Interview with a US Air Force drone pilot: It is, oddly, war at a very intimate level


By Daniel Rothenberg

Best Defense guest columnist

“There’s an insatiable appetite for RPAs (remotely piloted aircraft) right now. When RPAs were first deployed they were so new that the leadership didn’t realize how popular and successful they would become. Initially, RPAs didn’t draw in a cadre of fighter pilots. But then, things began to change and you saw fighter pilots, bomber pilots, and others who brought with them a lot of experience flying RPAs. Now, we’re at the point where RPA pilots are getting the most combat experience of anyone. In my opinion, a lot of the most significant work is being done in the RPA community and that’s drawing in the top-tier guys. There’s pride associated with flying RPAs.

“The

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