- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 15, 2015

The U.S. Air Force is turning to its National Guard and Reserve pilots to help quell its dearth of drone pilots.

The “interim measures” taken by the Air Force comes shortly after an internal memo was shared with The Daily Beast that said the service is struggling to find enough pilots to man its MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper drones.

In addition to calling on National Guard and Reserve components, the Air Force plans to increase incentive pay and seek volunteers if needed, The Associated Press reported Thursday.

“This is a force that is under significant stress from what is an unrelenting pace of operations,” Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said, AP reported.

Air Force chief of staff, Gen. Mark Welsh, echoed her sentiments, saying “We have just got to get ahead of this,” AP reported.

Gen. Welsh added that the Air Force needs 300 drone pilots to meet obligations placed upon it by the Pentagon, but that it can currently only train 180 per year. AP reported that the Air Force loses 240 drone pilots per yer.

A senior Air Force official told The Daily Beast Jan. 4 that the service is in dire straits regarding its drone resources.

“It’s at the breaking point and has been for a long time,” the official told the website. “What’s different now is that the Band-aid fixes are no longer working.”

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