Unmanned Aerial Systems: Air Force Pilot Promotion Rates Have Increased but Oversight Process of Some Positions Could Be Enhanced
Feb 7, 2019
Since 2013, over 75 percent of non-operational staff positions requiring RPA pilot expertise were assigned to various organizations within the Air Force, according to GAO's analysis. These positions carry out support and other noncombat-related activities as well as training functions and are essential to the development of officers.
However, the overall number of these positions that require a RPA pilot is about one-tenth of the combined number of those requiring other pilots. For example, in fiscal year 2018, 83 non-operational staff positions required RPA pilots compared to 330 requiring fighter pilots.
Air Force officials stated that the small number of RPA positions is because the career field is new.
The Air Force has not reviewed its oversight process to ensure that it is efficiently managing its non-operational staff positions that require aviator expertise.
Air Force officials explained that over the last 10 years, the Air Force reduced the number of squadrons but had not reviewed the number of non-operational staff positions.
Similarly, the Air Force has had no widely accessible oversight process to monitor whether it had established an accurate number of non-operational staff positions required to support the new RPA career field.
In August 2018, the Air Force identified 513 non-operational staff positions (out of 2,783) as needing further review because they lacked adequate justification of the need for aviator expertise.
Officials described the process for managing these positions as time and labor intensive, which can cause delays in obtaining reliable information needed to inform decision-making.
By reviewing this process, the Air Force may be able to identify opportunities to create efficiencies and more effectively manage its non-operational staff positions requiring aviator expertise.
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