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Non- Officers Allowed to Fly Drones: Air Force Follows Predecessor

Dec 18, 2015 05:44 AM EST

The Air Force has announced a new policy that allows enlisted non- officers to become drone pilots for the first time, on Thursday, in a bid to help meet demands for increased surveillance over global hot spots. After months of study, the Air Force has taken the initiative as a part of overhauling the growing drone program. The force has been tattering in acute shortage of officers to serve as drone pilots for quite a longer period.

The demands for aerial intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance- ISR, are growing rapidly for counter terrorism operations or more specifically combating IS. The drone pilots are over worked and new training courses are yet to get redesigned.

According to most recent available data, some 180 drone pilots have been trained in 2014, but 240 pilots have left the field since then. Non- commissioning of new drone pilots has caused immense pressure upon the existing pilots, who are supposed to be exhausted serving days after days, in long consecutive working shifts, according to a report published in the Los Angeles Times.

The drone pilots have even complaining for demoralizing work conditions in Creech Airbase of Nevada. Some pilots have reported to get compelled to work six days a week and flying for 900 to 1100 hours a year. The fighter pilots need to log 200 to 300 flight hours annually, which resembles the additional workloads, the drone pilots are burdening now, reports Yahoo Finance quoting The Financial Times.

As per the announcement, qualified enlisted personnel will be allowed to fly the unarmed RQ-4 Global Hawk Spy Drone initially. MQ- 1 Predator and MQ- 9 Reaper drones may eventually be added to their portfolio, reports Walkileaks. Air Force has adopted a policy to clear the way for non- commissioning officers to serve as drone pilot, following directions from Air Defense Secretary Deborah Lee James, delivered to Air Combat Command. Air Combat Command, coordinator for drone operations, has gone through a detailed study and planned the drone project overhauling.

During World War II, The Army Air Corps., predecessor to the Air Force, allowed enlisted airmen to fly warplanes. But in recent developments, only the officers are allowed to fly warplanes, even the drones. Following predecessor, Air Force has approached to enlist non- officer personnel, since its earlier bid for alluring the officers towards annual monetary incentives has reported to witness reluctance among the pilots in drone flying.

The Air Force adopted policy, unveiled on Thursday, has allowed enlisted non- officers to become drone pilots for the first time. The announcement appears to be an alternative measure after the Air Force has apparently failed to allure officers to become drone pilots against annual monetary incentive. The decision is believed to be a similar one that has been adopted by its predecessor. The Army Air Corps., which too allowed enlisted airmen to fly warplanes in WWII.

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