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How many applied this year and got picked up for RPA? Talked to the civilian POC at AFPC in 2013 and he said that 32 RPA slots went unfilled that year. Has anyone heard anything similar this year? What are our numbers this year?

Edited by minutemanjs
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It's all about ISR/CAS. We need to do whatever helps the boots on the ground and gets the bombs on target. RPA's are changing air power whether we're prepared for it or not. If you want to strap a fighter or heavy to yourself, so be it, but you're in the wrong forum for that.

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It's all about ISR/CAS. We need to do whatever helps the boots on the ground and gets the bombs on target. RPA's are changing air power whether we're prepared for it or not. If you want to strap a fighter or heavy to yourself, so be it, but you're in the wrong forum for that.

Hey FNG, stand up and tell us about yourself...

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It's all about ISR/CAS. We need to do whatever helps the boots on the ground and gets the bombs on target. RPA's are changing air power whether we're prepared for it or not. If you want to strap a fighter or heavy to yourself, so be it, but you're in the wrong forum for that.

Copy possible troll.

But I can't resist.

How? How are they "changing air power?" Because that is neither what the AF is saying, nor what the advanced schools are teaching. SAMS, SAASS, SAWS, AWC, etc.

They're surely changing the character of counterinsurgency operations. That's a niche. I wholeheartedly agree that the contribution of airpower in the more-prevalent lower levels of war is greatly enhanced by their emergence, but to say they're changing air power, or the inevitable corollary that they're changing "the nature of war" or some other semantics is a farce. Words have meanings.

RPAs are not (yet) survivable, they're not well armed, they're not able to secure air superiority or execute deep strike or strategic attack - i.e. the essential roles/capabilities of air power.

Major combat operations = RPAs are missile bait. Again, could be a good/useful thing.

They may eventually get there, once the technology catches up, but we have a long way to go. Saying they're changing air power is a bridge too far. Another example - by the same argument, strategic bombers/jets/satellites "changed air power" when they emerged. All they did was enhance already existing missions. Bigger, faster, higher, farther. I presume the same will prove true for the RPA.

But air power won't "change".

Chuck

Edited by Chuck17
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From an inside perspective it looks the opposite OP. We have a steady trickle in of new guys from the pipeline but I havnt seen any new guys crossing from a manned aircraft in over a year. There is a lot of talk about down sizing after we leave Afghanistan. Of course most of that is RUMINT, but i doubt there is still that much of a gap. RPAs are going to stay for sure, but like most everyone else pointed out, this aircraft cant really do anything until air superiority is achieved and we move into an occupation role. I fully expect myself to be watching Somali pirates in boats for hours on end once we leave OEF.

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FWIW, I got selected for pilot in the 13ot04 ots board. I had rpa listed 1st, pilot 2nd. I never thought they'd ever have given someone pilot who is volunteering for rpa. However there were no rpa slots for that board. I think there was one other select similar to me. Seems they are serious about rpa manning post OEF.

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It's all about ISR/CAS. We need to do whatever helps the boots on the ground and gets the bombs on target. RPA's are changing air power whether we're prepared for it or not. If you want to strap a fighter or heavy to yourself, so be it, but you're in the wrong forum for that.

Funny, you sound just like this d-bag I know at Creech.

I've encountered people like you in real life, good idea fairy throwing out buzz words to make yourself look authoritative. Deflect and defiant to the bitter end when challenged even though you know nothing about the subject.

Edited by PanchBarnes
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The past decade for RPA mirrors the rapid evolution of combat airpower during World War I: a wave of great ideas, tactics, and technology, brought from air-minded communities flowed in faster than our ability to field them and slower than the land forces would have liked them. But like the Rickenbackers and Lufberys of their day, it was the RPA lieutenants and captains, staff sergeants, and senior airmen who took these new instruments of airpower, as imperfect as they were, and integrated them into the evolving fight, transitioning the platforms from reconnaissance-only to true multirole Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) and strike. They delivered disciplined and effective combat airpower every day; another generation of the Air Forces great captains is born.

RPA Expeditionary Operations Group Commander (2010-2012), Colonel Bill Tart

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The past decade for RPA mirrors the rapid evolution of combat airpower during World War I: a wave of great ideas, tactics, and technology, brought from air-minded communities flowed in faster than our ability to field them and slower than the land forces would have liked them. But like the Rickenbackers and Lufberys of their day, it was the RPA lieutenants and captains, staff sergeants, and senior airmen who took these new instruments of airpower, as imperfect as they were, and integrated them into the evolving fight, transitioning the platforms from reconnaissance-only to true multirole Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) and strike. They delivered disciplined and effective combat airpower every day; another generation of the Air Forces great captains is born.

RPA Expeditionary Operations Group Commander (2010-2012), Colonel Bill Tart

The document this was in on the portal was a good read overall. However, they elided the single most relevant point regarding the future or RPAs: who is going to fly the damn things? The assumption that the USAF will continue to draw pilot talent to perform any job other than flying real airplanes is comical. Once we leave Afghanistan (hopefully sooner rather than later), we won't even have the satisfaction of knowing we're supporting the dudes on the ground. The only thing that keeps me going at work is the knowing that I might get the chance to shoot tonight. If that goes away, I expect already low morale and job satisfaction to crater in fairly short order unless we see a drastic reduction in ops tempo.

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The past decade for RPA mirrors the rapid evolution of combat airpower during World War I: a wave of great ideas, tactics, and technology, brought from air-minded communities flowed in faster than our ability to field them and slower than the land forces would have liked them. But like the Rickenbackers and Lufberys of their day, it was the RPA lieutenants and captains, staff sergeants, and senior airmen who took these new instruments of airpower, as imperfect as they were, and integrated them into the evolving fight, transitioning the platforms from reconnaissance-only to true multirole Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) and strike. They delivered disciplined and effective combat airpower every day; another generation of the Air Forces great captains is born.

RPA Expeditionary Operations Group Commander (2010-2012), Colonel Bill Tart

Oh you mean the UAV commander thought that his UAV dudes were breaking new ground and leading the fight? There's a shock. Don't make me repost because you refuse to address a single issue thus far raised...

This is about NON PERMISSIVE EMPLOYMENT, in which UAVs have yet to prove themselves. Show me. Until then, I will take Col Tart and every other UAV zealot with a grain of salt. Just like the rest of the AF does...

As previously stated, relevant and important - absolutely, no argument. "Changing air power" as you previously stated - absolutely not.

Chuck

Edit: spelling.

Edited by Chuck17
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  • 2 weeks later...

Oh you mean the UAV commander thought that his UAV dudes were breaking new ground and leading the fight? There's a shock. Don't make me repost because you refuse to address a single issue thus far raised...

This is about NON PERMISSIVE EMPLOYMENT, in which UAVs have yet to prove themselves. Show me. Until then, I will take Col Tart and every other UAV zealot with a grain of salt. Just like the rest of the AF does...

As previously stated, relevant and important - absolutely, no argument. "Changing air power" as you previously stated - absolutely not.

Chuck

Edit: spelling.

Concerning A2/AD, RPAs remain "untested" but not incapable. We have no idea how the RQ-170 is currently being employed nor are we aware of its most formidable capabilities. It's not beyond the realm of possibility that an RPA could be equipped and programmed to react to A2/AD. What we need is an ideal RPA platform that has sensors, speed, and countermeasures to address A2/AD threats. RPAs, when programmed and equipped to do such, could instantly identify threats, employ countermeasures, and adapt strategy in real-time. A simple example would be: An RPA equipped with an AN/ALE 50, faced with a SAM threat, could be coded to instantly go vertical, roll 180', and dispense chaff.

Edited by minutemanjs
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The document this was in on the portal was a good read overall. However, they elided the single most relevant point regarding the future or RPAs: who is going to fly the damn things? The assumption that the USAF will continue to draw pilot talent to perform any job other than flying real airplanes is comical. Once we leave Afghanistan (hopefully sooner rather than later), we won't even have the satisfaction of knowing we're supporting the dudes on the ground. The only thing that keeps me going at work is the knowing that I might get the chance to shoot tonight. If that goes away, I expect already low morale and job satisfaction to crater in fairly short order unless we see a drastic reduction in ops tempo.

When not at war, morale and sense of purpose are issues that infantry will face as well, not just RPA squadrons.

Currently, the United States owns over 8,000 remotely operated aviation systems and over 12,000 robotic ground systems. Obviously, we need operators for these systems. In terms of RPA Pilots, the USAF has over 1,400 and has a forecasted demand of 1,700+ with 65 continuous CAP (Combat Air Patrols) this year. The overall RPA community has grown from 2,100 personnel in 2005 to an expected 9,900 for 2017. With 1,400+ RPA pilots, there are currently 6,500+ airlift/tanker pilots and 4,400+ fighter/bomber pilots. For 2012 pilot-production, there were 380 airlift/tanker pilots, 185 fighter/bomber, and 120 RPA pilots produced. 17% of all pilots trained in 2012 were RPA. 11% of all USAF pilots are currently RPA. By 2020, the Air Force expects to receive all RPA pilots from the pipeline.

There is an "unmistakable and lasting instituional commitment on the part of the Air Force to the remotely operated aviation system capability"

-Gen Norton A. Schwartz, 2013 Nimitz Lecture

RPA can only grow from here.

Edited by minutemanjs
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This is about NON PERMISSIVE EMPLOYMENT, in which UAVs have yet to prove themselves.

As previously stated, relevant and important - absolutely, no argument. "Changing air power" as you previously stated - absolutely not.

I'll just repost this so Chuck doesn't have to...

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

What we need is an ideal RPA platform that has sensors, speed, and countermeasures to address A2/AD threats. RPAs, when programmed and equipped to do such, could instantly identify threats, employ countermeasures, and adapt strategy in real-time.

What you're talking about is no where in the realm of reality right now. It would be great to have, but until then it isn't really relevant in this discussion IMHO.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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Concerning A2/AD, RPAs remain "untested" but not incapable. We have no idea how the RQ-170 is currently being employed nor are we aware of its most formidable capabilities. It's not beyond the realm of possibility that an RPA could be equipped and programmed to react to A2/AD. What we need is an ideal RPA platform that has sensors, speed, and countermeasures to address A2/AD threats. RPAs, when programmed and equipped to do such, could instantly identify threats, employ countermeasures, and adapt strategy in real-time. A simple example would be: An RPA equipped with an AN/ALE 50, faced with a SAM threat, could be coded to instantly go vertical, roll 180', and dispense chaff.

Speak for yourself there junior... Some of us actually know the score of the ball game.

As for the rest of your post, I agree.

It's just that no one is doing that with RPAs now, or plans to - but sure, it's possible. It's just kinda hard to "change airpower" when the budget calls for the retirement of the majority of the Predator fleet, fewer CAPs, and limited new acquisitions of other legacy systems.

When not at war, morale and sense of purpose are issues that infantry will face as well, not just RPA squadrons.

Currently, the United States owns over 8,000 remotely operated aviation systems and over 12,000 robotic ground systems. Obviously, we need operators for these systems. In terms of RPA Pilots, the USAF has over 1,400 and has a forecasted demand of 1,700+ with 65 continuous CAP (Combat Air Patrols) this year. The overall RPA community has grown from 2,100 personnel in 2005 to an expected 9,900 for 2017. With 1,400+ RPA pilots, there are currently 6,500+ airlift/tanker pilots and 4,400+ fighter/bomber pilots. For 2012 pilot-production, there were 380 airlift/tanker pilots, 185 fighter/bomber, and 120 RPA pilots produced. 17% of all pilots trained in 2012 were RPA. 11% of all USAF pilots are currently RPA. By 2020, the Air Force expects to receive all RPA pilots from the pipeline.

There is an "unmistakable and lasting instituional commitment on the part of the Air Force to the remotely operated aviation system capability"

-Gen Norton A. Schwartz, 2013 Nimitz Lecture

RPA can only grow from here.

Do you just run around quoting former AF officers in an attempt to convince people you know what you're talking about? It's a shit TTP. It makes you looks like a goofus to quote the guy who sold the AF down the Joint river to get every BCT commander their very own Predator feed... You know who knows zip about what kind or how much ISR they "need"? The Army. Trust me bro, I live it everyday.

AGAIN, I agree with you for the most part - we ARE making a commitment, we ARE integrating RPAs, they ARE capable of growth... Hell I want Reapers and Preds out there doing their thing when I have to go downrange... Everyone does.

BUT WE ARE NOT CHANGING AIRPOWER (remember, that's what this entire conversation is all about).

Chuck

Edited by Chuck17
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  • 4 weeks later...

When not at war, morale and sense of purpose are issues that infantry will face as well, not just RPA squadrons.

Currently, the United States owns over 8,000 remotely operated aviation systems and over 12,000 robotic ground systems. Obviously, we need operators for these systems. In terms of RPA Pilots, the USAF has over 1,400 and has a forecasted demand of 1,700+ with 65 continuous CAP (Combat Air Patrols) this year. The overall RPA community has grown from 2,100 personnel in 2005 to an expected 9,900 for 2017. With 1,400+ RPA pilots, there are currently 6,500+ airlift/tanker pilots and 4,400+ fighter/bomber pilots. For 2012 pilot-production, there were 380 airlift/tanker pilots, 185 fighter/bomber, and 120 RPA pilots produced. 17% of all pilots trained in 2012 were RPA. 11% of all USAF pilots are currently RPA. By 2020, the Air Force expects to receive all RPA pilots from the pipeline.

There is an "unmistakable and lasting instituional commitment on the part of the Air Force to the remotely operated aviation system capability"

-Gen Norton A. Schwartz, 2013 Nimitz Lecture

RPA can only grow from here.

Pipeline RPA dudes aren't 11x's and aren't pilots. They are pilots*.

*Not able to be rated for any manned aircraft

Edited by LookieRookie
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