Sixty-Five CAPs for 55

The Air Force has been surging the capability of 65 combat air patrols of remotely piloted aircraft for years with only the resources for 55 CAPs, said Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Larry Spencer on Tuesday. “Since 2007,” Spencer told members of the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board in Arlington, Va., the Air Force has tapped pilots from other aircraft types for 65 CAPs of RPA duty while training as many new RPA operators as possible. “We’re struggling,” said Spencer, because 40 percent of RPA instructors are also flying real-world missions. They’re not getting leave, not getting professional military education, and are flying three times as many hours as their counterparts in manned aircraft, he said. Now that those first RPA school graduates are coming up on re-enlistment “only 20 percent say they will take the [re-enlistment] bonus and stay,” said Spencer. “We’re working these guys to a level that’s unsustainable,” he added, echoing comments made earlier this month by Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh. “People are leaving faster than we can train them,” said Spencer. (See also Help for the Crispy RPA Force and More RPA Relief.)