The U.S. Air Force plans to fill at least half of the service’s RQ-4 Global Hawk pilot crew with enlisted airmen over the next several years amid operational demand and pilot shortage challenges, DoD Buzz reported Friday.
Brendan McGarry writes the Air Force aims to recruit more enlisted airmen to fly the Northrop Grumman-built spy drone after opening the post to all career fields.
“By 2020, the Air Force hopes to have a little more than half of its 198 RQ-4 pilots be enlisted airmen,” Maj. Bryan Lewis, an Air Force spokesman, told Military.com.
“And by that point, roughly 70 percent of the 121 airmen flying Global Hawk missions on a day-to-day basis — not performing other duties such as staff positions at the wing — will be enlisted airmen.”
The Air Force has 33 Global Hawks in its inventory as of fiscal 2015 and larger inventories of armed drones such as General Atomics‘ MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper, the report said.
McGarry writes the Air Force has not clarified if the expected Global Hawk enlisted pilots will also eventually pilot the armed variants.
Sgt. Kimberly Pollard, RPA enlisted specialty manager, announced in August that the Global Hawk program has expanded the eligibility requirements for RQ-4 pilots to include all Air Force specialty codes.