U.S. Air Force Hires Private Companies to Fly Drones in War Zones*
By Chris Thompson
Reaper drone in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Photo: Defence Images.
U.S. Air Force officials has begun to hire private companies to fly drone aircraft operating over Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. The unprecedented move is in response to demands from the Obama administration to dramatically expand the drone war just as the Pentagon faces a critical shortage of military pilots.
As a result, civilian pilots will directly participate in military operations for the first time since the drone wars began about a decade ago. According to the Los Angeles Times, the Air Force signed contracts with two private companies in 2015 to provide enough pilots to fly two “combat air patrols” or 24-hour surveillance flights that would involve as many as eight MQ-9 Reaper drones per day. The Air Force plans to eventually expand its fleet of…
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