by Tech. Sgt. Nadine Barclay 432nd Wing/432nd Air Expeditionary Wing
Drones. The once harmless term has taken on new meaning in recent years largely due to misinformation, Hollywood dramatizations and their growing uses in non-military settings. For the men and women of the remotely piloted aircraft enterprise who provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support to combatant commanders around the world 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, dispelling myths associated with their mission is now a top priority.
1. Myth: Drones and RPAs are the same.
2. Myth: RPAs fly themselves.
3. Myth: Military RPAs are used to spy on U.S. civilians.
Additionally, the following guidelines structure how training flights work:
– Training is normally conducted in airspace over and near federal installations and unpopulated training ranges that have been set aside for that purpose.
– Information gathered during training missions that is relayed to ground stations is seldom retained after training operations.
– Any information retained after training missions is deleted shortly afterwards in accordance with regulations (typically no more than 90 days).
– During training missions, pilots and sensor operators are not applying or receiving the analytical support necessary to allow them to use imagery to identify individuals beyond gender and approximate age.
4. Myth: RPAs strike randomly.
5. Myth: RPAs are made from alien technology and are flown from area 51.
6. Myth: RPAs are unmanned and require less manpower to operate.
7. Myth: RPA pilots are just “gamers.”
8. Myth: Everyone in the RPA community suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
9. Myth: RPA aircrews are not compassionate to the missions they perform.
10. Myth: RPAs will replace manned aircraft
Despite the misconceptions surrounding the RPA enterprise Air Force leadership remain optimistic on the future capabilities RPAs can provide.
“What our RPA professionals are doing in today’s fight and in preparing for future conflicts is simply incredible. RPAs and their operators are in the highest demand from our combatant commanders because of the situational awareness and strike capabilities that they enable. Despite being some of the newest weapon systems in the Air Force inventory, RPAs fulfill critical demands in every theater 24 hours a day, 365 days a year,” said Gen. Hawk Carlisle, Air Combat Command commander.