Holding on to RPV Assets

The Air Force has extended a policy that prohibits MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted vehicle operators from transferring out of the RPV world through Fiscal 2011. The Air Force is working to establish 50 RPV combat air patrols by 2011 and currently has 37 CAPs on orbit supporting Southwest Asia operations. (Read Surging the ISR to Theater) In a memo to RPV airmen, Air Force Secretary Michael Donley and Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz stated, “We cannot overstate how important you and the unmanned aircraft system capabilities are to our joint and coalition teammates—and to our nation.” USAF also continues to move more airmen from other fields into RPVs, recently encouraging Combat Systems Officers to retrain into the growing field. CSOs who do make the switch will become “permanent UAS assets.” (Creech AFB, Nev., release)