11:50 GMT +324 September 2019
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    US Predator unmanned drone armed with a missile setting off from its hangar at Bagram air base in Afghanistan, November 27, 2009.

    US Air Force Confused on Number of Pilots Needed for Drone Program

    © AFP 2019 / Bonny Schoonakker
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    US Air Force policies for hiring and retaining pilots to remotely control drones or unmanned aerial systems (UAS) are chaotic and reform is urgently needed, a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report said.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — In April 2014, GAO reported on several issues the Air Force faced in managing its UAS pilots, but nearly two years later, the Air Force still had not implemented the GAO's recommendations to strengthen its management, the report added.

    “[The] Air Force had not accurately identified the number of UAS pilots required to accomplish its mission nor had it established a minimum number of pilots needed,” the report, which was issued on Wednesday, stated.

    Up until now, the US Air Force had still not updated its personnel requirements for the UAS piloting program and until it did, the Air Force would not know if it was assuming unacceptable levels of risk to accomplishing the mission and ensuring pilot safety, the GAO cautioned.

    “GAO reported that the Air Force had faced challenges recruiting UAS pilots and might also face retention challenges in the future,” the report continued.

    The GAO also noted that the Air Force had not evaluated the use of alternative personnel populations, such as enlisted or civilian personnel to help it sustain required UAS pilot staffing levels.


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    drone, Ptero-G0 unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), US Air Force, US Government Accountability Office (GAO)
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