The US Air Force (USAF) has chosen the first enlisted airmen for RQ-4 Global Hawk pilot training, which is scheduled to begin in October.
The ten crew members will become the USAF’s first enlisted airmen since World War II, upon completing the enlisted and officer training course next year.
These enlisted pilots will be offered the same rigorous USAF training as current RPA pilots with respect to flight training, rules, and responsibilities.
The pilots will learn to fly a DA-20 Falcon and will attend RPA Instrument Qualification and Fundamentals Courses before finishing with Global Hawk Basic Qualification Training.
Upon completion of this training, they will be rated instrument qualified pilots and will be US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certified to fly the RQ-4 in national and international airspace.
They will also be mission qualified to execute the high-altitude ISR operations.
Air Combat Command commander general Hawk Carlisle said: "We have been taking a hard look at the ISR enterprise and ways to maximise what our amazing airmen can do in support of this mission.
"There is no doubt that the challenges of meeting incredible demands for ISR with a small force requires solutions that make the best use of our talented enlisted corps."
Nearly 70% of the pilots flying day-to-day missions in the RQ-4 are expected to be fully trained enlisted pilots in 2020.
The high-altitude and remotely piloted aircraft comes with an integrated sensor suite that provides global all-weather, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capability day or night.
Image: A USAF RQ-4 Global Hawk in flight. Photo: courtesy of US Air Force.