Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Drone crashes mount at civilian airports
Washington Post ^ | November 30, 2012 | Craig Whitlock

Posted on 11/30/2012 11:02:45 PM PST by Seizethecarp

The U.S. Air Force drone, on a classified spy mission over the Indian Ocean, was destined for disaster from the start.

An inexperienced military contractor in shorts and a T-shirt, flying by remote control from a trailer at Seychelles International Airport, committed blunder after blunder in six minutes on April 4.

He sent the unarmed MQ-9 Reaper drone off without permission from the control tower. A minute later, he yanked the wrong lever at his console, killing the engine without realizing why.

As he tried to make an emergency landing, he forgot to put down the wheels. The $8.9 million aircraft belly-flopped on the runway, bounced and plunged into the tropical waters at the airport’s edge, according to a previously undisclosed Air Force accident investigation report.

The drone crashed at a civilian airport that serves a half-million passengers a year, most of them sun-seeking tourists. No one was hurt, but it was the second Reaper accident in five months — under eerily similar circumstances.

“I will be blunt here. I said, ‘I can’t believe this is happening again,’ ” an Air Force official at the scene told investigators afterward. He added: “You go, ‘How stupid are you?’ ”

The April wreck was the latest in a rash of U.S. military drone crashes at overseas civilian airports in the past two years. The accidents reinforce concerns about the risks of flying the robot aircraft outside war zones, including in the United States.

(Excerpt) Read more at washingtonpost.com ...


TOPICS: Foreign Affairs
KEYWORDS: aerospace; drone; uav
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-5051-53 next last
The drone "on a classified mission" piloted by a complete incompetent??? Way to go, Obama Admin!
1 posted on 11/30/2012 11:02:59 PM PST by Seizethecarp
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: Seizethecarp
I seem to recall that from the beginning, drone pilots were required to be “real” pilots...but then that requirement was dropped to save training costs.
2 posted on 11/30/2012 11:08:32 PM PST by Seizethecarp (Defend aircraft from "runway kill zone" mini-drone helicopter swarm attacks: www.runwaykillzone.com)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Seizethecarp

It was probably ‘classified’ afterwards in an attempt to cover it up. This is an 0bama tactic and was implemented in the aftermath of Benghazi. Has anyone interviewed those 30 something survivors yet? Are they dead or ‘sworn to secrecy’ or what? Huh, 0bamatollah?..


3 posted on 11/30/2012 11:11:14 PM PST by Obama_Is_Sabotaging_America (IMPEACH OBAMA)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Seizethecarp

Sounds like the average RC controlled plane hobbyist would be at least as good a drone pilot. And why airports at all, why not some deserted road?


4 posted on 11/30/2012 11:13:00 PM PST by HiTech RedNeck (How long before all this "fairness" kills everybody, even the poor it was supposed to help???)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Seizethecarp

Drone pilots don’t need to be actual pilots.

For a long time, unlike the other services, the Air Force tried to enforce the insane rule that only flight ready pilots could sit at the desk and fly a drone, if you had a twisted ankle, then you were pulled, it was insane and expensive, it doesn’t take an officer to sit at a computer and fly drones.


5 posted on 11/30/2012 11:20:33 PM PST by ansel12 (The only Senate seat GOP pick up was the Palin endorsed Deb Fischer's successful run in Nebraska)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: ansel12
I can think of a whole lot of reasons why it is preferable for drone pilots to be actual pilots! Not flight worthy, necessarily, regarding ankles, but mentally competent up to flight standards, certainly...as the accidents in this article seem to demonstrate.
6 posted on 11/30/2012 11:27:04 PM PST by Seizethecarp (Defend aircraft from "runway kill zone" mini-drone helicopter swarm attacks: www.runwaykillzone.com)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: Seizethecarp

I know a bunch of pilots. Civilian airline, AF fighter, Navy attack, presidential helo, build your own, Nam huey, glider for hire, acrobat, test, and so on. They are all are strange. They’re obsessive, but in a very controlled way — obsessively obsessive. I guess it comes from all the detailed procedures. Check this, check that, etc. You can see the procedures scrolling past their eyes. Another thing strange about them is you generally can’t rattle them. The only crazy one was the Navy attack pilot — he drank like an idiot on steroids — a fifth on a quiet night, but he died of old age.

Point is, when you have to fly a big tank of gas over people’s heads, you should have a pilot.


7 posted on 11/30/2012 11:27:17 PM PST by Born to Conserve
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Seizethecarp

‘I seem to recall that from the beginning, drone pilots were required to be “real” pilots...but then that requirement was dropped to save training costs.’

Actually, being a “real pilot” doesn’t help that much in flying a model aircraft. (which is essentially what these things are)


8 posted on 11/30/2012 11:28:03 PM PST by babygene
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: ansel12

Until a few of them crash....


9 posted on 11/30/2012 11:32:15 PM PST by Crim (Palin / West '12)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: Seizethecarp
An inexperienced military contractor in shorts and a T-shirt, flying by remote control from a trailer at Seychelles International Airport, committed blunder after blunder in six minutes on April 4.

Drone crash at SEZ. Snooze. Wake me up when one crashes at BOS.

10 posted on 11/30/2012 11:35:29 PM PST by cynwoody
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: babygene

The seat of the pants factor is obviously missing in the remote control mode. But also the computer watching over the controls should require certain common sense things like don’t kill the engine if you’re climbing, and if you’re headed for a belly flop put the wheels down in time, with manual exceptions having to hit an ESCAPE button or something similar to override.


11 posted on 11/30/2012 11:37:39 PM PST by HiTech RedNeck (How long before all this "fairness" kills everybody, even the poor it was supposed to help???)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: cynwoody

Well, a supposedly classified mission. Somehow you wouldn’t want a flight of that kind to get bungled so badly it might not even come back.


12 posted on 11/30/2012 11:39:04 PM PST by HiTech RedNeck (How long before all this "fairness" kills everybody, even the poor it was supposed to help???)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: Seizethecarp; Crim

The article seems to be focused on the Air Force, not the Army and and Navy.

The U.S. Army has used a combination of NCOs and Warrant Officers to operate its larger UAVs, and that program has been a success. But senior U.S. Air Force commanders have publicly rejected growing calls from air force commanders that NCOs be used as UAV operators. Meanwhile, the U.S. Air Force struggles to train enough UAV operators a year, while the U.S. Army has no problem finding and training many more than the air force needs. Most of the army operators use the small (two kg/4.5 pound) Raven UAV, which provides platoons, companies and vehicle convoys with aerial reconnaissance.

Interestingly, UAV operators each spend about 1,200 hours a year controlling UAVs in the air, versus 450 hours for army helicopter pilots and even less for air force pilots in the combat zone. Most army UAV operators are enlisted troops, while all air force ones are officers. The Raven training only lasts 80 hours, but this tiny UAV was designed for ease of use. It takes about five times longer to train operators for larger UAVs like Shadow, Predator and Reaper. The air force points out that the largest UAVs, like the Global Hawk, can cross oceans, and requires a high degree of training and skill. But it’s much more dangerous to fly a Raven within rifle range of enemy troops, and keep the little bird alive long enough to get the video feed needed to win the battle. Many of these army Raven operators are very, very good, mainly because they have hundreds of hours experience operating their UAVs while under fire. Few air force UAV drivers can claim this kind of experience.

There are other problems. The U.S. Department of Defense has been putting pressure on the air force to automate their UAV operations. The air force initially responded with complaints that they were overloaded. But then it became widely known that, while army UAVs have software that enables automatic take-off and landing, similar air force UAVs do not, and this has led to higher UAV losses for the air force. At the same time, the navy, and the British, are developing flight control software that allows pilots to control two or more UAVs while flying their own aircraft. In effect, these pilots would fly into combat with two or more UAVs under their control. The U.S. Air Force is under a lot of pressure to make this happen, so one team of UAV operators can control two or more aircraft.

It’s not that the air force can’t make this happen, it’s just that there’s a lot of resistance in the air force to replacing pilots with a lot of UAVs. Actually, there’s not much at stake in this dispute, other than possibly settling the decades old controversy over whether all pilots must be officers. The other services save a lot of money by using NCOs as UAV controllers. Sergeants and Petty Officers are paid less, and they don’t get flight pay. No one has been able to demonstrate any better performance on the part of the air force pilots who operate UAVs. In the long run, the enlisted UAV “pilots” will probably be superior, because they are making a career of this sort of thing.


13 posted on 11/30/2012 11:41:50 PM PST by ansel12 (The only Senate seat GOP pick up was the Palin endorsed Deb Fischer's successful run in Nebraska)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: ansel12

The above post (13) is fron a strategypage article, not from me.


14 posted on 11/30/2012 11:43:50 PM PST by ansel12 (The only Senate seat GOP pick up was the Palin endorsed Deb Fischer's successful run in Nebraska)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: Seizethecarp

Of course some 13 yr old hacker across the street couldn’t have gotten into the flight program......?...


15 posted on 11/30/2012 11:52:55 PM PST by mo (If you understand, no explanation is needed. If you don't understand, no explanation is possible.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: ansel12

16 posted on 12/01/2012 1:25:20 AM PST by 2ndDivisionVet (I'll raise $2million for Sarah Palin's presidential run. What'll you do?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: HiTech RedNeck
That's exactly what I was thinking. Who wrote the code to control these things anyway!? Real-time code is an exacting thing, you gotta pay attention to the details...leaving NOTHING to chance.

BTW..I just got a copy of "The Bourne Legacy" and there is a fantastic sequence involving drones, NRO sat-tracked implants, High powered sniper rifles and of all things..wolves. I think you would like it.




17 posted on 12/01/2012 1:50:43 AM PST by Bobalu (It is not obama we are fighting, it is the media.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: Seizethecarp

Agree.... and Pilots are more likely to know the rules of the airport, air space rules, and how to respond to the variables if weather, terrain, wind speed .....


18 posted on 12/01/2012 2:39:52 AM PST by tired&retired
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: tired&retired

At over $8 mill a pop, they are not saving much. $8 mil will pay for the difference between the cost of using pilots vs non pilots real quick.

Would be interesting to know the details. Race, gender, gender preference, education level ........ of the drone operator who crashed it.


19 posted on 12/01/2012 2:49:29 AM PST by tired&retired
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

To: tired&retired

The contractors they hire are pilots. The problem is that the Predator flight control system sucks. A couple of my friends flew predators and they say the flight control system feels like a throwback to MS Flightsim 95.


20 posted on 12/01/2012 3:16:18 AM PST by USNBandit (sarcasm engaged at all times)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

To: Seizethecarp

Checkleest? I don’need no steekin’ checkleest!


21 posted on 12/01/2012 3:16:18 AM PST by hattend (Firearms and ammunition...the only growing industries under the Obama regime.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Seizethecarp

Sounds like Obi has his candidate for second term FAA administrator.


22 posted on 12/01/2012 3:54:01 AM PST by muir_redwoods (Don't fire until you see the blue of their helmets)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Obama_Is_Sabotaging_America
It was probably ‘classified’ afterwards in an attempt to cover it up.

Bingo. This sounds like the real-life version of an episode of "Big Bang Theory" where Wolowitz takes the Mars Rover on an unauthorized excursion to impress his date and ends up driving it into a ditch.

23 posted on 12/01/2012 4:04:10 AM PST by Flick Lives (We're going to be just like the old Soviet Union, but with free cell phones!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: ansel12

At one time the USAAF had NCO pilots. IIRC at some time between the world wars, the decision was made to make them all warrant or commisioned officers to place them in a higher Geneva convention code category given the likelihood of being shot down behind enemy lines.


24 posted on 12/01/2012 4:11:11 AM PST by Joe 6-pack (Que me amat, amet et canem meum)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: Seizethecarp

DO they, like, drug test the ummmmm...like, pilots, mannnn?


25 posted on 12/01/2012 4:11:11 AM PST by Smokin' Joe (How often God must weep at humans' folly. Stand fast. God knows what He is doing)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: tired&retired
Would be interesting to know the details. Race, gender, gender preference, education level ........ of the drone operator who crashed it.

Oops!

26 posted on 12/01/2012 4:12:57 AM PST by Flick Lives (We're going to be just like the old Soviet Union, but with free cell phones!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 19 | View Replies]

To: babygene
Actually, being a “real pilot” doesn’t help that much in flying a model aircraft. (which is essentially what these things are)

Maybe not, but at least a 'real pilot' knows a stall, to check the landing gear, etc. because they've had a lot more riding on it than crashing a model.

Make dumb mistakes as a real pilot and they might be your last mistakes, ever.

27 posted on 12/01/2012 4:14:33 AM PST by Smokin' Joe (How often God must weep at humans' folly. Stand fast. God knows what He is doing)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: Born to Conserve
I guess it comes from all the detailed procedures. Check this, check that, etc.

Are there statistics comparing the number of crashes with a pilot at the controls as opposed to when a non-pilot is doing the flying? If there are and they show an overwhelming majority of the crashes happen with non-pilots at the controls, I wonder if the difference could be attributed to the lack of flight-science training for the non-pilots, not to mention the lack of understanding of what is really happening with a machine when it is in the air. Flying is a science and it occurs to me that the mentality that you describe is a scientific mind at work.

28 posted on 12/01/2012 4:15:12 AM PST by Tonytitan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: USNBandit

My impression is that most NCO drone pilots have outstanding control and gamesmanship skills, but if I am coordinating sorties for close air support or even holding patterns with larger aircraft in the vicinity, which might not be able to observe them by VFR, I’d prefer a seasoned pilot at their controls.


29 posted on 12/01/2012 4:22:25 AM PST by Cvengr (Adversity in life and death is inevitable. Thru faith in Christ, stress is optional.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

To: Obama_Is_Sabotaging_America
It was probably ‘classified’ afterwards in an attempt to cover it up. This is an 0bama tactic and was implemented in the aftermath of Benghazi. Has anyone interviewed those 30 something survivors yet? Are they dead or ‘sworn to secrecy’ or what? Huh, 0bamatollah?..

They are still "investigating" and cannot comment.

30 posted on 12/01/2012 4:36:50 AM PST by Erik Latranyi (When religions have to beg the gov't for a waiver, we are already under socialism.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: ansel12
Drone pilots don’t need to be actual pilots.

The *REAL* problem here is that nobody cares because a crashed drone does not come out of THEIR paycheck, unlike an R/C owner or private pilot.

31 posted on 12/01/2012 4:38:53 AM PST by Erik Latranyi (When religions have to beg the gov't for a waiver, we are already under socialism.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: Seizethecarp
An inexperienced military contractor ...

At least actual civil service folks would be trained...

32 posted on 12/01/2012 5:09:54 AM PST by trebb (Allies no longer trust us. Enemies no longer fear us.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: babygene

A real pilot knows what GUMP means, and NEVER initiates an approach to land without it. Gamers, nope.


33 posted on 12/01/2012 5:39:29 AM PST by wrench
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: Seizethecarp

This sounds a little like BS to me. Reapers have fixed landing gear like all predators. You can’t forget to put the gear down ‘cause you can’t raise them in the first place. Of course it could be just the standard stupid journalist ignorance of their subjects.


34 posted on 12/01/2012 5:39:50 AM PST by Afterguard (Liberals will let you do anything you want, as long as it's mandatory.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: USNBandit
...they say the flight control system feels like a throwback to MS Flightsim 95.

Knowing how the military operates, it probably is a throwback to MS Flightsim 95, if not SubLOGIC FS-II for the Commodore 64.

35 posted on 12/01/2012 5:42:49 AM PST by mvpel (Michael Pelletier)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

To: HiTech RedNeck

12 year old gamers could do better than some contractor “Pile It’s” Precedent Erkel Mugabe has forced the military to hire....

Just damn...


36 posted on 12/01/2012 5:46:22 AM PST by Squantos ( Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everyone you meet ...)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: Flick Lives

Now that’s just plain funny!


37 posted on 12/01/2012 6:12:11 AM PST by cameraeye (A happy kuffir!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 26 | View Replies]

To: Born to Conserve

My son, a rocket scientist, has met several astronauts. They’re obsessive, but in a very controlled way — obsessively obsessive....CUBED. They make most pilots look like reckless children.


38 posted on 12/01/2012 7:15:53 AM PST by W. W. SMITH ((Yuri Bezmenov (KGB Defector) - "Kick The Communists Out of Your Govt. & Don't Accept Their Goodies.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: Afterguard
Not true:

Gear up

Gear down

39 posted on 12/01/2012 7:28:37 AM PST by hattend (Firearms and ammunition...the only growing industries under the Obama regime.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 34 | View Replies]

To: Afterguard

The MQ-9 that was crashed in the article had retractable landing gear, unlike the MQ-1 that you are probably thinking of.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Atomics_MQ-9_Reaper

“The MQ-9 is the first hunter-killer UAV designed for long-endurance, high-altitude surveillance.[5]

“The MQ-9 is a larger, heavier, and more capable aircraft than the earlier MQ-1 Predator; it can be controlled by the same ground systems used to control MQ-1s. The Reaper has a 950-shaft-horsepower (712 kW) turboprop engine, far more powerful than the Predator’s 115 hp (86 kW) piston engine. The power increase allows the Reaper to carry 15 times more ordnance payload and cruise at almost three times the speed of the MQ-1.[5] Although the MQ-9 can fly pre-programmed routes autonomously, the aircraft is monitored or controlled by aircrew in the Ground Control Station (GCS) and weapons employment is commanded by the flight crew.”


40 posted on 12/01/2012 7:35:18 AM PST by Seizethecarp (Defend aircraft from "runway kill zone" mini-drone helicopter swarm attacks: www.runwaykillzone.com)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 34 | View Replies]

To: trebb
At least actual civil service folks would be trained...

Well, regarding union implemented breaks and restrictions at least.

41 posted on 12/01/2012 7:39:35 AM PST by ROCKLOBSTER (Celebrate "Republicans Freed the Slaves" Month)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 32 | View Replies]

To: HiTech RedNeck
Sounds like the average RC controlled plane hobbyist would be at least as good a drone pilot.

"At least as good??"

More like 100x better. These drones are just RC planes. They are probably taking kids who are "proficient" at MS Flight Simulator and making the fly the drones.

42 posted on 12/01/2012 7:53:19 AM PST by ProtectOurFreedom
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: ansel12
“The Raven training only lasts 80 hours, but this tiny UAV was designed for ease of use. It takes about five times longer to train operators for larger UAVs like Shadow, Predator and Reaper. The air force points out that the largest UAVs, like the Global Hawk, can cross oceans, and requires a high degree of training and skill.”

It seems to me that Reaper training requires the equivalent of an advanced instrument rating where the pilot can “fly blind” relying only on instruments. Try that with an RC model aircraft or an Army Raven! Ravens appear to be flown essentially VFR, not IFR.

I am not a pilot, but I did successfully complete the extensive pre-enlistment paper test battery for Marine Corps Aviation OCS before washing out for a heart condition. The test battery is essentially a glorified IQ test with an aeronautical aptitude overlay. The US military selects officers from above normal on the bell curve and pilots are chosen from test subjects way off in the right tail of the IQ bell-curve much further than most officers.

No training can significantly increase IQ and IQ is what is needed to stay alive or keep a drone in the air under extreme IFR conditions in all weather and at all altitudes near other aircraft and over civilian areas.

Enlisted men and women who can score that high on IQ (high enough to qualify for IFR heavy drone training) should be tracked into OCS to begin with to achieve their full potential, IMO.

43 posted on 12/01/2012 8:12:16 AM PST by Seizethecarp (Defend aircraft from "runway kill zone" mini-drone helicopter swarm attacks: www.runwaykillzone.com)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: ROCKLOBSTER
Well, regarding union implemented breaks and restrictions at least.

The union for most civil service is more of a work-conditions and representation when someone is being disciplined type deal. Once a civil servant reaches GS-11, there is no direct union "support" and the rules for working are really pretty strict. Folks where I work are allowed a total of 30 minutes "breaks" during the day and they fall in several 5 - 10 minute sessions that allow them time to hit the can between teaching sessions (we train new military for their career fields).

44 posted on 12/01/2012 8:15:00 AM PST by trebb (Allies no longer trust us. Enemies no longer fear us.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 41 | View Replies]

To: Seizethecarp
After President Cloward-Piven "overwhelms the system" he thinks he's going to be in charge and free to start on Bill Ayer's dream of murdering 10% of the US population.

I think he is a total incompetent whose only talent is screwing things up, which makes him perfect for his first goal of "overwhelming the system," but once he has to actually start making something work things won't turn out very well for him. Mussolini's end comes to mind.

45 posted on 12/01/2012 8:23:32 AM PST by E. Pluribus Unum (Labor unions are the Communist Party of the USA.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Seizethecarp

Does anyone know if the drone pilot yelled all achbar,


46 posted on 12/01/2012 9:18:27 AM PST by Rappini (Veritas vos Liberabit)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Seizethecarp

Complete incompetent hires Complete incompetent,par.


47 posted on 12/01/2012 10:20:40 AM PST by Vaduz
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Seizethecarp

I was steered into OCS at a time when the IQ was higher for enlisted Special Forces than it was for officers, they have since lowered it for SF, not increased it for officers, the military is full of enlisted IQs that meet officer standards.

It isn’t as though it is a high IQ job, they merely require a little above average.

The officer nonsense doesn’t hold up, that is why the other branches went with common sense and effectiveness. Drone flying is a sitting at a computer screen specialty, and a career line, it is a skill set, and a personality set, of it’s own.

Here are some highlights from a 2008 article. The Air Force is doing it’s usual effete, glamour boy posturing, glamour that is fading as they start realizing that piloted planes are becoming a thing of the past, besides, women do the job now.

“”The Air Force is desperate for UAV pilots, yet it stands alone among the services in its policy that only officers are allowed to fly large unmanned aerial vehicles.””

“”Critics, however, say that by restricting the UAV pilot career field to officers, the Air Force has unnecessarily limited its UAV growth potential — and point to the Army, in which enlisted soldiers fly UAVs in the war zones, track insurgents and fire on targets.

Those critics include some in Congress. The more congressional funding that goes to purchasing UAVs and training operators, the more lawmakers and their staffs are studying UAV operations.

One congressional staff member sitting in a defense authorization committee that has studied both Army and Air Force UAV pilot programs said questions arise about why the Air Force can’t have enlisted pilots.

“It’s difficult for us to come right out and say, ‘Air Force: You shall not use officers as pilots; you shall use sergeants,’” he said, asking not to be named. “But it’s perfectly obvious to everybody except senior levels of the Air Force that that’s what they need to do.”

Some critics point to enlisted UAV pilots as a potential cost-saving measure. Rated pilots, proficient after years of expensive training and flying hours, are cycled into UAV slots for two to three years at a minimum. When pilots return to manned aircraft, requalification training comes with a big price tag. It costs roughly $700,000, for example, to send F-15 pilots through a requalification course, according to a Rand Corp. report published in November.

Air Force leaders argue that comparisons between its programs and the Army’s are misleading because enlisted soldiers fly smaller UAVs that don’t carry the same weapons load as Air Force Reapers and Predators.

But that argument has lost weight as enlisted soldiers are set to fly the Sky Warrior — a UAV that is a foot longer and can carry 325 pounds more than the MQ-1 Predator — in Iraq this summer.

Four Sky Warriors armed with four Hellfire missiles will be deployed this summer and another four will be shipped a year later, said Maj. Jimmie Cummings, an Army spokesman.

The Navy also plans to add new maritime UAVs similar in size to the Predator and Sky Warrior, and Navy officials are considering establishing an enlisted job specialty for UAV pilots.

Maj. Hilton Nunez, Army UAV Division team chief, said the debate over whether a UAV pilot should have a commission is moot as long as that pilot receives the right training.””


48 posted on 12/01/2012 1:18:11 PM PST by ansel12 (The only Senate seat GOP pick up was the Palin endorsed Deb Fischer's successful run in Nebraska)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 43 | View Replies]

To: ansel12
“I was steered into OCS at a time when the IQ was higher for enlisted Special Forces than it was for officers, they have since lowered it for SF, not increased it for officers, the military is full of enlisted IQs that meet officer standards.”

I believe that pilot IQ standard is much higher than base-line officer standard. The military is properly inclined to entrust the most expensive, powerful and catastrophic equipment (in the event of human error) to those proved to be of the highest available raw intelligence on whom they lavish the most expensive training.

49 posted on 12/01/2012 3:33:01 PM PST by Seizethecarp (Defend aircraft from "runway kill zone" mini-drone helicopter swarm attacks: www.runwaykillzone.com)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 48 | View Replies]

To: Seizethecarp
Then there is John McCain, son and grandson of admirals who finished near last at Annapolis, IIRC...and went on to happen to be the pilot during numerous crashes. This (and other well-known moments of questionable judgment) calls into question whether his IQ was up to the standard applied to those whose ancestors were not so esteemed. Could McCain have have come in below minimum standard on flight school qualification testing, but been allowed to bump another higher performing cadet? Maybe he did...

Should drone piloting increasingly involving huge, jet-powered airframes flying in all weather over populated area be left to less then the most intelligent available drone drivers? BTW, the Israelis have a drone the size of a 737, IIRC.

50 posted on 12/01/2012 3:56:17 PM PST by Seizethecarp (Defend aircraft from "runway kill zone" mini-drone helicopter swarm attacks: www.runwaykillzone.com)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 49 | View Replies]


Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-5051-53 next last

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson