Source : – Stephen Losey – Enlisted combat pilots? The Air Force is launching a test that could lead to that.

The Air Force is launching a new pilot training program that will include enlisted airmen — and could eventually lead to them flying combat aircraft.

Maj. Gen. Timothy Leahy, commander of the Second Air Force, said in a Nov. 30 email to his commanders that 15 officers and 5 enlisted airmen will be picked for the six-month pilot training program.

“Enlisted volunteers will be pioneers in innovating Air Force aviator recruitment, selection, and training processes by demonstrating the potential of non-college graduates to succeed in a rigorous pilot training environment,” Leahy wrote. “This program will provide data to [Air Education and Training Command commander Lt. Gen. Steven Kwast] on the potential for enlisted members to train to fly modern combat aircraft.”

Candidates who succeed and become students will take solo flights in T-6 trainers, Leahy wrote. (…)

This could represent a major expansion of the Air Force’s fledgling experiment with enlisted aviators. After a long study, the Air Force two years ago began allowing enlisted airmen to fly the unarmed RQ-4 Global Hawk reconnaissance remotely-piloted aircraft.

Aside from that, the Air Force has until now not made any moves to allow enlisted to fly armed RPAs such as the MQ-9 Reaper, or manned aircraft of any kind. (…)



Photo © Airmen from the 492nd Fighter Squadron at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, practice basic surface attack techniques off the southwestern coast of England. (Master Sgt. Lance Cheung/Air Force), as published in ibid