GAO: USAF Doesn’t Have Enough RPA Pilots, Sensor Operators for New Squadron

The Air Force may not have enough remotely piloted aircraft pilots and sensor operators to stand up a new wing in 2024, as it struggles to retain personnel and increase the size of its instructor pilot cadre, the Government Accountability Office says in a new report.

The service is planning to open a new RPA wing so it can have enough dwell time within the RPA community to take a squadron off combat operations to focus on training. The GAO, in the June 25 report, states “the Air Force does not have enough pilots and sensor operators to meet its staffing targets for its unmanned aircraft.” The organization bases this claim on years of staffing data, along with 14 focus group meetings at three operational bases.


AI-infused training coming for drone pilots, sensor ops

The Air Force is expanding its experiment with advanced, artificial intelligence-infused pilot training to the pipeline for creating drone pilots and sensor operators.

The program, called RPA Training Next, takes some cues from the Air Force’s Pilot Training Next program. In a June 1 interview, program director Maj. Adam “Boomer” Smith said this new, high-tech system of learning has the potential to teach new remotely piloted aircraft aircrew faster and more efficiently than the old system, and fine-tune their lessons to what they actually need.


6 new capabilities powering the unmanned revolution

In July 2018, a remotely piloted aircraft ? the MQ-9B SkyGuardian ? flew from the United States to the United Kingdom, landing after a 24-hour trans-Atlantic flight using the same routes as manned aircraft. It was a first in the world of medium-altitude, long-endurance RPA. But it also foreshadows how ongoing and future MALE RPA concepts of operations will evolve.The unmanned aircraft revolution is inexorably underway thanks to six new capabilities.


MQ-9 automated landing, takeoff

The U.S. Air Force (USAF) completed the first-ever automated landing of an MQ-9 Block 5 remotely piloted aircraft (RPA), followed by the first auto-takeoff. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. (GA-ASI) developed the automatic takeoff and landing capability (ATLC).

?This new, all-weather capability greatly increases the autonomy, flexibility, combat effectiveness, and safety of the MQ-9 Reaper for the USAF,? says David R. Alexander, president, Aircraft Systems, GA-ASI.

Auto launch and recovery during critical phases of RPA flight enlarges the operational envelope for cross-wind operations and divert-field landing. The ATLC development program remains on track for fielding in Q4 2019.

This dramatic video shows China’s answer to America’s top combat drone blowing things to bits

The developers of one of China’s newest and most advanced combat drones have released a new video showcasing its destructive capabilities.

The video was released just one week prior to the start of the China International Aviation & Aerospace Exhibition in Zhuhai, Guangdong, China, where this drone made its debut in 2016.

China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation’s CH-5 combat drone, nicknamed the “Air Bomb Truck” because it soars into battle with 16 missiles, is the successor to the CH-4, which many call the “AK-47 of drones.”

Navy, Air Force Are Gaming the Recruiting System

Remotely operating an unmanned vehicle (UxV) has often been compared to playing a video game. But while there is a lot more to it than that, the military has found that games do have value in helping them identify potential recruits who have the abilities needed for drone piloting. New programs by the Navy and Air Force are reinforcing the idea that specifically tailored gaming systems can reveal the cognitive skills and personality traits necessary to operate their growing ranks of UxVs.

The Office of Naval Research (ONR) is sponsoring the development of a game called StealthAdapt, which will look beyond game scores by giving players a range of activities closer to those of actual UxV operators and measuring how well they handle it.