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A Cost Benefit Analysis of Fire Scout Vertical Takeoff and Landing Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (VTUAV) Operator Alternatives
NAVAL POSTGRADUATE SCHOOL MONTEREY CA GRADUATE SCHOOL OF BUSINESS AND PUBLIC POLICY
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A cultural debate exists to determine if the MQ-8B Fire Scout Vertical Takeoff and Landing Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle VTUAV should be operated by rated pilots, commissioned officers, or enlisted personnel. Each military service has historically treated this issue differently. The U.S. Navy currently requires rated pilots to fly Fire Scout, the U.S. Army and Marine Corps allow enlisted personnel to fly their Shadow Unmanned Aerial Vehicle UAV, and the Air Force only allows rated pilots to fly their UAV systems. Technology has advanced rapidly in the area of UAVs, as they have advanced from being remotely piloted aircraft to being completely autonomous. This research examines the Air Vehicle Operator AVO requirements for autonomous vehicles such as Fire Scout, and demonstrates that the U.S Navy should create a pilot program that trains enlisted personnel to operate Fire Scout. The study identifies the costs and benefits associated with each type of prospective operator alternative -- rated pilots, commissioned Surface Warfare Officers SWO, and Operations Specialist OS enlisted personnel. By utilizing enlisted AVOs vice rated pilots, training costs will be reduced from millions to tens of thousands, annual amortized manning costs will be cut by more than half, and total cost savings will be found to be on the order of a billion dollars over a 10-year period. The research also will identify the tangible and intangible benefits of allowing enlisted personnel to become Fire Scout AVOs. These benefits relate to training time, manning constraints, physiological constraints, culture, and safety. In addition, the study will summarize the current Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities KSA required to operate an autonomous air vehicle by the Navy, Marine Corps, Army, and Air Force.
APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE