Inside Unmanned Systems

APR-MAY 2018

Inside Unmanned Systems provides actionable business intelligence to decision-makers and influencers operating within the global UAS community. Features include analysis of key technologies, policy/regulatory developments and new product design.

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12   April/May 2018 unmanned systems inside surveillance and reconnais- sance (ISR) community was an equally strong supporter of drones. The Kosovo Air War ex- posed several key Air Force ISR leaders and, more importantly, the future Air Force Chief of Staff (CSAF) John Jumper to the potential advantages of drone warfare. I became a drone fan during Kosovo and fought to have a Predator deployed to Kuwait to help enforce the Iraq no-fly zones. It fortuitously ar- rived about six months before 9/11, giving us just enough time to learn how to use it. We found the Predator was the only way to monitor constantly mobile Iraqi air defense forces. Luckily, the now CSAF Gen. Jumper had the foresight to order Big Safari (the rapid acquisition office of Air Force ISR) to arm the Predator and it arrived a few days after 9/11. Lt. Gen. Chuck Wald, fol- lowed by another future CSAF, Lt. Gen. Buzz Moseley, wielded the armed Predator aggressive- ly in Afghanistan and Iraq, changing air warfare forever. However, it was Lt. Gen. Dave Deptula who did the most to ensure the Air Force took full advantage of unmanned aviation. Deptula became the chief of Air Force ISR in 2006, a critical juncture in Air Force un- manned aviation. His first move was to take control of the unpopular drone programs from the aviators in the Headquarters Air Force Operations Directorate. Against op- position from his own fighter community, this former F-15 pilot made sure drones transitioned from interesting experiments to a baseline capability of the United States Air Force. Just like Nixon was the only President who could have traveled to com- munist China, dyed-in-the-wool fighter pi- lot Dave Deptula was the only general who could convince the Air Force fighter mafia it needed to treat drones like they did any other aircraft. Remote pilot training went from a six-month transition course to a full training track, with an undergraduate pilot training course just like manned aviation. The Predator program transitioned from Big Safari quick reaction management to a permanent program office at Air Force Materiel Command. Air Combat Command treated new requirements for drones just like they did for the F-22 and Joint Strike Fighter. Perhaps most importantly, another fighter pilot drone fan (and former RF-4 re- connaissance pilot) Gen. Ron Keys stopped treating drones as "attritable" (Air Force for landings don't ALWAYS have to equal take offs) and treated them like "basic aircraft in- ventory" aircraft (Air Force for "you ding it, you're FIRED) for safety investigation pur- poses. The accident rate for Predators went from nine times that of the F-16 to roughly the same about a year after this move. The mafia resisted each one of these changes, but Deptula and his allies managed to out smart them at each turn. I'm convinced we wouldn't have a viable Air Force drone ca- pability if we didn't convince our aviation experts (in this case, the fighter mafia) that they had to use their aviation expertise to treat drones like manned aircraft for safety. SAFETY FACTOR I see this transition playing out all over the commercial drone communit y. Drone advocacy usually comes from General Overview by James Poss, Maj Gen (RET) USAF THE REASONS WHY THE FUNCTIONAL AND AVIATION CULTURES DIVERGE OVER DRONES ARE COMPLEX, BUT THE SIMPLEST EXPLANATION IS THAT FUNCTIONAL CULTURE JUST WANTS TO GET THE JOB DONE AND AVIATION CULTURE JUST WANTS TO DO THE JOB SAFELY. Photos courtesy of Insitu, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. and Northrop Grumman. Insitu's ScanEagle (top) General Atomics' Predator (middle) and Northrop Grumman's Global Hawk.

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