The Air Force is doing everything it can to lessen the stresses on its remotely piloted aircraft operators, Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh told airmen at Creech AFB, Nev., according to a base release. “There are some things [about the RPA mission] that clearly have to change,” he said during his March 24 visit to the desert base, one of the service’s RPA operating hubs. “We have got to get ahead of the training curve, we have got to get fully manned, and we have got to slow down the operational demand long enough to produce new pilots and crewmembers so that when others leave, the enterprise isn’t adversely affected,” he said. The growth in the Air Force’s overhead intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance enterprise, including the RPA force, over the past 15 years has been “absolutely stunning,” said Welsh. But the demand for ISR support has also grown tremendously, he said. “Every combatant commander wants you, which is a compliment, but you also understand the strain it inflicts,” he told the airmen. Welsh thanked them for their efforts and “for the feeling of security” they give ground troops. (See also Looming RPA Operator Crisis.)
As the Air National Guard moves forward with its plans to replace aging C-130Hs with new C-130Js, it has decided where it wants to base its formal training unit for the new aircraft—Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark.