US Army Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Operator (15W)

Spc. Raymond Poltera, Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle operator, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Multi-National Division-Baghdad, launches an RQ-7B Shadow 200 TUAV from a pneumatic launcher at the aircraft's primary launch and recovery site on Camp Taji Aug. 11, 2008. The Shadow provides commanders on the ground all throughout the MND-B area of operations the ability to quite literally see the entire battlefield. As the leading provider and provisional authority for the MND-B's airspace, the Fort Hood, Texas, based Combat Aviation Brigade, 4th Inf. Div., provides and maintains the launch and recovery site for the entire fleet of Shadow TUAVs.

Unmanned Aircraft Systems Operators in the U.S. Army are remote pilots of unmanned observation aircrafts that gather intelligence used in operational tactics. As intelligence specialists, they are integral to providing Army personnel with information about enemy forces and battle areas.

Duties of Unmanned Aircraft Systems Operators (15W)

The UAS operator supervises or operates the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), such as the Army's Shadow Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, and supporting systems to gather intelligence for mission planning, mission sensor/payload operations, launching, remotely piloting and recovering the aerial vehicle.

The Aircraft Systems Operator also:

  • Prepares and conducts air reconnaissance missions.
  • Operates mission sensor/payload for target detection.
  • Plans and analyzes flight missions.
  • Deploys and redeploys the TUAV ground and air system.
  • Operates and performs operator level maintenance on communications equipment, power sources, light and heavy wheel vehicle and some crane operations.
  • Launches and recovers the air vehicle.
  • Performs pre-flight, in flight, and post-flight checks and procedures.
  • Directs emplacement of ground control station.
  • Directs emplacement of launch and recovery systems.
  • Supervises and assists in air frame repair.
  • Coordinates evacuation and replacement of parts and end items.

Training Required for Unmanned Aircraft Systems Operators

Job training for an unmanned aerial vehicle operator requires 10 weeks of Basic Combat Training and over 23 weeks of Advanced Individual Training with on-the-job instruction. Part of this time is spent in the classroom and in the field.

Some of the skills you'll learn:

  • Performing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance simulation missions.
  • Preparing maps, charts, and intelligence reports.
  • Analyzing aerial photographs.
  • Using computer systems.

Qualifications and Requirements

  • ASVAB Score: 102 in aptitude area Surveillance and Communications (SC)
  • Security Clearance: Secret
  • Strength Requirement: Medium
  • Physical Profile Requirement: 222221

Candidates for MOS 15W must also satisfy the following requirements:

  • Normal color vision required.
  • Must be US Citizen.
  • Never been a member of the U.S. Peace Corps, except as specified in Army Regulation 614-200, chapter 1.
  • No record of conviction by court-martial.
  • No record of conviction by a civil court for any offense other than minor traffic violations.

Jobs Related to Unmanned Aircraft Systems Operators (15W)

Related to the unmanned aircraft systems operator job is the unmanned aircraft repairer (MOS 15E), which is primarily responsible for the maintenance functions on Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. They keep the aircrafts ready to fly and ensure their ability to collect and transmit information.

Similar Civilian Occupations

The skills you learn will help prepare you for a career with federal government agencies such as the Central Intelligence Agency or the National Security Agency. It can also prepare you for other fields such as research or business planning.

Options for Job Recruitment after the Army

After serving in the Army as an internment/resettlement specialist, you may be eligible for civilian employment by enrolling in the Army PaYS program. The PaYS program is a recruitment option that guarantees a job interview with military friendly employers that are looking for experience and trained Veterans to join their organization. 

Organizations that participate in the PaYS program and actively seek skilled Veterans as employees include:

  • AAR Aircraft Services, Inc
  • Lockheed Martin
  • Raytheon Company
  • L-3 Communications Linguist Operations & Technical Support