News / USA

US Military Pilot Training Emphasizes Drone Warfare

Luis Ramirez
HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, New Mexico — The U.S. military is rushing to train more pilots for remotely piloted aircraft as its reliance on drones grows in places such as Afghanistan and Yemen.  
 
Holloman has long been the testing ground for cutting edge warplanes. These days, German training jets are the few manned aircraft to be seen here. 
 
The skies at Holloman are now ruled by remotely-piloted aircraft, or RPA's,  flown by crews that never leave the ground.  
 
Their controls are mainly screens and joysticks.  It is here that hundreds of young airmen and women are trained to conduct missions thousands of kilometers away in Afghanistan and Yemen.  
 
x
Jay, one of the trainers, said, “The thing that’s drilled into our mind from day one is that this is not a video game. This is real. Ultimately, we could be put into situations where we do use weapons to take lives of enemy combatants.”
It used to be that the operators of remotely piloted aircraft had flown manned aircraft.  
 
Now, the military is rushing to boost the number of RPA operators, and this teaching center takes people straight from basic training.  
 
Using remotely piloted aircraft costs a fraction of what manned flights do, and full training takes 126 days, about half the time need for manned planes.
 
For pilot trainers like Lindsay, who recently had a baby, there are other advantages. “The fact that I am not physically there. I’m sitting stateside controlling an airplane that is in a different theater. It’s hard to wrap your head around. However it’s also truly great too in that you kind of have time to go back to your family, for one thing," she said. 
 
But that does not mean the experience is without risk. 
 
Pilots do not give out their full names in part because of death threats they receive, mostly from within the U.S. 
 
For Jay, who operated drones in combat, the job is anything but stress free. “Sometimes it does wear on you. One of the disadvantages to being on an RPA is I see this stuff and then I go home.  In combat situations, it’s really kind of hard to see this stuff and then on a drive that could be four or five minutes decompress and then go home and see your family. Switching gears is sometimes kind of a hard thing," he said. 
 
Finding and destroying explosives that kill U.S. ground troops is one of the things RPAs do.  
 
For pilots here, the belief that they are saving American lives makes the job much easier.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Godwin from: Nigeria
August 16, 2012 3:12 PM
RPA's, what a fine name! But Iran brought down one of them, what a mess that was! How I hated the smile on that persian midget when he claimed to have the technology to counteract the drone system. If the Iranians have an antidote to the drones, why concentrate more energy on it - it'd have become a public knowledge within the terrorist enclave - say Hezbollah and Hamas. Let's hear something new and cheering about these RPA's that can beat Russia, China and Iran, that's all that's important. After all another craft was downed in Afghanistan today and taliban is boasting it's their doing. Imagine the shame!

by: Nishni from: Canada
August 16, 2012 1:16 PM
Syria would be a good place to give these young tyros experience.

by: RIANO BAGGY from: INA
August 16, 2012 4:20 AM
now a fighter pilots not best physical it,s okay, low cost.llike used play U BOX from Sony with pop corn another hand sit in sofa to handle joy stick. But i afraid when hacker to jam this program and this frequency and used the drone for unresponsibility mission it is very high risk.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More