Murphy's Law: January 4, 2004

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One unspoken reason for introducing UCAVs (combat aircraft without pilots) is that it will save the lives of hundreds of pilots, even if the UCAVs are never used in a war. In the last three decades, it became normal for far more pilots to be killed in training accidents than in combat. There hasn't been much combat, but there has been a lot of training. For example, in it's first two decades of use, 265 F-16s were lost, and 98 percent of those were lost in training accidents. During that same period, 95 percent of the sorties were for training. Because they have no pilots on board, there is not much training time in the air for UCAVs. The ground based pilots will train mostly on simulators, while a small number of UCAV flights will be made to test the reliability of the mechanical, electronic and software components. Deaths from flying accidents for UCAV "pilots" will be zero. However, the air force insistence on UAV and UCAV "pilots" be actual flying officers means that these UAV pilots will have to go fly something periodically in order to maintain their flight status. But this flying will probably not be in high performance (and more dangerous) fighters, but probably trainers and transports.

 


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