U.S. Air Force Reportedly Short of Drone Pilots and Staff to Fight ISIS

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A MQ-9 Reaper drone. The U.S. Air Force reportedly lacks sufficient trained staff to meet the demand for unmanned flights in the fight against Islamic State.Credit: AP

A shortage of drone pilots has hit the U.S. Air Force just as the unmanned aircraft are most needed – to fight Islamic State, a media report says.

The Air Force has about seven pilots for every eight positions, the Daily Beast reports. But other staff is needed for tasks like operating the cameras and other surveillance equipment, plus technicians to fix the drones, the website says.

In addition, hundreds of analysts are required to review and interpret the output, the Daily Beast reports.

The shortage has stretched the staff to the point that the Air Combat Command, which trains Air Force combat forces, is declining to fill the Pentagon's increasing requests for more drone flights, the website reported.

Drone crews are overworked, having had their leaves canceled, and have seen their careers damaged because they couldn't attend proper training courses, the Daily Beast reports.

Many drone operators are simply leaving the service, the site says.

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