The Air Force has had to put on hold its plan to develop an elite crop of unmanned aerial vehicle instructors because it has pressed every available operator back into an operational console seat to meet the high-demand for UAVs in Southwest Asia operations. The service had intended to begin its first UAV instructor course at the USAF Weapons School this fall after completing a validation course this summer. The Nellis AFB, Nev.-based school turns out experts in tactics and capabilities for most of USAF’s weapon systems, and service officials believe the UAV arena could especially benefit from this type course since the Predator and Reaper force has been press-ganged into combat without the usual time for test and tactics development. Instead, USAF has surged Predator and Reaper deployment and returned all UAV-qualified operators to operational UAV crews, most at Creech where the lack of usual amenities has prompted the service to offer a new incentive pay. (Read more in Adam J. Hebert’s The UAV Surge Hits Nevada)
Reports of production troubles on the SpaceX rocket that could contend for military cargo deliveries happened to coincide with a different company’s concept receiving an early nod—one that might not require a rocket at all.