Quick to react, persistent, and at home in virtual worlds – young gamers apparently have all the skills the British Royal Air Force (RAF) need in a drone pilot. Is the RAF about to start recruiting young people away from their game consoles?
British Air Marshal Greg Bagwell, who retired in 2016, has recommended the RAF tries to recruit 18 and 19 year olds "straight out of the PlayStation bedroom". Before his retirement, Bagwell oversaw drone operations over Syria. Reaper drones have been involved in around a third of airstrikes against IS positions in Syria and Iraq.
Bagwell is confident that young people are well qualified to operate Reapers in serious situations: "Right, you have never flown an aircraft before [but] that does not matter, you can operate this", the commander was quoted as saying in British newspaper The Guardian. He believes that to prosecute a military target with a drone, you in particular need a three-dimensional view of what is going on around you. He claims that what RAF pilots find most stressful is the unclear legal situation of such assignments, and that this is probably also the reason why a number of pilots are now unfit for service.