Drone Pilot Trainees Now the Majority

Discussion in 'SitRep' started by comiso90, Jun 25, 2009.

  1. comiso90

    comiso90 Active Member

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    WASHINGTON -- More troops will be trained as unmanned airplane operators than as fighter or bomber pilots combined, the U.S. Air Force said.

    The increased number of drone operators signals a turning point for the military branch as it relies increasingly on unmanned aircraft in concert with piloted aircraft, USA Today reported Tuesday. The "Unmanned System Update" report indicated the Air Force plans to develop drones that would be fighters, bombers and tankers.

    The Air Force said it will train 240 pilots to fly Predator and Reaper drones compared with 214 fighter and bomber pilots for fiscal year 2009 ending Sept. 30. Officials said there are 550 drone operators compared with 3,700 fighter and 900 bomber pilots.


    "The capability provided by the unmanned aircraft is game-changing," Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz told USA Today. "We can have eyes 24/7 on our adversaries. The importance of that is clear in the feedback from the ground troops -- this is a capability they don't want to be without."

    Lexington Institute military analyst Loren Thompson told USA Today intelligence-gathering has been the Pentagon's weak spot for years but has improved recently.

    .
     
  2. lingo

    lingo Member

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    I can quite see that. More and more nations are investing in UAVs to undertake risky missions as well as long duration patrolling. We will need more transport crews though if we keep taking on commitments.
     
  3. Soundbreaker Welch?

    Soundbreaker Welch? Active Member

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    The end of an era? :(
     
  4. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

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    Definitely. See it in private aviation. It is all becoming systems with the machines better at getting there without problems than the pilots. Learned to fly with steam gauges, not much different from the pilots of the 30s. Now, it's all GPS, PFD (Primary Flight Display), MFD, Flight Director, ect. You don't fly as much as manage. Turn this knob, input that airport, input your climb rate and allign the tracking bug. You're more a computer operator than a pilot and your training is more, "What do you do when the computers tank out."

    Take off and landings are still hands on, but that will probably change someday soon too. With WAAS on your GPS, you can fly the airplane down to something like 6ft of any given spot on the runway. Heard most of the problems the UAV guys have is with landings (Army lands by computer, Air Force by Pilot- AF has more crashes on landing).

    Pilots are one or two steps away from being baggage.
     
  5. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Many of the grads from the academy see a drone slot as a career ender before it begins.
     
  6. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    I wonder if there was a similar attitude in the navy when subs first came around. Or Army when helo's came on the scene.
     
  7. comiso90

    comiso90 Active Member

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    #7 comiso90, Jun 25, 2009
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2009
    "Oh I have slipped the surly bonds of my desk chair; And typed on keyboards' wireless wavelength; Back to my computer I stumble, with pizza in hand, and touch the face of Google."


    ....

    not the same ring to it..........

    .
     
  8. comiso90

    comiso90 Active Member

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    Similar attitude by many when mech replaced beasts.

    .
     
  9. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Don't think so - its a matter of being in the "spotlight" and being able to move up professionally. Usually if you fly fighters or bombers you're and have seen combat you'll find yourself in staff colleges alot easier so I've been told.
     
  10. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    You're a goofball!:lol::lol::lol:
     
  11. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    But this might now be a change in things. I wouldn't doubt that sec' defense will make sure the drone operators move on up in the ranks.
     
  12. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    The sec' defense doesn't sign pilot evals.......
     
  13. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    But he has a lot of influence on who becomes general.

    He's the one who recommends them to congress for making their rank official.
     
  14. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    You have to make Major or LtCol first - that's the problem
     
  15. Amsel

    Amsel Active Member

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    It makes sense that there would be more drones then F-22's or F-35's. A drone operator and a F-22 pilot are not even in the same league. A Predator is not an F-22, huge difference in price and capabilities.
     
  16. Butters

    Butters Member

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    Are the new drone operaters to be mainly enlisted or officers? I know that I'd be pretty PO'ed if I were an Academy grad being pushed into drone school...

    It seems to me that the trend towards a UCAV-heavy air force is inevitable. The sheer cost of 5th gen a/c (Officials are saying that the first 500 F-35's are gonna cost $200 million a pop. Who knows how much it will actually be...) and the continuing advances in sensor and guidance technology is going to make a it very difficult to justify large traditional air forces, esp with no truly formidable adversaries on the immediate horizon.

    JL
     
  17. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    The US Army and Navy has enlisted UAV pilots, the USAF has some enlisted pilots.
     
  18. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    I disagree to a point.

    There is no doubt that UAVs UCAVs are the wave of the future, but there will continue to be a manned mission for a number of reasons (we've had this discussion before). In the long run the cost justification will be operational longevity, especially if there are no formidable adversaries. If these aircraft last as long as the B-52 (and they may) the end means will justify the cost.
     
  19. Butters

    Butters Member

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    #19 Butters, Jun 26, 2009
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2009
    I agree that manned combat a/c are going to be absolutely necessary for the forseeable future. What should be a concern is the fact that the F-22/F-35 are both horrendously expensive, and in the case of the Raptor at least, very maintenance intensive. The F-35 doesn't impress me as having much bang for the buck, given its limited stealth, small payload, less than impressive range, and suspect A/A capabilities. I would be far from surprised if many of the non-US customers decide that the escalating costs are just too much, and start shopping around elsewhere. That's not gonna help the unit costs for the remaining customers. And whether or not those expensive-to-operate* jets will last for 50 yrs is not going to be the main concern for those who will have to pay for them NOW.

    * see: F-22 Raptor plagued by stealth maintenance woes (2/20/09) -- www.GovernmentExecutive.com

    JL
     
  20. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    #20 FLYBOYJ, Jun 26, 2009
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2009
    A few comments there...

    That article as usual from US "watchdog" groups is, well putting it lightly, a bunch of BS. Maintenance woes? When DS 1 went down, look at the MC rate of the F-117A, and that was a much harder aircraft to maintain. What is not mentioned is a 10% chenge in MC rate could mean between 3 and 5 aircraft down depending how you do the math. One commentator cites a 60% MC rate which is about what the aircraft should be at this time in its career.

    As far as the costs - again its going to depend what the customer orders. The VSTOL version will certainly cost more. As far as the payload - the capability to deliver smaller ordnance that will do more damage is part of the concept.

    I know people who designed the X-35 and are currently on this program. There is a lot not being advertised about this aircraft and in the end I feel its detractors will eventually be silenced and with that potential customers will pay the price for this aircraft, especially if they are included in any production off-set deals. Its funny, I remember hearing the same arguments against the F-15 and F-16 in the mid 70s and of course cost was always mentioned.
     
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