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Drone Pilot Shortage worries US officials- article

CougarKing

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Not enough people from other US military trades/MOSes going into the drone pilot trade?

The Hill

Drone pilot shortage worries Dem senator
Getty Images
By Kristina Wong - 09/03/15 05:50 PM EDT
Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) sent a letter to Defense Secretary Ashton Carter on Thursday expressing concern over the Pentagon's plans to dramatically increase drone flights over the next four years amid a drone pilot shortfall.

"There is indeed a need for broadened surveillance and intelligence collection, but I remain very concerned that the anticipated growth is unsustainable without corresponding growth in recruitment, training, and retention," he wrote in a Sept. 1 letter.

Heinrich is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and represents Holloman Air Force Base and Cannon Air Force Base in New Mexico, which he said are the nation's premier drone pilot training locations.
Last month, the Pentagon confirmed a Wall Street Journal report that it was planning to increase by 50 percent the number of daily drone flights to cover hotspots including Ukraine, Iraq, Syria, the South China Sea and North Africa.

(...SNIPPED)
 

Loachman

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No more than a manned aircraft, armed or not.

The actual flying skill is only one part of the job.

And I despise the misuse of the term "drone". A remotely-piloted aircraft is not a drone.
 

dimsum

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tomahawk6 said:
Kids out of high school could fly drones and be happy doing it.

Let's put it into perspective - RPAs can be large (Global Hawk wingspan is more than the length of a 737 airliner) and/or armed with Hellfires and laser-guided bombs.  Would you be comfortable with "kids out of high school" flying large armed aircraft? 
 

tomahawk6

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Dimsum said:
Let's put it into perspective - RPAs can be large (Global Hawk wingspan is more than the length of a 737 airliner) and/or armed with Hellfires and laser-guided bombs.  Would you be comfortable with "kids out of high school" flying large armed aircraft?

Ok Loachman how about UAV ? Yes I would trust kids out of high school to fly the Army unmanned aircraft because we already have UAV operators unlike the USAF.
 

kev994

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The pilot is the mission commander, with a crew, and ROE that may vary by user or theatre, you're probably working in high level airspace. It's not that easy.
 

Old Sweat

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Apples and Oranges, folks.

The Reaper, Predator et al are very sophisticated platforms, while there are smaller UAVs operated by organizations such as the UAV Troop in the STA battery in the artillery field regiments. The latter can be operated successfully by quite junior ranks. In fact we had these deployed in Afghanistan starting with TF 3-06, although there were teething problems in the early rotos.
 

Baz

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Old Sweat said:
Apples and Oranges, folks.

The Reaper, Predator et al are very sophisticated platforms, while there are smaller UAVs operated by organizations such as the UAV Troop in the STA battery in the artillery field regiments. The latter can be operated successfully by quite junior ranks. In fact we had these deployed in Afghanistan starting with TF 3-06, although there were teething problems in the early rotos.

My USAF LCol at AGSIO was an ex KC-135 pilot, but current Global Hawk pilot.  He was also responsible for AGS flight operations planning in Europe.  KC-135 was definitely easier...

Super simple to *fly* the aircraft; complex to to C2 it in airspace.  Even before you start thinking about the mission.
 

Loachman

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Old Sweat said:
Apples and Oranges, folks.

The Reaper, Predator et al are very sophisticated platforms, while there are smaller UAVs operated by organizations such as the UAV Troop in the STA battery in the artillery field regiments. The latter can be operated successfully by quite junior ranks. In fact we had these deployed in Afghanistan starting with TF 3-06, although there were teething problems in the early rotos.

Yes. The Scan Eagle operators in KAF were Bombardiers with possibly a few Master Bombardiers. They were not "kids out of high school", having at least a few years' worth of training and experience and, therefore, a little tactical knowledge. Our AVOs (Air Vehicle Operators) and POs (Payload Operators) on Sperwer were the same, but MCs (Masters of Ceremonies Mission Commanders) were exclusively Tac Hel Pilots. Three of us had multiple flying tours, and one was late in his first.

The Scan Eagle guys often seemed to lack confidence on the ATC radio, but otherwise, their performance appeared to be alright. They may well have been closely supervised from outside of the box. We supervised ourselves within.

Flying an RC aircraft is not hard. Employing it effectively and safely in a combat zone requires a little more ability and knowledge than one would find in even the most brilliant highschooler.
 
J

jollyjacktar

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Dimsum said:
Let's put it into perspective - RPAs can be large (Global Hawk wingspan is more than the length of a 737 airliner) and/or armed with Hellfires and laser-guided bombs.  Would you be comfortable with "kids out of high school" flying large armed aircraft?

My uncle, who is my Avatar, was a kid recently out of high school, flying a bombed up Halifax when he was KIA.  We've done it before and today we have kids crewing large armoured vehicles with great big nasty main guns.  Why should RPA be any different?
 

dimsum

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Old Sweat said:
Apples and Oranges, folks.

The Reaper, Predator et al are very sophisticated platforms, while there are smaller UAVs operated by organizations such as the UAV Troop in the STA battery in the artillery field regiments. The latter can be operated successfully by quite junior ranks. In fact we had these deployed in Afghanistan starting with TF 3-06, although there were teething problems in the early rotos.

Risking piling onto the bandwagon, I'll reiterate what OS said:

pgL_GH-10021_041.jpg
Global Hawk
Royal_Air_Force_General_Atomics_Aeronautical_Systems_MQ-9_Reaper_Afghanistan_Air_Base.jpg
Reaper

and

scan-eagle_1.jpg
Scan Eagle
116.jpg
Sperwer

are not the same.  There are tiers of RPAs, from micro
ingiliz-ordusu-na-16-gramlik-drone.jpg
to Global Hawk-sized.


ETA:  Jolly, I personally have no problem with trained "kids out of high school", as in NCMs with some experience, flying RPAs or any other aircraft, as your uncle would have been.  My pet peeve is that people seem to think that RPAs aren't "real aircraft" and therefore 18-year old Johnny or Janey can jump into the Ground Control Station, look at the Matrix-like bank of screens for aircraft control and comms, and operate potentially large armed aircraft - when they wouldn't think the same for an F-15 (or a Halifax) without tons of specialized training. 

If you, in an aircraft, get into a collision with one of those things, only one set of crews will survive, and I'm betting on the ones 1000 miles away on the ground.  You would want those crews to be fully conversant with C2, airspace, operations as well as aircraft handling, no?
 
J

jollyjacktar

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But of course, I wouldn't expect anything less than a properly trained crewmember, however young or old, flying what must be a very expensive platform that has real world consequences for mistakes made on the ground.  My comment was geared more towards the age of the crewmember vs the training level as an objection or consideration of feasibility of success.
 

dimsum

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jollyjacktar said:
But of course, I wouldn't expect anything less than a properly trained crewmember, however young or old, flying what must be a very expensive platform that has real world consequences for mistakes made on the ground.  My comment was geared more towards the age of the crewmember vs the training level as an objection or consideration of feasibility of success.

I think we're violently agreeing here, but as I said, it's the perception of dropping in "any kid" that I disagree with.
 
J

jollyjacktar

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Agreed, perfectly logical and sane.  Unless, it's Hollywood...  ;)
 

tomahawk6

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The average high school kid has alot of hours flying sim's.It may be alot easier for them to operate a UAV as a result.
 

Loachman

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Again, the flying skill is only a small part of the package.
 

tomahawk6

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I agree with you.Like any job in the military the operators are supervised. :camo:
 

Loachman

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It's not just supervision, but also the tactical experience and maturity of the AV Operator.

The smaller systems, which would be more in line with what the basic KOHS (Kid Out of High School) is super-capable of operating, are employed at company/platoon level. They are extremely short-range, and low-altitude, so there should not be much requirement to learn about airspace structure and control thereof, but...

Do you want that KOHS stumbling around where things are going "Bang" and "Whoosh"?

Certainly not without, at a minimum, his/her basic trade qualification and high-readiness/pre-deployment training. Should he/she also not have been around long enough to develop an awareness of what happens around them, so that they can stay alive and operate their machine in an effective manner? That requires tactical knowledge - where to look, what to look for.

So - are you going to pick the newest, freshest, most-recently-KOHS Private, or some guy that's been around for a couple of years and has a schmick?
 

dimsum

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Loachman said:
It's not just supervision, but also the tactical experience and maturity of the AV Operator.

The smaller systems, which would be more in line with what the basic KOHS (Kid Out of High School) is super-capable of operating, are employed at company/platoon level. They are extremely short-range, and low-altitude, so there should not be much requirement to learn about airspace structure and control thereof, but...

Do you want that KOHS stumbling around where things are going "Bang" and "Whoosh"?

Certainly not without, at a minimum, his/her basic trade qualification and high-readiness/pre-deployment training. Should he/she also not have been around long enough to develop an awareness of what happens around them, so that they can stay alive and operate their machine in an effective manner? That requires tactical knowledge - where to look, what to look for.

So - are you going to pick the newest, freshest, most-recently-KOHS Private, or some guy that's been around for a couple of years and has a schmick?

I'd add that if you're talking about medium-or-higher altitude RPAs, that person should have the airspace/crew training to understand the radio comms, airspace/ATC procedures, etc.  I'm not saying it must be a wings-qualified military Pilot/Nav, but people with that knowledge and experience will greatly assist in lowering the amount of inadvertent airborne metal (or carbon-fiber) bashing, especially if RPAs will no longer be segregated from other IFR/VFR traffic, such as what Australia is doing now. 

If RPAs will be sharing the circuit and terminal airspace with Private aircraft and airliners, shouldn't the RPA Pilots at least have the level of knowledge/experience as the guy in the Cessna 172 buzzing around?
 

cupper

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Loachman said:
Again, the flying skill is only a small part of the package.

Take off and landings skills come into play.

But the most important skills are looking cool in aviator sunglasses and proper wear of the flight suit and leather jacket. >:D
 
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