
« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2015, 08:32:39 »
Let's put it into perspective - RPAs can be large (Global Hawk wingspan is more than the length of a 737 airliner) and/or armed with Hellfires and laser-guided bombs.  Would you be comfortable with "kids out of high school" flying large armed aircraft?

Ok Loachman how about UAV ? Yes I would trust kids out of high school to fly the Army unmanned aircraft because we already have UAV operators unlike the USAF.

Offline kev994

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Re: Drone Pilot Shortage worries US officials- article
« Reply #5 on: September 11, 2015, 09:07:26 »
The pilot is the mission commander, with a crew, and ROE that may vary by user or theatre, you're probably working in high level airspace. It's not that easy.

Offline Old Sweat

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Re: Drone Pilot Shortage worries US officials- article
« Reply #6 on: September 11, 2015, 09:13:20 »
Apples and Oranges, folks.

The Reaper, Predator et al are very sophisticated platforms, while there are smaller UAVs operated by organizations such as the UAV Troop in the STA battery in the artillery field regiments. The latter can be operated successfully by quite junior ranks. In fact we had these deployed in Afghanistan starting with TF 3-06, although there were teething problems in the early rotos.

Offline Baz

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Re: Drone Pilot Shortage worries US officials- article
« Reply #7 on: September 11, 2015, 09:44:37 »
Apples and Oranges, folks.

The Reaper, Predator et al are very sophisticated platforms, while there are smaller UAVs operated by organizations such as the UAV Troop in the STA battery in the artillery field regiments. The latter can be operated successfully by quite junior ranks. In fact we had these deployed in Afghanistan starting with TF 3-06, although there were teething problems in the early rotos.

My USAF LCol at AGSIO was an ex KC-135 pilot, but current Global Hawk pilot.  He was also responsible for AGS flight operations planning in Europe.  KC-135 was definitely easier...

Super simple to *fly* the aircraft; complex to to C2 it in airspace.  Even before you start thinking about the mission.

Offline Loachman

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Re: Drone Pilot Shortage worries US officials- article
« Reply #8 on: September 11, 2015, 10:22:44 »
Apples and Oranges, folks.

The Reaper, Predator et al are very sophisticated platforms, while there are smaller UAVs operated by organizations such as the UAV Troop in the STA battery in the artillery field regiments. The latter can be operated successfully by quite junior ranks. In fact we had these deployed in Afghanistan starting with TF 3-06, although there were teething problems in the early rotos.

Yes. The Scan Eagle operators in KAF were Bombardiers with possibly a few Master Bombardiers. They were not "kids out of high school", having at least a few years' worth of training and experience and, therefore, a little tactical knowledge. Our AVOs (Air Vehicle Operators) and POs (Payload Operators) on Sperwer were the same, but MCs (Masters of Ceremonies Mission Commanders) were exclusively Tac Hel Pilots. Three of us had multiple flying tours, and one was late in his first.

The Scan Eagle guys often seemed to lack confidence on the ATC radio, but otherwise, their performance appeared to be alright. They may well have been closely supervised from outside of the box. We supervised ourselves within.

Flying an RC aircraft is not hard. Employing it effectively and safely in a combat zone requires a little more ability and knowledge than one would find in even the most brilliant highschooler.

Offline jollyjacktar

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Re: Drone Pilot Shortage worries US officials- article
« Reply #9 on: September 11, 2015, 10:27:48 »
Let's put it into perspective - RPAs can be large (Global Hawk wingspan is more than the length of a 737 airliner) and/or armed with Hellfires and laser-guided bombs.  Would you be comfortable with "kids out of high school" flying large armed aircraft?

My uncle, who is my Avatar, was a kid recently out of high school, flying a bombed up Halifax when he was KIA.  We've done it before and today we have kids crewing large armoured vehicles with great big nasty main guns.  Why should RPA be any different?
I'm just like the CAF, I seem to have retention issues.

Offline Dimsum

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Re: Drone Pilot Shortage worries US officials- article
« Reply #10 on: September 11, 2015, 10:35:03 »
Apples and Oranges, folks.

The Reaper, Predator et al are very sophisticated platforms, while there are smaller UAVs operated by organizations such as the UAV Troop in the STA battery in the artillery field regiments. The latter can be operated successfully by quite junior ranks. In fact we had these deployed in Afghanistan starting with TF 3-06, although there were teething problems in the early rotos.

Risking piling onto the bandwagon, I'll reiterate what OS said:

Global Hawk
Reaper

and

Scan Eagle
Sperwer

are not the same.  There are tiers of RPAs, from micro to Global Hawk-sized.


ETA:  Jolly, I personally have no problem with trained "kids out of high school", as in NCMs with some experience, flying RPAs or any other aircraft, as your uncle would have been.  My pet peeve is that people seem to think that RPAs aren't "real aircraft" and therefore 18-year old Johnny or Janey can jump into the Ground Control Station, look at the Matrix-like bank of screens for aircraft control and comms, and operate potentially large armed aircraft - when they wouldn't think the same for an F-15 (or a Halifax) without tons of specialized training. 

If you, in an aircraft, get into a collision with one of those things, only one set of crews will survive, and I'm betting on the ones 1000 miles away on the ground.  You would want those crews to be fully conversant with C2, airspace, operations as well as aircraft handling, no?
« Last Edit: September 11, 2015, 10:47:57 by Dimsum »
Philip II of Macedon to Spartans (346 BC):  "You are advised to submit without further delay, for if I bring my army into your land, I will destroy your farms, slay your people, and raze your city."

Reply:  "If."

Offline jollyjacktar

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Re: Drone Pilot Shortage worries US officials- article
« Reply #11 on: September 11, 2015, 11:09:32 »
But of course, I wouldn't expect anything less than a properly trained crewmember, however young or old, flying what must be a very expensive platform that has real world consequences for mistakes made on the ground.  My comment was geared more towards the age of the crewmember vs the training level as an objection or consideration of feasibility of success.
I'm just like the CAF, I seem to have retention issues.

Offline Dimsum

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Re: Drone Pilot Shortage worries US officials- article
« Reply #12 on: September 11, 2015, 11:11:29 »
But of course, I wouldn't expect anything less than a properly trained crewmember, however young or old, flying what must be a very expensive platform that has real world consequences for mistakes made on the ground.  My comment was geared more towards the age of the crewmember vs the training level as an objection or consideration of feasibility of success.

I think we're violently agreeing here, but as I said, it's the perception of dropping in "any kid" that I disagree with.
Philip II of Macedon to Spartans (346 BC):  "You are advised to submit without further delay, for if I bring my army into your land, I will destroy your farms, slay your people, and raze your city."

Reply:  "If."

Offline jollyjacktar

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Re: Drone Pilot Shortage worries US officials- article
« Reply #13 on: September 11, 2015, 11:14:21 »
Agreed, perfectly logical and sane.  Unless, it's Hollywood...  ;)
I'm just like the CAF, I seem to have retention issues.

Offline tomahawk6

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Re: Drone Pilot Shortage worries US officials- article
« Reply #14 on: September 11, 2015, 11:23:00 »
The average high school kid has alot of hours flying sim's.It may be alot easier for them to operate a UAV as a result.

Offline Loachman

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Re: Drone Pilot Shortage worries US officials- article
« Reply #15 on: September 11, 2015, 12:48:06 »
Again, the flying skill is only a small part of the package.

Offline tomahawk6

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Re: Drone Pilot Shortage worries US officials- article
« Reply #16 on: September 11, 2015, 13:15:50 »
I agree with you.Like any job in the military the operators are supervised. :camo:

Offline Loachman

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Re: Drone Pilot Shortage worries US officials- article
« Reply #17 on: September 11, 2015, 16:03:58 »
It's not just supervision, but also the tactical experience and maturity of the AV Operator.

The smaller systems, which would be more in line with what the basic KOHS (Kid Out of High School) is super-capable of operating, are employed at company/platoon level. They are extremely short-range, and low-altitude, so there should not be much requirement to learn about airspace structure and control thereof, but...

Do you want that KOHS stumbling around where things are going "Bang" and "Whoosh"?

Certainly not without, at a minimum, his/her basic trade qualification and high-readiness/pre-deployment training. Should he/she also not have been around long enough to develop an awareness of what happens around them, so that they can stay alive and operate their machine in an effective manner? That requires tactical knowledge - where to look, what to look for.

So - are you going to pick the newest, freshest, most-recently-KOHS Private, or some guy that's been around for a couple of years and has a schmick?

Offline Dimsum

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Re: Drone Pilot Shortage worries US officials- article
« Reply #18 on: September 14, 2015, 08:42:15 »
It's not just supervision, but also the tactical experience and maturity of the AV Operator.

The smaller systems, which would be more in line with what the basic KOHS (Kid Out of High School) is super-capable of operating, are employed at company/platoon level. They are extremely short-range, and low-altitude, so there should not be much requirement to learn about airspace structure and control thereof, but...

Do you want that KOHS stumbling around where things are going "Bang" and "Whoosh"?

Certainly not without, at a minimum, his/her basic trade qualification and high-readiness/pre-deployment training. Should he/she also not have been around long enough to develop an awareness of what happens around them, so that they can stay alive and operate their machine in an effective manner? That requires tactical knowledge - where to look, what to look for.

So - are you going to pick the newest, freshest, most-recently-KOHS Private, or some guy that's been around for a couple of years and has a schmick?

I'd add that if you're talking about medium-or-higher altitude RPAs, that person should have the airspace/crew training to understand the radio comms, airspace/ATC procedures, etc.  I'm not saying it must be a wings-qualified military Pilot/Nav, but people with that knowledge and experience will greatly assist in lowering the amount of inadvertent airborne metal (or carbon-fiber) bashing, especially if RPAs will no longer be segregated from other IFR/VFR traffic, such as what Australia is doing now. 

If RPAs will be sharing the circuit and terminal airspace with Private aircraft and airliners, shouldn't the RPA Pilots at least have the level of knowledge/experience as the guy in the Cessna 172 buzzing around?
Philip II of Macedon to Spartans (346 BC):  "You are advised to submit without further delay, for if I bring my army into your land, I will destroy your farms, slay your people, and raze your city."

Reply:  "If."

Offline cupper

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Re: Drone Pilot Shortage worries US officials- article
« Reply #19 on: September 14, 2015, 10:29:23 »
Again, the flying skill is only a small part of the package.

Take off and landings skills come into play.

But the most important skills are looking cool in aviator sunglasses and proper wear of the flight suit and leather jacket. >:D
It's hard to win an argument against a smart person, it's damned near impossible against a stupid person.

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Offline Dimsum

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Re: Drone Pilot Shortage worries US officials- article
« Reply #20 on: September 14, 2015, 12:26:46 »
Take off and landings skills come into play.

But the most important skills are looking cool in aviator sunglasses and proper wear of the flight suit and leather jacket. >:D

Actually a lot of the larger RPAs have, or will have, automatic takeoff and landing systems based on DGPS and other sensors.  Certainly the IAI Heron and its variants do. 

But yes, I agree with the second point.  If folks in HQs can wear flying suits, there is no reason why RPA crews can't.   :nod:
Philip II of Macedon to Spartans (346 BC):  "You are advised to submit without further delay, for if I bring my army into your land, I will destroy your farms, slay your people, and raze your city."

Reply:  "If."

Offline tomahawk6

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Re: Drone Pilot Shortage worries US officials- article
« Reply #21 on: September 14, 2015, 13:21:28 »
US operators wear flight suits and I think their chairs have cup holders and unlike their rated comrades they can get up from their station and go to the head. ;D

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Re: Drone Pilot Shortage worries US officials- article
« Reply #22 on: September 14, 2015, 16:33:43 »
US operators wear flight suits and I think their chairs have cup holders and unlike their rated comrades they can get up from their station and go to the head. ;D

Hell, they can go home and go to bed in the middle of a mission. >:D

So, if you strapped a Royal Marine to an outboard weapons pylon, would it still be considered unmanned? ;D
It's hard to win an argument against a smart person, it's damned near impossible against a stupid person.

There is no God, and life is just a myth.

"He who drinks, sleeps. He who sleeps, does not sin. He who does not sin, is holy. Therefore he who drinks, is holy."

Let's Go CAPS!

Offline Oldgateboatdriver

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Re: Drone Pilot Shortage worries US officials- article
« Reply #23 on: September 14, 2015, 17:14:58 »
If RPAs will be sharing the circuit and terminal airspace with Private aircraft and airliners, shouldn't the RPA Pilots at least have the level of knowledge/experience as the guy in the Cessna 172 buzzing around?

So you're not setting the bar very high then. ;D

Offline Loachman

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Re: Drone Pilot Shortage worries US officials- article
« Reply #24 on: September 14, 2015, 17:38:07 »
Take off and landings skills come into play.

Those are generally done autonomously.

We did one night-time manual recovery of a Sperwer early during my tour, and that was ... interesting.

We'd only been airborne for a short time, when I noticed that the AV symbol had stopped moving on the monitor. All that we knew at that point was last-known heading and altitude, which had not changed. As we had no really good idea how long it had been like that, that information was rather useless.

We were not yet familiar enough with local features, and much looked the same (and very grainy), so we could not even begin to guess where we were. Not knowing where one is does not make finding where one wants to be very easy. Once we'd found KAF again (Thank f***), only due to brilliant co-ordination between my Payload Operator and Aerial Vehicle Operators and some very good luck, we then had to set up for a manual recovery. As this was done by parachute, requiring pretty accurate altitude, speed, and heading for several kilometres, and our system was not giving us either, we could only go by what ATC was giving us, and that was not precise enough. Darkness was not our friend during this, but it also meant that there was almost no other traffic around for us to hit, especially when we somehow ended up on the wrong side of the runway on the second, third, or perhaps fourth attempt.

My guys managed to bring it down almost completely inside the recovery area. Part of the machine, however, was in an old Soviet minefield.

We had not ever trained to carry out a manual recovery. There was too much risk to doing so. There was no means of simulating one.

There is no peripheral or binocular vision, sound, or feel when flying one of these things - none of the senses and references that we are used to having in a manned aircraft. Operating Sperwer was a challenge, and there were plenty of surprises, few of which were pleasant.

Reaper/Predator crews, then, at least, were fighter pilots with extensive air-to-ground experience. They had the tactical knowledge to enable them to get the most out of their machines, and were accustomed to having to know their machines thoroughly and think quickly when something happened that was not covered in the emergencies section of the checklist - and we had plenty of the latter, as well.

And they had much comfier seats, reliable air conditioning, and way more monitors than we had.

While we were not armed, we worked with armed Helicopters, armed seized-wing aircraft, and Artillery. We had the authority to shut down any attack if we were unsure of the validity of the target or uncomfortable with its surroundings at any time. That, as much as pressing an attack, even when everything seems proper, is not easy, and we were very careful to get it right.

A KOHS should not have to bear that responsibility.

Oh, and we had to wear CADPAT AR combat clothing like the rest of the peasantry. Those Heron wankers, when they showed up, however...

Offline Dimsum

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Re: Drone Pilot Shortage worries US officials- article
« Reply #25 on: September 15, 2015, 01:01:21 »

Oh, and we had to wear CADPAT AR combat clothing like the rest of the peasantry. Those Heron wankers, when they showed up, however...

Yeah, that was one rotation (and not mine).  That changed right quick.  Of course some were miffed that as aircrew, we weren't wearing flying suits but those complaints generally went away as the summer wore on.   :nod:
Philip II of Macedon to Spartans (346 BC):  "You are advised to submit without further delay, for if I bring my army into your land, I will destroy your farms, slay your people, and raze your city."

Reply:  "If."

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Re: Drone Pilot Shortage worries US officials- article
« Reply #26 on: September 18, 2015, 21:46:31 »
James and Welsh (Sec of the AF and USAF Chief of Staff): 'No doubt' enlisted airmen could be drone pilots

Quote
Welsh and James said that the Air Force is wrestling with the potential pitfalls of having enlisted pilots on the Air Force's organizational structure, such as conflicts regarding supervision and the fact that an enlisted drone pilot would be paid less than an officer doing the same job. Some of those difficulties caused the Air Force to scrap its enlisted flying corps in the past, Welsh said, so the Air Force is considering holding a beta test to do "due diligence."

Welsh said the Air Force is considering enlisted drone pilots to help satisfy the growing need for the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability that drones help provide. But while those needs are growing, tight budgets are limiting how much the Air Force can grow its officer ranks.

...or, bring back USAF Warrant Officers, which are technical specialists that won't compete with Officer command postings.

http://www.airforcetimes.com/story/military/afa/2015/09/15/james-and-welsh-no-doubt-enlisted-airmen-could-be-drone-pilots/72328234/
« Last Edit: September 18, 2015, 21:58:54 by Dimsum »
Philip II of Macedon to Spartans (346 BC):  "You are advised to submit without further delay, for if I bring my army into your land, I will destroy your farms, slay your people, and raze your city."

Reply:  "If."

Offline tomahawk6

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Re: Drone Pilot Shortage worries US officials- article
« Reply #27 on: September 18, 2015, 22:05:35 »
Warrants would be a good solution,but one that the USAF wont pursue.They will want to use aircrew to operate UAV's as there will be fewer planes for them to fly.

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Re: Drone Pilot Shortage worries US officials- article
« Reply #28 on: September 18, 2015, 22:12:24 »
Warrants would be a good solution,but one that the USAF wont pursue.They will want to use aircrew to operate UAV's as there will be fewer planes for them to fly.

Fair, but I meant aircrew Warrants like the US Army.  Or commission (warrant?) those "enlisted" folks into some RPA Warrant Officer stream.  Problem solved.
Philip II of Macedon to Spartans (346 BC):  "You are advised to submit without further delay, for if I bring my army into your land, I will destroy your farms, slay your people, and raze your city."

Reply:  "If."

Offline tomahawk6

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Re: Drone Pilot Shortage worries US officials- article
« Reply #29 on: September 19, 2015, 19:44:52 »
I know what you meant,but its not USAF culture.They discontinued their Warrant program in 1959.

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Re: Drone Pilot Shortage worries US officials- article
« Reply #30 on: July 07, 2016, 12:02:17 »
Necropost but the USAF is starting their Enlisted RPA Pilot program on the RQ-4 Global Hawk soon. 

Quote
The Air Force recently selected the first 10 enlisted Airmen to attend RQ-4 Global Hawk pilot training, marking the first time since World War II enlisted Airmen will be behind the stick.

The first combined enlisted and officer training course will begin October 2016, with the first enlisted Airmen expected to graduate in 2017.....

Enlisted pilots will undergo the same rigorous Air Force training as current RPA pilots with respect to flight training, rules, and responsibilities.

The new enlisted pilots will begin their Undergraduate RPA Training with the RPA Initial Flight Training where they will learn to fly a DA-20 Falcon. From there they will attend RPA Instrument Qualification and Fundamentals Courses before finishing with Global Hawk Basic Qualification Training. At the conclusion of this training they will be rated, instrument qualified pilots who are Federal Aviation Administration certified to fly the RQ-4 in national and international airspace and mission qualified to execute the high altitude ISR mission.

From the article, it looks like they will be re-treads from Staff Sgt and above who are already aircrew.

http://www.af.mil/News/ArticleDisplay/tabid/223/Article/828066/af-selects-first-enlisted-airmen-for-global-hawk-pilot-training.aspx
Philip II of Macedon to Spartans (346 BC):  "You are advised to submit without further delay, for if I bring my army into your land, I will destroy your farms, slay your people, and raze your city."

Reply:  "If."

Offline tomahawk6

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Re: Drone Pilot Shortage worries US officials- article
« Reply #31 on: July 07, 2016, 19:15:09 »
The problem is pay.I think any kid out of high school could fly a drone its too much like a video game.A USAF Staff Sergeant is an E-5 with base pay of $2200 a month plus allowances for food and housing.Is that going to attract the talent ? If the Army,Navy or Marines ran the program Warrant Officers could be used.A WO1 has a base pay of $3000 plus benefits.The real money goes to a commissioned officer which is where USAF culture is.

http://www.military.com/daily-news/2015/04/07/air-force-details-bonuses-for-fighter-drone-pilots.html

The Air Force has announced bonuses for select fighter and drone pilots.
The categories of pilots eligible for the bonus – which go as high as $225,000, with half of it paid up front in a lump sum – include 11F fighter pilots, 11U remotely piloted aircraft pilots and 11X pilots who agree to move into the 11U specialty for their entire career.
Some "uncommitted" manned aircraft pilots and those who have switched to becoming drone pilots could see lower bonuses, according to a report in Air Force Times.
These include pilots whose undergraduate flying training active-duty service commitment expired before fiscal 2015, or those who completed 11 years of aviation service by then. These pilots are eligible for a $15,000 a year bonus for each year they extend their contracts. The extensions could be for five years, or until they hit the 20-year mark, up to nine years.

Now the USAF is hiring civilian contractors to be drone pilots. :D

http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-fg-drone-contractor-20151127-story.html

Offline Dimsum

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Re: Drone Pilot Shortage worries US officials- article
« Reply #32 on: December 23, 2016, 13:16:38 »
A bit of a sensationalist headline (there are definitely worse jobs than RPA crews, but tell that to manned aircraft Pilots) but the lack of training and quals is a bit scary.

Quote
...The U.S. Army and the Air Force both need a lot of pilots and technicians to keep the drones flying — literally tens of thousands of people altogether — but it hasn’t been easy filling those job slots. Worse, the two branches started cutting corners during training, according to the Government Accountability Office, or GAO, a congressionally-mandated watchdog.

Often, the Army wasn’t even sure if its pilots were qualified to fly drones. On top of that, it was approving new flight instructors who haven’t finished their own training.

There’s a lot of reasons for the shortage of good pilots. The most obvious is budget cutbacks across the military.

To get around the forced cuts, known as “sequestration,” the Pentagon has employed some tricky accounting to keep the cash flowing to its pet projects — such as the F-35 Lightning II. Personnel levels have also fallen across all branches.

But the less obvious answer is that no one wants to pilot drones. It’s an awful job where a pilot — instead of sitting in a cockpit — sits inside a metal box in front of a computer screen for hours. Drone pilots are overworked, over-stressed and pissed off.

No wonder the Pentagon can’t find good pilots...

https://warisboring.com/piloting-drones-is-the-worst-job-in-the-military-8492289d8b8d#.gft53ywym
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Offline Eye In The Sky

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Re: Drone Pilot Shortage worries US officials- article
« Reply #33 on: December 23, 2016, 21:33:41 »
Simple solution; let the drones fly themselves  ;D and have pilots for RPA/UAVs!!

 >:D
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Re: Drone Pilot Shortage worries US officials- article
« Reply #34 on: May 05, 2017, 18:13:39 »
Necropost but the USAF is starting their Enlisted RPA Pilot program on the RQ-4 Global Hawk soon. 

From the article, it looks like they will be re-treads from Staff Sgt and above who are already aircrew.

http://www.af.mil/News/ArticleDisplay/tabid/223/Article/828066/af-selects-first-enlisted-airmen-for-global-hawk-pilot-training.aspx

Update:  They've graduated.

https://www.airforcetimes.com/articles/first-enlisted-rpa-pilots-graduate
Philip II of Macedon to Spartans (346 BC):  "You are advised to submit without further delay, for if I bring my army into your land, I will destroy your farms, slay your people, and raze your city."

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