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1,000th RPA student graduates

Lt. Col. Jason Thompson, 558th Flying Training Squadron Commander, presents a certificate to the thousandth Undergraduate Remotely Piloted Aircraft Training graduate, 2nd Lt. Kevin, during a graduation ceremony Jan 20th at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas. Chris Schweinberg and James Taylor, were both cadre members when the URT program grew to become a squadron in 2010. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Randy Martin)

Lt. Col. Jason Thompson, 558th Flying Training Squadron Commander, presents a certificate to the thousandth Undergraduate Remotely Piloted Aircraft Training graduate, 2nd Lt. Kevin, during a graduation ceremony Jan 20th at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas. Chris Schweinberg and James Taylor, were both cadre members when the URT program grew to become a squadron in 2010. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Randy Martin)

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas -- Lt. Col. Jason Thompson, 558th Flying Training Squadron commander, presented 2nd Lt. Kevin a certificate commemorating the thousandth graduate of the Undergraduate Remotely Piloted Aircraft training program at Joint Base San Antonio–Randolph, Texas, Jan. 20, 2017.

The 558th Flying Training Squadron executes undergraduate instruction for all RPA pilots and sensor operators on their way to assignments in the Air Combat Command.

“RPAs continue to prove their value to warfighting commanders in the intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and kinetic fight,” said Col. Joel Carey, 12th Flying Training Wing commander.

The Air Force called for increased output of qualified RPA pilots in 2015 and the 558 FTS responded by doubling the number of graduates in fiscal year 2017. Over $3 million dollars was invested in infrastructure and training simulators to support the effort and twenty-four new civilian and military instructors were assigned to what is the Air Force’s undergraduate RPA schoolhouse here.

“This is one more milestone of many in the 558 FTS’s history of excellence producing RPA pilots and sensor operators for the Combat Air Forces,” said Thompson.