Murphy's Law: March 28, 2003


Although Predator UAVs don't have people on board, there is a "crew" assigned to each aircraft. Each time a Predator goes up, three people on the ground are involved. The pilot, the only officer involved, flys the Predator from a ground location. The "sensor officer" is an NCO, and takes care of the cameras and other sensors on board. The pilot usually controls use of any weapons (now only  Hellfire missiles) carried. The third member of the crew is the crew chief, which is the air force title of the NCO in charge of the team maintaining the aircraft. But the Predators are such simple (mechanically) aircraft, that each aircraft's crew chief deals with all maintenance issues himself. The crew chief also goes out on the air strip (which, for the predator, could just be a stretch of highway) to set the aircraft up for takeoff, and take it in hand when it lands. Often, a second flying crew will relieve the initial one on a long flight that involves a lot of maneuvering and use moving the sensors around. This new system will make UAVs, and UCAVs (combat UAVs) cheaper to operate, as more NCOs and a smaller number of personnel involved will bring costs down. 


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