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Unmanned Robotics & New Warfare: A Pilot/Professor’s Perspective

... the U.S. Army can train UAV operators to “fly” a UAV in about 10 weeks. However, in a clear attempt to uphold a pilot-centric culture, the Air Force still requires two years of pilot training to control the exact same vehicles with the exact same capabilities. The primary difference between the two services is that Air Force pilots are allowed to “fly” the vehicles through joystick actions, while Army operators literally command their vehicles through point and click interactions. Unfortunately, temporal latencies inherent in remote control of UAVs like those of U.S. Air Force Predators mean that pilots who try to manually fly UAVs introduce significantly greater risk in operations: roughly half of all Predator accidents are due to pilot error. As a result, the Air Force has recently mandated that all take-offs and landings must be fully automated. The Army has adhered to this policy from the beginning of its UAV operations.