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UAS volunteers sought for Air Force test program; deadline approaching

by Master Sgt. Russell P. Petcoff
Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

10/22/2008 - WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Air Force officials are seeking up to 20 captains with four to six years of experience to volunteer for the unmanned aircraft systems beta test program.

"This first run of the test-run program is open to captains who have no previous military pilot-training experience," said Col. Curt Sheldon, assistant to the director of air operations for UAS issues, A-3O-A. The colonel indicated the volunteer can have civilian pilot experience but may not have attended any portion of military pilot training.

Volunteers face an Oct. 31 deadline for completing the Test of Basic Aviation Skills, or TBAS, and a Nov. 3 application deadline.

Officials are seeking volunteers for the beta test program.

"We're looking for highly motivated individuals who are ready to contribute to the joint fight as UAS operators." Colonel Sheldon said.

Volunteers who successfully complete the program will eventually fly the MQ-1 Predator. These UAS operators will be the final link in the delivery of air power in the war on terrorism, according to Colonel Sheldon. Predators are armed with AGM-114 Hellfire missiles.

The combat contributions of UAS in today's fight have surpassed all expectations and have become a critical part of the ongoing successes in both Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, Colonel Sheldon said.

The beta test program will have two classes of 10 students each, according to the colonel. The first one starts in January 2009 and the second begins in the April timeframe. Each class lasts approximately eight months.

Eligibility requirements for volunteering for the program are:
-- A captain with four to six years of total active federal commissioned service as of Jan. 1, 2009;
-- Be less than 30 years old by Jan. 1, 2009;
-- Complete the Air Force Officer Qualification Test with a minimum score for pilot greater than 25, and combined pilot/navigator composites of greater than 50;
-- Have two years time on station by July 1, 2009;
-- No previous military pilot training experience or undergraduate pilot training; and
-- Meet the contact lens requirement at time of physical examination at Brooks City Base, Texas, at http://airforcemedicine.afms.mil/IFC1-MFS

Captains meeting the eligibility requirements and who have completed their TBAS also will need a letter of recommendation from their group commander or equivalent. The submitted recommendation letter must be in a .pdf format. The recommendation must include the full name, rank and Social Security number of the applicant. Volunteers must e-mail their application package by 4 p.m. Central Standard Time Nov. 3 to specialflyingprograms@randolph.af.mil.

Accepted volunteers will undergo a UAS operator-specific medical examination at Brooks approximately Nov. 17. For this examination, volunteers must not wear soft contact lens within 30 days of the examination nor hard lens within 90 days. The volunteer also must not have undergone refractive surgery within a year. In addition, volunteers must apply for a Top Secret clearance.

The training will include introductory flight training at Pueblo, Colo. Next is a UAS fundamentals course at Randolph AFB, Texas; the Joint Air-to-Ground Operations School at Nellis AFB, Nev; and then UAS training at Creech AFB, Nev.

Unit military personnel flights have information on the beta test program.

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