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Flying for Navy, Marines or Air Force?

Griz882

Well-Known Member
pilot
I am pretty new here, but long of tooth when compared to some of the posters. Back when I started the game there was still one F-8 squadron left, a good number of F-4 squadrons and rapid growth in the F-14 arena. Over in the USAF they were growing their F-15 force, flying F-111's and scratching their heads over the F-16. Sure, I ended up in helos and loved it, but fast forward to today and all I can say is this...there are no more fighter pilots in the true sense of the word. The last air-to-air kill by a US pilot was 23 years ago. Read that again...23 years. Pick any service, Navy Khaki, Marine Corps Green, or USAF Blue and you won't be a fighter pilot, certainly not one with a career.

So what does that leave you? I have always thought attack work would be super great and I will always regret never getting a shot at flying an A-6. Modern jet airframes are just slick carriers for stand-off ordnance with more and more attack work being done from afar or more accurately, by UAV. Helicopters are just fun. I would gladly run along the surface at 120 knots than count clouds in a sealed sarcophagus going Mach anything. Trust me, it feels faster. But then again, I am biased. Sure, you could go transports or even a cool version of transport flying like the AC-130...that is a nice lead in to an airline career and you will likely get lots of time in the cockpit. Bombers? I know nothing of bombers beyond 12 O' Clock High.

To the question of USAF vs USN...the Air Force is quickly becoming a tech agency. Flying is a legacy skill as far as the Air Force is concerned and they are looking to empty cockpits as quickly as possible with the exception of their transport operations. The Navy, on the other hand, is really suffering for a true maritime mission. I would rate their stick-and-rudder flight skills above those of the USAF and I think the smaller world of a squadron is far superior to the generic world of the USAF wing. The letter above notes that the USAF "is homogeneous and macro." That is code for same and dull. Still, the Navy needs to better define their aviation future. If asked by a young person today, I would advise them to look at two things - flying and experiences. If they want to fly, join the Army as a warrant officer and just fly without the hassles associated with being a commissioned officer. If they want to lead and have experience, join the Navy as you will go places and learn skills so far beyond the pale of simple flying it could be life-changing. If you want a job with the airlines, join the USAF. They have big bases with big runways and big airplanes. They move more, by air, than all the other services combined and do it with style. Still, I can't shake the feeling that manned military fixed-wing aviation is quickly becoming a thing of the past - which brings me to my final point...if you want to be a fighter pilot - stay in your mom's basement and play video games. You'll get more kills that way.
 

Treetop Flyer

Well-Known Member
pilot
I am pretty new here, but long of tooth when compared to some of the posters. Back when I started the game there was still one F-8 squadron left, a good number of F-4 squadrons and rapid growth in the F-14 arena. Over in the USAF they were growing their F-15 force, flying F-111's and scratching their heads over the F-16. Sure, I ended up in helos and loved it, but fast forward to today and all I can say is this...there are no more fighter pilots in the true sense of the word. The last air-to-air kill by a US pilot was 23 years ago. Read that again...23 years. Pick any service, Navy Khaki, Marine Corps Green, or USAF Blue and you won't be a fighter pilot, certainly not one with a career.

So what does that leave you? I have always thought attack work would be super great and I will always regret never getting a shot at flying an A-6. Modern jet airframes are just slick carriers for stand-off ordnance with more and more attack work being done from afar or more accurately, by UAV. Helicopters are just fun. I would gladly run along the surface at 120 knots than count clouds in a sealed sarcophagus going Mach anything. Trust me, it feels faster. But then again, I am biased. Sure, you could go transports or even a cool version of transport flying like the AC-130...that is a nice lead in to an airline career and you will likely get lots of time in the cockpit. Bombers? I know nothing of bombers beyond 12 O' Clock High.

To the question of USAF vs USN...the Air Force is quickly becoming a tech agency. Flying is a legacy skill as far as the Air Force is concerned and they are looking to empty cockpits as quickly as possible with the exception of their transport operations. The Navy, on the other hand, is really suffering for a true maritime mission. I would rate their stick-and-rudder flight skills above those of the USAF and I think the smaller world of a squadron is far superior to the generic world of the USAF wing. The letter above notes that the USAF "is homogeneous and macro." That is code for same and dull. Still, the Navy needs to better define their aviation future. If asked by a young person today, I would advise them to look at two things - flying and experiences. If they want to fly, join the Army as a warrant officer and just fly without the hassles associated with being a commissioned officer. If they want to lead and have experience, join the Navy as you will go places and learn skills so far beyond the pale of simple flying it could be life-changing. If you want a job with the airlines, join the USAF. They have big bases with big runways and big airplanes. They move more, by air, than all the other services combined and do it with style. Still, I can't shake the feeling that manned military fixed-wing aviation is quickly becoming a thing of the past - which brings me to my final point...if you want to be a fighter pilot - stay in your mom's basement and play video games. You'll get more kills that way.
Top to bottom, that's some of the worst advice I've ever seen posted here.
 

Griz882

Well-Known Member
pilot
Top to bottom, that's some of the worst advice I've ever seen posted here.
I'll grant you that. As I noted I am biased, older, and so far out of the game that any advice I offer has little to no value. Still, since I left the choice of service open to the individual how is the advice so awfully terrible?
 

wink

VS NFO. Blue and Gold Officer
None
Super Moderator
Contributor
Top to bottom, that's some of the worst advice I've ever seen posted here.
The only "advice" given was in the last sentence or two. It is not completely unsupported by facts. It is hardly the worst advice given in the 280 preceding posts. I think what you take exception to is his opinion and observations that constitutes the majority of the post. He began by qualifying his remarks and provides a point of reference for his opinion, which just might have value to some. You have a problem with his opinion, based on dated experience but current observation, given your current experience, have a polite debate with the man and maybe some will benefit from the exchange. Don't be an ass.
 

Flash

SEVAL/ECMO
None
Super Moderator
Contributor
...there are no more fighter pilots in the true sense of the word. The last air-to-air kill by a US pilot was 23 years ago. Read that again...23 years...
The last air to air kills against the enemy by US pilots were actually 17 years ago during Operation Allied Force. And just because it hasn't happened in a while doesn't mean it won't happen again.
 

Griz882

Well-Known Member
pilot
The last air to air kills against the enemy by US pilots were actually 17 years ago during Operation Allied Force. And just because it hasn't happened in a while doesn't mean it won't happen again.
You are correct on both counts. My apologies to those F-15 jocks.

Look, to all the fighter pilots out there, I did not mean to knock anyone's work and, as I noted initially I temper my comments with my limited experiences. That said, I imagine that in 1918 some great military mind might have thought, about say horse cavalry changes, "just because it hasn't happened in a while doesn't mean it won't happen again." But sure, there is every chance a US fighter pilot will claim an enemy aircraft in direct combat, but if the last 17 years are a measure this strikes me as increasingly increasingly remote.
 

Flash

SEVAL/ECMO
None
Super Moderator
Contributor
...Look, to all the fighter pilots out there, I did not mean to knock anyone's work and, as I noted initially I temper my comments with my limited experiences. That said, I imagine that in 1918 some great military mind might have thought, about say horse cavalry changes, "just because it hasn't happened in a while doesn't mean it won't happen again." But sure, there is every chance a US fighter pilot will claim an enemy aircraft in direct combat, but if the last 17 years are a measure this strikes me as increasingly remote.
The militaries of the world didn't invest billions of dollars into horse cavalry after WWI though, every major military power today is investing that kind of money in air-to-air combat systems. While large or even small scale air-to-air combat isn't likely any time soon things can change rapidly and we have to be prepared for that. The next aerial conflict will likely be unexpected, short and sharp with no real time to prepare. A 'come as you are' conflict where everyone involved will have to rely on existing training and not 'lessons learned' like we have in previous conflicts involving large-scale aerial combat. A failure to prepare for that will result in a loss for us and an aerial battlefield where no US aircraft, helos included, will be safe from the enemy.
 

Griz882

Well-Known Member
pilot
The militaries of the world didn't invest billions of dollars into horse cavalry after WWI though, every major military power today is investing that kind of money in air-to-air combat systems. While large or even small scale air-to-air combat isn't likely any time soon things can change rapidly and we have to be prepared for that. The next aerial conflict will likely be unexpected, short and sharp with no real time to prepare. A 'come as you are' conflict where everyone involved will have to rely on existing training and not 'lessons learned' like we have in previous conflicts involving large-scale aerial combat. A failure to prepare for that will result in a loss for us and an aerial battlefield where no US aircraft, helos included, will be safe from the enemy.
Again, Flash, I will agree with all you are saying. Nevertheless, I never suggested we have a "come as you are" aviation force. All of this is born from my opinion that wide-eyed youngsters looking to be converted into steely-eyed fighter jocks should be prepared for some disappointment. In 2014 the USAF started the debate that the "last fighter pilot" has already been born. I was in the room at National Harbor last year when the SecNav said, quite clearly, that F-35 Lightning fighter "should be, and almost certainly will be, the last [crewed] strike fighter aircraft the Department of the Navy will ever buy or fly." If you go all the way to my initial post I mentioned that
I can't shake the feeling that manned military fixed-wing aviation is quickly becoming a thing of the past
. There is plenty of room left in the cockpit for young people but the space available for the "turn and burn" types seems to be getting smaller and smaller every year.
 

Pags

Pope of Chili Town
pilot
The militaries of the world didn't invest billions of dollars into horse cavalry after WWI though, every major military power today is investing that kind of money in air-to-air combat systems.
But they did before WWI and were quickly shown that this was a misguided investment. If you could say for certain which current military investment would be shown to be obsolete during the next conflict you'd be a pretty damned popular guy.
 

MIDNJAC

is clara ship
pilot
If you could say for certain which current military investment would be shown to be obsolete during the next conflict you'd be a pretty damned popular guy.
In a more indirect way, I think we have been perpetually throwing billions of dollars at trying to create the military technology/technologies that will render all others obsolete during the next conflict. Unfortunately, this is starting to come at the cost of maintaining and operating the military investments we have already made and fielded. Sadly with every flag officer in the DoD rambling about "the high end fight", the good idea fairies and acquisitions money pits are the very last priority for budget cuts.
 

Pags

Pope of Chili Town
pilot
In a more indirect way, I think we have been perpetually throwing billions of dollars at trying to create the military technology/technologies that will render all others obsolete during the next conflict. Unfortunately, this is starting to come at the cost of maintaining and operating the military investments we have already made and fielded. Sadly with every flag officer in the DoD rambling about "the high end fight", the good idea fairies and acquisitions money pits are the very last priority for budget cuts.
True, but this is the constant fight between now and later. Calvary officers didn't want to spend horse money on tanks. Battleship admirals didn't want to spend money on subs or CVs.

Now fighter guys don't want to spend money on UAVs. And in a few years infantry guys won't want to spend money on killbots.
 

Griz882

Well-Known Member
pilot
True, but this is the constant fight between now and later. Calvary officers didn't want to spend horse money on tanks. Battleship admirals didn't want to spend money on subs or CVs.

Now fighter guys don't want to spend money on UAVs. And in a few years infantry guys won't want to spend money on killbots.
Now, a flying killbot that can hit Mach 2 while searching for subs and then break into a hover and slip into a hot LZ to start blasting away at enemy positions Rambo style, guns blazing...there is an investment.
 

MIDNJAC

is clara ship
pilot
True, but this is the constant fight between now and later. Calvary officers didn't want to spend horse money on tanks. Battleship admirals didn't want to spend money on subs or CVs.

Now fighter guys don't want to spend money on UAVs. And in a few years infantry guys won't want to spend money on killbots.
I'm speaking to a lot more than UAV's, or even aircraft specifically. One of our strongest qualities as an armed force, has been the innovation of US industry in providing these sorts of technologies. No argument there, either historically, or today. But we also can't have the Reagan buildup again if we don't fund it. Right now, we want all the same new toys, but we are trying to pay for them with little change in funding. With that mindset, we either get great ideas that get trimmed down to useless widgets once they hit the fleet due to cost saving measures, or we get the broader problem where a few pet projects get massive funds and the existing fleet takes it in the teeth. I don't think we are quite there yet, but very soon, we will be that person who bought a garage full of ever more expensive sports cars with a revolving wallet of maxed out credit cards, and thus can't afford to change the oil/tires/etc. It is the definition of a "hollow force" and I think we are headed down that road if we don't change some of our priorities soon.
 

Pags

Pope of Chili Town
pilot
I'm speaking to a lot more than UAV's, or even aircraft specifically. One of our strongest qualities as an armed force, has been the innovation of US industry in providing these sorts of technologies. No argument there, either historically, or today. But we also can't have the Reagan buildup again if we don't fund it. Right now, we want all the same new toys, but we are trying to pay for them with little change in funding. With that mindset, we either get great ideas that get trimmed down to useless widgets once they hit the fleet due to cost saving measures, or we get the broader problem where a few pet projects get massive funds and the existing fleet takes it in the teeth. I don't think we are quite there yet, but very soon, we will be that person who bought a garage full of ever more expensive sports cars with a revolving wallet of maxed out credit cards, and thus can't afford to change the oil/tires/etc.
I'm not sure if things today are any worse than in the past though. The A-6 community was sacrificed for the A-12. The Army sacrificed a lot for the RAH-66. The F-111 was a disaster for most involved.

A lot of the acquisition dramas of the past don't make it into the history books and when the story is written it looks like all past decisions were premeditated successes when they weren't that way when they were happening.
 

MIDNJAC

is clara ship
pilot
Thats fair Pags. I hope in 20 years we can sit back and agree that happened here too, really.
 
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