Unmanned Aerospace System Sensor Operator – AFSC 1U0X1

An MQ-1 Predator unmanned aircraft prepares for takeoff in support of operations in Southwest Asia.
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Unmanned Aerospace System (UAS) Sensor Operator (AFSC 1U0X1) was officially established by the Air Force on January 31, 2009. The first group of students to go through the new course, started training in August 2009. UAS pilots are commissioned officers. At present, Air Force 1UOX1 specialists perform their duties on the MQ-1 Predator and the MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aero vehicles (UAVs).

Working as a UAS Sensor Operator

UAS Sensor Operators perform duties as a mission crew member on unmanned aerospace systems. They employ airborne sensors in manual or computer-assisted modes to actively or passively complete their missions. The sensors will acquire, track and monitor airborne, maritime and ground objects.

Qualified personnel conduct operations and procedures in accordance with :

  • Special Instructions (SPINS)
  • Air Tasking Orders (ATO
  • Rules of Engagement (ROE)

Crewmembers assist UAS pilots through all phases of employment to include mission planning, flight operations, and debriefings. Sensor Operators continually monitor aircraft and weapons systems status to ensure lethal and non-lethal application of airpower.

Eye-In-The-Sky Duties

The Unmanned Aerospace System Sensor Operator will conduct reconnaissance and surveillance missions over potential targets and areas of interest. They are tasked with detection, analyzing, and discriminating between valid and invalid targets. Some of the tools involved include the use of synthetic aperture radar, electro-optical, low-light, and infrared full-motion video imagery, and other sophisticated active or passive acquisition and tracking systems.

The UAS pilot will assist in achieving overall mission objectives working with Air Order of Battle (AOB) integration, air navigation, and fire control planning. They will determine effective weapon control and delivery tactics. The pilot will receive target briefs—known as 9-liners—for weapons delivery. The 9-liner convey important target co-ordinates as well as other mission-relevant information to the pilot.

As part of the duties, they will regularlly receive and interpret relevant ATO, Airspace Control Order (ACO) and SPINs information. They extract and disseminate information to mission participants. UAS operators will research and study target imagery and friendly and enemy battle. They will look at the offensive and defensive capabilities from various sources as they assemble target source and information. They will further work to locates forces and determine the hostile intentions and possible tactics of the enemy.

Unmanned Flights

Before the flight, they will perform pre-flight mission planning. This planning will continue in-flight as they work with unified combatant command and theater rules of engagement. The qualified operator must understand tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTP) for friendly and enemy Air Order of Battle assets. They also operate mission planning ancillary equipment to initialize information for download to airborne mission systems.

The UAS operator will use laser targeting or marking systems that provide target identification and illumination for weapons delivery. These laser systems may also be deployed in support of other combat missions. The pilot is also responsible for terminal weapons guidance. After the engagement, the UAS operator will conduct Battle Damage Assessments (BDA) and communicate these findings up-channel for potential reattachment with the target.

After operations, the pilot will participate in the post-flight debriefing to establish mission accomplishments and potential procedural development.

UAS Leadership Responsibilities

As part of their leadership responsibilities, the UAS pilot will conduct initial, qualification, upgrade, and continuation training for mission crew members. They will perform training, planning, standardization and evaluation, and other staff duty functions. The pilot may be called upon to perform staff assistance visits to other units.

The pilot may be involved in the testing and evaluation of the capabilities of new equipment and the compatibility of new procedures.

Initial Skills Training

The Unmanned Aerospace System Sensor Operator will attend the Aircrew Fundamentals Course at Lackland AFB, Texas for four weeks. They will then attend technical school at Randolph AFB, Texas for 21 class days. AF Technical School graduation results in the award of a 3-skill level (apprentice).

During the UAS Fundamentals Course, the students are paired up with UAS Pilot trainees and go through this course as a two-person flight team.

Certification Training

Upon graduation from the UAS Fundamentals Course, students proceed to crew qualification training at Creech Air Force Base, Nevada, for an upgrade to the 5-skill (technician) level. This training is a combination of on-the-job task certification, and enrollment in a correspondence course called a Career Development Course (CDC).

Once the airman's trainers have certified that they are qualified to perform all tasks related to that assignment, and once they complete the CDC, including the final closed-book written test, they are upgraded to the 5-skill level and are considered to be "certified" to perform their job with minimal supervision. The AFSC, 5-level training averages 16 months.

Once they receive their 5 skill level, they either remain at Creech for an operational assignment or proceed to another base for their first operational assignment.

Advanced Training

Upon achieving the rank of Staff Sergeant, airmen are entered into 7-level (craftsman) training. A craftsman can expect to fill various supervisory and management positions such as shift leader, element Noncommissioned Officer in Charge (NCOIC ), flight superintendent, and various staff positions. For the award of the 9-skill level, individuals must hold the rank of Senior Master Sergeant. A 9-level can expect to fill positions such as flight chief, superintendent, and various staff NCOIC jobs.

Assignment Locations

  • Creech AFB, NV
  • Holloman AFB, NM
  • Cannon AFB, NM

UAS's are the new "in" thing in the Air Force, so expect this list of assignment locations to expand.

Other Requirements

  • Required ASVAB Composite Score: G-64 or E-54
  • Security Clearance Requirement: Top Secret
  • Strength Requirement: Unknown
  • Courses in physics, chemistry, earth sciences, geography, computer sciences, and mathematics are desirable
  • Normal color vision
  • Medical qualification in accordance with AFI 48-123, Medical Examinations, and Standards, Attachment 2
  • Must be a US citizen
  • Ability to keyboard 20 wpm