First UFC Pilots Graduate

The first of the Air Force’s newly minted undergraduate pilots selected to proceed to unmanned aerial vehicle cockpits rather than going immediately to follow-on manned aircraft training have completed a four-week unmanned aircraft systems fundamentals course, or UFC for short. These pilots are part of a two-pronged effort by the Air Force to get more UAV operators faster; the other element takes non-pilot officers and trains them from scratch to pilot UAVs—the first 10 start training in January. During UFC training at Randolph AFB, Tex., that began last month, nine new pilots completed 100 hours of computer-based simulation and academic classes conducted by the 563rd Flying Training Squadron. Lt. Col. Scott Cardozo, 563rd FTS director of operations, said the training was designed to expose the new pilots to “the real-world ground-combat and air-combat environment,” the air tasking order process, and weapons employment. They next must go through a two-week Joint Firepower Course at Nellis AFB, Nev., and then will undertake actual UAV flight training at nearby Creech Air Force Base. (Randolph report by Sean Bowlin)