HomeNewsArticle Display

Air Force approves RPA initiatives

The Air Force recently approved two initiatives for the remotely piloted aircraft career field. Eight RPA reconnaissance squadrons will be redesignated as attack squadrons, and the Air Force has also authorized RPA aircrews to log combat time when flying an aircraft within designated hostile airspace, regardless of the aircrew's physical location. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Nadine Barclay)

The Air Force recently approved two initiatives for the remotely piloted aircraft career field. Eight RPA reconnaissance squadrons will be redesignated as attack squadrons, and the Air Force has also authorized RPA aircrews to log combat time when flying an aircraft within designated hostile airspace, regardless of the aircrew's physical location. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Nadine Barclay)

The Air Force recently approved two initiatives for the remotely piloted aircraft career field. Eight RPA reconnaissance squadrons will be redesignated as attack squadrons, and the Air Force has also authorized RPA aircrews to log combat time when flying an aircraft within designated hostile airspace, regardless of the aircrew's physical location. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. N.B.)

The Air Force recently approved two initiatives for the remotely piloted aircraft career field. Eight RPA reconnaissance squadrons will be redesignated as attack squadrons, and the Air Force has also authorized RPA aircrews to log combat time when flying an aircraft within designated hostile airspace, regardless of the aircrew's physical location. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. N.B.)

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- The Air Force recently approved two initiatives for the remotely piloted aircraft career field. First, eight RPA reconnaissance squadrons will be redesignated as attack squadrons. Second, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III authorized RPA aircrews to log combat time when flying an aircraft within designated hostile airspace, regardless of the aircrew's physical location.

The changes were two of many recommendations that emerged as part of Air Combat Command's Culture and Process Improvement Program, which seeks to address a number of issues affecting operations and the morale and welfare of Airmen across the RPA enterprise.

"The Airmen who perform this essential mission do a phenomenal job, but we learned from the RPA pilots, sensor operators and their leaders that these Airmen are under significant stress from an unrelenting pace of operations,” said Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James. “CPIP was established to help stabilize the RPA enterprise. These policy changes are steps toward addressing issues highlighted by RPA operators in the field."

The redesignation will affect the names, but not the core missions of RPA squadrons at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico; Whiteman AFB, Missouri; and Creech AFB, Nevada. These units, consisting of approximately 600 officers and 700 enlisted Airmen, will continue to provide real-time intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance to commanders, close air support to ground troops, and post-operation battle damage assessment to senior leaders.

Previously, squadrons consisting of MQ-9 Reaper aircraft were designated attack squadrons, while squadrons of MQ-1 Predator aircraft were designated reconnaissance squadrons. The redesignation anticipates the Air Force's ongoing transition to an all MQ-9 fleet and acknowledges the capability of these units to support military operations that can include strikes against targets. The cost of the redesignation is minimal, mostly affecting signs, stationary and other local items that display the unit's name or emblem.

"Aerial warfare continues to evolve. Our great RPA Airmen are leading that change. They are in the fight every day," Welsh said. "These policy changes recognize the burdens they bear in providing combat effects for joint warfighters around the world."

Since their first employment over the Balkans, Air Force RPAs have been in high demand, according to Air Force senior leaders. This has led to rapid expansion of both the number of squadrons and the number of operators.

Unique organizational structures and names evolved during this time, and the Air Force is now taking steps to standardize operations and improve conditions for operators.

The RPA mission "is instrumental to achieving decision advantage against our enemies, is an indispensable asset to our national security, and is the backbone to the success of our fights in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and other areas combating extremism and terrorism," Gen. Hawk Carlisle, commander of ACC, said March 16 in his testimony to the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services. "The Air Force is fully invested in continuing to achieve sustainability of this enterprise."

The Air Force reduced the number of combat lines to 60, from 65 in 2015. They also increased incentive retention pay for pilots to $25,000, matching incentive pay for rated pilots in other airframes.

ACC is expanding the training pipeline for operators, creating a more robust force and decreasing the current operational tempo. A combat operations-to-dwell ratio of 2:1 will provide Airmen predictable schedules, improve work-life balance, enable further professional development, offer increased training opportunities, and ultimately improve readiness, according to Col. Jeffry Long, ACC's director of CPIP.

Engage

Twitter
RT @HQUSAFEAFAF: U.S. #Airmen from various organizations within USAFE-AFAFRICA participated in Falcon Leap 21, a multinational parachute tr…
Twitter
Hear why this #Airman chose to get vaccinated. @SecAFOfficial directed the COVID-19 vaccine implementation guideli… https://t.co/154QECoeXk
Twitter
RT @AETCommand: Doing frequent mental health check-ins could make a big difference in building resiliency. Promote wellness within yourself…
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: Every time I look at "Wings Through Time” by Robert Emerson Bell it’s a constant reminder that the ability to accelerate…
Twitter
RT @UnderSecAF: If you need help or know someone who needs help - text 838255 or call 1-800-273-8255 to reach the Military Crisis Line. Let…
Twitter
RT @US_TRANSCOM: A @usairforce KC-135 refuels a B-2 Spirit in @US_EUCOM during a bomber task force mission.Tankers fuel the required reach…
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: A senior leader message during #SuicidePreventionMonth: "You are our greatest strength and the beating heart of our Air…
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: Congratulations to the @USAirForce’s 12 Outstanding #Airmen of the Year on earning recognition as exemplary performers i…
Twitter
RT @RealAFOSI: 1/ #DidYouKnow Sept. is Insider Threat Awareness Month? No environment is immune from the threat posed by trusted insiders.…
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: Sharene and I take the caring and well-being of our Airmen and their families very seriously. Thank you @AirForceAssoc fo…
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: Everyone wants to make their mark on the world. But why make just one? https://t.co/g1iX4pzU9b
Twitter
10 years have passed since #DontAskDontTell was repealed. @UnderSecAF Gina Ortiz Jones celebrated the milestone by… https://t.co/i1kTNvykzM
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: It’s going to take all of our Airmen, Active-duty, Reserve and Guard to secure this nation’s future. https://t.co/4P3CUiQ…
Twitter
RT @UnderSecAF: A few years ago, only two small businesses joined us at AFA--this year we have 40+. @AFWERX works with these companies ever…
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: SecAF is meeting with defense industry leaders today during the @AirForceAssoc’s #ASC21 events. In his #OneTeamOneFigh
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: Our rate of change needs to increase. We must move with a sense of urgency today in order to rise to the challenges of to…
Twitter
.@AETCommand is working to remove barriers in the pilot candidate selection process. Learn more about the changes… https://t.co/ANcqVRdsNz
Twitter
.@UnderSecAF Gina Ortiz Jones spoke on the anniversary of DADT... https://t.co/zZYqHOTp8V
Facebook
The newest Air Force Podcast recently dropped. Listen to a small snippet of CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright talk with Staff Sgt. New about resiliency. Listen to the entire podcast on Youtube: https://go.usa.gov/xpnAD or Subscribe to The Air Force Podcast on iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/podcast/the-air-force-podcast/id1264107694?mt=2
Facebook
Our mantra, "Always ready!" It's the spirit we fly by! #B2Tuesday
Facebook
Need some motivation to get your week started off right? Listen as CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright weighs in...
Facebook
The U.S. Air Force Academy gives its cadets some unique opportunities. Ride along one of this opportunities.
Facebook
A United States Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker refuels an F-22 Raptor over northern Iraq, Nov. 6, 2019. U.S. Central Command operations deter adversaries and demonstrate support for allies and partners in the region. (Video by Staff Sgt. Daniel Snider)
Facebook
Although the Silver Star is the third-highest military medal, it's not given often. Today, TSgt Cody Smith was the 49th Special Tactics Airman to receive this medal since Sept. 11th, 2001. Read more of TSgt Smith's amazing story: https://www.airforcespecialtactics.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2024815/special-tactics-airman-battled-through-injuries-awarded-silver-star/fbclid/IwAR2LZWwx1VHdTnQe39rIEBOuJS_0JvMQBBGt7I-E6zsxxn-Lx9387yu43Bc/ Cannon Air Force Base Air Force Special Operations Command United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)
Facebook
Tune in as our Air Force musicians along with other military musicians are awarded the National Medal of Arts.
Facebook
Like Us
Twitter
1,378,199
Follow Us