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INTEL and Aviation Observers

SynixMan

Professional CCX Wrangler
pilot
Contributor
#2
In recent history have there been any INTEL guys who were able to pick up the Aviation Observer wings?
Search around in here. It’s been discussed before. Short answer is if you’re in a community that can support if, you can try.

Mostly it’s a novelty, and you’ll be much more popular in your squadron if you volunteer to be the Command Security Manager and stand SDO on weekends.
 

HAL Pilot

Well-Known Member
None
Contributor
#3
In recent history have there been any INTEL guys who were able to pick up the Aviation Observer wings?
VP used to be the place to do this. The only problem was that to qualify, the Intell officer had to be on flight orders and that meant convincing the powers that be (starting with his detailer) it was necessary. During my DH tour (mid 90s) we were 1 of 2 squadrons (other than VPU) with EO cameras on board and were flying Bosnia targeting missions for IFOR and the pointy nose guys. Our skipper convinced the Intel Gods that flying the AIO was an added benefit when doing real-time inflight analysis of targets we were looking at. Our AIO prior to this deployment tried for over 2 years (with the COs help) and the Intel Gods refused to put that one on flight orders.

Of course that was 20+ years ago and I have no idea if that has changed. The flight order requirement used to be in 3710 and the Military Personnel Manual. The idea was to keep everyone who just wanted chest bling from doing the NAO syllabus and cheapening them.
 

AULANI

Active Member
#4
VP used to be the place to do this. The only problem was that to qualify, the Intell officer had to be on flight orders and that meant convincing the powers that be (starting with his detailer) it was necessary. During my DH tour (mid 90s) we were 1 of 2 squadrons (other than VPU) with EO cameras on board and were flying Bosnia targeting missions for IFOR and the pointy nose guys. Our skipper convinced the Intel Gods that flying the AIO was an added benefit when doing real-time inflight analysis of targets we were looking at. Our AIO prior to this deployment tried for over 2 years (with the COs help) and the Intel Gods refused to put that one on flight orders.

Of course that was 20+ years ago and I have no idea if that has changed. The flight order requirement used to be in 3710 and the Military Personnel Manual. The idea was to keep everyone who just wanted chest bling from doing the NAO syllabus and cheapening them.
I think my old Intel-O from my VP squadron did get his observer wings. As an IS1 I flew a ton of missions (crew rest didn't apply to me) for the very reason you mentioned. I was a 3910 (imagery analyst) and it was just easier, and more timely, for me to be on the flight then stare at 8+ hours of tape afterwards. This was right after 9/11 when thy started using the AIP birds to do over-land missions.
 

FlyinSpy

Mongo only pawn, in game of life...
Contributor
#5
In recent history have there been any INTEL guys who were able to pick up the Aviation Observer wings?
As one of The Few, the Proud, the NAOs - I'll chime in. I'd concur with the general perspective that the qual is a novelty, but I've argued before that it also makes you a better intel O if you have some in-depth knowledge about how your platform is actually flown and fought. Bagging a decent number of flight hours enables this, either via direct participation or osmosis...

Having said that, VP is essentially the last bastion of NAO opportunities. I picked mine up in the Prowler community about 10 years ago, but those days are over and there is zero chance of a TACAIR NAO essentially ever again. 200hrs is a tough row to hoe in any platform, but particularly hard if you're logging 2.0s. To this day, I wear the NAO wings in the primary position on my khakis, and the IDC abomination below. When asked why I willfully violate uniform regulations and therefore hate freedom, I say "Because I earned the NAO wings and I'm proud of them. I got the IDC bling because I did some down-arrow on some Powerpoint, and I'm ashamed of them." Reactions vary...
 

robav8r

D-FENS
None
Contributor
#7
The NAO designation wasn’t just for Intel O’s, LDO/ CWO’s earned them in different platforms ( I got mine in VS-31 before the USW PMA was removed). I believe you had to log 200 hours and be NATOPS qualified, something that wasn’t necessarily “easy” for non 1310/1320 types . . . . .
 

HAL Pilot

Well-Known Member
None
Contributor
#8
That’s why it was easier to get NAO in VP. The first NATOPS qual that was done was an observer qual that requires no tactical knowledge or tactical systems knowledge. Plus 200 hours at 4.0 to 12.0 a pop? Not hard.
 

bubblehead

Registered Member
Contributor
#9
It ain't that hard... The most difficult thing is getting the flight time.

https://www.public.navy.mil/bupers-...000/1200Classification/Documents/1210-250.pdf

a. Qualify by Naval Air Training and Operating Procedures Standardization (NATOPS) standards of knowledge of aircraft systems and safety procedures.

b. Successfully complete a course of instruction as prescribed by the appropriate type commander or a Job Qualification Requirement assigned by the officer’s commanding officer (CO) associated with their flying mission.

c. Accumulate 200 hours of mission and/or training flight time related to the purpose of their assignment to duty involving flying.

d. Are assigned to duty involving flying for a period of not less than 6 months.
 

Flash

SEVAL/ECMO
None
Super Moderator
Contributor
#10
Having said that, VP is essentially the last bastion of NAO opportunities.
NAO wings for the non-URL O's who fly EP-3's are standard since they are part of the standard crew and easily get 200 hours. How much longer the EP-3's will be around for them to get their wings though...
 

bubblehead

Registered Member
Contributor
#11
NAO wings for the non-URL O's who fly EP-3's are standard since they are part of the standard crew and easily get 200 hours. How much longer the EP-3's will be around for them to get their wings though...
Yup. My buddy had a long line of people waiting on him to rotate out of that billet he was in.
 

insanebikerboy

Internet killed the television star
pilot
Contributor
#12
Had one intel O do it in my squadron (helos) a few years ago. He flew his ass off and could speak intelligently about the aircraft and fully understood how to employ the helo operationally, not just that it took off straight up. He could function as a crewmember, not just a pax with a really cool camera.

Not common, but it does still happen.
 

Flash

SEVAL/ECMO
None
Super Moderator
Contributor
#15
That was the case when they were introduced but the qual is more rigorous now, and not a guarantee when facing the board.
YMMV. I've seen at least one turd get hand held through multiple boards until the person finally got qualified.
What matters is who makes up the board, with a lot less standardization than warfare pins variance in the standard is bound to happen.
 
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