More RPA Training, Money Mean Healthier Guard Pilots

The Air National Guard is relying on the Active Duty’s new remotely piloted aircraft wing to bolster its training infrastructure and is looking for new investments to build up its own bases as part of the service’s ongoing battle to get more drone pilots. Lt. Gen. Scott Rice, director of the Air National Guard, said the Active Duty’s plan to set up a new wing for remotely piloted aircraft operations will increase the overall training capacity for RPA pilots, a dramatic need in the service. The Air National Guard’s RPA squadrons have always focused on operations, flying at a surge pace to keep up with demands for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance. The Guard’s operational reserve “never came off the surge level,” Rice said during an AFA Mitchell Institute event on Tuesday. By increasing the Active Duty throughput of pilots and aircraft, Guard pilots will have more opportunities to train and rest, Rice said. The Guard is also looking to use a possible increase in spending across the military to buy launch and recovery elements to use at its Guard bases, so pilots at those sites will have a chance to train locally, Rice said. The Air Force in 2015 launched a dramatic overhaul of its RPA community, looking to build a new wing, massively increase the amount of pilots it trains, and buy 75 more MQ-9 Reapers as combatant commanders have built up an insatiable demand for ISR.

See also: Don’t Fear the Reaper from the February 2016 issue of Air Force Magazine.