Retired British Royal Air Force marshal calls for gamers to pilot combat drones

Air marshal Greg Bagwell oversaw Reaper drone attacks against Islamic State in Syria.

With each passing iteration of Call of Duty, Battlefield and the multitude of other war-simulating first person shooters available today comes more realistic interpretations of frontline combat. Modern games are in fact so lifelike that a retired RAF marshal has now called for videogame players to pilot Reaper drones in the face of increased demand for qualified unmanned drone operators.     

As reported by The Guardian, ex-air marshal Greg Bagwell told a parliamentary group that RAF should consider recruiting "18- and 19-year-olds straight out of the PlayStation bedroom" to operate drones. Bagwell is now retired, however previously oversaw the use of Reaper drones in Syria.

Overlooking the fact PC players are probably better equipped to operate joystick and keyboard hardware, Bagwell said: "We need to test harder whether we can take a young 18 or 19-year-old out of their PlayStation bedroom and put them into a Reaper cabin and say: ‘Right, you have never flown an aircraft before [but] that does not matter, you can operate this’. 

"In order to be a very good Reaper operator you need that three-dimensional view of what is going on around you, even though you are 3,000 miles away. You are playing three-dimensional chess in your mind, so you understand how the various pieces fit together in terms of prosecuting a target."

Bagwell also suggested the shortage of operators has caused some RAF employees to quit due to stress or mental illness. He continued: "The problem we have had is that in seven years of constant operations we have not been allowed to have a break point, to step back and take stock without having to keep pushing crews."