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?Rank doesn?t matter, only ability:? First all-enlisted crew operates RQ-4 Global Hawk in theater

An all-enlisted remotely piloted aircraft crew manned the RQ-4 Global Hawk out of Al Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates last month ? signifying the first time a team composed only of enlisted airmen operated the aircraft downrange.

?Enlisted or officer, the responsibilities of the pilot are the exact same ? safe and legal operation of the RQ-4 in international and national airspace,? said Master Sgt. Michael in an Air Force news release. ?We are all trained and expected to demonstrate proficiency at all times. There?s no difference between ?us and them.? We are pilots, plain and simple.?

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ROBOTIC FIGHTER JETS COULD SOON JOIN MILITARY PILOTS ON COMBAT MISSIONS

Military pilots may soon have a new kind of wingman to depend upon: not flesh-and-blood pilots but fast-flying, sensor-studded aerial drones that fly into combat to scout enemy targets and draw enemy fire that otherwise would be directed at human-piloted aircraft.

War planners see these robotic wingmen as a way to amplify air power while sparing pilots? lives and preventing the loss of sophisticated fighter jets, which can cost more than $100 million apiece.

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