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Are you insinuating that since you are a "family of 3" you're looking to avoid deploying? Good luck with that; it's the military, no matter what job you do. Maybe you can dodge it for a while based on enough volunteers, but at some point it's going to happen.

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Not an expert, but the short answer is maybe. Most RPA missions are flown from GCSs in CONUS, but because of the 2 sec delay of the satellite feed from overseas pilots are needed in deployed locations to do the takeoffs/recoveries. Having flown the sim at HO, I would say good luck trying to land the real thing in a crosswind with a 2 sec delay on the controls!

Edited by Justanothercadet

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Actual RPA UDM here. Yes, RPA crews deploy. Not every squadron deploys people, but the community as a whole does. The amount of volunteers varies by time, squadron and crew position. An LRE deployment is a great experience for a new Lt/Airman. They return with better flying skills, systems knowledge, understanding of datalink architecture, improved situational awareness, and a renewed appreciation for supporting the dudes on the ground. So CCs like to send them after they've built some experience (normally a minimum of a few hundred flight hours). BLOB*: expect one 4month-ish deployment during your first assignment. I've seen a handful of folks on the enlisted side who've been twice or thrice, but in those cases that's spread out over many years.

*Bottom Line On Bottom

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Actual LRE FTU IP here. . this is not the case. They're sent to the us for training as soon as possible, or as convenient, or if leadership doesn't want to see your face. . almost universally never because the student is appropriately experienced. And very few maintain their qualification when they return. Which is an incredible waste of time and money.

So CCs like to send them after they've built some experience (normally a minimum of a few hundred flight hours).

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Actual LRE FTU IP here. . this is not the case. They're sent to the us for training as soon as possible, or as convenient, or if leadership doesn't want to see your face. . almost universally never because the student is appropriately experienced. And very few maintain their qualification when they return. Which is an incredible waste of time and money.

It's just learning to take off and land. It's a basic skill that ought to be (or could be) taught during initial qual. There is no amount of sitting at altitude that will correspond to the ability to launch or recover. Conversely, people in MCE could stand to learn a great deal by learning the LRE side. The 690 hour OG prereq to send someone to LRE was nonsensical.

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I was a UPT-D guy who deployed twice while at Creech. Depending on your squadron you either won't deploy at all or once in a tour. I had a lot of fun of mine and did feel that I had a greater appreciation for the whole process when I returned.

It's just learning to take off and land. It's a basic skill that ought to be (or could be) taught during initial qual. There is no amount of sitting at altitude that will correspond to the ability to launch or recover. Conversely, people in MCE could stand to learn a great deal by learning the LRE side. The 690 hour OG prereq to send someone to LRE was nonsensical.

Agreed. I was CMR'ed for 3 days when I was told I was deploying the first time. And I also agree that the prereq was a little much. MCE and LRE flying are two different skill sets.

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this is still a good place to come if you're looking to avoid TDYs. If you can cope with shift work and never leaving the ground, its an incredibly stable life.

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An RPA guy can fill a 6 month, nonflying deployment just as well as the next guy. Just sayin.

who's going to sit in his nonflying GCS while the RPA guy is doing a nonflying deployment?

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Any of the other hundred guys in the squadron who don't deploy could do it.

Plus that gives those of us who deploy 4 on, 4 off for years a chance to stay home rather than fly a desk.

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Any of the other hundred guys in the squadron who don't deploy could do it.

Plus that gives those of us who deploy 4 on, 4 off for years a chance to stay home rather than fly a desk.

Sounds like you need to volunteer for a broadening tour in RPAs to get a break from your 4 on, 4 off deployment cycle. Talk to your CC I'm sure he can work an cushy drone assignment for you in the Spring VML.

All these other "hundred" guys in the squadron are in the non-flying GCSs too. Manning seems to be always critical when virtually all your folks separate once they fulfill their ADSC. Such is the current drone squadron where you can count FGOs on one hand.

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Howdy

I've been selected for OTS with an RPA career path and have been doing as much reading as possible about the field but can anyone help me with all the acronyms the field uses?

A lot I'm seeing on here I've never heard....

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No way I can cover them all, but from this page:

IFS: Introductory Flight Screening - flying a DA-20 at Pueblo for a few rides.

GCS: Ground Control Station - the box you'll sit in

HO: Holloman AFB, NM

UDM: Unit Deployment Manager - responsible for getting deployers ready and out the door

LRE: Launch and Recovery Element - the guys at the deployed location that land and takeoff the RPA

FTU: Flying Training Unit - your schoolhouse to learn to fly your RPA

MCE: Mission Control Element - the guys back in the US that fly the mission portion of the RPA flight

That'll get you started.

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Thanks so much

My main concerns were LRE and MCE.

So like I said, I'm going into the RPA career, mid 20's, single, no children....

By the sounds of some people, this may be a boring black hole of a career for my situation.

I'll admit it was my last choice of all the rated jobs but i was given the opportunity and I'll take it.

It sounds like I won't have any time to study to go for a masters degree?

Someone earlier mentioned a broadening opportunity.... What is that exactly?

And as for volunteering for deployments... since I'm single with no dependents, I think I will be volunteering a lot.... Is there a limit to how often you can volunteer? I think id rather be out there close to the action.

(Sorry maybe I should have started my own thread)

Edited by tervanun

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I think id rather be out there close to the action.

As backwards as it sounds, despite being 'closer to the action,' you get a lot less time doing any mission work while deployed. It's 96.9% takeoff and land, with some base defense if your deployed location requires/can accommodate it. You'll just be closer.

Edited by SurelySerious

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As long as you are cool with a masters from an online school you can get it done. If you are interested in deploying a lot talk to one of the instructors at Holloman about it soon after you get there. Some units are much easier to deploy from than others and the IPs can help you request a specific unit.

RIQ: RPA Instrument Qualification

RFC: RPA Fundamentals Course

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Thanks for the Info, I'll make note of that.

So if you're only doing take off and landing, what do you do while the guys back home are flying the mission?

And maybe not "being in the action" is the best way to describe it but I'd rather be out there than going back to regular civilian life then switching back to military everyday....sounds mentally and emotionally exhausting. I'd rather be mentally in it for extended periods of time.

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Thanks for the Info, I'll make note of that.

So if you're only doing take off and landing, what do you do while the guys back home are flying the mission?

And maybe not "being in the action" is the best way to describe it but I'd rather be out there than going back to regular civilian life then switching back to military everyday....sounds mentally and emotionally exhausting. I'd rather be mentally in it for extended periods of time.

There are multiple aircraft flying from any location. The busier ones require crews to be launching or recovering for 12 hours a day, 120 days straight, and the less busy ones are similar but less compact scheduling.

No one deploys constantly; everyone flies MCE missions stateside. It's a compartmentalization like any other because the squadron environment is at the squadron and isn't like your home, and your home is at home and isn't like your squadron. You drive to work and then, like other professionals, brief the sortie, fly the sortie, debrief the sortie, and leave the sortie at work before driving home. Sometimes it involves having seen frustrating things, having seen graphic things, or having felt really good about some assistance you provided...the end state is all the same, though, it stays at work.

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Thanks for the Info, I'll make note of that.

So if you're only doing take off and landing, what do you do while the guys back home are flying the mission?

And maybe not "being in the action" is the best way to describe it but I'd rather be out there than going back to regular civilian life then switching back to military everyday....sounds mentally and emotionally exhausting. I'd rather be mentally in it for extended periods of time.

You want to deploy, and so do all the other Lt's. The shift work grind sucks, and dudes are looking for a way out. We just had a dude volunteer for a 179 doing TCN guard duty. My squadron has an unofficial policy of "everyone gets firsts before anyone gets seconds". I can't speak for other squadrons. Additionally, I've met exactly two pilots with two or more LRE deployments. As always: timing is everything and your mileage may vary. As far as "switching back to regular civilian life", I wouldn't worry about it ... you won't have time. Expect to work 50-70 hours a week. You'll have time to go to work, maybe hit the gym then get some sleep. Rinse and repeat.

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As far as "switching back to regular civilian life", I wouldn't worry about it ... you won't have time. Expect to work 50-70 hours a week. You'll have time to go to work, maybe hit the gym then get some sleep. Rinse and repeat.

I like that. Good point. Thank you!

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Hey Tervanum, I saw your post at airforceots.com. Im glad you were able to get some good info from the guys here as most of them are/have been in the business. When I was interested in going the RPA route, I was doing some heavy research and found one source in particular to be very informative and helpful. The author was the dude who implemented the LRE "base defense" aspect that SurelySerious mentioned. It's a good read and will also help you out with all the RPA related acronyms out there.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004QGY07I?btkr=1

Congrats & cheers!

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