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Facing a "national crisis" in the form of a shortage of qualified pilots, the U.S. Air Force is experimenting with a variety of ways to speed up training and to improve retention,  according to Lt General Steven Kwast, who leads efforts to recruit and train personnel, but he says the longer term solution may involve video games.

The Air Force is working with contractors on a series of video games it hopes to put online later this summer. It will be able to track the abilities of players, and contact those who show the right attributes to perhaps, one day, be a fighter pilot. Kwast stressed that the Air Force will not know the names of those playing the video games.


"If there's a 15-year-old kid out there that is just on fire, intellectually and cognitively, to be a fighter pilot, let's say, I have no right to know who they are," he said, "I'll probably send a message to that IP address saying 'Go tell your mom and dad that you are special, and I will offer you a $100,000 signing bonus" said Kwast, "but we go through the parents, of course."


The idea is reminiscent of the movies like "The Last Starfighter" and "Ender's Game" in which young people who score well on flight simulator video games are recruited to fly spaceships and save the universe. Science fiction writers have often been ahead of their time, predicting how a new technology could change our lives, says Kwast. This may just be another example of fiction predicting what will become fact.


Kwast spoke at a Defense Writers Group breakfast discussion, that also covered issues related to training for women, training accidents and how many personnel it should take to run a surveillance drone, as unmanned aircraft technology continues to become more capable and effective.  The group is part of the Project for Media and National Security at the George Washington University's School of Media and Public Affairs.

Air force Magazine: Kwast Wants Training F-22s, F-35s Brought Up to Combat Configuration

Federal News Radio: Air Force using cost-benefit analysis to enforce DoD’s nondeployable policy

Aviation week: USAF Is Building An Online Game To Recruit Young Pilots

Defense Daily: Air Force Official Confirms T-X Trainer Award In July, No Cause Yet For Latest T-38 Crash

Airforce Times:‘Ender’s Game’ meets Air Force? The service is working on a video game to find potential recruits 6th Woman in Battlefield Airman Training Drops Out

A wide ranging May 15 Defense Writers Group conversation with Air Force General Ellen Pawlikowski, one of the highest ranking women in the military, produced reports on everything from the changing size and type of military satellites to the down-to-earth matter of cheaply replacing broken door handles on aging aircraft.

Pawlikowski, the four-star head of the Air Force Materiel Command said space is turning rapidly into a contested battleground, and that is prompting “fundamental change” in how systems are designed and developed. They are becoming smaller and more numerous.

“A satellite communications system can’t just provide great communications. It has to be able to withstand an attack", she said. At the same time, the cost of launching satellites into orbit is falling. “Those two things are driving a change in the way we architect our space. The size of satellites will change. The mobility of satellites will change".The current generation of military satellites are too big, and too tempting a target for potential adversaries, Pawlikowski said.

The general said the use of 3-D printing to produce part for a door handle that has been breaking on aircraft, recently helped keep the aging C-5 fleet aloft. Using a conventional approach to find a supplier who could make the part would have taken a year and run about $1,300 per handle. Instead, Pawlikowski said the Air Force came up with a way to print the handles for $700, and did it in a matter of weeks.

Air force Magazine : Pawlikowski Says It’s Time For F-35 Variants to Evolve Along Service Lines

Rash of Mishaps Not a “Crisis,” but USAF Looking for Hidden Answers


Defense One: The US Air Force Is Adding Algorithms to Predict When Planes Will Break


Breaking Defense: Air Force Electronic Warfare Push Gains Steam; C-5 Gets 3-D Printed Door Handles


National Defense:Air Force Preparing for Hypersonic Tests


SpaceNews: Air Force Gen. Pawlikowski: Military satellites will be smaller, more mobile Force Wants to Predict Aviation Accidents Before They Happen


Defense Daily: Air Force Studying How To Expand F-35 Role As Joint Program Office Recedes


Jane’s Defense Weekly: US Air Force planning for future F-35 fleet management office


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