Posted by lex, on May 17th, 2011
According to a breezy NDM blog post quoting CNO, junior officers in deployed strike, maritime patrol and rotary wing squadrons can add to their list of collateral duties – Navy Relief drive coordinator, coffee mess officer, admin queen, etc – the role of UAS operator:
Considering the Navy’s earlier recalcitrance, it may surprise observers that the current plan is to merge UAVs with conventional aircraft in the same units.
“We have elected to not create separate organizations to deal with UAVs, particularly on the aviation side,” said Roughead. The original plan had envisioned placing separate squadrons of VTUAV or UCLASS or BAMS, but that would be too costly, he said. “I can’t afford the overhead,” he added. “You’ll see in the Navy VTUAVs becoming part of helicopter squadrons. BAMS will become part of P-8 squadrons.”
Actually, it’s not at all clear whether the pilots flying the UAS also fly Super Hornets, SH-60s and P-8s, but the mission sets clearly overlap, and many of the skills ought to be transferable for Generation Why? pilots raised on gaming consoles. Too, naval aviation is nothing if not competitive. But the prospect of drone pilots in some Perth nightclub vying with their airborne compatriots for the attentions of the locals by telling “there I was at the ground control station” stories is too dreary to contemplate.
You have to consider this sort of thing from all angles, you see. You’re welcome.
It’s also understandable why CNO doesn’t want to stand up an entire squadron, with all of its support infrastructure and manning in an era when total ownership cost across a system life cycle is coming under fierce scrutiny.
Interesting times for naval aviation, and given another twenty years, these too will be somebody else’s good old days. That said, I have to admit that I’m glad I did it when I did.