Thursday, July 29, 2010

United States Facing Lack of Experienced Pilots in Afghanistan

With the United States in the midst of a crucial surge in Afghanistan, demand for surveillance aircraft is at an all-time high. But after more than a decade of moving toward spy drones, the Air Force is facing a crisis: a lack of pilots with experience flying manned reconnaissance planes.In response to the war's increasing demands, the Air Force last year activated three MC-12 squadrons, which use a military version of the Hawker Beechcraft Super King Air 350, a lightweight twin turboprop aircraft. The MC-12 Liberty is equipped with a variety of sensors, including full-motion video and a day and night camera.The Air Force has touted the aircraft's success in tracking down insurgents and disrupting attempts to plant roadside bombs, but officers involved in the program acknowledge that getting enough MC-12 pilots has been a challenge.

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