According to an Air Force Reservist and former active-duty navigator who recently agreed to return to active duty to undergo MQ-1 Predator remotely piloted vehicle pilot training, a key reason that USAF is asking reservists to return to duty is that RPVs require more pilots than manned aircraft. Lt. Col. Rob Perrin, who decided to participate in the voluntary recall when he found he would pilot an RPV, said that while an RPV has no one on-board, “it demands more manning than a manned aircraft per sortie.” He noted that crews are limited in their duty day, but the RPV, limited only by its on-board fuel, “can stay in the air and a fresh crew can take over.” (Perrin currently serves as deputy director of operations for the 717th Test Squadron at Arnold Engineering Development Center in Tennessee.) (AEDC report by Janae Daniels)
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.