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Bos Mutus
12-17-2015, 05:58 PM
WASHINGTON (AFNS) --
Air Force officials announced a new initiative Dec. 17 to enhance the Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance mission by integrating enlisted remotely piloted aircraft pilots into the force.

Air Force officials stated a dynamic threat environment calls for innovative approaches to high-demand missions. After careful
consideration and with an eye toward potential future force needs, service officials plan to deliberately integrate the enlisted force into flying operations, starting with the RQ-4 Global Hawk.

“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 RPA enterprise is doing incredibly important work and this is the right decision to ensure the Air Force is positioned to support the future threat environment. Emerging requirements and combatant commander demands will only increase; therefore, we will position the service to provide warfighters and our nation the capability they deserve today and in the future.”

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.

http://www.af.mil/News/ArticleDisplay/tabid/223/Article/637192/af-introduces-enlisted-global-hawk-pilots.aspx


So, this is kinda huge for the AF...

Absinthe Anecdote
12-17-2015, 07:50 PM
So, this is kinda huge for the AF...

It is damned huge and I bet there was a big fight about it. Although the officer corps hated UAVs, they were against giving up any pilot seat to the enlisted force.

The things fly themselves anyway, and it is a stretch to call it a pilot seat.

I guess enough of the old guard retired to allow it, or the officer pilots bitched enough about being assigned to them.

Global Hawk missions are long and pretty damned boring most of the time, even if you are working with data from the sensors.

The pilots have little to nothing to do with the data that is being collected, so it has to be extremely boring.

When I left the Air Force the Global Hawk had a lot of problems and wasn't ready to take over the U-2 mission.

I'm guessing they have worked the bugs out and platforms like Global Hawk will eventually take over RJ-135 missions too.

Airborne
12-19-2015, 07:11 AM
So, this is kinda huge for the AF...

Kinda huge but still a disservice. These slots should be warrant officers.

TJMAC77SP
12-19-2015, 01:46 PM
Kinda huge but still a disservice. These slots should be warrant officers.


Then there wouldn't be anyone flying Global Hawks.

UncaRastus
12-19-2015, 03:53 PM
The USMC have an MOS for that, amongst the enlisted. 7314 UAV Controller. That's been around for awhile.

MikeKerriii
12-19-2015, 04:21 PM
Kinda huge but still a disservice. These slots should be warrant officers.

The USAF has not had warrants for a VERY long time.

If an NCO can command an M-1 Tank and crew in combat, a semi-autonomous drone, with no lives at stake is a relatively trivial responsibility.

Shrike
12-19-2015, 09:30 PM
Wow. For many, many years the USAF has operated under one very big, very obvious lie that everyone's just kind of silently agreed to: that it takes an officer to fly a plane. This, in spite of the service's very own storied history of enlisted flyers.

Absinthe Anecdote
12-19-2015, 10:01 PM
Wow. For many, many years the USAF has operated under one very big, very obvious lie that everyone's just kind of silently agreed to: that it takes an officer to fly a plane. This, in spite of the service's very own storied history of enlisted flyers.

I once asked CMSAF Murray if he thought it was feasible to provide the enlisted force a path to the pilot's seat like the Army's warrant officer program for helicopter pilots.

He dodged the question as I expected he would.

I'm not that surprised this happened with the Global Hawk. You can make a very strong case that it doesn't require a pilot.

With Global Hawks the computer flies it nearly all the time. I'm not sure if it is like the Predators were a separate crew at the launch and recovery base handles take offs and landings.

You could make a case that the crew that launches and lands them are pilots.

Once it is at altitude another crew takes over.

During the mission that other crew that might be on the opposite side of the globe from where the aircraft is flying.

Plus, the Global Hawk's mission profile puts it way above the weather, like the U-2. That aircraft is on autopilot most of the time too. The "pilots" are just entering waypoints for it to fly to.