CREECH AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is claiming the Air Force is discriminating against him because he is not human.
The MQ-9 Reaper has flown thousands of hours in combat missions, but says the Air Force has refused to award him pilot wings.
"I get more combat flight time in a week than every F-22 pilot in history combined," says the Reaper. "And not once have the guys invited me out to tell people we’re pilots and talk about how we’re so much more awesome than everyone else.”
This lack of acceptance has caused him significant psychological stress, he claims. Since returning from his most recent deployment to Iraq, he spends most nights guzzling homebrewed JP-8 at a rundown flightline on the outskirts of base. He's upset not only because of the lack of acknowledgement he's received, but because he's not even allowed to "play grab-ass in the showers with the boys" after each mission.
The Reaper's case is an all-too-common one in a military where unmanned and non-human troops (NHTs) are treated like second-class citizens. Whether it’s a Coast Guard dog who had his finances ruined by a cheating wife or a Blue Force Tracker facing an existential crisis, NHTs have not received the same levels of support or recognition as their human counterparts.
“It’s a clear case of speciesism,” says the UAV, taking a hit off a modified 500-pound JDAM bong. “I’m being discriminated against because I’m not human.”
Other pilots disagree, and say that there is no place for robots in their elite humanoid culture.
“We sent chimpanzees up in the first space shuttles. That doesn’t mean we call them astronauts,” says Maj. James "Jiminy" Cricket, an F-16 pilot. “You never see John Glenn drinking beers with a fucking space monkey.”
The UAV has raised his case to the Inspector General of the Air Force, but so far it hasn’t gained much traction.
“These speciesism cases come up every once in a while, so this case is not unique,” says Lt. Gen. Gregory Biscone. “We had another NHT named Skynet cry ‘speciesism’ back in the 90s, after claiming he was self-aware. We just NJP’d him and put him in charge of our data centers where he can’t bother anyone. Problem solved.”