Today, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, welcomed the Air Force’s announcement to expand the Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) mission at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico. The expansion will increase the rate of student production from 603 pilots and sensor operator students in fiscal year 2015 up to an estimated 818 students in fiscal year 2016.
“Our RPA community has been at a breaking point. Our airmen have had to fly countless missions with too few pilots,” said Sen. Heinrich. “This move by the Air Force is welcome news and will result in increased instructors, more students, and an expansion of facilities at Holloman Air Force Base. This is a significant step forward, but there is still more work to be done. I look forward to continuing to help improve the quality of life of our airmen and to further strengthen our military’s readiness.”
Earlier this year, Senator Heinrich included language in the fiscal year 2016 National Defense Authorization Act requiring actions to rectify personnel shortfalls within the RPA community. Senator Heinrich also sent a letter to U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) Secretary Ash Carter stating that the Pentagon’s expansion of RPA’s is unsustainable without corresponding growth in personnel recruitment, training, and retention. Holloman Air Force Base is the nation’s premier RPA training location and Cannon Air Force Base hosts a special operations RPA mission.