By Ann Patton
Academy Spirit staff
Members of the first class of the Academy’s Unmanned Aerial System and Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance Education Program received their UAV wings during a ceremony Tuesday in the conference room of the dean of the faculty in Fairchild Hall.
“You are pioneers,” Dean of the Faculty Brig. Gen. Dana Born told the graduates. “You are going to set the sky as the limit-and beyond.”
The class included four hand-picked cadre, all two-degrees, with the re-mainder three-degrees. More than 80 cadets originally volunteered for the program, the first of its kind in U.S. service academies.
Training included classroom instruction and flight training on two Viking 300 unmanned aerial vehicles at Fort Carson’s Camp Red Devil. The training is contracted through Bosh Global Services and L3 Communications.
Flight training will resume in September.
General Born shared her vision of the program’s future when larger spaces will be needed for future UAS graduations.
“This room won’t hold future classes,” she emphasized. “It will grow in numbers and impact for the Air Force and the nation.”
She added, “This is truly a great day.”
Program director Lt. Col. Dean Bushey anticipates the UAS program, under the academic courses Airmanship 200 and 201, will eventually include about 300 cadets.
The impetus to the initiative is the growing need for UAS in support of world-wide operations. Primary goals of the courses are to motivate cadets toward UAV training and introduce key skills cadets will use in their Air Force careers.
The program has a large potential for interdisciplinary work and research on the Academy. The Air Force envisions building larger UAV’s with cargo and bomber capability, tiny UAVs for surveillance inside a room and the potential of “swarms” of the drones.
Colonel Bushey thanked both cadets and trainers for their long hours and encouraged cadets to recruit other good students to the program. He also emphasized the cadets now have a major ownership of it.
“It is no longer our program,” he said of the Academy senior leadership. “It is now your program. Spread the good word.”