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Employment after active duty?


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I know there are a lot of contractor jobs out there but can anybody speak to opportunities in the civilian world after active duty for RPA pilots? Specifically- what the pay is and if the contracts are here to stay for the next 10-20 years? I may be transitioning from a manned mws to RPAs and am curious. 

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Just from sheer statistic on how many RPA guys there are and the availability of contract jobs that pay at least as much as active duty O pay; they are pretty saturated. You have an edge coming from UPT you can apply for CONUS contractor positions, because you have a CPL. A lot of RPA guys think that they can apply for those positions when in reality they can only apply for the OCONOS positions, unless they shell out the money and get their CPL.

On pay; depending on what position you get it can be between 200-300K

I would recon that specifically RPA contractor jobs don't have a great future outlook. AF just cut 10 CAPs of Contractor lines this year. Marines are operating their own MQ-9 lines and will probably look to less to contractors. The Army has their own stuff as well etc. If it dosent contribute to the future fight I would expect less of it. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Short term I wonder how thats working out for the 18x contractors with the combination of economic downturn and the Air Force is cutting its contracting CAPS and the Marines are operating their own MQ-9s to fulfill their mission requirements.

Also h eres a quick pic of that UPS airline. I'm sure it pays more than most quad copter jobs, but i wonder how it compares to Active duty major or even senior captain pay for an 18x.

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  • 1 month later...

Big difference between a quad copter and an MQ-9 or GH. I'm not sure the skill sets are comparable. 

I would take the RPA position as it overall broadens your resume but have a plan to regain currencies/flight hours in the future. Then you have fall backs. 

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No quibbles about keeping your manned flying logbooks fresh, but like I said before, I think the future is bright. 

I can easily envision a national airspace that has plenty of cargo aircraft flying as RPAs. Auto takeoff, fly an op mission with an e mission loaded, auto land, all monitored by RPA pilots or mission managers or whatever you wanna call it back in Memphis or Louisville.

We’re in the baby steps phase where they’re doing some larger quad copters for local delivery, but we all know that much of the automation for airliner-sized RPAs already exists and I think cargo in particular will cut pilots (and associated life support necessities) from being on board their aircraft when they feel they can do safely and within the regulatory environment.

I’m also very optimistic on the outlook for public safety agencies to use larger RPA-class aircraft for law enforcement and disaster response as that technology gets cheaper, easier to operate, and more acceptable to the FAA.

Edited by nsplayr
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  • 2 years later...

New MQ-9 Pilot here. But not new to the Air Force. Could push the button in less than 5 years but looking to stay in another 10 or so. But, I too wonder what the future holds for us. I also wonder if it’s absolutely necessary or not to get your commercial and instrument? Got some buddies with GA whispering that will be a requirement even for contractors pretty soon. 

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I’m not sure that anyone can answer those valid questions. The AF at this point should stop making 18X and send everyone to UPT 2.5, but the whole thing is a mess. They also need to rapidly develop a 18X -> 11X TX course of some kind.

I don’t have my instrument or commercial but have friends in the squadron who have gone out and got theirs. I don’t know the latest on what the GOCO companies are looking for but then again they’ve drawn down quite a bit lately and all of our guys who were out doing that are back at the orders trough. 

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16 hours ago, nsplayr said:

I’m not sure that anyone can answer those valid questions. The AF at this point should stop making 18X and send everyone to UPT 2.5, but the whole thing is a mess. They also need to rapidly develop a 18X -> 11X TX course of some kind.

 

Not that I disagree with the overall idea by any means, but UPT (all bases are 2.5 at this point) is backed up across the board with the "normal" amount of studs. Zero chance the bases could support a huge migration of 18X folk. Not sure I would want a fast track TX course into flying either, I will gladly take flight hours and additional training. Just my 2 pennies. 

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13 minutes ago, BANDIT_K said:

Not that I disagree with the overall idea by any means, but UPT (all bases are 2.5 at this point) is backed up across the board with the "normal" amount of studs. Zero chance the bases could support a huge migration of 18X folk. Not sure I would want a fast track TX course into flying either, I will gladly take flight hours and additional training. Just my 2 pennies. 

Yea, that’s what I was implying when I said it was all a mess. There’s zero capacity to train 18Xers to manned even if we wanted to right now.

For my situation (age/rank/TAFMS/etc.) it would be a tough ask to go to full-up UPT and then IQT/MQT for a new platform if god forbid my Guard unit had to change missions/platforms again.

Then again like you said, a lot of dudes would love it and relish the additional hours. My argument is that if you can take someone off the street and make them an 11X in ~6 months, surely you can take an 18X and make them an 11X faster than that, and the AF should invest the resources necessary to make that happen at some point before sunsetting the MQ-9 with no clear replacement. 

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On 12/9/2022 at 3:25 PM, nsplayr said:

 The AF at this point should stop making 18X and send everyone to UPT 2.5, but the whole thing is a mess. They also need to rapidly develop a 18X -> 11X TX course of some kind.

 

I agree that i think the 18X experiment seems to be failing and that theres not much at the CGO level that can be done to turn the ship around. I was wondering if you had the time to expand on why they should stop making 18Xers: i agree I just wonder what someone whos been around longer than I have is seeing that i might not be.

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9 hours ago, theoriginalturk said:

I agree that i think the 18X experiment seems to be failing and that theres not much at the CGO level that can be done to turn the ship around. I was wondering if you had the time to expand on why they should stop making 18Xers: i agree I just wonder what someone whos been around longer than I have is seeing that i might not be.

Because the MQ-9 is the only platform they can fly and at some point before the end of the careers of currently serving RPA pilots, the MQ-9 will be retired and there is no clear replacement platform. BL: you have a large group of RPA pilots who could fly other platforms with the right cross-flow and additional training, but we're still at square zero where instead they'd just be hung out to dry. IMHO.

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Because the MQ-9 is the only platform they can fly and at some point before the end of the careers of currently serving RPA pilots, the MQ-9 will be retired and there is no clear replacement platform. BL: you have a large group of RPA pilots who could fly other platforms with the right cross-flow and additional training, but we're still at square zero where instead they'd just be hung out to dry. IMHO.

Or they could go work on the staff at ACC, freeing up experienced pilots to go back to their aircraft!


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21 hours ago, CaptainMorgan said:


Or they could go work on the staff at ACC, freeing up experienced pilots to go back to their aircraft!


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That’d be great.
 

I don’t see a good chance that the rest of ACC would be happy to see any additional staff jobs coded to allow 18xers: youre losing tons of talent by the time they qualify for staff on top of their general lack of a common operating picture, or shared experiences with 11x (particularly organic 18xers)

 

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That’d be great.
 
I don’t see a good chance that the rest of ACC would be happy to see any additional staff jobs coded to allow 18xers: youre losing tons of talent by the time they qualify for staff on top of their general lack of a common operating picture, or shared experiences with 11x (particularly organic 18xers)
 

Better than sending 11Ms to work 11F staff jobs. At least 18X should know a little something about ACC.


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