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Guest Matt Daniel

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

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“The sacrifices demanded by the brutal and unending shift work, the common six-day work week which often includes upwards of 40 flying hours alone (daily briefings, training and administrative responsibilities must be accomplished on top of this), and the minimal chances at leadership responsibilities … are not rewarded by [promotion] boards,” said the unmanned aircraft pilot, who did not want to be identified.

Boxhead et al chime in as required, but how is it the UAV guys have less opportunity/time for promotion BS? You guys work your ass off, no doubt. But let's get real, across the majority of the rated communities, we're all in the 60-90 Hr work week grind, undermanned, don't have time to get Masters or volunteer at the local hospital, etc. On top of that, many of the MAF and AFSOC bros I know are gone 300+ days per year, making all that even more challenging. Perhaps there are less opportunity for leadership positions (don't know), but I just don't buy the "we don't have as much time as others" argument. Compared to the shoes, there's a huge difference in time available, but there is not that much difference for the most part for us rated guys, regardless of community you come from. There has to be something else that is holding the UAV bros down.

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Boxhead et al chime in as required, but how is it the UAV guys have less opportunity/time for promotion BS? You guys work your ass off, no doubt. But let's get real, across the majority of the rated communities, we're all in the 60-90 Hr work week grind, undermanned, don't have time to get Masters or volunteer at the local hospital, etc. On top of that, many of the MAF and AFSOC bros I know are gone 300+ days per year, making all that even more challenging. Perhaps there are less opportunity for leadership positions (don't know), but I just don't buy the "we don't have as much time as others" argument. Compared to the shoes, there's a huge difference in time available, but there is not that much difference for the most part for us rated guys, regardless of community you come from. There has to be something else that is holding the UAV bros down.

I'm not sure this is or isn't related, but for the first two years I was at Creech, no one went to SOS.

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You're forgetting the Creech dudes have a minimum 1.5 hour commute daily, assuming they live on the north edge of Vegas and aren't driving 100 mph. And you're forgetting the shift work. I have shit I need to get done, but I'm working from about the time the national anthem starts and leaving before reveille. And I can't get my stuff done because I need to talk to people who work during the hours that normal human beings work. So everything takes an extra 24-96 hours because email is the only reasonable method of communication. It's like how people used to play games of chess by mail.

Also, morale is terrible and that never helps. I used to be a mobility guy, and I worked the crazy hours but I had the energy to do so because I loved what I was doing. That is no longer the case for most of the pilots in my squadron.

Edited by guineapigfury

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Boxhead et al chime in as required,

I personally think it is a complex question that unfortunately varies so much from location to location and MDS to MDS that it is pretty hard to pin down on specific thing to give a convenient finger wag to.

That being said, the plight of us UAV folks is getting better. Yes, there were some years where shit was crazy, and max crew duty day to questionably legal min crew rest 6 or 7 days every single week for literally years on end was the standard. During that time, I have zero reservations about the claim that we had zero time to do anything extra. There was not really time to even get to legit additional duties, much less start down the list of things I believe you are referring to.

I (thankfully) can not speak for AFSOC UAVs anymore, but I have heard tales that for some reason, when they got more folks, they just decided to keep doing more, instead of making life better. That's their call. It's probably why AFSOC UAV guys are the happiest UAV guys in the world.

Maybe I just lucked out and went to the best UAV sq in ACC, I don't know. But I can tell you, if you can't get your stuff done here, you should just stop pretending that the only reason you are not getting it done is YOU. Life is awesome here. Sure, no 24/7 schedule is going to make everyone happy, but that is mostly due to that small small percentage being the folks that would bitch about anything, anywhere to anyone and it does not matter how good it or bad it actually is...there is that "bitching" core.

Even with the overall good life (IMHO), it is still a challenge to do what "normal" folks do. That mostly stems from the minor differences of "what we do" while we are at work. If a "normal" person is on their 8 hour duty day and needs to go to finance, they go. For us, we are "flying" for that time, and I am pretty sure the Ground CC would frown on their Preds orbiting just off tgt in a Lost Link orbit so the pilot can go knock out an appointment or two. A shift work based 45hr work week is the standard for the worker bee here, then, if you have one of those jobs that require more office work, that # will go up, unless you get to the "above the line" status, then your hours fall back down to normal people status. Downside being those ABL filks get hammered with tons of crap, so those 40hr "standard" work weeks kinda suck. If I had my drouthers, I would be a line dog here, the rank and file folks have a pretty good deal.

ACC wise, the general quality of life has done nothing but go up, and schedules have been getting better. That's mainly because the # of lines stabilized, and we kept getting new folks. Now, if things get bad it's because we mismanage our assets. (Not to say that won't happen!)

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Boxhead hit it on the head (sts). There are still some squadrons in ACC in

which you are in the seat 6-7 hours a day and if you have anything more than

a minor additional duty you are at work 9-11 hours a day. At least in my

squadron the average is to only fly 4-5 hours a day, which is doable with

additional duties.

The shift schedule is the bad part of the UAV world that I believe gets overlooked. If

I'm on mids and there is a wing meeting for my additional duty I either have to

stay after work late (possibility screwing up when I sleep), come in on one

of my weekend days, or miss the meeting. Same goes with other appointments.

This is not a problem for the daywalker, but it is for your line guy.

I believe the UAV promotion rate will go up naturally in the next few years.

Now that there is enough manning to send people to check their boxes (SOS,

staff tours, etc) it will go up. The timing was such that because the AF

doesn't consider the MWS and the lack of being able to box check the promotion rate was lower than average.

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I wanted to post this in a new thread but it applies to this one (I used the search function!). Here's the update to what has been discussed: More unmanned aircraft pilots being promoted

The article is interesting in its own right, but what I keyed in on was the following statement about in-residence PME:

“This is important because in-residence attendance provides officers valuable training [umm, that’s nebulous and debatable] and the opportunity to compete for the honor of distinguished graduate or top third [THIS is why it's important],” the report says. “Both of these accomplishments are available for consideration by the promotion board.

Edited by Coxor

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A couple of MQ-1 / MQ-9 specifics mentioned in the DOD Budget Request.

"Additional force structure enhancements strengthen the Air Force’s ISR and C2 capabilities with the addition of 800 personnel for MQ-9 Reaper UAV, and 1,900 personnel to support the institutional and training pipeline programs that will enable the Air Force to transition and shape its workforce to meet future mission and skill requirements."

"The total number of combat air patrols(CAP) funded in the President’s budget is 76, which includes 60 Air Force MQ-1/MQ-9 CAPs and 16 Army MQ-1C CAPs"

"The FY 2016 budget procures 6,256 AGM-114 Hellfire missiles"

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"The 196th Attack Squadron will be holding an Undergraduate RPA Training interview board on Saturday March 5th, 2016 at 0900. POC is Major Brandon Powell, and he can be reached at brandon.j.powell14.mil@mail.mil or (951) 655-7769. Please submit packages by February 29th.   Candidates must be 28 years old or less, less than 4 years commissioned service, passing AFOQT scores, TBAS (Test of Basic Aviation Skills) and PCSM (Pilot Candidate Selection Score) scores, bachelor's degree with certified transcripts, resume letters of recommendation, and flying experience encouraged."

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