The U.S. Air Force is cutting down its unmanned aerial vehicle missions in an effort to ease the workload of its airmen and intelligence operators andÂ sustain combat air patrols overÂ theÂ next 10 years, Defense One reported Monday.
Marcus Weisgerber writes that the service began to bring the number of patrols down to 60 onÂ April 1 from a peak of 65 last year.
“We’ve been able to come down off of 65 to help get the community and the enterprise healthy for that long-term sustainment that we want to be able to do,” said Col. James Cluff, commander of the 432nd Wing andÂ 432nd Air Expeditionary Wing.
The report said each combat air patrol or orbit involves approximately four UAVs and various resources such as a control station, antennas and satellites, as well as the work of pilots, maintenance staff and intelligence operators.
UAV pilots under Cluff’s command fly General Atomics‘Â MQ-1 Predator andÂ MQ-9 Reaper,Â Weisgerber reports.
Cluff noted that the Air Force cannot train pilots andÂ technicians at pace with the continually growing demand for UAV intelligence missions.
According to the report,Â Cluff asked the approval of Defense Secretary Ashton CarterÂ toÂ slow down drone operations in efforts to keep the workforceÂ “healthy” and able to meet increased demandÂ during emergencies.