Air Force promises that remotely piloted aircraft (RPAs) are not aliens

An MQ-9 Reaper sits on the flight line at Hurlburt Field, Fla., May 3, 2014.The MQ-9 Reaper is an armed, multi-mission, medium-altitude, long-endurance remotely piloted aircraft that is employed primarily as an intelligence-collection asset and secondarily against dynamic execution targets. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration/Staff Sgt. John Bainter)

A few days ago the Air Force’s official blog published a piece to debunk some myths surrounding RPA technology.  It was made clear that RPAs were not created with any alien technology.

The blog states, “Myth: RPAs are made from alien technology and are flown from area 51. Fact: The U.S. Air Force actually has a long history of unmanned flight and we are still learning new and better ways to fly. We will continue to improve our methods of training, conducting operations and employing new weapon systems.”  The blog goes on to list all of the bases that flight operations occur, none of them being area 51.

The blog also debunks myths that are considered more common or believable, such as “Military RPAs are used to spy on U.S. civilians” and “RPAs fly themselves.”

While the blog addresses these myths it only provides responses the public affairs are trained so well to give.

In response to the RPA spying on civilians myth the blog states, “The Air Force only flies RPAs in the United States for training purposes. The only exception is with the appropriate level of coordination and approval RPAs can be used to support the aerial imagery needs of civil authorities…”

The myth was addressed but the response is far from convincing anyone that it has been debunked.  When I was in Iraq I remember aerostat operators spying on female Air Force personnel laid out at the pool in the green zone in Baghdad.

A screenshot from the 2010 film, "Green Zone."
A screenshot from the 2010 film, “Green Zone.”

The myth of RPAs flying themselves does not take much convincing considering there are hundreds of Airman collecting paychecks to do these jobs. The blog stated, “RPAs are flown by a pilot, with the assistance of a sensor operator for the entire duration of the flight. Additionally, for every RPA combat air patrol there are nearly 200 people supporting the mission in various capacities.”

The blog concludes with a statement from the Air Combat Command commander, Gen. Hawk Carlisle saying, “RPAs and their operators are in the highest demand from our combatant commanders because of the situational awareness and strike capabilities that they enable.” He continued to say, RPAs fulfill critical demands in every theater 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.”

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