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Downed Aircraft Recovery Operations

One of the most obvious sources of difference in perceptions is the demographic and experiential backgrounds of the two communities. Rotary-wing pilots are officers (warrant or commissioned), receive extensive training on aviation operations, and are specifically trained on SR skills in schoolhouse and at home station. Pilots also undergo extensive selection requirements and must demonstrate aptitudes and cognitive characteristics specific to aviation. By contrast, UAS operators are enlisted personnel or junior noncommissioned officers (NCOs) and are primarily trained on ISR skills. In addition, there currently is no formal aptitude test used for selecting UAS operators although prototype tests do exist (Bruskiewicz, Houston, Hezlett, & Ferstl, 2007). While UAS training is rigorous, it does not include the level of aviation skill or SR skills regularly practiced by rotary-wing pilots. These differences in background and training are necessarily going to produce differing perspectives on the nature of the SR mission and skills required to execute the mission. It may be important to note that the Air Force uses officers (not necessarily rated aviators) to operate UASs and that the Navy and Marine Corps use enlisted operators for some of its UAS, such as RQ-7B, and officers for more complex systems. It is not clear whether using officer UAS operators in the Army would eliminate difference in perceptions of UAS role in the SR mission. However, the question of just what kind of person should be a UAS operator and for what kind of UAS is an issue for all three U.S. armed services for which there are no simple answers. Despite the differences in perceptions for the role of UAS in SR missions between manned aviators and unmanned aviators and the reasons for those differences, steps can be taken to prepare both aviation communities for MUM-T. First and foremost, is the advent of the FSCAB with one squadron consisting of 21 OH-58Ds and 8 RQ-7Bs. The stand-up of the FSCABs should allow UAS and manned aircrews to practice as teams before deployment. This training would enable manned and unmanned communities to address team training areas or issues before being required to execute live MUM missions. Another training environment for MUM-T training would be the Aviation Training Exercises (ATX) virtual exercise. Even though ATX is intended to be a staff exercise, the participation of aviators in the exercise make ATX a useful tool for aviation collective training such as MUM-T (Seibert, et al., 2012).