Air Force seeks expanded drone program


The Air Force is asking Congress to expand its drone program over the next five years to better meet mission demands and give its overworked drone pilots a break, according to reports.

The Air Force's $3 billion plan would add up to 3,500 new pilots, doubling the force, and add 75 more General Atomics Reaper drones, adding to the current fleet of 175 Reapers and 150 of the smaller Predator drones, according to a Los Angeles Times report.

"Right now, 100 percent of the time, when a MQ-1 or MQ-9 crew goes in, all they do is combat," Gen. Herbert "Hawk" Carlisle, head of Air Combat Command, said in the article, referring to crews that operate the Reaper and Predator drones. "So we really have to build the capacity."