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Enlisted personnel can now be Air Force drone pilots

Enlisted personnel can now be Air Force drone pilots
Jordan Tan / Shutterstock.com

Most of the news you've heard lately about drones has to do with hobby and commercial drones. However, today we have news out of the U.S. Air Force, which operates the big drones, such as the 16-ton RQ-4 Global Hawk surveillance drone. That won't fit under the Christmas tree.

For a while now, though, the Air Force has had a bit of a problem finding drone pilots. The main reason is that post-World War II pilots in the Air Force, whether for manned or unmanned planes, have to be officers, and there aren't enough of them to go around.

In fact, the USAF is so desperate it's offering pilots a $125,000 bonus to stay another five years to fly drones. Even a recent step of allowing civilian drone pilots to fly hasn't solved the shortage.

So, the Air Force has decided to open up its drone pilot ranks to enlisted Air Force personnel, which seems like an obvious step, but took a while to actually approve. For now, the enlisted personnel will be dealing with surveillance drones, not combat drones. However, that could change in the future.

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