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Prowler FRS?

Rearden

So what's broken on this jet today, Chief?
None
It's been a while since I last posted here, but I have a question that would probably be best answered here. I'm an NFO and recently got selected for Prowlers. I don't really know much about the FRS, and I'm wondering if anyone has any info on what the syllabus is like, what sort of flights there are. I wasn't able to find anything overall information searching the site, but if there are threads I missed, links would be great. Thanks

Mike
 

nittany03

FUBIJAR
pilot
None
Super Moderator
Contributor
A pilot's take on ECMO land and 129

Disclaimer - I'm a pilot but I beat our resident ECMOs to the punch. You'll go to AVEWS first, which is a 2-month course for ECMOS (1 for pilots), straight up classroom work. Standard Navy 80% pass multiple choice, yadda yadda yadda. Easy peasy. Open mouth, insert firehose. You've done this before. DFIU.

Class up, do a week of FAM/NAV. This is a very basic intro to systems and NATOPS. You'll have a weekend to learn all the boldface. Class up Friday, EP/Limits test that Monday. 100% on the boldface is passing, 80% on the limits. Don't start off with a pink sheet. Please. There's a course rules/SOP exam in that week somewhere as well. After the week of FAM/NAV and a few other requirements, you'll be ready for your SF-0, which is the first backseat flight in the jet. Don't expect it right off the bat though.

Then you split off from the pilots in your class and roll into Systems, during which you learn how the backseat works and do your first backseat (NT) sims. I think that's about a month or so long; ECMOs jump in if I screw something up. After that is Tactics, which contains your last NT sims and a basic intro to tactically employing what you learned in Systems.

At some point you will begin to be scheduled for backseat hops, as you need 20hrs in the back before you do your front seat flights. Basically circuit breaker watch and learning the flow of an actual flight. Log your hours and keep them up to date, or Ops will get cranky. Well, crankier.:D

You'll do front seat sims, which are basic intro to the jet, EPs, and then a stalls & falls/Low Level Awareness sim. I have seen more ECMOS get pinked on stalls and falls than any other sim, and it's all in the brief. There are a hell of a lot of maneuvers to know. Know these maneuvers COLD the minute you even THINK you could be scheduled for this sim! You have been warned! You'll also have a HARM sim (live by the gouge, die by the gouge. Again, you have been warned), an instrument check, and a Basic Air Maneuvering sim.
Once you finish Stalls and Falls, you will be eligible for warmbody sims. These are pilot graded sims where you will fill in as ECMO for a student pilot. They're not graded for you, but as always you can SOD (fail) them if you are clueless. Moral of the story, don't screw your buddy! These are freebies by the good graces of Ops; you aren't entitled to any minimum number of them and as far as the syllabus is concerned they don't exist.

You will end with front seat flights; you have less than the pilots do just as their Systems and Tactics phases are abbreviated. You will have a NATOPS check as one of your last events. There will be a warmup sim, which is compound EP hell. Then your check, which may or may not be the same thing, depending on who gives it. The flight in the jet is a CRM evaluation. You will also have a backseat NATOPS check in the backseat sim as well, to find out if you remember all that stuff. Oh, by the way: You need to observe three NATOPS checks before your own. Don't blow this off; it's a stupid reason to do a carpet dance in STUCON. You will also have three backseat flights in the jet.

General admin stuff for 129: Big boy rules now apply. Expect to get given a stack of books and get told to go forth and do good things. Instructors are for the most part great people, but there is no handholding here. You are expected to learn the syllabus as well as the material in it. Events will not always come in numerical order. Know the prereqs and what you are up for!

Know the sources of info your are expected to draw from, including NATOPS, SOP, the Student Guides, the Maneuvers Guide (BIG FOOT STOMP, remember what I said about stalls and falls), the TACMAN, the WSOM, AFTTP 3-1, etc. etc. etc. Talk to the classes ahead of you. The general flow of the syllabus will not change, but the timing might. I thought I was going to start flying in June. Then bang, one guy breaks his arm and another blows out his sinus. Five bears in the bed and the OpsO says “roll over!”

You are being graded on the above/below scale now. People will say grades don't matter now. Don't believe them. There are 3 phases for you guys: NT (backseat sim), NW (front seat sims), NF/SF (front seat flights). If you get net 4 below average in any of these phases, you'll get a Human Factors Board. This is NOT the same as a PRB in flight school. They are looking to help you, not attrite you. That said, you don't want to be there. SODs are earned from a net 3 below in one flight or a single UNSAT. One will get you a talking to. Two and you will probably get an HFB and a conversation with the Skipper. Three and you are likely to get a FNAEB/FNFOEB. More and it's certain you will. Keep your game face on.

Ways to be a Blue Falcon: As I said, screwing up warmbodies. Your classmates are getting graded. Help them out. New guys will have to do FOD walkdown. It sucks, we've all done it. Please don't be the guy who skips out, pisses off the Line DivO, who bitches to STUCON and makes it mandatory for everybody because the officers are setting a bad example for the troops. Just suck it up and deal. Lastly, DON'T DORK UP CLASSIFIED MATERIAL. This is the easiest way to ruin your career and/or bring pain down on you, your class, the students as a whole, the Security Manager, and possibly even the CO. People's careers are at stake from that stuff; they will make it hurt if they have to. For God's sake, don't commit a security violation. 'Nuff said!

Oh, and let me pass on my biggest pet peeve about student ECMOs and warmbody sims: student pilots are not voice actuated autopilots. It's nice having you there, but please stay on the right side of the cockpit and don't jump in the pilot's lap unless he's irrevocably FUBAR. We hate that.:)
 

Rearden

So what's broken on this jet today, Chief?
None
Thanks very much for all the information, that's a great overview, any admin want to sticky, since there's already an overview of the Hornet RAG, this would be useful for the Prowler guys to get a look at. It's good to get an idea of what I'm looking at ahead of time. Is there a way to get the EP's ahead of time to start learning them? Or do we have to wait until class up and just learn them in a weekend? Thanks again, I appreciate it.
 

nittany03

FUBIJAR
pilot
None
Super Moderator
Contributor
Sweet talk the guys ahead of you when you get to AVEWS and a list will appear, I'm sure. Just memorize. Don't worry if you don't know what a gangbar is; you'll find out soon enough. :D
 

nittany03

FUBIJAR
pilot
None
Super Moderator
Contributor
OK, due to popular demand, here's my take on the pilot side, AKA “if I just checked in.” And Bubba, Gumbi, Crowbar, please call me on it if I gooned something up in all this; my memory gets hazy.

Your AVEWS class is only a month long; the ECMOs you go through it with will stay another month learning beeps and squeaks. You'll just get the intro of what exactly this whole “EW” thing is. Again, have fun and don't suck. You'll class up with ECMOs and go through the first week of FAM/NAV with them. After that, you split off. Systems and Tactics are essentially an abbreviated Death by Powerpoint version of the ECMOs. You get four backseat sims (PTs); they're fairly laid back. Meridian guys can rest easy; there are no J. Dizzles or Captain Yellers in residence. More on this later. You'll also get an abbreviated version of the JMPS training for ECMOs; you'll need this for your front seat HARM sim later, so don't gaff it off. Take your Systems final and roll into tactics.

Tactics is similar; it's essentially a bunch of classes. You will revisit the TACMAN in Basic Air Maneuvering, though, so take the time to learn instead of braindumping. It's easy to forget tactics since the pilot syllabus is very stick-and rudder intensive, but you will gain major points from your instructors if you're interested in that side of the house. Just don't suck at piloting to do it. You will do a CONTAREX project on a possible threat country; this is essentially an hourlong brief on the IADS and political structure to teach you how to pull stuff off the SIPRNET. Be a HARM SME especially.

In FAM/NAV you'll join up with a class of ECMOs a couple classes ahead. Your double-anchor cohorts are still mired in backseat sims. You will learn that the ECS system is an infernal contraption and how boogered up switchology can put bleed air in your G-suit (thanks Grumman! :icon_tong) But know the systems cold; if you've never seen compound EPs before, stand the heck by for EP sims with a certain CSI. Systems knowledge pays big dividends there and on NATOPS checks.

You only need 10 hours backseat time before you're front seat eligible, and again, timing can change at the drop of a hat. If Ops tells you one thing and something else happens, they weren't trying to screw you; stuff changes. Be ready early, then relax knowing you're ready. Kick the hell out of each warmbody you get; if anyone who went through years ago told you pilots get a ton, not these days.

Sims will be relatively laid back at first, but the expectations will rise VERY quickly, ESPECIALLY flightside. Just because the instructors are more chill here doesn't mean to let your guard down. Remember the “stages” in flight school? Well each one here consists of one or two flights. Know this going in. Five flights with an IP, then a checkride for “Safe for ECMO.” Two day form flights and you're up for night form. One tac high (TACFORM) and then you're doing tac low levels (two plane ONAVS). And most importantly, you are eligible to go to the boat with 50 hours and a NATOPS Check. That's 50 hours CROSSING THE RAMP, NOT STARTING FCLPs. What qualled you in flight school won't cut it here. Take my word for it. Listen to Paddles.

The syllabus is deceptive. You're going to look at the student guide and think “wow, except for tanking and night traps, I've done all this.” True. But you haven't done it in a Prowler. You've been selected to fly the anti-Goshawk. If the T-45 is the cute girl who's a little unsure of herself, the Prowler is an unapologetic, fat bitch. What makes a T-45 pitchbuck will make a Prowler depart in certain flight regimes. This jet is a low-level machine, but a BEAR in the landing pattern. It's not unheard of to SOD a pattern hop. Left-hand rendezvous looking cross-cockpit through a bunch of Grumman iron are a pain. At night they flat out suck. But that's what Uncle Sugar is paying you to learn. You can't look at two displays and call it a scan anymore if you're a Meridian guy like I was. Scan is CRITICAL. Sit down with your NATOPS cockpit foldouts and practice scanning. Get in the sim and do hard turns, break turns, and needles till you dream about them at night.

Sometimes you're going to hear “this is wrong, but I can only tell you this much about how to fix it” from instructor ECMOs. Nature of the beast; they're damn good at what they do, but stick and rudder is your purview. Track down an IP and pick their brains for the rest. That said, you will be amazed at how easy they can make your life. A good boat ECMO is worth his/her weight in platinum. Just don't drop your pack and expect everything out of them. They're not just a co-pilot; they're grading your pilot skills too.
 

Crowbar

New Member
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Super Moderator
Is there a way to get the EP's ahead of time to start learning them? Or do we have to wait until class up and just learn them in a weekend? Thanks again, I appreciate it.
If you just selected, T-2 EPs will keep you busy for a while. VT-86 is still flying T-2s, right? Once the time draws closer, somebody can get you a copy of the Prowler EPs. They aren't too complex.

I'll post more on an ECMO's take on 129 later.
 

Rearden

So what's broken on this jet today, Chief?
None
If you just selected, T-2 EPs will keep you busy for a while. VT-86 is still flying T-2s, right? Once the time draws closer, somebody can get you a copy of the Prowler EPs. They aren't too complex.

I'll post more on an ECMO's take on 129 later.
Yeah, sorry, I didn't mean to suggest that I'm going to start studying them now, my question was just the first thing that came to mind when he said the EP test was just a weekend after classing up. My focus right now, day to day, is to focus on finishing Advanced strong, I just have some time right now, since T-2's are all backed up, so I thought I'd investigate the RAG some.

As far as T-2's go, yeah, I'm going to be in the last winging class to fly them. The last student flights are in August, and they're flying them all to the boneyard in September.
 

Crowbar

New Member
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Super Moderator
I told someone a while back I would type up something like this, and well, why not just do it all now? As promised...

I'll start with what most people want to know. Instead of forcing people to do higher math I'll just refer to the month I checked into Whidbey and started AVEWS as "Month 0".
Month 0-checked in and started AVEWS
Month 2-finished AVEWS/started 129 ground school
Month 6-first Prowler flight
Month 8-CQ det, backseat only
Month 9-first front seat Prowler flight
Month 10-El Centro det
Month 12-finished syllabus, checked out

For the time I went through, that was a pretty typical timeline. Nittany hit the big things for pilots, and some of it applies to ECMOs as well. ECMOs do not have to do a CONTAREX. Don't worry, you'll get your ass pain in the form of NT briefs. I'm not going to bore anyone with a description of each event, since you probably don't care that NT-12 is War at Sea and NT-18 is Strike Projection I. NTs and NWs (back seat and front seat sims) go in order, but not NFs or SFs (front seat and back seat flights).

Big picture stuff, NTs suck. At least for me they did. NWs are better, and by the time you get to flights you should be enjoying or at least not hating what you do. "Cooperate and graduate" goes to a whole new level, as ECMOs are paired for NTs. I figured out who in my class was competent and who I would rather send to the ready room to talk about the Growler while we did planning. Unfortunately, NTs do little more than show you a USQ-113, which Marines will need to become one with once they hit the fleet.

For NWs, you'll do the first 6 or 8 with a sim instructor, then after that it's squadron instructors. Everybody, even Marines, have to do a Case I and a Case III/boat EP sim. You also do a HARM sim, among other things. Again, don't want to bore anybody with excessive details. Warmbody sims are great as long as you don't screw your buddy. It's free, ungraded but debriefed practice time. However, like nittany said, sometimes you go to a sim as a warmbody and leave with a SOD. Also for the aero sim, know the maneuvers. It's been covered but it bears repeating. The more you get into the sim and practice the better off you will be. Even as an ECMO get into the pilot seat a few times and practice normal procedures, EPs, and spins. Learn how to use the CDNU. Get a pilot who wants to practice then while he's flying, mess with every page on the CDNU to see what it will show you. And whenever you can, hop into the backseat trainer so you don't lose everything you learned in NTs.

By the time I started my front seat flights I felt comfortable just from having done so many sims. It paid off, at least, I think so. I can only think of one flight where I ever got overloaded and that was just for a minute or two. Figure out a way to set up your kneeboard so that you have what you need handy but don't have an encyclopedia attached to your leg.

The big things to remember about 129: Have a sense of humor. Be patient. Be flexible. There are good instructor pilots/ECMOs and not so good instructor pilots/ECMOs. Nobody's going to hold your hand and say, "Okay, you have your mod-escort flight tomorrow. Did you plan your shots? Do they make sense? Let me do a chart check." The instructors (you'll figure out which ones to ask and which ones to avoid) will help you if you ask questions but they won't do your work for you. Don't commit a security violation. That's another one that needs to be pounded into some people's heads with a mallet. Enjoy Whidbey during the summer. Before you know it you'll be meeting your squadron halfway around the world during a port call.

Also, once you get winged, if you still need a copy of Prowler EPs, PM me.
 

TheBubba

I Can Has Leadership!
None
Navy/Marines/AF all go through the same syllabus. (Crowbar is a Marine.. I'll excuse him for that)

The syllabus has changed a little over the past year, I think... though I may be wrong. I finished in Sept. 08 and my timeline was very similar to Crowbar (I'm Navy)
 

cfam

A pilot is a pilot. An NFO is something else.
None
Super Moderator
Contributor
(Bubba beat me to it)
 

TheBubba

I Can Has Leadership!
None
Navy/Marines/AF all go through the same syllabus. (Crowbar is a Marine.. I'll excuse him for that)

The syllabus has changed a little over the past year, I think... though I may be wrong. I finished in Sept. 08 and my timeline was very similar to Crowbar (I'm Navy)

Keep in mind that over the next few years, this is going to change because of the G coming online and the Prowler becoming Marines only with VMAQ-4 (I think) becoming the RAG
 

nittany03

FUBIJAR
pilot
None
Super Moderator
Contributor
In my time as ops assistant at 129, I got a peek at a draft Marine Prowler syllabus. IIRC, not too much has changed from a tactical standpoint, other than canning CQ for pilots in favor of expeditionary airfield ops, and bringing back BFMC. There might be another BAM flight or something similar.

Granted, the powers that be may have changed things drastically in the last 9 months, and I didn't pay too much attention as I'm not a Marine. But as a general guideline, I think the above gouge will still be a good starting point. As always, Semper Gumby, and this advice is worth what you paid for it.
 
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