From StrategyPage.com: The USAF Stands Like A Rock
August 26, 2013: The U.S. Air Force continues to come up short in its effort to supply enough pilots for its growing UAV fleet. Currently the air force has about 1,300 operators for its 280 large UAVs (about half of them Predators, nearly 40 percent Reapers and the rest Global Hawks). UAV operators are now nearly nine percent of all air force pilots, triple the percentage in 2008. But now the air force is unable to get enough manned aircraft pilots to volunteer to do a three year tour as a UAV operator and cannot train non-pilots fast enough to be career UAV operators. Another problem is dissatisfaction with the job. UAV operators leave the air force at three times the rate of pilots of manned aircraft. There are several reasons for this. UAV operators have a heaver workload than pilots of manned aircraft and less time to study and prepare for promotion opportunities. As a result UAV operators are promoted at a rate 13 percent lower than pilots of manned aircraft. Worst of all, UAV operators are not shown the same respect as pilots who go into the air aboard their aircraft. All this would go away if the air force allowed NCOs (sergeants) to be operators of the larger UAVs but the air force leadership is very hostile to that idea.
Absolutely certain that the AirForce and Navy can come up with highly articulate rationales for their systems but it’s all politics and tradition. In the end stupid since it damages the very ‘institutions’ the ‘traditionalists’ think they are protecting.