Headquarters Air Combat Command Public Affairs
12/11/2015 - JOINT BASE LANGLEY- EUSTIS, Va. -- Air
Combat Command officials announced the results of their study into the
Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) community in an attempt to normalize
operations and ensure long-term mission success.
Initial recommendations from the command's ongoing Culture and Process
Improvement Program (CPIP) were derived from nearly 2,500 inputs from
Airmen across the RPA community as well as staff analysis and budgetary
planning. The result was over 140 tasks the Air Force is undertaking to
improve RPA operations. The CPIP initiative supports current and
previous efforts to normalize operations and is the first of its kind
with this level of collaboration and top-level interest across the Air
Over the years Air Force leaders have made or pushed for substantial
base-level investments in support of RPA Airmen and their families.
Earlier this year, an initiative led by the Secretary of the Air Force
reduced RPA operations from 65 to 60 lines daily, while temporarily
managing pilot assignments to stabilize the career field until the
remote pilot training pipeline could be expanded. The draft 2016
National Defense Authorization Act includes language that expands the
Air Force's bonus authority for remote operators and aligns RPA operator
entitlements with those for other rated positions. The service is
working a plan to apply that authority.
In addition, Air Combat Command has established and held the first
meeting of a General Officer-led working group that will provide
guidance and gain consensus across commands to enhance the development
and execution of a strategic vision for the RPA enterprise.
Moving forward, General Hawk Carlisle, Commander of Air Combat Command,
has directed his staff to develop detailed implementation plans for the
· Approximately double the number of RPA flying squadrons.
· Create a new wing to normalize organizational and command and control structures relative to other weapon systems.
· Standardize the squadron, group and wing structure.
· Assign RPA units in new locations to potentially include overseas locations.
· Decrease the heavy burden of persistent in garrison combat operations
by increasing RPA manning and associated resources by 2,500-3,500
· Define career tracks for officer and enlisted RPA operators and maintainers.
· Study the promotion and professional military education selection rates for RPA officers.
· Study the feasibility of a single specialty code for RPA maintenance personnel.
· Streamline processes to better enable Reserve Component forces to support the mission.
"Our RPA enterprise was born in combat and recently surpassed 20 years
of service, many of which were executed at surge levels," Carlisle said.
"We owe it to our Airmen to remove the daily stressors that are
responsible for the challenging environment they are operating in."
An integral part to improving the organizational and command and control
structures for remote aircraft is examining where to base new
organizations to sustain the enterprise for the long term, according to
"As we strategically analyze the RPA community, we need to take a hard
look at our operating locations," Carlisle said. "Expanding our RPA
basing to potential sites such as Davis-Monthan [Air Force Base, Ariz.],
Langley [AFB, Va.], and a few overseas locations is a discussion we
need to entertain as we stand up a new wing. We would look to take
advantage of the synergy between RPA operations and command and control
or intelligence processing, exploitation and dissemination nodes."
Carlisle emphasized that "of course we must follow the established strategic basing decision process."
"Resourcing these changes is not within ACC's direct control," Carlisle
noted. "So we will have to work with the Department of Defense, the
White House and Congress on the resources to get this done."
"RPAs have changed the game on the battlefield with their persistence
and ability to both build situational awareness and close the kill
chain," Carlisle said. "Ultimately, CPIP is about establishing a
coherent, Air Force wide strategic plan that enables us to continue to
provide this incredible capability to the joint force by moving the RPA
community toward the sustainment model we've established for other Air
Force weapon systems."