The Civil Air Patrol is helping the Air Force solve a remotely piloted vehicle training problem—not enough Predator and Reaper RPVs to spare—by employing hardware on CAP aircraft to simulate the RPVs during training with Army and Marine Corps troops headed to Southwest Asia. Previously USAF employed a private contractor, but service officials realized they might tap CAP volunteers and save possibly “thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars,” Col. Bill Ward, USAF’s liaison to CAP, told The Huntsville Times. The “Surrogate Predator” program involves placing a “Predator ball” under the left wing of CAP Cessna 182 aircraft, which then mimic the actions of Predators and Reapers. Air Combat Command began training an initial six CAP pilots this month. CAP officials predict they will add more and have the initial group train them as the mission grows. (Includes CAP report by Steve Cox)
The Collaborative Combat Aircraft will be operational in the late 2020s, several years before the Next-Generation Air Dominance family of systems, Air Force officials told the House Armed Services tactical aviation panel. The CCAs will first be “shooters,” then electronic warfare platforms, then sensors, in that order, they added.