The US Air Force has chosen Crew Training International (CTI) to provide training to pilots of Predator Drone Aircraft. The deal is expected to be worth $60 million to $80m.

CTI currently provides team training to all units of the Combat Air Forces, Air Force Reserve Command and the National Guard.

CTI will train pilots to operate the Predator Drone Aircraft, an unmanned airplane operated by a pilot on the ground using a joystick and monitoring screens, including feedback from a camera placed on the aircrafts nose.

Operating the drone plane also requires a ground control station and satellite link.

The drone plane was originally designed as a reconnaissance machine but has been more recently been fitted out with surveillance and target finding systems as well as advanced missile weaponry.

CTI will employ 50 more employees to handle the workload. The majority of employees will be based at US Air Force bases in Nevada and New Mexico.

Allan Mullen, CTI CEO, said in a statement that “we spent eight months on this proposal and put a lot of money into research and site visits. We believe that this deal will also put CTI on the ground floor to provide future training programs for other unmanned aircraft systems”.

The use of unmanned drone aircraft is expected to rise as cutbacks in military spending call for options that can accomplish more varied tasks remotely.

By Daniel Garrun