Pentagon partners with Uber for on-demand helicopter extraction
AFGHANISTAN — Amid a shortage of qualified military pilots that can help support operators on the ground, the Pentagon has turned to ride-sharing company Uber to fill the gap, sources confirmed today.
"Imagine that you’re a team of Navy SEALs in desperate need of extraction,” said Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi. “Suddenly a Cessna-172 appears from thin air. It’s Sadir from Uber, here to fly you through intense ground fire in a pleasant 71 degree cabin to the cool stylings of adult contemporary. ‘Cucumber-infused water?’ he asks, producing a chilled carafe. This is the kind of experience we hope to offer our customers with Uber-Xtract.”
While the concept seems a big win for soldiers in the field, some have expressed concern at the prospect of being extracted by unvetted locals rather than professional combat aircrews.
“I gave my guy five stars,” said Navy SEAL Chief Jeff Barton. “But he tacked on a $200 surcharge because I yakked in the back. I mean, I did get shot in the stomach," he added of his trip, which he detailed in his New York Times best-seller, "13 Hours in Traffic: A Navy SEAL’s Air Taxi Ride through Hell."
Ground troops have also complained of surge pricing during larger engagements, late pick-ups, and, in some cases, accidentally UberPOOLing with insurgent combatants to and from the battlefield.
“The worst part is the awkward conversation,” said Staff Sgt. Dick Evans, an Army Ranger. “I never know what to say, especially when I sit shotgun, so I mostly just ask how they like flying for Uber.”
Though Uber-Xtract is still in its infancy, the company has lobbied extensively to be the sole provider of air transport in the Middle East, in a push to drive its out primary competitor AirLyft.