First UAV Familiarization Course Nears

The Air Force will begin the first-of-its-kind unmanned aircraft systems fundamentals course Nov. 21 at Randolph AFB, Tex. The four weeks of instruction, hosted by the 563rd Flying Training Squadron, are designed to provide combat familiarization for 10 newly winged graduates of undergraduate pilot training who have been selected to proceed directly on the path to learn how to operate unmanned aerial vehicles without first having extensive experience flying manned aircraft. The course comprises 100 hours of class work and simulator work. “It simulates the real-world ground combat and air combat environment,” said Lt. Col. Scott Cardozo, 563rd FTS director of operations. The Air Force leadership announced in September the new policy of taking a portion of the service’s UPT graduates and inserting them directly into UAV training as part of a larger initiative to bolster its cadre of UAV operators. To do this, it is also creating a new career field under which active-duty officers from various technical and non-technical backgrounds—but without prior flying experience—are trained to fly UAVs. (Includes Randolph report by Sean Bowlin)