Update: The Air Force selected 30 enlisted candidates for RPA training from this board.
The Air Force recently announced it had received 185 applications from enlisted personnel to fly the RQ-4 Global Hawk, the long range, high altitude, fly-by-keyboard unmanned aircraft. This marks the first time the Air Force has selected enlisted personnel to “fly” the UAVs.
“Expanding opportunities in the RPA program is Read more
The US Air Force is initiating a program to help “a moral injury form of PTSD” that may be developing in UAV operators:
[UAV operators] watch and listen to an objective for days on end, learning everything about the intended target. Then, when approval is granted for a strike, they watch the results in high-definition, Atkins said.
Fear-based PTSD is something that combat personnel experience, but there is also a moral injury form of PTSD which can affect ISR cryptology personnel, Atkins said. Dealing with, and treating, fear-based PTSD is different than dealing with the type of PTSD that goes against a person’s beliefs and morals.
It is admirable the Air Force has officially Read more
Update: The Air Force just released the results of the most recent selection board, indicating more than 300 enlisted troops had been chosen to begin the process to become RPA pilots.
Two Air Force Master Sergeants recently became the first enlisted Airmen in decades to solo during Air Force flight training:
Both soloed in a DA-20 Katana at Pueblo Memorial Airport as part of the Air Force’s IFT program, which is mandatory for all manned aircraft pilots, combat systems officers and remotely piloted aircraft pilots.
The Air Force announced Read more
The Air Force has decided that operators of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs, also known as Remotely Piloted Aircraft, RPAs) can log time in combat — even if they never leave the desert of Nevada:
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III authorized RPA aircrews to log combat time when flying an aircraft within designated hostile airspace, regardless of the aircrew’s physical location.
What is unclear is whether those same operators will now be entitled to Imminent Danger Pay (Combat Pay) and the Combat Zone Tax Exclusion (CZTE).
Allowing those operators to claim “combat” time while physically Read more
Hearkening back to the days of the “flying sergeant,” the US Air Force will soon allow enlisted personnel to control RQ-4 Global Hawks:
“Our enlisted force is the best in the world and I am completely confident they will be able to do the job and do it well,” said Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James…
The secretary and chief directed Air Combat Command to develop an implementation plan over the next six months to address items like entry requirements, training plans, career path development, delineation of duties, compensation details and an appropriate force mix. Implementation is focused on the Global Hawk community, not the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper force.
To be fair, the RQ-4 is a “fly by keyboard” drone: While it Read more
In March, the Air Force announced it had selected 87 company grade officers for Undergraduate Flying Training (UFT). UFT in Air Force parlance includes training for pilots, UAV operators, systems operators, and Air Battle Managers.
The Air Force does not release the numbers of total applicants, though it seems reasonable to conclude a few hundred applied. As the selectees were divided into a further four groups, only one of which was pilots, it seems the pilot track in the Air Force remains quite difficult to enter from active duty.
It can be done, as Read more
After it just recently served as a surface-to-air target for the first time, the Air Force announced the first successful downing of the pilotless QF-16 drone:
The first unmanned QF-16 Viper struck down over the Gulf of Mexico Sept. 5 was part of a joint effort between the Test and Training Division at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and the 82nd Aerial Target Squadron here at Tyndall.
The QF-16 is slated to eventually replace the current QF-4 full-scale drones. Read more
A congressionally-requested Government Accounting Office report on the US Air Force drone community was recently publicized:
Senate leaders in Sept. 2012 asked the GAO to study the Air Force’s approach to managing the remotely piloted aircraft crews, which has tripled since 2008…
The intent was to analyze how the drone community is being managed and treated, in the face of rumors of low morale, low promotion rates, and underappreciated warfighters. The GAO created and interviewed focus groups, concluding: Read more