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Guest Matt Daniel

Info on Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS/UAV/RPA)

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An officer has to be the go/nogo authority to drop things that kill people out of a fixed wing plane, its a law... a nav showed it to me once, but i could not tell you what it is off the top of my head.

FAA and the AF got together and agreed that a rated pilot whould fly them or a nav w/ the FAA instrument cert) they had a program where guys would just show up to Predator school with no flight expereince...had one guy make it all the way through...just about to get all misn qualed, and they pulled the plug...he is going through UPT here shortly, AD guy so he could go anywhere after that just like anyone.

As for the med stuff...you have to be fully qualified to fly...in all aspects

the only folks going through UPT and straight to a RPA are the Guard/Reserve...eg...folks that know their final destination prior to day one of UPT. The AD may start it someday, but you are all safe for now.

UPT grads think back now....how many people that got helos out of UPT really wanted them? (typically) they go in kicking and screaming until they realize what a cool job it really is....Predators are same thing. There are folks here from literaly every MWS....not all of them happy to be here, and you talk to the guys doing the missions....almost everyone loves it.

I dont know enough about it yet to make a real decision yet...but the technology and capabilites are way more than i thought they would be.

Anyway, feel free to go back to the RPA bashing...just wanted to give a view from the inside.

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Disclaimer: I have been fortunete enough to always get my top choice of assignment throughout my 5 years in the Air Force, and for that, I'm thankful. I would hate to go to a UAV.

That said, I disagree with the majorirty of posts on this issue. Here's why: You're in the military. There are plenty of good and bad deals out there for everyone. ....

The notion that the Pred ACE program being described is required and anything less than a joy ride is rediculous. B-2 /F-117/U-2 pilots maintain proficiency in a T-38 because they're not able to fly their primary MWS enough to meet training and proficiency requirments. It makes sense because they actually FLY.... real jets - .....

You want every dude on staff, school, 365-TDY, ALO, etc. etc. to all get their own personal T-6 to fly around because their morale might be low and the Air Force is concerned with retention? Granted, that would be awesome, but not at all realistic. You don't need proficiency in a T-6 to fly a Pred, just like you don't need proficiency in a T-6 to be an ALO or work at the Pentagon.

.... As far as providing incentive to fill UAV slots, do you really think this is a concern at AFPC? Handing out crappy deals is nothing new and/or difficult for them. They use the same "incentive" they've used to fill remote tours, non flying jobs, and to send people away from their families and into harms way for decades - it's called "Here's your orders....enjoy. ....ohh, and we also have this great thing called the UCMJ if you don't feel you're up to the job."

....My point is that I think guys need a serious reality check if they think they deserve a fleet of T-6's to take on joy rides because they got a bad assignment.

Wow, you need to be prof advanced to Chief of Staff man, you've figured it out.

I'll hit a few high points:

- With modern sims, it's beyond possible that B-2/F-117/U-2 pilots can get all the proficiency they need in a sim. Take a long look at the handling characteristics and speeds of a T-38 and compare them to that of a U-2 and decide just how much one relates to the other. I'll leave the rest to Huggy if he feels like it, but I'll just sum up by saying that yes, the fact that those fellas get to fly the 38 is in fact, a really good deal. A well deserved good deal.

- Guys in ALO billets, staffs, school and 365s don't accumulate gate months in those positions. Which means that eventually, they'll get back to flying because they just spent x amount of months/years not flying. Guys in UAVs for some reason do accumulate gate months (unless I'm smoking crack, always possible) and therefore have nothing--other than the apparently worthless promises of the AF--that they'll get back in a cockpit someday.

- If/as you move along in your career you'll find buds get sent to play staff...at AFPC. You'll find they're not all d&^chbags, perhaps even you'll get your chance. They have to fill the jobs, and they will. Someday the evil guy at AFPC just might be a friend of yours

- It's kind of you to open up with a statement of how good the AF has been to you then call everyone who complains about a bad deal a ###### and compare them to grunts. In fact, every grunt (and I was one) joins to be a grunt. Just like most pilots joined, go figure, to be a pilot as opposed to say a UAV operator. I've known quite a few dudes get exiled to the UAV. All did a solid very professional job. Some actually enjoyed it but most quite sincerely hated it. And while doing a very professional job of it they often did a more than adequate job of bitching about it. You may be, perhaps, pollyanna about every kick in the nuts, but the rest of the AF doesn't always live up to your standards. When the AF kicks me in the nuts, I take it, but usually take a moment to verbalize my lack of enjoyment of said kick.

- The point you're skipping, I'd guess than 99% of the people bitching most on this forum, if they got those dreaded orders, would go off and do a kick ass job of flying the UAV. And if you joined them, and expressed the views you just did above, they'd probably alleviate some stress by giving you a blanket party. Bitching doesn't make you less professional, it makes you human.

So let's say I disagree. I think an ACE type program makes infinite sense. It will take some time if for no other reason than the fact the community is too undermanned to take time off to fly. But at some point they'll be there, even if it means flying on their one day off. In addition to easing a bitter pill, it'll also give those pilots some no kidding stick and rudder skills so that the day they finally get back to a real jet they'll have something better than the skills transfered from staring at video screen moving along at 75 kts.

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Guest Hueypilot812

HOSS,

I'll agree with sputnik, and to an extent, you. Yes, we are all in the military. Yes, we all sign up to do what our nation asks of us. And before you make generalizations, I was an enlisted Army grunt for a while. I am also sharing the "bad deals" end of our profession by taking a 365-day deployment in the near future. And no, I'm not disgruntled by it nor am I bitching to everyone about it. It's part of the job and I'm ready to do it.

That being said, the UAV in itself is having issues with manning. Demand for what they do is skyrocketing, and IMHO the Air Force isn't doing enough to expand and/or promote the career field. I explained that, in my view, they have two workable solutions:

1. Develop an Undgergraduate UAV Training course, and while some rated officers may be needed to suppliment this career field, the majority of them will enter the field knowing exactly what they will be doing and not expecting something else.

2. Man the field with rated pilots from UPT sources, but realize that these bodies are people who worked hard and spent a year of their life training to fly manned aircraft. Eventually, many will return to manned platforms, and those that won't will still often feel their hard-earned wings are being wasted. An ACE-like program would continue to allow them to maintain their airmanship skills, and offset the blow to morale.

Sure, the DoD has every right to say "hey, it's a bad deal, suck it up for the next 10 years of your life". But is that the *smart* solution? I don't think so. If they continue down this road, they will likely experience continued shortages and continued perceptions that UAVs suck.

Non-flyers (and even some flyers) need to understand the effects sending a kid who worked hard to get good grades, attend a good school or academy, then work very hard to earn wings to fly manned aircraft, only to be told they will be flying UAVs for the rest of their career. The pilot career field is one of those few careers where there are more people lined up to do the job than spaces available, and one that many people dream of doing their whole lives. Personnelists, engineers, finance officers, etc generally want to serve, and that is great. But most of them wouldn't be crushed if they had to switch jobs to stay in the military.

I know when I joined up to be an engineer in the Army in 1992, I certainly hadn't dreamed of doing that my whole life. Did I like it? Yes and no. Did I complain about it? No, I did my job and tried to do it well. But if they had said "hey, instead of operating construction equipment, you're going to be in supply or you're going to be in maintenance" it probably wouldn't have mattered that much to me. If someone told me that I'd have to hang up sitting in a cockpit to sit in a trailer and fly UAVs, I would not be happy in the least.

Bottom line, pilots may be seen as spoiled. But we also go through more training than most careers out there (not all, but most). It's very competitive to be a pilot in the military, and takes a lot of work. Not considering that is begging for creating a career field with retention problems.

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Guest Boom

Kinda reverting back to the original subject a bit. How much control do the Sensor Operators have? AFPC is recruiting Booms hardcore right now to go become one. Just curious.

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Kinda reverting back to the original subject a bit. How much control do the Sensor Operators have? AFPC is recruiting Booms hardcore right now to go become one. Just curious.

They control the payload ball, fire the lasers, sparkle targets, run most of the checklists, and at the LRE act basicly like a co-pilot (eg, backing up the guy flying).

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Guest Boom

Do most of them enjoy their jobs? Actually sounded interesting from the briefs I've seen.

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Do most of them enjoy their jobs? Actually sounded interesting from the briefs I've seen.

Standard AF answer to that: it depends.

Some of them love it, some hate it, some are indifferent. And many, like anybody, seem to love it more when there is cool stuff happening and seem to wane a bit if there is some boring times. You know how when you are not doing AR and the autopilot is flying the bird, how the crew just moitors stuff and BS's and life is generaly boring?....well that is exactly how things work here too. Then, something will make it exciting and fun. One main difference I suppose is when you have to poo you can hop out of the GCS and use a real bathroom. That's kinda got me spoiled now.

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Out of curiosity, how are UAV hours classified in the logbook? From the airlines/corporate side, would 3000 UAV hours mean a damn thing? Or would you be forced to look for jobs as a civilian UAV "operator"? This has been asked numerous times in other threads, but never answered. Boxhead, or anyone in the know please throw us a bone here.

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Out of curiosity, how are UAV hours classified in the logbook? From the airlines/corporate side, would 3000 UAV hours mean a damn thing? Or would you be forced to look for jobs as a civilian UAV "operator"? This has been asked numerous times in other threads, but never answered. Boxhead, or anyone in the know please throw us a bone here.

Without any time to research this one, you could start by looking into how the Air Force members log the time. I think it would be in AFI 11-401. If you can log PIC instrument time, then instrument time is instrument time. I doubt the FAA has defined it yet, but you could research through the FAR/AIMs to see if they define remote control time. How the airlines/corporate folks look at this in 5 years or so, will be up to them. Not sure if my current employer (corporate) would take someone who has flown 3000 hours from a trailer as the same. Just the status though with the clients who are aboard. They want the real flying experience...for now.

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a few questions somewhat on topic:

Do UAV operators talk remotely on the radio to local ATC?

Can/Do they fly VFR?

Do they fly patterns at airports or are they always given straight in?

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a few questions somewhat on topic:

Do UAV operators talk remotely on the radio to local ATC?

Can/Do they fly VFR?

Do they fly patterns at airports or are they always given straight in?

You can talk via the aircraft, or from the Ground Control Station, if local.

In special use airspace, doesn't really matter. Outside that, we're always IFR, or can have a chase plane fly form with us. Though I regularly get told to maintain VFR by ATC........

You can fly patterns or straight in, you have a map tracker display showing your aircrafts position over the ground to use as reference for pattern stuff, as well as your onboard sensor.

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Do UAV operators talk remotely on the radio to local ATC?

Yeah, if you are at the Launch and recovery site, the radio is from the control station on the ground, when you are using the satellite, you use the radio on the plane...it works surprisingly well.

Do they fly patterns at airports or are they always given straight in?

the only time you "beat up the pattern" is at the Launch & recovery class...but at the LRE I averaged about 5-6 events a day, and in effect, I was just doing the departure/approach stuff. I have done overheads, straight-ins, what could only be described as a "random" approach, pretty much any old way to get 'er down. (I have not talked them into letting me try a shallow abeam, but I always try)

Its supposedly, and I tend to believe it, the hardest to land of anything most guys have flown.

I still think NVG assaults were tougher overall, but the Pred is WAY easier to over-control. That is where more guys screw the pooch.

In special use airspace, doesn't really matter. Outside that, we're always IFR, or can have a chase plane fly form with us. Though I regularly get told to maintain VFR by ATC........

Which always amuses me, as we are not certed for IFR flight, nor able to really do VFR...but we have to kinda do both, it is a complex list of waivers and Letter of Agreements...

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how quick is the control imput response time? Is there a lag? .

Line of Sight, pretty much nothing...although I would say it responds like a plane much larger than it is....for you glider guys out there, the guys that have flown both say it is very similar.

Satellite control is slower, but not intolerable.

Or is this getting too detailed

I don't think so as long as this answer is satifactory...

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Guest JL

Anyone know if as Reserve Nav (with an insturment+commercial ticket) you can do a tour in UAVs (if so, how would it work?)? Its kind of an obsure topic and I havn't been able to pull up any info by searching.

Thanks, :beer:

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2nd SOS just stood up at Nellis (associate with the 3rd SOS), they have been telling us that as Nav's with a comm ticket we can be UAV guys, get in touch with a recruiter at the 919th SOW as they are wing in charge of the 2nd.

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Guest DDerrick51
The Army WO program comes to mind. The Army introduced the WO program to the Aviation Corps to reduce shortfall issues and the thing has taken the life of it own. Commissioned officers do not even enjoy flying.

Although I am one of the few Army O's that loves to fly, that statement is completely right. The Army used to make O's hate flying. They are trying to reverse it but it will take a while. The warrant program is the devil. The Navy is doing a test program on it now. If I were you guys, I would not even mention it if big blue circles.

Although we all want to fly, we are here to serve. If flying is more important than serving your country, go to the civilian world or contractor world. As for UAS's, understand this. The Army is putting 1.5 billion into just research and development next year. The Army seems about ready to buy it's own air force. And without any of us disobedient pilots to worry about! If you don't want to see the AF shrink anymore, own the UAS issue. The Army has enough to worry about and really has little clue when it comes to aviation assets. But the Army will continue to gobble up as much of the budget as it can make a case for. If anyone has paid attention, and I know you have. Each new platform that we buy costs more than the one before it. So we compensate by buying less. I do not recall the current approved F-22 numbers but it is something to the nature of 180ish. You can't get much less than that. The AF must continue to adapt in ways that support the strategic mission and ground mission or it will be little more than airlift. Not that I am a big fan of quoting ClearedHot, but he was dead on in a conversation about pentagon jobs. He said something like that we should all do it at least once because it was part of our duty to make our respective service better. This is the same thing. We gotta get past the motive of our desires to do what is important to our country. Besides, if you guys do then I won't have to worry about doing it! Kidding, we don't use officers for flying Army UAS's.

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Guest XJT-FO

Hey all,

I know we all have different situations here and I'm looking for a little advice on my own. Search doesnt turn up too much on this topic, but here we go.

I've heard a lot about the term, "Predator Stink", but what does it exactly mean? I can understand that if you're assigned the UAV out of UPT you may be a little upset as for your futrure pilot career may suffer due to the lack of "real" flight time. However, there is a flip side to this: What if you get a Guard UAV pilot slot?

As in my case: I'm a full time airline pilot with prior enlisted service looking at a guard unit here in Houston that has UAV's. I'll be able to go on MIL leave from the airline to attend UPT and then do both after training is done. Thus, the problem of not getting "real" flight time is solved. Now, how does this so called "stink" apply to a guard guy? Will there ever be a chance to switch airframes? You know, in case of a move or some odd reason.

Would you guys even sign up for a gig like this if you were in my shoes?

Thanks to all.

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Will there ever be a chance to switch airframes? You know, in case of a move or some odd reason.

Would you guys even sign up for a gig like this if you were in my shoes?

Thanks to all.

There is always a chance. You could always switch in the guard if another unit wants to hire and train you. I would only sign up for it if you really want to do it. I am not in your shoes, but I can tell you that UPT is not fun. You have to want to be there and you have to want to finish, otherwise you will not complete.

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There is always a chance. You could always switch in the guard if another unit wants to hire and train you. I would only sign up for it if you really want to do it. I am not in your shoes, but I can tell you that UPT is not fun. You have to want to be there and you have to want to finish, otherwise you will not complete.

The key here is not whether you can switch airframes, but will they let you. The Guard UAV units are there to help the active duty UAVs with mainly manning. With the number of UAV orbits the Army wants and the number the AF is planning for, compared to the number we have and the manning available; IMHO, getting allowed to leave a UAV from one Guard unit to real airplane in another would be a pipe dream. Plus, Houston is going to expect some payback from you for them sponsoring you to UPT. By the time you can be released, your real aircraft currency in mil aircraft is deader than dead, and all your time, save UPT, is remote control. Essentially, your last flight in UPT is your fini flight in the AF in real planes! That's the suck factor of these UPT slots for Guard units, since they have no companion trainer aircraft. Additionally, you don't want to burn a bridge of having Houston put you through UPT get you your wings, then you jump ship with them to go to another unit to fly since you never wanted to be UAVs anyway. For the Guard UAV UPT slots, you HAVE to be willing to have resigned yourself to perma-UAV, at least for the forseeable future (companion trainer dependant).

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I think it means that once you get it on you, you can never get rid of it. As seen with the guys who did their UAV tours, PCS'ed back to their MWS for all of a few weeks before getting snaked back.

In your case, I think it would be a great idea. Well, other responses seem to imply you're thinking of switching units in or shortly after UPT to get a slot with real airplanes, which would be a fools game I think.

However, seeing as you already have a flying job, you get a good side job, aviation related, and don't have to commute.

I'd do it. But then again, I'm not you, do you want to do this thinking you can switch to a unit with manned aircraft?

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Literally, just got back from Creech and Nellis. While over at Creech I learned quite a bit that I didn't know, so that was cool. However, I still wouldn't prefer to sit behind a computer for hours upon hours to finish out a 10 year commitment.

We show up and a major greets us and takes us to the sim and show how it all works. Interestingly, this guy was flying A10's and volunteered for Preds/Reapers. His reasoning? He said rather than becoming an instructor pilot, he'd rather stay in the fight and that UAV's are where the fights at (his words). He also went on to mention the bad attitudes going around about the UAV community. Said its not as bad as everyone thinks. Granted the bore of it all, the mission is being done and lives are being saved. If you can handle 14 hour shifts flying something from the ground, it might be your thing.

His main point to everyone on the tour was, You raised your hands to serve and service before self is more important than our own desires.

All in all, seeing everything up and close was nothing short of amazing. I'm grateful for the opportunity to see the UAV community up and close. The work they are doing takes a great attitude and I respect them for that. Surprisingly, the squadrons appeared to be upbeat and happy. The guys seem to enjoy what they do.

I am not a pilot yet, but I recommend anyone who's going through UPT to make a visit to a UAV location to get a clear view for yourself.

To finish, in the first briefing someone asked what the selection is like for UPT. From what I gathered, they are not taking from UPT as of now. They are in the process of changing the syllabus. As for Creech? They are expecting to fill 150 slots as of next year, most likely from UPT.

Anybody wants pictures from the visit? Ask, I'd be happy to share.

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Guest Dagger1

Question for one who knows:

For those of us that have selected UAS out of UPT, will we be training at Creech for RTU and then working out of Nellis once training is over with? Or will we be working out of Creech only for the next 3 years? Also, are there possiblities of leaving the Vegas area while flying UAVs as a UPT selectee or will we only be in the Creech/Nellis area?

We are looking at houses and this little piece of information could make a huge difference because of the commute.

:flag_waving:

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Question for one who knows:

For those of us that have selected UAS out of UPT, will we be training at Creech for RTU and then working out of Nellis once training is over with? Or will we be working out of Creech only for the next 3 years? Also, are there possiblities of leaving the Vegas area while flying UAVs as a UPT selectee or will we only be in the Creech/Nellis area?

We are looking at houses and this little piece of information could make a huge difference because of the commute.

:flag_waving:

If you PCS to Creech, you will stay at Creech... if you go to Creech, live in the NW, close as you can to the 215/95 interchange. Cannon is the only other AD location...but you will know if you are ACC or AFSOC befre you get there.

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