After being asked to do an AMA, we've finally gotten down to it. We will be answering as many questions as we can while we are work and possibly more later. We will answer as candidly AS POSSIBLE. However, due to the nature of what we do we will not be able to go into specifics.

There's a total of 4 of us who will be answering questions, so ask away!

EDIT 1: It's late for us now and we're crashing out. We will try to answer more questions in the morning. I would like to thank you guys for being polite and bearing with us. This is out [F]irst time posting

Comments: 525 • Responses: 92  • Date: 

ZondaRFanForLife97 karma


throwaway_predator87 karma

always online for you ;)

Younger_Gods50 karma

If you are referring to predator drones, do you feel any guilt when you launch a missile?

throwaway_predator58 karma

J - personally, Yes and no. I'm military. I will protect my "brothers", friendlies in every way possible. That's not to say I don't think about the person I, or whoever, blew up in hindsight. It's just that my first and foremost responsibility is to protect my own.

Reality of it all is that the bad guy has this same mentality.

Younger_Gods28 karma

Do you feel that using a predator drone to deliver missile strikes has desensitized you to your actions in any way?

Or to word it another way - do you think it's easier to deal with the consequences (deaths) of a missile strike when you're using a UAV, as opposed to being on an army base close to a combat zone?

throwaway_predator65 karma

W - No. We understand that the lives we see in the screens are as real as our own. We are located in a combat zone. Although, we are not typical combat troops, so, for me to say that I can tell you the differences between how we feel and how an infantryman feels would be based on assumptions that I would make of an infantryman's feelings. That would not be accurate or fair to those troops. From our perspective we are not worrying as much about our own personal harm. We are usually not within harms way. I would not compare what I do as a job comparable to Call of Duty/any other video game, in any sense. It is very real and the seriousness of the lives on the ground is very real and instilled in all of our training. It is never something that we joke about. Very serious business.

Younger_Gods13 karma

Thank you for your honest and insightful answer(s)

throwaway_predator25 karma

We are actually having a really great time doing this. We feel there is a big disconnect when it comes to UAVs and the general public. Our group, being redditors, felt we couldn't find a better venue to try and create some understanding.

tech98630 karma

How maneuverable/aerobatic is a Predator? Top speed? What's the most badass thing you've done in the Predator in terms of flying skills or in general? Also, thank you for the service :)

throwaway_predator71 karma

maneuverable/aerobatic? LOL not even a lil bit

jack10412 karma

So this scene in the A-Team would not be feasible for real predators.

throwaway_predator30 karma

hahahah @ that clip! No, that would happen at all!

throwaway_predator74 karma

S - We did fight transformers though. Damn decepticons always up to no good.

test_alpha22 karma

Do you know what constitutes a legal order and an illegal one? Would you refuse to carry out an illegal order?

throwaway_predator29 karma

This isnt childs play. Of course we all know how to serve our COUNTRY and not our GOVERNMENT. There's a difference and we all know it.

jlkajdsf22 karma

What are you thoughts on the drone downed in Iran? Was it a mistake by US pilots or did Iran really jam the drone?

throwaway_predator13 karma

J - My thoughts are that I have no clue how it happened! We have SOOO many safe guards that it's almost impossible for this situation to happen

omgwtfbbqcrew18 karma

Were you guys pilots of human-piloted aircraft before becoming UAV pilots? What kind of training so you undergo to pilot these seemingly "real life videogames" (my only experience with it being through media depictions)?

throwaway_predator38 karma

S - Not all of the pilots involved in this job are, for lack of a better term, real pilots. We do undergo regular military intelligence classes as well and ground flight school. It is a six month course crammed into one month of intense training earning us an FAA student pilot licenses. A lot of studying is involved so we are required to hit the books pretty damn hard. We do, however, have personnel who are in fact licensed pilots ranging from small cesna planes, to regular, commercial planes like 747s. As for the "videogame" part of the job, it usually involves a lot of COD on our down time.

J - After ground school, we are taught how to fly our specific aircraft. For some of the smarter and luckier students, they(us) will train an extra three months on the Predator

SaulsAll8 karma

Not all of the pilots involved in this job are, for lack of a better term, real pilots.

Was it always this way, or did this change at some point? I was under the impression that all UAV pilots had to be certified "real" pilots as well. (That actually was going to be my question - your impression on what I guess is not really a rule.)

throwaway_predator16 karma

S - As far as I know, no. Many of the people I work with came into this field straight out of high school. Of course, our training program ensures to "weed out" the ones who do not meet the standard for, of course, safety issues. However, I have heard that in the Airforce (we are Army) only officers are qualified to fly their version of the aircraft.

zrunner92 karma

I was an aviation major in college, have about twenty hours of flight time, would that background help if I was able to switch my mos to a 15 series? I almost did it when I first enlisted but you know how recruiters lie...

throwaway_predator6 karma

J - not initially. Your major in aviation will aid in getting promoted quicker. It wont help you becoming enlisted as a 15 series

WillyPete17 karma

Private contractors or military?
How did you get the role?

throwaway_predator29 karma

Both. CIV and MIL working side by side.

J - I got into this gig trying to become a helicopter pilot for the military. I got turned down due to have an astigmatism. I was offered UAVs after that due to UAV operators having less restriction on eyesight.

WillyPete10 karma

So you are in the military?

What routes can a civil pilot take for this?
Any agencies that you can recommend?

throwaway_predator10 karma

S - For civillians, our recommendation is that you keep up with your flight hours (if you are a licensed pilot). There are plenty of companies out there that you can google, and they will let you know their requirements. The civilians who work with us usually are required 600 hours of flight time.

FromTheId5 karma

Can't LASIK astigmatism into 20/20?

throwaway_predator3 karma

J - not when you are diagnosed with Keratoconus

IBiteYou13 karma

YOU have my LOVE.

For people that don't know ... a surveillance drone can do something like find Taliban laying an IED on a road the troops use and warn the troops that it is there so:

1) They don't die.

2) They can defuse it so no one else does either.

3) The people that laid it can be followed back by drone to their lair.

4) The troops can get to the lair and seize all kinds of weapons.

These people are heroes.

throwaway_predator11 karma

Thank you and everyone else so much for your support.

quarterkraut12 karma

I play, and enjoy a lot of flight simulators. If anyone has messed around with sims, how would you say they compare to the flight (not combat) of drones? Also, is there a particular sim that you think is significantly accurate?

throwaway_predator18 karma

J - FSX is pretty sweet. It can teach you the basics of how to keep an aircraft in the air Remember, the fundamentals of flight are the same no matter what you fly.

arkanis5011 karma

Arnold recently said he killed you... but technically you self-destructed using a wrist bomb. Is Arnold on crack?

throwaway_predator14 karma

fuck arnold

flooid7 karma

Thanks for the AMA!! Um, you guys aren't going to get in trouble for this, are you? I'm still squeamish about talking about my role in the military 20 years ago!

throwaway_predator7 karma

S - I personally feel like the UAV world has gotten a lot of negative attention over the years. I think it would be great if you guys got to know a little bit more about how we live with this being our job. We certainly do not want to give any kind of compromising information away so if we have to think about an answer more than once, then we will just keep it to ourselves.

Space__nazi7 karma

Is pulling the trigger behind a console somewhat less desensitizing than pulling a trigger behind a rifle?

throwaway_predator13 karma

W - No. It is very serious in every aspect.

firethelaza7 karma

How do y'all actually feel about the imagery analyst that works with y'all from time to time?

throwaway_predator12 karma

Depends, are you an imagery analyst?

firethelaza5 karma

Yes. Don't give me the Air Force answer either!

throwaway_predator5 karma

Sometimes we look at the things they say and scratch our heads for a while, lol. Overall we are in good standing though

angrypotato17 karma


throwaway_predator9 karma

we are working on it. It's hard to figure out a way to verify, even to the mods, when all of our equipment is secret

throwaway_predator3 karma

We are currently working on that right now.

Skyblueflora7 karma


throwaway_predator16 karma

and we love you too!!!

ShaneD277 karma

I've just always been curious about this. Does it work anything like in Call of Duty where someone calls it in and you can see positions of other humans?

throwaway_predator21 karma

There are hand held UAV's that have a small portable screen. So in that sense, yes. However, those cannot fire munitions for obvious reasons.

amaresnape6 karma

Do you ever make "pewpew" noises while flying and pretend you're in one if the Star Wars movies?

(I imagine you have plenty if things to think about while flying that keep you occupied...)

I only ask because I think I would at least once were I in your position.

throwaway_predator14 karma

W - Hahaha not to often. We tend to stay mission oriented. We also tend to talk with the person you are flying with. Sometimes we theorize about the complexities of the universe. Other times we pick our nose, lol.

andrewphf5 karma

First of all I'd like to say thank you for your service. I know you guys get a lot of hate for using the "pussy weapons" (miles in the air killing people kind of thing), however I respect all people in the military.

I've been interested in aerospace engineering for a while and I've always had an interest in working on UAVs. I've made a few DIY UAVs on my own time (basically adding autopilot and route mapping to a regular RC plane). Do any of you have any information on how I could get in to this field (in or out of the military).


throwaway_predator5 karma

W - You would have to talk to a recruiter whether they are civilian or military. I know that the military will take you on without much of a resume. Civilian will expect either prior experience in aviation or some type of degree.

throwaway_predator2 karma

I hate to say this but go talk to an airforce recruiter if you want to fly. If you have any certs in Aerospace engineering I think, after a quick google search, General Atomics can help you there

OvertimeWr5 karma

How much do you make? A couple of my friends are pilots and they have friends that fly UAVs in Afghanistan and they say they make around $90k a year.

throwaway_predator10 karma

i know guys who make more. significantly more

CordeAmare5 karma

what's the most hilarious thing you guys have seen while on shift?

throwaway_predator15 karma

S - I once saw a man riding his bike down an alley just minding his own business. Suddenly, a man jumped out from behind a wall and knocked the man on the bike down and attempted to get away but the owner was able to reach him before he sped away and take his bike back. Luckily, the man was able to leave with his bike while the thief ran away.

GrizzledAncient5 karma

How do you guys deal with the incredibly negative press around your job?

throwaway_predator12 karma

By doing things like this! For some reason, many people believe that drone operators are just flying around willy nilly, shooting at anything that moves. That's not the case at all.

I think the negative press comes from what a people THINK our capabilities are.

To get back to your question of how we deal with it, we cry, then shrug it off, and continue to keep our buddies safe. Im sure everyone here knows at least one soldier. Im sure that soldier has thanked people who do our job many many times.

JonathanDnD5 karma

Did any of you play video games in your childhood by chance?

throwaway_predator35 karma

J - Sure did! Grew up on Zelda, Final Fantasy, MGS, everything nintendo....til the Wii

hamburgersandwiches5 karma

Remotely piloted aircraft is a big deal in the news. People claim it increases resentment and hatred against the U.S.

That stems from the claim that there is a significant amount of collateral damage.

Question: Do you believe drone surveillance and weaponry technology can improve to the point where civilian casualties are extremely rare?

throwaway_predator2 karma

J - I believe so. When you have multiple eyes to verify their target and the ability to watch an area for days significantly lessens the chances of civilians getting injured AND the technology is getting better.

MiniCooperUSB4 karma

What is the amount of control given to pilots as far as decision making? If you see a potential target and you are without much time are you allowed to make a decision without clearance from higher up? Do instances like this ever even occur?

throwaway_predator5 karma

Everything is approved from a higher level of command. We are not allowed to make decisions on the fly per se. I cannot decide that I am going to sacrifice an aircraft for any purpose or anything like that. We have not encountered instances where that would occur.

Wharrlgaarbl4 karma

Do you believe there is any honor in killing an enemy while you yourself are never put into harms way?

throwaway_predator3 karma

S - I do not believe in honor from killing anyone.

Coughx4 karma

Thank you for your service.

You guys take to much heat.

What UAV do you guys actually fly? (model of RQ?)

throwaway_predator11 karma

We DO take a lot of heat! There's so much misinformation about how we operate. I hope we can clear some of that up!

Sorry but we cannot say the specific Aircraft. Sorry.

NZupvoter3 karma


throwaway_predator2 karma

None of us have crashed any UAVs. We know people who have. I don't know the specifics of what happened to them

kinyon3 karma

I am so tired, could you sing me a lullaby?

throwaway_predator7 karma

Skew skew shweooo skobiddity beep bop

throwaway_predator5 karma

J - go ta sleep muh lil baaaaaabeeeeee

space-pirate3 karma

Is there any worry that the UAV will get struck by lightning and become self aware?

In movies and games, the UAV can tell the difference between friendlies and enemies - Is this in any way true?

throwaway_predator4 karma

We keep a very close eye on the weather. We make sure lightning won't affect our operations.

throwaway_predator2 karma

  1. YES

  2. The UAV doesnt "decide" anything. It does what we tell it.

WhiteFalcon563 karma

How does one become a UAV pilot? I'm thinking about joining the Air Force after college.

throwaway_predator5 karma

Air Force is a great approach and don't let them talk you into enlisting. Become an officer the grass is much greener.

throwaway_predator2 karma

Hopefully some AF guys can answer this but I believe if you join the AF and get accepted into their pilot program and pass successfully, it will be just the luck of the draw. Unless you are incredibly smart. Those guys become the fighter pilots.

throwaway_predator1 karma

Speak with a recruiter about it. They will help you as much as possible to reach the goal you are trying to meet.

ramzie3 karma

Is it true you use xbox controllers to control the UAVs?

throwaway_predator2 karma

J - I've heard of that. I heard of an aircraft, back in 2008, that was similar to a fire scout, controlled by an xbox controller, and was armed with a sniping rifle.

redditnathan13 karma

1) How do you feel the mechanisms of your specific job as a pilot of UAV's differentiates you from other traditional pilots?

2) Do you see your job as similar to or different from traditional pilots (especially fighter pilots if you fly deadly UAV's)?

3) What do you see as the future of UAV's both military and civilian? (I just saw today they were going to start using them to film some shots movies)

throwaway_predator5 karma

J - Honestly, I would say the differences are small. Manned pilots may disagree. However, the knowledge level is the same if not higher on our side.

There's a lot of "technology" that keeps our aircraft in the air and we need to understand that if/when our aircraft starts to act less than desirable.

  1. Very similar. The only difference is that I'm on the ground.

  2. This is a very touchy subject. Expect municipal use. I.E instead of helicopters chasing down a criminals like you would see on cops, it will be us.

FlopperARC3 karma

How often do you train with the Predators? Daily? Weekly? Etc. How sensitive are the controls?

Thanks for your service. All four of you.

throwaway_predator4 karma

J - Everyday! The plane flies like any other plane. Sorry. No barrel rolls


How many times do you usually have to resort to shooting a missle in a bad-to-worse situation. And I'd also like to thank you guys for serving our country. It's an honor being able to ask you guys this stuff

throwaway_predator2 karma

Specify bad-to-worse...

nicholasg882 karma

No question needed...just came to say "Thank you for your service" USA! USA!

throwaway_predator6 karma

We should thank you all back home. Usually we like to see what is going on over there anyways, to break us out of the daily routine. You guys are what keeps us sane.

jking1592 karma

What are the downsides of working as a UAV Pilot/Operator?

And do you get any special benefits from your reconnaissance work?

throwaway_predator2 karma

J - the downside of this job is that it can be crazy boring. That's my biggest gripe.

MrShakespeare2 karma

Hey guys, I dont know if you have seen it, but in that one scene from The Bourne Legacy when the main character shoots down a UAV with a sniper rifle, is that really possible?

throwaway_predator5 karma

S - No.

throwaway_predator3 karma

Matters on what aircraft.

Wouldnt happen to ours

Space__nazi2 karma

Who owns the hand receipt for those drones? Is it your company commander (if you have one) or do the pilots have to own that weapon? Whoever it is I don't want to be responsible for something that expensive.

throwaway_predator3 karma

Who owns the hand receipt for those drones?

I will tell you but I need your SSN#, date of birth, and mothers maiden name. YA know....for verification.

KilroysSports2 karma

Did you see the Beavis and Butthead episode?

throwaway_predator2 karma


nathanjayy2 karma

Do you use hardline?

throwaway_predator4 karma

Yeah and ghost...

grantpk2 karma

I currently go to Culver Military academy.

  • How often is does a drone have significant issues

  • Have you met any Alumni during your years of service? We are everwhere!

throwaway_predator8 karma

S - Issues come and go very fast. They range from aircraft mechanical issues, to phone calls around the clock on why something happened during a mission. The aircraft itself is basically made to fly on it's own. We are human and make errors once in a while but with all our minds put together, and with the proper training, we are very fast and ready when it comes to an "issue" popping up. They happen commonly but they are usually something very low level and easy to handle if you know your training very well.

I myself, do not believe that I have met anyone from Culver Military Academy. We usually have missions were we have time for small talk so we get to know each other better.

llamabomb2 karma

How much time do you spend flying in a day? Do you sit down for a 9-5 shift or is it mission-based? Can you step away from the controls for a bathroom break or do you have to pee pilot-style?

throwaway_predator6 karma

S - The aircraft usually stays in the air for about 19-21 hours. There is always on up in the air too (we fly multiple aircraft). We fly in shifts. We can step away for a break as long as someone stays with the aircraft and the person on break makes it quick.

LivingInMomsBasement1 karma

Do you have to get 5 kills before using the predator?

throwaway_predator2 karma

Unless you have a perk, then it is just 4...

throwaway_predator2 karma

Depends on how your score streak is set and if you are using a trophy system. You can also make up some points by destroying enemy equipment, lol.

DongleNocker1 karma

What do you think about computer systems on board the drones being compromised by malware or viruses?

throwaway_predator1 karma

There are very strict rules hat prevent us from bringing in any device that could have that potential into our work environment. Anything that is done in there is monitored very well.

J - I think you talking malware/virus on a much larger scale. That would be pretty impressive. Although, very unlikely. I could talk about all sorts of encryption but I'm sure you understand why I cant. DAMN THESE CHAINS!

a-sal1 karma

That's an awesome job, I did a report on the Air Force a few years ago.

Have you done any supply drops for troops, and do you guys listen to any music while flying.

throwaway_predator7 karma

S - Supply drops, no. Music, definitely. It can get pretty frustrating listening to the a/c unit kick in and out when we have nothing to talk about. Music definitely makes this job easier.

Media storage devices are prohibited from being in secret environments.

adamhong1 karma

What training did you guys recieve? Do you have to know how to fly a manned aircraft?

throwaway_predator5 karma

W - We received tons of military training. Most of us have gotten into this field via the military. It is mostly aerodynamics and a combination of a variety of other typical aviation related subjects. Most of this job is very comparable to standard aviation training. It is nothing that civilian pilots wouldn't learn when getting their flight credentials. Most of our systems do not require us to have knowledge of how to do some manned aspects of flight. If you were to take the civilian route into this field most places require for you to have lots of manned aviation flight time.

mmmmmcheesecake1 karma

Have any of you ever worked with the firescout? Or are you even allowed to tell me?

throwaway_predator1 karma

S - No

throwaway_predator1 karma

No we have never worked with one and, it's ok if we tell you.

ashhole10191 karma

Thank you for your service! Do you ever feel that an order to strike may be incorrect? I know you answered how you felt when launching a missile but does this affect your feelings at all? Or are you able to keep a certain amount of emotional distance?

throwaway_predator3 karma

S - No, if and when there is an engagement, we are very positive in the decision that was made. We have rules of engagement and follow them to the dot. In other words, we are sure that we are taking out the bad guys.

CallMeRarity1 karma

How long does one have to train to be qualified to fly an unmanned drone?

throwaway_predator2 karma

W - Depends on the system.... The ranges vary widely.

Scott_A2 karma

How long did you train?

throwaway_predator4 karma

a little over 9 months

freakoverdose0 karma

You guys are badass. How do you feel about the rumors about a Top Gun 2 which storylines Drone pilots instead of fighter pilots?

throwaway_predator6 karma

S - Didn't even know there was a Top Gun 2 coming out lol. But if that is the case, then that's pretty cool. The only downside to this job is that once you learn it, you end up in that "that is not even accurate" mode.

SLProtoman0 karma


throwaway_predator3 karma

We have all sorts of missions tasked to us. We also have many other UAVs tasked all over the country. It just depends on what we get tasked with.

gravitythrone0 karma

Would being fucking awesome at video games make you a better drone driver? Do you play video games against one another? Who is the best driver among you and how do you determine that? Who is the best at video games (if any of you play)?

throwaway_predator3 karma

W - I wouldn't say so. I wasn't much of a "gamer" prior to this job. I don't think it has had a negative effect on my job skills. We are all about that COD, lol. When it comes to best at video games it all depends on the game. We haven't endeavored much into driving games.

mundzy10 karma

Do you feel guilty receiving flight pay when you are not up in the air?

throwaway_predator8 karma

Army UAV Operators do not receive special flight pay

Air force do I believe. I think they deserve it since they went through so much training.

firethelaza-3 karma

I work with these guys at times. I'm the imagery guy who gets to 'analyze' y'alls feed. Currently in Afghan as well.


throwaway_predator7 karma

Depends, if you are that guy that keeps telling us how to do our job, then no. Other than that, high five man!

PrettyFly4aGI2 karma

64 guy here. Giving our command the ability to see our sensors live was one of the worst things that happened in our community. You get an S2 or the battalion commander back at the TOC trying to tell us where to move our sensors and basically try to play puppeteer. Oddly enough those systems seem to "break" on a regular basis.

throwaway_predator2 karma


throwaway_predator2 karma

Hahaha. We have played that game. We don't play it anymore, lol

iamnotaclown-4 karma

How do you sleep at night?

throwaway_predator8 karma

W - Mattresses suck where we are at, lol.

throwaway_predator5 karma

J - on my side with low music playing

throwaway_predator2 karma

S - I close my eyes. My brain sometimes just goes haywire and think of marvelous things. Kind of like when you are in the shower and you just realize how to stop world hunger. Then I just fall asleep. If you need instructions on how to sleep then I would be more than happy to give you some pointers. Hope this will help!!! :D