Drone pilots rise on winds of change in Air Force

Discussion in 'Academy/Military News' started by bruno, Mar 7, 2010.

  1. bruno

    bruno Retired Staff Member

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    http://www.boston.com/news/nation/w..._pilots_rise_on_winds_of_change_in_air_force/
    While I can't see the "very definition of valor" changing over this (these guys clearly are not in combat and are not preparing themselves and their families for the possibility that they may not come home or come home wounded) but the definition of the Air Force's mission and how it accomplishes that mission may change a lot- and who becomes the top dogs in the USAF may change with it.
     
  2. Just_A_Mom

    Just_A_Mom Member

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    Good article, Bruno.
    Clearly the Air Force is in transition. Transitions are often painful. I wonder if there will come a time when far fewer than 50% of AFA grads go to pilot - as we just won't need them.
    One thing that does puzzle me is why does the Navy allow enlisted sailors and Marines to fly drones and the AF requires them to be officers?
     
  3. flieger83

    flieger83 Super Moderator Moderator

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    The only reason I've ever heard is that AF UAS pilots employ weapons and that has to be an officer as its coming from an aircraft.

    But then again...ground forces employ weapons all the time...and aren't all officers. So not sure why, unless it's the "aircraft" argument. Even army helo's are flown by WO's, but not enlisted.

    But that's how it is until there's a change, which may or may not come.

    Steve
    USAFA ALO
    USAFA '83
     
  4. Just_A_Mom

    Just_A_Mom Member

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    Navy drones don't employ weapons? I thought they did but I dunno. Something to look up.
     
  5. flieger83

    flieger83 Super Moderator Moderator

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    I don't think so; I think they're flying mostly "rubber band" launched (sounds trivial, it really isn't; just an indication of size) drones that land back aboard by taking an arresting net.

    I DO know that the USN wants to get into the Global Hawk business...

    Steve
    USAFA ALO
    USAFA '83
     
  6. futurepilot22

    futurepilot22 Member

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    We won't need them until we're fighting a nation with an actual AF instead of insurgents...say Russia, China, or some country we aren't even aware of as a threat right now.
     
  7. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    The AF is not going to get rid of pilots, and I specifically mean fighters, because it is hard for a drone to do BFM or 4 v 4.

    I find it comical that people think the drones are going to replace fighters in the next 20 yrs...if so please explain to me why the 35 is being built for not only the AF and the Navy, but for our Allies? Are those who believe that fighter pilots are going the way of the doo-doo bird in a loop, that even the Pentagon is kept out of? DO you have more insight than them? The 16 is coming up on 40 yrs of service. The 35 will not be operational for several more yrs, cadets entering now will probably be the 1st class out of UPT that will have the option of a 35....yes, I am saying 5 yrs before a true FTU class is available for 35s. You think the Navy and the AF are just going to boneyard the 35 in 10 yrs. I can think of only one fighter that had a quick military life...the Stealth, and still that was more than 10 yrs. The AF has 2 new 5th gens...the 22 and the 35. It will be a long time before UAVs take over...maybe the child of an AFA Class of 14 will see it, but not the Class of 14 grad who spends 20 yrs in the military.

    Yes, UAV's have a mission. Yes, the AF is in transition regarding them, but not to the level some people believe. The AF is not going to go against the IRAN or CHINA's military with UAV's. They are going to use 5th generation fighters.

    Pilots are not going to throw up their hand and say "OOH, OOH, pick me I want to fly a joystick from a computer screen over the 22".

    Finally, let's play the drone game for pilots...The fact is you must complete UPT to get that slot, in other words, there will still be the demand for pilots from the AFA. To be a UAV pilot, you must have WINGS.
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2010
  8. bruno

    bruno Retired Staff Member

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    Sounds pretty much like a quote from some Congressional testimony of a few years ago:
     
  9. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    The Age of Pilots is slowly coming to a close...
     
  10. futurepilot22

    futurepilot22 Member

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    Someday, probably. But not for quite some time, IMHO.
     
  11. futurepilot22

    futurepilot22 Member

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    If only for the fact that it would likely dramatically reduce the "power" of the AF relative to the other services. I have a feeling that the higher-ups in the AF do not want the AF to become dependent upon drones over pilots. If you think alot of people ask "Why do we need a separate Air Force?" now...if this ever happens, then the question will become "Why do we need a separate branch of robot operators?". It'd become akin to having a separate branch for tanks, again IMHO.
     
  12. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    It's already happening....boats too.
     
  13. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    Higher ups don't fund the Air Force, Congress does. USAF is also in a bit of an identity crisis, people already ask why you have redundant capabilities... Should be interesting to watch. I would be worried about it any time soon....but probably in my life time.
     
  14. futurepilot22

    futurepilot22 Member

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    No, but higher-ups do decide how the mission is carried out (at least to my knowledge). If they decide (as I think) that switching to drones would make the arguments against having an independent AF even stronger than they already are, they would likely cut the drone program. Just IMHO.
     
  15. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    Sure they have input, but it's "all about the $$". It comes down to where the money will go.
     
  16. futurepilot22

    futurepilot22 Member

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    Ok, but to my knowledge, the money goes basically where they recommend to Congress where they recommend it goes, with some exceptions. But again, I could be mistaken.
     
  17. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    Big pic here people...drones don't fly BFM, and until they can this issue is a non-player.

    This is also not an AF only issue, what about the Navy or the Army...why don't we get rid of all of the manned aircraft...surely UAVS can do the same job as a Cobra or an F-18, right? Why does the cruise missile still exist, can't the predator do the same job?

    Drones are not multi-functional aircrafts, and until they are they will have specific use.

    Will the future of all military pilots change because UAVS? Of course, but it is not going to be like Bruno's interpretation that within 20 yrs every pilot is gone the way of the horse in the cavalry. Last time I checked my history lesson, an industry was born out of automobiles, the demand for automobiles was instrumental in the change. Remind me again, how many of us buy aircrafts, does the avg American own an airplane or Helo? That analogy of horses and cars was more about societal changes then the military. The avg person opted for a car over a horse...are you saying that in the near future everyone is going to opt for an airplane over a car?

    I do find it interesting because it always comes about that the AF is the branch that is the most susceptible for folding, as if they every other branch can absorb them. I guess it is because they are the youngest.
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2010
  18. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    Big pic here people...drones don't fly BFM, and until they can this issue is a non-player.

    This is also not an AF only issue, what about the Navy or the Army...why don't we get rid of all of the manned aircraft...surely UAVS can do the same job as a Cobra or an F-18, right?

    Drones are not multi-functional aircrafts, and until they are they will have specific use.

    Will the future of all military pilots change because UAVS? Of course, but it is not going to be like Bruno's interpretation that within 20 yrs every pilot is gone the way of the horse in the cavalry.

    I do find it interesting because it always comes about that the AF is the branch that is the most susceptible for folding, as if they every other branch can absorb them. I guess it is because they are the youngest.
     
  19. futurepilot22

    futurepilot22 Member

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    No offense to the AF Pima, as I myself want to be an AF officer one day, but honestly....the Army and Navy both have their own capabilities that could take over the AF's job. As I said, having a separate AF is somewhat analagous IMO to having a separate branch for tanks, and this would only get worse if they switched to all drones (which I agree with you on, this is not happening anytime in the next 30 years). Just my opinion, not intended to start an argument.
     
  20. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    I could point out MANY examples where that hasn't been true. Obviously, that would generally be the best idea, but when politics gets involved....the power of the purse determines where something is headed.
     

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