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Air Force officials announce remotely piloted aircraft pilot training pipeline

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Amaani Lyle
  • Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs
Air Staff officials will institutionalize the remotely piloted aircraft pilot career field by establishing undergraduate RPA training, officials here said June 2.

According to Lt. Gen. Philip Breedlove, the deputy chief of staff for operations, plans and requirements, the first URT class will begin in October 2010.

"This change is just another step in solidifying our commitment to, and the importance of, this capability to the joint community," General Breedlove added.

After successful completion of the course, RPA pilots will become part of the 18X career field. Graduates will also receive RPA incentive pay equal to aviation career incentive pay and carry a six-year service commitment.

In October 2009, Air Force officials established the 18X career field in an effort to create a professional cadre of RPA pilots to meet joint warfighter requirements.

The 18X career field is a rated Air Force specialty code, and selection standards will be rigorous, to include physiological and academic requirements, said Lt. Col. Jeffrey Kwoka, the RPA career field manager.

Future RPA pilots will be selected from accession boards or from an undergraduate flying training board. Training includes initial flight training at Pueblo, Colo., RPA instrument qualification, and a fundamentals course at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, followed by training at one of the Air Force's RPA formal training units.

"The Air Force will ensure that all RPA pilots are fully trained to employ the RPA in the national airspace and operational environments," Colonel Kwoka said.

The first opportunity for active-duty members to be selected for URT will be the January 2011 board. Air Force Personnel Center officials will announce the application window this summer.