Pacing Factor

The Air Force has pulled out all the stops in trying to meet the demand for remotely piloted aircraft operations in forward theaters, but the pace is unsustainable, Air Combat Command chief Gen. William Fraser said Thursday. Speaking to AFA’s Air Warfare Symposium and Technology Exposition in Orlando, Fla., Fraser said USAF has created an RPA career field and continues to “normalize” it. The training pipeline is now “more solidified . . . and effective and efficient.” He said “the RPA business is not easy,” and training is harder “when we are putting everything forward as fast as we can.” And, even with new sensors and platforms coming on at a good rate, “we cannot operate on a continued surge pace” indefinitely, he said, adding, “This pace has got to slow down.” The only factor that will help in this regard is building to 65 combat air patrols as fast as possible, and then “increasing the crew ratios,” he said. Next week, ACC will present the Air Force leadership with an RPA steady-state concept of operations that will govern RPA operations for years to come, covering training, operations, basing, and leadership, as well as the eventual “redistribution” of assets that are now supporting US Central Command, he said.