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UAV pilots have added bonuses to fly the unmanned drones overseas, much to the dismay of some other military members

The Department of Defense is paying closer attention to the military budget, ending some military programs, though the unmanned drone project continues to prosper.

The benefit of being a UAV pilot, including being able to work stateside while still receiving flight pay, has angered some fighter jet pilots in the military. As the need for skilled UAV pilots continues, however, the small field is expected to successfully recruit skilled pilots operating drones thousands of miles away from the battlefield.

The Air Force Personnel Center said there are fewer than 1,100 UAV pilots and roughly 800 sensor operators responsible for flying missions in Afghanistan and other parts of the world.

In the future, the Air Force is expected to continue to offer flight pay and added incentives to UAV crews, in an effort to ensure personnel levels are met.

"It's really kind of a boring job to be vigilant on the same thing for days and days and days," noted Col. Hernando Orega, Air Force Surgeon General's Office, during a speech in Washington.  "It's really boring. It's kind of terrible. And maintaining relationships with their families -- these were the kinds of things that they reported as stressful for them."

UAV pilots can earn up to an $840 bonus per month and sensor operators can net a $400 per month bonus for flying missions, depending on the amount of service.  After a UAV or sensor pilot has been in for a four-year stint, they are up for a $50,000 reenlistment bonus -- and that number increases towards $80,000 for the twelfth year reenlistment bonus.  

Earlier in the year, a congressional report revealed that one in three warplanes are drones, and that number will likely increase because the military hopes to expand their UAV program more.

Besides aircraft drones, the USMC is now testing an unmanned helicopter and US Navy submarines are also jumping into the drone fun.

Once out of the military, there will be plenty of demand for UAV pilots and sensor operators, with drones now becoming popular on the home front. Drones are used by the Department of Homeland Security, for example, to help pinpoint drug and human smuggling along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Sources: Air Force Times, NPR



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RE: What they earn isn't our business
By kosmokenny on 4/23/2012 9:12:08 AM , Rating: 2
They dont, pilots are officers and UAV operators are enlisted.


By WinstonSmith on 4/23/2012 9:45:51 AM , Rating: 2
"They dont, pilots are officers and UAV operators are enlisted."

No, enlisted only operate very small, short range surveillance drones, not long range armed drones. Some branches of service are experimenting with enlisted flying the larger stuff:

http://www.navytimes.com/news/2011/11/navy-senior-...


By leviathan05 on 4/23/2012 9:53:18 AM , Rating: 3
That depends on what service you are in. Last I heard, Army, Navy, and Marines have enlisted UAV pilots, but Air Force requires pilots to be officers. It also depends what UAV platform is being flown. The Predator/Globalhawk type UAVs are flown by officers only, while smaller ones are typically flown by enlisted. Payload operators are generally enlisted though.


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