LAS VEGAS—Drone pilots will now be able to strike targets anywhere in the world from the comfort of their home. Citing increased flexibility for remotely piloted aircraft operators, Defense Press Secretary Charlie Summers unveiled a new telecommuting policy during a conference yesterday.
“As long as the pilot has an internet connection they can operate their drone,” said Summers. “On a family vacation? Before you get drunk and sunburned, hook up to the hotel wifi and get a few strikes in.”
RPAs such as the MQ-9 Predator have traditionally been operated from a ground control unit, like those at Creech AFB. That required pilots to show up for work—which proved problematic. The new policy allows RPA pilots to fly combat or ISR missions from any computer, tablet, or smart phone.
“I saw a drone pilot at a Starbucks,” said Col. Roger Flynn, who led the pilot program to test its feasibility. “He had a caramel latte and a Taliban compound in range.”
Critics of the plan argue that protocol and legal standards could fall through the cracks if drone pilots are allowed to fly unregulated.
A photographer at a mall portrait studio told reporters she was asked to take a family portrait of a drone operator and his family, as the operator hit the “missile launch” key on his keyboard “with his family gathered around admiringly,” as she says they told him.
“And the computer was on the ‘FreeMallWiFi,” she added. “I got, like, 87 viruses last time I connected.”
The pentagon has promised that lawyers fluent in the UCMJ will be standing by to send confirmation emojis before any bombs are dropped.