Carlisle: Increase in RPA Continuation Training Needed

The Air Force has not yet been able to realize the full potential of the MQ-1B and MQ-9 fleets and its ability to fly multiple different missions simply because the pilots have not been able to train enough, Gen. Hawk Carlisle, commander of Air Combat Command, said Sept. 15 at ASC15. Pilots and sensor operators have constantly been flying operational missions, with no time to take on continuation training missions to practice anything other than constant over watch and strike sorties in support of operations such as Inherent Resolve and Freedom’s Sentinel. RPAs will be a large part of the service’s fleet for “a long time to come” and the service needs to find ways to evolve what they can do, Carlisle said. “It’s not just a capability to counter ISIS, there’s potential (use of) MQ-9 in a variety of different mission sets we’ve never been able to do,” he said. The service was recently given the permission to drop its requirement of 65 combat air patrols to 60 as a way to increase the ability to train RPA pilots. This could also translate to additional training for operational pilots, including participating in Red Flag.