RAF RPAS Ops

A slight tangent...

It has been noted that a lot of ex-manned aircraft Pilots have moved to fly RPAS. What is the likelihood of this working in the opposite direction? In other words, what is the likelihood of newly qualified direct-entry RPAS pilots, with their 60 or so EFT hours, doing a tour or two flying Reaper/Protector (in future) and requesting to move to fixed wing?

Theoretically, perhaps not such a large jump:

- instrument hours are rife whilst flying RPAS - glass cockpits within new aircraft (think Phenom in training, Voyager etc) - potential to reduce risk of failure?
- passed an in-depth, longer EFT so could bypass this training phase/short refresher?
- Still require airmanship qualities to fly RPAS so, again, improves potential pass rate?

Furthermore, DE RPAS Pilots wising to convert may perhaps be able to avoid the idiotic training pipeline clog(?), which could be necessary in the long run, with wannabe pilots on excessively long holds as Air Traffic bods etc. - would they prefer to start fresh with new trainees or implement RPAS crews wishing to convert further along in the training pipeline - ie bypassing EFT and straight into ME training, which could even be condensed? I'm hearing that those that entered as Pilots, were given hugely long holds and are being trained as Air Traffic Controllers etc. may be stuck in that role... Service need and all that.

However, of course, as we know, RPAS is currently one of the most operationally active assets within the RAF presently, and thus this could restrict the possibility of this happening.

Just a thought...
Errm, less than 3/4 of f**k all.

We're EXTREMELY short of RPAS(P) and indeed Sensor Operators.

Those in that sphere will stay there, due to Service need. Coupled with the uncomfortable reality that most, if not all, RPAS(P) are there for a reason; namely that their aptitude scores at OASC, and performance in training, led them down their current path.
 
Can somebody pm me that knows how the RAF trains their sensor operators I'd really appreciate it. I'd like to exchange my info and email (US .gov) And exchange some info. Basically looking to see what we do similar and what we can learn from each other. Just trying to establish a relationship first. Thanks guys!

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Errm, less than 3/4 of f**k all.

We're EXTREMELY short of RPAS(P) and indeed Sensor Operators.

Those in that sphere will stay there, due to Service need. Coupled with the uncomfortable reality that most, if not all, RPAS(P) are there for a reason; namely that their aptitude scores at OASC, and performance in training, led them down their current path.
RPAS(P) aptitude scores are only slightly lower than for conventional pilot. In fact, RPAS(P) requires higher scores on some elements.

I would say that the majority of experienced RPAS(P) could transition with ease to ME. That would result in a useful amount of broadening and some respite from the unforgiving lifestyle on XIII and 39.

Regards,
MM
 
Can somebody pm me that knows how the RAF trains their sensor operators I'd really appreciate it. I'd like to exchange my info and email (US .gov) And exchange some info. Basically looking to see what we do similar and what we can learn from each other. Just trying to establish a relationship first. Thanks guys!

Sent from my HTC Desire 626s using Tapatalk
PM me.

Regards,
MM
 

Cutaway

LE
Kit Reviewer
Can somebody pm me that knows how the RAF trains their sensor operators I'd really appreciate it. I'd like to exchange my info and email (US .gov) And exchange some info. Basically looking to see what we do similar and what we can learn from each other. Just trying to establish a relationship first. Thanks guys!

Sent from my HTC Desire 626s using Tapatalk
Откуда мы знаем, что вы не ГРУ ?
 

Cutaway

LE
Kit Reviewer
Nyet comrade

Sent from my HTC Desire 626s using Tapatalk
хорошо товарищ, я поверю тебе. :)
But the handle looked like Russian misspelling of Texan gland.
 
Ha it's a name I've been using since I was stationed in England. It's a play on being from Texas and living in England.

Sent from my HTC Desire 626s using Tapatalk
 
RPAS(P) aptitude scores are only slightly lower than for conventional pilot. In fact, RPAS(P) requires higher scores on some elements.

I would say that the majority of experienced RPAS(P) could transition with ease to ME. That would result in a useful amount of broadening and some respite from the unforgiving lifestyle on XIII and 39.

Regards,
MM
Not my experience of both, I'm afraid. Indeed, my understanding is that re-stream to RPAS(P) has been implemented in the past for EFT failures, and certainly the cadres of those 'conventional pilots' transferring from FW/RW types to Reaper have never been top third, to put it mildly.

I may be wrong, though
 
1530953160316.png


Just reflecting on the above forthcoming journey.

Does Protector have AAR capability or can it make the distance with/without external stores?
 
View attachment 341282

Just reflecting on the above forthcoming journey.

Does Protector have AAR capability or can it make the distance with/without external stores?
There isn't a production RPAS in service with AAR capability, and with the sortie profiles flown it's not a current requirement.
To give an idea of the ranges some RPAS systems can achieve, the USAF have flown an MQ4 from Vandenberg AFB, CA to Australia.

Aviation History as Global Hawk Completes US-Australia Flight
 
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Errm, less than 3/4 of f**k all.

We're EXTREMELY short of RPAS(P) and indeed Sensor Operators.

Those in that sphere will stay there, due to Service need. Coupled with the uncomfortable reality that most, if not all, RPAS(P) are there for a reason; namely that their aptitude scores at OASC, and performance in training, led them down their current path.
Whilst I agree with the statement re lack of RPAS Pilots and Sens Ops, I have to disagree with your comment about aptitude scores. In my experience, it is wholly evident that those that pass Pilot aptitude do not necessarily pass for RPAS(P). This, of course, works conversely in the sense that it is naturally possible that a candidate would fail for Pilot but pass for RPAS(P). In that case, I am sure that many would lump for RPAS as a good, operationally impactful career in aviation.

It is perhaps ignorant as well, if considering motivation behind DE RPAS(P), to ignore the fact that there is big buck to be made in civvie UAV operations presently, as well. I wonder if that is in the backs of anyones mind when considering applying? This would of course not detract from the professionalism of those that did think beyond their service career.

I would perhaps suggest that medical barriers are perhaps more in line with OASC re-streaming, if you wish. By that I mean, those that pass both roles at aptitude and then find out in their medical that they have a (likely unknown) medical defect that barres them from conventional aircrew service, but does allow them to pursue a career in RPAS.

Anyhow, it's the future...
 
Whilst I agree with the statement re lack of RPAS Pilots and Sens Ops, I have to disagree with your comment about aptitude scores. In my experience, it is wholly evident that those that pass Pilot aptitude do not necessarily pass for RPAS(P). This, of course, works conversely in the sense that it is naturally possible that a candidate would fail for Pilot but pass for RPAS(P). In that case, I am sure that many would lump for RPAS as a good, operationally impactful career in aviation.

It is perhaps ignorant as well, if considering motivation behind DE RPAS(P), to ignore the fact that there is big buck to be made in civvie UAV operations presently, as well. I wonder if that is in the backs of anyones mind when considering applying? This would of course not detract from the professionalism of those that did think beyond their service career.

I would perhaps suggest that medical barriers are perhaps more in line with OASC re-streaming, if you wish. By that I mean, those that pass both roles at aptitude and then find out in their medical that they have a (likely unknown) medical defect that barres them from conventional aircrew service, but does allow them to pursue a career in RPAS.

Anyhow, it's the future...
Genuine interest question, and not meant in any confrontational manner, but what's your experience base for this? Reason I say that is that as a fairly experienced aviator and flying supervisor, with a small time spent in selection/training (I am being deliberately vague for PERSEC here), what you assert is the polar opposite of what I've seen.

Outlook wise, there's no getting away from the fact that for badged aircrew, within the RAF (& RN), RPAS is firmly viewed as Second XI or bottom third. It just is.

PM if you're inclined.
 
Genuine interest question, and not meant in any confrontational manner, but what's your experience base for this? Reason I say that is that as a fairly experienced aviator and flying supervisor, with a small time spent in selection/training (I am being deliberately vague for PERSEC here), what you assert is the polar opposite of what I've seen.

Outlook wise, there's no getting away from the fact that for badged aircrew, within the RAF (& RN), RPAS is firmly viewed as Second XI or bottom third. It just is.

PM if you're inclined.
My experience is different to yours. I too do not wish to divulge too much pers info but I have seen a fair few potential Pilots who, at OASC medical, find out they are not able to progress. They obviously have an abundance of different options in this instance, of which RPAS is (an attractive) one. It is also true that I have known applicants pass both or one of Pilot/RPAS(P).

I, however, have not been an instructor so can't speak of the 'skill' required. I'm sure they're not talentless, however. (Not suggesting that you have implied this)

I also have no doubt that RPAS operators are seen as second to aircrew, but some of those aircrew will possibly end up piloting/becoming sens ops on Reaper or Protector. Would be interesting to see what those that have already converted from manned platforms to unmanned think - misconceptions rife? Superiority justified? A different challenge that is more/less rewarding? or largely incomparable?
 
I, however, have not been an instructor so can't speak of the 'skill' required. I'm sure they're not talentless, however. (Not suggesting that you have implied this)
I do not view RPAS crews as talentless at all, indeed there are some very bright boys & girls playing that game.

I also have no doubt that RPAS operators are seen as second to aircrew, but some of those aircrew will possibly end up piloting/becoming sens ops on Reaper or Protector. Would be interesting to see what those that have already converted from manned platforms to unmanned think - misconceptions rife? Superiority justified? A different challenge that is more/less rewarding? or largely incomparable?
From speaking to mates of mine, both in 'cockpit' and command posts, I understand that RPAS ops do carry different challenges and stresses, some of which can be compared and others can't. However, all of these mates, to a man, will dutifully 'sing the Reaper song' in public; however, take them to the pub and throw 8 pints of Stella down their necks and they'll give, shall we say, an alternative view. We all get how important ISR is, and yes, the flexibility of being able to strike at short notice, etc etc etc, but on an RPAS unit you're not walking out onto an ASP, kicking the tyres of the steel beast that you've signed for, and horsing skywards at a rate of knots. For me, that's what flying is all about, and has been since I first strapped a 'red-&-white' to my arse in the early 90s.

Maybe I am an old-fashioned, arrogant w**ker, but I don't think so. I've never bought into the 'aircrew superiority' myth, everyone has talents in different ways and it takes a collective effort to get the aircraft into the sky. However, much as I respect those talents differing as they may, it's an inescapable fact of military life that the tri-Service flying training system, amongst other systems - AACC/P Coy, Perisher etc - filters people out to less demanding roles, where they can (and indeed do) go on and do very well. The RPAS sphere is one of them.
 
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Cutaway

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Kit Reviewer
Not my experience of both, I'm afraid. Indeed, my understanding is that re-stream to RPAS(P) has been implemented in the past for EFT failures...
Off the top of my head, I think the OASC pass mark for RAF pilot aptitude is 120 and that for RPAS(P) 115. However, the latter actually need higher scores in one or 2 specific areas (eg spatial awareness).

Luckily, we have far more applicants than we can accept for both branches so can afford to take candidates whose aptitude scores are considerably above those minimums. Therefore, every single RPAS(P) recruited has also demonstrated pilot aptitude.

In terms of EFT, I doubt that any pilot chopped there has ever been restreamed RPAS(P) because the respective syllabi are very similar. Indeed, RPAS(P) actually fly more hours on EFT, although there is obviously less emphasis on aspects such as aeros! Indeed, the new Prefect is better suited to RPAS(P) training than Tutor as the former has an FMS and is turbo-prop powered.

...and certainly the cadres of those 'conventional pilots' transferring from FW/RW types to Reaper have never been top third, to put it mildly.

I may be wrong, though
That was arguably true in some cases in the early days but it’s most certainly not now.

Many transfer to Reaper with exceptional FJ QWI and other credentials and have subsequently progressed extremely well. That includes at least one current 1* and several who went on to become stn cdrs.

Looking specifically at RPAS(P), several have already progressed onto STANEVAL and flt cdr duties, sometimes being selected ahead of conventional pilots and WSOs with more hours.

...there's no getting away from the fact that for badged aircrew, within the RAF (& RN), RPAS is firmly viewed as Second XI or bottom third. It just is...
I’m not RPAS but I have been heavily involved in the community for some time in various guises.

One of the problems is the extreme level of ignorance (again, I do not say this pejoratively or suggest you fall into this category) regarding the harsh realities of serving on an RPAS sqn. As you imply elsewhere, RPAS flying is ‘different but the same.’ Your suggestion that former manned aircrew say one thing in private but another in public is different to my own experience with them.

In this respect, they’ve all stated that the skills of weaponeering, sensor manipulation, comms, flying and other aspects are directly comparable to manned flying including FJs. In certain respects, things are easier; in some regards they enjoy greater Situational Awareness due to access to far more sources of information and a supervisor can be called into the cabin if required for inexperienced crews. On the flip side, some things are more challenging; those very information feeds can sometimes overload the unwary, the current Reaper ergonomics are dreadful, and aircrew may not be able to see subtle visual cues (eg the puff of smoke and dust from a MANPAD launch) if it is outside the narrow field of view of the EO/IR feed.

Certainly, the mission/sensor management and weaponeering skill sets required for the advanced cockpit being developed for Protector will have many parallels to 5th Gen types.

Unfortunately, a huge amount of people still genuinely believe RPAS crews are somehow mentally detached from the battlefield, subscribe to the ‘computer game’ theory, or that ‘they’re living at home so can suck anything up.’ That’s resulting in more and more pressure on the RPAS crews which means that the demands placed on them and their families are fast becoming unsustainable.

This is one half of the argument in favour of allowing RPAS(P) to cross-over onto manned flying for both career diversification and - probably most importantly - some respite from the nature of their ops. The other aspect is that by allowing such cross-fertilisation, we increase our flexibility to address aircrew shortages.

View attachment 341282

Just reflecting on the above forthcoming journey.

Does Protector have AAR capability or can it make the distance with/without external stores?
As @chasndave mentions, Protector does not have AAR. However, it’s endurance is 36 hrs plus when clean so it can make this hop with ease.

Interestingly, the Skyguardian/Protector appears to be garnering more export interest than the Block 5 Reaper which the USAF are procuring. That’s due to the added endurance and airspace certification aspects so I can see it selling well.

Regards,
MM
 
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Off the top of my head, I think the OASC pass mark for RAF pilot aptitude is 120 and that for RPAS(P) 115. However, the latter actually need higher scores in one or 2 specific areas (eg spatial awareness).

Luckily, we have far more applicants than we can accept for both branches so can afford to take candidates whose aptitude scores are considerably above those minimums. Therefore, every single RPAS(P) recruited has also demonstrated pilot aptitude.
My understanding is that the 120 you allude to is closer to 140, but my knowledge may be dated. The FAA will accept candidates at around the 120 mark, and the AAC at around 80-90.

Ref 'applicants vs branches vs aptitude scores', the point you raise would be the case if a candidate had to gain aptitude pass marks well above the minima in order to be competitive. However, the President of the Air Board (PAB) and his / her team assess each candidate not just on aircrew aptitude test results, but how they have performed in other areas of the Air Board procedure; command tasks, leadership exercises, group discussions, fitness testing etc etc. Other supporting material (eg suitably strong UAS reports) are also taken into account; aptitude tests are merely an indicator of how a candidate may fare in the training system. The scope exists, and indeed is implemented, for candidates to pass the Air Board with less-than-optimal aptitude test results, providing the other elements of the 'package' are suitably strong.

That was arguably true in some cases in the early days but it’s most certainly not now.

Many transfer to Reaper with exceptional FJ QWI and other credentials and have subsequently progressed extremely well. That includes at least one current 1* and several who went on to become stn cdrs.

Looking specifically at RPAS(P), several have already progressed onto STANEVAL and flt cdr duties, sometimes being selected ahead of conventional pilots and WSOs with more hours.
I don't doubt that people move to Reaper with QWI or other backgrounds; there are guys & girls who have completed CFS, QWI courses etc who are far from 'cutting & thrusting', to put it mildly. The current mindset amongst badged aircrew, from my experience anyways, is that an AO to the Reaper Force is a bit of a kick in the unmentionables; to cite a hypothetical example, if you have 2 x FJ JO pilots, one of whom gets an AO for CFS / ETPS / QWI Cse etc, and the other is posted to the Reaper Force, I think you could tell who'd be the happier bloke in the bar that evening. However, I'm sure not everyone thinks like that; indeed in 2011 when we were scrabbling around for any seat at all for some of our pilots / navs / WSOps, many blokes & girls gratefully accepted postings to the Reaper Force, but those that I had dealings with would've, pretty much to a man / woman, rather stayed on a manned platform. This was an unfortunate result of the deletion of MRA4 (and to a lesser extent GR9), and the sizeable drawdown of TGRF.

I think we are talking at slightly crossed purposes. I sit in no denigration of the RPAS community and have respect for what they do. My point - and it's a purely personal PoV - is that 'equalising' what non-aircrew RPAS blokes & girls do, with the years of training that badged aircrew have to complete, just doesn't square - for me, at any rate. If that were the case, they'd be eligible for RRP (Flying), FRIs etc in line with their contemporaries.
 
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