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Our Last Word on UAV's . . . Maybe

Posted by aaron on July 13, 2009

A US Air Force audit has determined that it’s cheaper to train a force of specialized UAV pilots than to build that same career field by pulling already fully trained fighter pilots out of the cockpit. DUH!! The report states that it costs the Air Force around $2.6 million to train a fighter pilot from start to combat ready. The audit also recommends, for those officers identified for the UAV track, that twenty unnecessary weeks be eliminated from the current undergraduate pilot training syllabus. For officers selected for the UAV career track, eight weeks of undergraduate UAV specific instruction would be added and twelve weeks graduate training. This Air Force audit estimates the cost of training a full up UAV pilot using this program would be about $135,000. Seems pretty obvious which way to go, $2.6 million versus $135,000.

The Cockpit of the Future is Here Today

Predator Controls

The Air Force’s answer to this report is that they were aware of all this and had pretty much already implemented most of these recommendations plus other measures to make the UAV career field more desirable. For example, the first class of UAV pilots have recently graduated from the prestigious Air Force Weapons School. These five will be the initial cadre of instructors for future students at the school. Developments like this and the Air Force's plan to implement a dedicated training program for young officers desiring or selected for a UAV career seem to indicate that the need for fighter pilots to fill these slots will become greatly reduced in the future. However, as the need for "pilots" for Predators, Reapers and new UAV platforms increase, will their very existence mean the need for fighter pilots and fighter jets will become less and less?


Posted by RogerKempCol on
Yippee...flying R/C for free. you don't have to build em, you don't really have to fly them, and someone else takes them off and lands them. Or, it just goes auto search direct nearest
and busts into the active pattern landing its' self.
Yep, I'm looking forward to having more of these in the airspace with me in the future! I have not seen yet, do they get half wings to go with the half an airplane.
Yeah, we are not going to need that gun anymore since we have BVR! Now we do not need the pilot anymore either since we have Cylons. Just ask Capt. get what you pay for!
Posted by GerryWerth on
Nice oped on UAV pilots. The basic problem is with ACC and their UAV program management office. That is why it has taken so long to develop a separate UAV training course . I worked on that problem as part of the Rated Management Executive council back in 2002. We suggested back then the AF develop a weapons system training course to replace the old Navigator training course. While we still need some navs, that requirement is dropping rapidly. AETC started working that, but again the problem is ACC. They seem to think that since UAVs expend weapons, you must be an experienced fighter pilot to do so. DUH!! Just who do you think fires the TOW missiles off of a Humvee or Apache helicopter in the Army??? Then they let a few old navs with a commercial pilot's license start flying, but insist they had problems landing the Predator, so back to ..."you must be an experienced AF trained pilot to operate one." Lets see, how about fixing the training program and get a decent simulator. There is no reason to ever use the real UAV airspace vehicle in the training program. Since the UAVs are launched and recovered remotely, how would the operator, sitting in a box in Indian Springs, ever know if a real vehicle was actually in the air??? And, I'm sure you meant your last question as retorical, right?
Posted by BristolBillBurnette on
Why are the UAV operators (having a hard time referring to them as pilots)
wearing flight suits? They are not flying and nomex protection is not
needed in case of fire - open the door and walk outside, plus they can carry
pencils etc., in one of those geek plastic things that fit into the shirt pocket..

The only plus I see in all this is the use of the ram tactic if required. It's a
lot easier to employ this last ditch maneuver when all that goes blank is a
computer screen.


computer screen.
Posted by Chiller on
I just returned from a year overseas and found a copy of Air Force Magazine
on my desk with a very informative article on UAVs. So now I have a very
important question to ask.

Why do UAV "pilots" wear nomex flight suits?

Just thought I'd throw that out there
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