RAF May Replace Pilots with Gamers for Combat Drone Sorties

Last month GamePolitics reported that one of the U.S. Army’s top combat drone pilots in Iraq was a 19-year-old who learned his control skills playing Xbox.

Now comes word that Britain’s Royal Air Force may employ gamers to control its combat drones in Afghanistan.

PressTV reports that the RAF hopes to save money by replacing pilots with less-skilled personnel:

The Royal Air Force (RAF) announced Saturday that pilots without full combat training will replace top guns in controlling unmanned Reaper planes in ‘frontline missions’ in Afghanistan as part of a plan to reduce costs…

Although a small mistake by the remote-controlled pilot can be lethal for civilians or friendly forces nearby, RAF chiefs, believe that ‘lower grade’ pilots with 30 hours’ basic flying training can fly sensitive missions over Afghanistan…

It appears that RAF chiefs have based their claim on studies suggesting that the best drone crews are often young ‘video-game players’ rather than ‘experienced fighter pilots’.

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  1. IsoNeko says:

    Drones have been used for years. It’s only now that Drones and Gamers are mixing.

  2. Wolvenmoon says:

    As long as I’m on the side with the robots, I’m fine with it.

    Not really, this is a bad idea. At the very least we have conspiracy theories that games really do desensitize people to actual violence and killing in a permanent way. But it’ll likely end up that the military starts releasing games that DO this, and recruits top players from those games.

    It’d be like a recruiting post at a paintball or laser tag stadium. Video games are getting more immersive, and let’s face it, with that immersion and better graphics comes more intense violence. It’s the difference between flight of the valkyries played in a chiptune on an NES, and in 7.1 with a subwoofer the size of a small horse.

  3. Kincyr says:

    Damn you, "Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots"! Can’t we all just get along?

    岩「…Where do masochists go when they die?」

  4. Kincyr says:

    The wars of the future will not be fought on the battlefield or at sea. They will be fought in space, or possibly on top of a very tall mountain. In either case, most of the actual fighting will be done by small robots.  And as you go forth today remember always your duty is clear: To build and maintain those robots. Thank you.
    — Military school Commandant’s graduation address, "The Secret War of
       Lisa Simpson"

    岩「…Where do masochists go when they die?」

  5. Adrian Lopez says:

    Unless military targets such as weapons factories, government buildings and contested territories are themselves populated and operated exclusively by robots, there will always be human casualties.

  6. Adrian Lopez says:

    Something about unmanned killing machines seems inherently unfair to me, even in war. Relative to a specific battle, the side with unmanned vehicles is risking only money but is still destroying human lives. It’s the smart thing to do, of course, but it doesn’t feel right.

  7. hellfire7885 says:

    Joy, soon we’ll be hearing from certain people that they were right about the military and video games all along.

    BTW, being a gamer won’t automatically make you want to plow the drone into a school or release it’s payload on a hospital.

  8. insanejedi says:

    Colour me different but I don’t like the RAF amiditing lower grade soilders to send to Afghanistan.

  9. GoodRobotUs says:

    I wouldn’t kill people, not real people, the whole fun of games for me is the fact that it’s safe.

    If someone joins the RAF and has a history of gaming and wants to do this, then that’s fine by me, as long as they don’t start hunting around the general population for volunteers. Otherwhise, as EZK says, it starts to get eerily like the film Toys.

  10. JB says:

    Now I have an excuse to buy that $200 joystick and throttle control. I could tell my wife it’s for national security. 

  11. SeanB says:

    My brother took a flying aptitude test at age 19 as well, passed with flying colors. They offered him a scholarship, etc.

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