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Air Force Drone Pilots Outnumber Manned Aircraft Pilots

Image: Air Force Drone Pilots Outnumber Manned Aircraft Pilots
In this Nov. 3, 2015, photo, Steve Bodin, a pilot for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Air and Marine Operations at Grand Forks Air Force Base, N.D., looks over the controls and keyboards used to fly the Predator drone. (AP Photo/Dave Kolpack)

By    |   Wednesday, 08 Mar 2017 04:11 PM

The Air Force now has more pilots for unmanned drone flights than any other type of aircraft.

Military.com reports there are more than 1,000 operators for the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper family of unmanned aircraft. The C-17 Globemaster III and the F-16 Fighting Falcon have 889 and 803 pilots, respectively.

"I never thought I'd say that when I joined the Air Force," Lt. Gen. Darryl Roberson told Military.com last week. "So we're really in a much better footing with RPA [remotely piloted aircraft] pilot production in addition to just getting the numbers up."

Roberson heads the Air Force's Air Education and Training Command.

The service has broadened its reach when it comes to drones and now trains enlisted men on the high-altitude reconnaissance drone called the RQ-4 Global Hawk. That drone is unarmed, but the Air Force plans to add more operators for its armed drone fleet that conducts airstrikes on a regular basis against enemy targets in the Middle East.

The Air Force recently announced it will retire the MQ-1 Predator drone next year and employ an armed drone fleet of Reaper aircraft.

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The Air Force now has more pilots for unmanned drone flights than any other type of aircraft.Military.com reports there are more than 1,000 operators for the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper family of unmanned aircraft.
air force, drones, unmanned, aircraft
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2017-11-08
Wednesday, 08 Mar 2017 04:11 PM
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