The U.S. Air Force has decided to allow its enlisted airmen to operate RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aircraft as the military branch looks to bolster its intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.
Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James and Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh have instructed the Air Combat Command to develop a framework for the inclusion of non-officer personnel in the Global Hawk operational force, the military branch said Dec. 17.
“The remotely piloted aircraft enterprise is doing incredibly important work and this is the right decision to ensure the Air Force is positioned to support the future threat environment,” James noted.
Welsh added the branch “will continue to assess and balance our force to meet warfighter needs while ensuring appropriate force development.”
The Air Combat Command will work over the next six months to plan entry requirements, compensation, training, career path development and role delineation for potential enlisted drone pilots.
The Air Force has trained enlisted crews to operate military satellites and transitioned some of its officers to other mission areas where there are talent shortages.