Drone pilots found to get same PTSD as combat pilots do

In the first study of its kind, researchers with the Defense Department have found that pilots of drone aircraft experience mental health problems like depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress at the same rate as pilots of manned aircraft who are deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan.

The study affirms a growing body of research finding health hazards even for those piloting machines from bases far from actual combat zones…

…Air Force officials and independent experts have suggested several potential causes, among them witnessing combat violence on live video feeds, working in isolation or under inflexible shift hours, juggling the simultaneous demands of home life with combat operations and dealing with intense stress because of crew shortages.

“Remotely piloted aircraft pilots may stare at the same piece of ground for days,” said Jean Lin Otto, an epidemiologist who was a co-author of the study. “They witness the carnage. Manned aircraft pilots don’t do that. They get out of there as soon as possible…”

Since 2008, the number of pilots of remotely piloted aircraft — the Air Force’s preferred term for drones — has grown fourfold, to nearly 1,300. The Air Force is now training more pilots for its drones than for its fighter jets and bombers combined. And by 2015, it expects to have more drone pilots than bomber pilots, although fighter pilots will remain a larger group.

Those figures do not include drones operated by the C.I.A. in counterterrorism operations over Pakistan, Yemen and other countries.

The Pentagon has begun taking steps to keep pace with the rapid expansion of drone operations. It recently created a new medal to honor troops involved in both drone warfare and cyberwarfare. And the Air Force has expanded access to chaplains and therapists for drone operators…

Well, then, we’re all OK, right?

2 thoughts on “Drone pilots found to get same PTSD as combat pilots do

  1. Smilin' Jack says:

    The U.S. Air Force’s Biggest Drones Help Set Up Attacks on Islamic State https://warisboring.com/the-u-s-air-forces-biggest-drones-help-set-up-attacks-on-islamic-state-3f0bdde4dd07#.84lr9j75q On Jan. 12, 2017, at least one RQ-4 Global Hawk sat ready to go at Al Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates. Designed to fly at high altitudes taking photographs and monitoring enemy communications, the unmanned spies have a wing span comparable to the Boeing 737 airliner. The massive Global Hawks can fly as high as 60,000 feet at a maximum speed of more than 350 miles per hour and travel over 12,000 miles on a single tank of gas. In 2014, one of the latest models flew more than 34 hours without refueling, a record for any manned or unmanned Air Force aircraft. With a maximum take-off weight of more than 32,000 pounds, each of the drones can carry a combination of powerful cameras, long-range radars and gear to find and record radio transmissions.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.