General Atomics will establish a U.S.-based training center for foreign drone pilots from allied countries as part of efforts to meet the international demand for drone operators, Military.com reported Thursday.
Brendan McGarry writes that Christopher Ames, director of international strategic development for the company’s aeronautical systems business, indicated the plan also seeks to address a “training bottleneck” in the U.S. Air Force.
“There’s increasing demand for these aircraft and therefore there’s increasing demand for training, and so we are starting a training academy in January of 2016 to train pilots,” Ames said at the recent Paris Air Show, according to the report.
McGarry reports that the Air Force is reducing the number of combat air patrols by drones and increasing monthly incentives for operators with at least six years of service even as more drone pilots and trainers are leaving the service.
The Air Force needs at least 200 more pilots for its MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper fleets and loses approximately 240 per year due to attrition, the report said.
Ames noted that the future General Atomics training academy will accommodate pilots from allied countries to ease the training burden on the Air Force.