Air Force to Introduce 100 Drone Pilots by 2020

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Air Force is going to start its 1st drone pilot training in October in which 10 airmen will participate and by 2020 it is estimated that around hundreds of trained drone pilots will be there serving for the army.

Air Force said that, “The first class of enlisted airmen is expected to graduate from RPA pilot training in 2017, and become the Air Force’s first enlisted pilots since World War II. The enlisted RPA pilots will only fly unarmed RQ-4 Global Hawks, which conduct high-altitude reconnaissance missions at up to 60,000 feet”.

Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said, “We’ll take this important step in a deliberate manner so that we can learn what works and what we’ll need to adjust as we integrate our highly capable enlisted force into flying this weapons system. The intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance mission continues to grow in importance and our enlisted force will be central to our success.”

By 2020, the Air Force hopes to have a little more than half of its 198 RQ-4 pilots be enlisted airmen. And by that point, roughly 70 percent of the 121 airmen flying Global Hawk missions on a day-to-day basis — not performing other duties such as staff positions at the wing — will be enlisted airmen, the Air Force said.

The training announcement represents the next major transformation in how the Air Force approaches piloting aircraft. Until now, enlisted airmen have only been able to serve as sensor operators alongside officers piloting RPAs — unlike the Army, which has allowed some enlisted drone pilots.

A brand new Air Force specialty code for enlisted RPA pilots — 1U100 — was setup on April 30, Senior Master Sgt. Kimberly Pollard, the Air Force’s specialty manager for enlisted RPA pilots and sensor operators said in an interview Wednesday.

Enlisted RPA pilots will also be eligible to receive the same flight pay their officer counterparts receive, said Col. Rob Romer, chief of the Air Force’s military force policy division.

The training program will take 34 weeks without any breaks, so the first training which will begin this October will end around Sep 2017. Then after they will be FAA certified pilots who can fly the Global Hawk in national and international airspace.

This post was syndicated from DronoMag

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