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Naval Flight Officers’ Unmanned Future

dimsum

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This will happen a lot sooner than most people think.

NFOs (the USN equivalent of ACSOs) and "navigators" as a job description will likely change wildly in the next decade or two, even more than when most ACSOs stopped doing primarily using celestial and radio about 20 years ago.

 

Good2Golf

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This will happen a lot sooner than most people think.

NFOs (the USN equivalent of ACSOs) and "navigators" as a job description will likely change wildly in the next decade or two, even more than when most ACSOs stopped doing primarily using celestial and radio about 20 years ago.

Well, other than the Nav/ACSO thing specifically, Canada’s been doing it for quite a while…well, at least Canada’s special forces, army and navy, that is…one day the air force will do it too, I suppose.
 

SupersonicMax

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Well, other than the Nav/ACSO thing specifically, Canada’s been doing it for quite a while…well, at least Canada’s special forces, army and navy, that is…one day the air force will do it too, I suppose.
Perhaps for Class 1 and 2 UAS but for Class 3, the discussion is not at all going in that direction.
 

dimsum

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Well, other than the Nav/ACSO thing specifically, Canada’s been doing it for quite a while…well, at least Canada’s special forces, army and navy, that is…one day the air force will do it too, I suppose.
A friend and I were talking about this recently - with the way this is going, while there will still be scope for a person in the controls (ground or air, whatever), the lines between Pilot and ACSO are increasingly blurred to the point that we suspect they will functionally be the same trade within a couple of decades. Maybe less.

If we were smart, we'd start figuring out ways on how to make the transition, which may involve blending both training systems.

Of course, we aren't going to write anything official about it because, you know, egos and culture (AKA lack of wanting to be "tarred and feathered") :sneaky:
 

Good2Golf

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FAcT may provide an opportunity for some practical (dare I say common-sensical) alignment.
 

SupersonicMax

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If we were smart, we'd start figuring out ways on how to make the transition, which may involve blending both training systems.
Not sure what level of blending you’re looking for but until you have no more crewed aircraft, that is not feasible. There are selection standards for pilots that are different than ACSOs and vice versa. Fully training ACSOs as pilots and vice versa would only create issues.

What I think we need is a different trade of « RP Pilot » with possibilities for ACSOs and Pilots to be employed as RP Pilots. The requirements are different enough for RP pilots to have their own set of medical, selection and qualification requirements. Having experienced Pilots ans ACSOs in the beginnings would provide experienced leadership to the units and a transfer of corporate knowledge of military aviation, until a time when the trade is self sustaining,
 

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Not sure what level of blending you’re looking for but until you have no more crewed aircraft, that is not feasible. There are selection standards for pilots that are different than ACSOs and vice versa. Fully training ACSOs as pilots and vice versa would only create issues.

What I think we need is a different trade of « RP Pilot » with possibilities for ACSOs and Pilots to be employed as RP Pilots. The requirements are different enough for RP pilots to have their own set of medical, selection and qualification requirements. Having experienced Pilots ans ACSOs in the beginnings would provide experienced leadership to the units and a transfer of corporate knowledge of military aviation, until a time when the trade is self sustaining,
I am not so sure that creating another, separate flying occupation is the way forward.
 

SeaKingTacco

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And why would that be?
I do not see how the RCAF is large enough to have 50? 100? Person RPAS pilot occupation, with all the overhead that entails.
It is my feeling that convergence of flying occupations, vice divergence, is probably the way forward.
 

SupersonicMax

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We created the Air Ops trade which arguably doesn’t fix any issues: it merely shifted the problem somewhere else, at least in the short to medium term. From a qualifications point of view, a new trade is the way to go, or using pilots, which we do not have enough of. Using ACSOs won’t work as many nations do not recognize the trade and do not allow non winged pilots to operate UAS in their national airspace. I do not see this hurdle going away anytime soon.
 

SeaKingTacco

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We created the Air Ops trade which arguably doesn’t fix any issues: it merely shifted the problem somewhere else, at least in the short to medium term. From a qualifications point of view, a new trade is the way to go, or using pilots, which we do not have enough of. Using ACSOs won’t work as many nations do not recognize the trade and do not allow non winged pilots to operate UAS in their national airspace. I do not see this hurdle going away anytime soon.
Funny you say that we are short of pilots.

Where I work, we are overflowing with pilots. ACSOs and AESOps, however are in really, really short supply.
 

SupersonicMax

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Funny you say that we are short of pilots.

Where I work, we are overflowing with pilots. ACSOs and AESOps, however are in really, really short

Well, where you work is not representative is the occupational health of those trades overall.
 

SeaKingTacco

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Actually, except for us being overstrength in pilots in my particular unit, our ACSO and AESOp strengths are pretty much right on the over all respective occupation strengths, which is now well south of 80% TES.

But, hey, Pilots! get all the heat and light. Even though it getting difficult to scrape together an actual crew that does more than turn jet fuel to noise.

I only half jokingly suggested that we start to train the extra pilots on the back end systems , so at least we fly can with complete crews. The idea is not crazy, when you think about it, which got me wondering if convergence isn’t the way forward.
 

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I only half jokingly suggested that we start to train the extra pilots on the back end systems , so at least we fly can with complete crews. The idea is not crazy, when you think about it, which got me wondering if convergence isn’t the way forward.

Plus the associated benefit that some pilots (not all) will realize that the back end "nav stuff" isn't as easy as they think it is.
 

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Plus the associated benefit that some pilots (not all) will realize that the back end "nav stuff" isn't as easy as they think it is.
Having watched enough boxes in the past two years, I have observed that the most challenging crew position is TACCO, followed closely by pilot, when they are filling the crew commander role.

Apart from the landing on a moving ship part of the flight (a pretty critical part of the flight!), flying a Cyclone is actually pretty easy. Managing the “system” is not. That takes a well oiled crew.
 

SupersonicMax

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Pretty much true for every aircraft/system that isn’t operated by a single ego pilot.
Ah yes, we all know that managing the systems with one person is much easier than with a crew. Flying the Hornet is fairly easy. Managing its systems while flying is not.

Not saying one is more difficult than the other but slinging mud won’t get the discussion very far…
 

Good2Golf

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Ah yes, we all know that managing the systems with one person is much easier than with a crew. Flying the Hornet is fairly easy. Managing its systems while flying is not.

Not saying one is more difficult than the other but slinging mud won’t get the discussion very far…
…yet you were quick to dismiss making things work within existing structures…as though there was little to no flexibility to air power. So the doctrine was wrong all these years/decades? Time to reset because UAS represent a conundrum that can’t be resolved with extant capabilities…
 

SupersonicMax

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…yet you were quick to dismiss making things work within existing structures…as though there was little to no flexibility to air power. So the doctrine was wrong all these years/decades? Time to reset because UAS represent a conundrum that can’t be resolved with extant capabilities…
I am not slinging mud, merely suggesting a way forward (which is being considered btw). If we want to make it work within the existing structures, it will have to pilots flying UAS subjected to the Airworthiness processes, as other nations do not recognize non-pilots as UAS operators.
 

Good2Golf

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FC7C960D-6758-46B4-80A7-C507C4848881.jpegThere’s a difference between mandating a MOSID 00183 and what other nations accept as a ‘pilot’…
 
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