The inaugural Enlisted Remotely Piloted Aircraft Pilot Selection Board selected 30 enlisted airmen from a total of about 200 applicants to fill pilot training slots for fiscal years 2017 and 2018, the service announced on March 8. The board, which convened Feb. 6-8, selected two senior master sergeants, five master sergeants, nine technical sergeants, 14 staff sergeants, and five alternatives. The airmen will join the other 12 enlisted airmen who are part of the Enlisted Pilot Initial Class, or EPIC. The Air Force opened the door to enlisted airmen to fly the RQ-4 Global Hawk last year, and the service expects the number of enlisted pilots to grow to 100 within four years, states the release. The first EPIC class is comprised of “very experienced enlisted members” who served in career fields such as RPA sensor operators, said Air Education and Training Command boss Lt. Gen. Darryl Roberson told reporters at AFA’s Air Warfare Symposium last week. “They are very familiar with the operations, the concept, and how we do all this together … We put them through first not only to see how it goes but to get their thoughts and inputs in how to make it better for the classes that follow,” said Roberson. So far, there have not been any big surprises from the students’ performances or their inputs. “Each of those EPIC classes will have less experience and less familiarity,” added Roberson. “The last EPIC class will deliberately have people with no knowledge on this.”
More than 100 B-21s will be needed if the nation is to avoid creating a high demand/low capacity capability, panelists said on a Hudson Institute webinar. The B-21's flexibility, stealth, range and payload will be in high demand for a wide range of missions, both traditional and new.