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Marine Jets: The Good, Bad, and Ugly.

Ave8tor

Bringing the Noise!™
pilot
Hey everyone, I am currently in Phase II and with the boat not to far around the corner, that final selection will be here before I know it. So, thought I would try and pool all the information into one thread with regard to squadron life, mission types, and of course, duty station assignments.

Right now I'm at El Sweato for the weps det and I enjoy slinging all this blue death! There have been quite a number of Harriers on the field, and one of our instructors took us for a little tour of one. For a while, I've been hard up for the Hornet, but after thinking about the mission of the Harrier, I'm kind of on the fence. So, I figured I'd post what I know and hopefully some of you will amplify the information and post other experiences.

Hornet
Squadron Life: I was a line mech for a while, but never really got to see the officer side of life, so I really can't comment. I've heard that a single seat squadron will be a little harder than a dual seat because of less pilots available for ground jobs. I gotta say, I like flying solo though. How many hours does a typical nugget fly per month in each type?
Mission: From what I've heard, single seaters focus more on air-to-air and dual seaters are air-to-ground. I understand that each type will need to maintain currency in both, but is this typically what the training is geared for? What have the current deployment cycles been like and where to they usually go (have WestPacs and such gone the way of the Dodo due to the war?)
Duty Stations: Let's face it, Marine Hornets have the preferred stations over the Harrier. If the only other options for the Harrier hadn't been Yuma or CP, I'm sure I wouldn't be having this dilemma. Miramar is an awesome base with a great living conditions and activities all around (as long as you can put up with the traffic). I plan on taking a trip with the wife to Beaufort before selection time to get eyes-on Beaufort. Although we are both from Southern California, she has become quite fond of the east which is causing some disagreement between us. The housing situation is a lot nicer on the east (bigger lot and house sizes for the buck with relative closeness to the base), but the education is hands down better in Cali. Suggestions on places to live in Beaufort (don't mind spending a little extra to get a nice place, looking to buy also).

Harrier
Squadron Life: Haven't really heard much so enlighten me. Is there a lot of self-inflicted pain (similar to the HMLA guys), or is it kinda like jet advanced? Are there a lot of options to take cross countries or is it extremely limited because of maintenance issues? How are flight hours, compared to your Hornet brethren? In the past, some of my instructors have said that they were extremely short on hours at the end of their first tour, but don't know if any of that has changed in recent years. Also, would going Harriers be an easier way to transition to the JSF (assuming it comes online during some time in my career) as opposed to the Hornet?
Mission: As I said before, I'm kinda digging the air-to-ground stuff and know that this is the primary role for the Harrier. What are typical flights like; before and during work-ups, and while in theater? What about deployments?
Duty Stations: This is definitely where the Harrier is lacking with respect to the Hornet. I really haven't heard to much good stuff about Cherry Point, but my wife says that some instructor wives have had a good time there. Looking for the good and bad for Cherry Point, since it might be the better of the two bases. I like the desert, and can't stand humidity, but after sitting in the T-45 getting baked by the mid-May sun (not to mention July or August) definitely deters me from putting Yuma in front of Cherry Point. The last time I was in Yuma, was during a summer a few years ago (two weeks reserve duty), and was pretty much confined to the base from lack of transportation. Didn't really see any of the town (went to a friends place and it was amazingly HUGE, definitely a plus), but after being in El Centro I can kinda form a picture in my head. Me and a few buddies might swing over one day after the flight schedule is done to check things out for ourselves.

Well, thanks for reading all my ramblings and I look forward to reading all of your responses.
 

MAKE VAPES

Uncle Pettibone
pilot
What happened to prowlers? Saw a few teary eyed marines walking out of the CO's office and follow on squirming to remeasure (anthro out) (with associated whiny assed letters to boot). Guess your grades are good, or at least above the Harrier cut... Talk with your classmates, see what they are putting on dream sheets... coordinate your collective "attack".
 

squeeze

Harrier Dude
pilot
Super Moderator
Contributor
Talk with your classmates, see what they are putting on dream sheets... coordinate your collective "attack".
Bullshit. Don't try to game the game. Put down what you want and be prepared to say why. My choices didn't go down the list of airframe or coast. I asked our Senior Marine and he told me that it was my list, so put whatever I wanted. I scratched out the "airframe or coast" list and went right down my preferences

Harriers - West
Hornets - Japan
Hornets - West
Hornets - East
Harriers - East
Prowlers

I'll write up a little Pro/Con response for the Harrier, but not right now - rack time.
 

MAKE VAPES

Uncle Pettibone
pilot
From almost 5 years of watching it happen, regardless the kids all know who is above the cut and below... whether its bullshit or not, the subliminal or overt coordination will still happen. Quite a few studs during the heavy red-stripe time got put in Harriers (or prowlers for that matter) because noone else made the cut, all blossomed where planted and wouldn't fathom trading a harrier for a hornet. My 2 cents: the Harrier takes big nuts and talent to employ, my cat could kick ass in a hornet... bring the flame.
 

FLY_USMC

Well-Known Member
pilot
Which community gets more flying time for the new guys: Harriers or Hornets?
In all honesty....Prowlers win hands down once you get to the fleet. Then Hornets, then Harriers. I'm not going to comment on anything really, minus some things I've seen that I didn't know. Cherry Point, the base itself, is actually really nice. The problem I would have is I wasn't fond of the area, and being that close to the Wing unnerves me. They'll undoubtedly tell you the day you select, if they are still doing the interviews, whether or not there are any Hornet Japan slots.....I've heard nothing but good things about -242. Miramar has 3 Single-Seat Squadrons and 2-Delta Squadrons, conversely, Beaufort has 4/2. -242 is NOT getting tapped with Iraqi IA billets, their IA's stay in Iwakuni and essentially fly AND do some other job. If your wife likes the South..East....ie Meridian....she would absolutely LOVE Beaufort, though the base itself is actually pretty tiny....the BIG exchange and the Commissary are actually at Parris Island, 15 minutes away. The Hornet can carry more bombs AND effectively defend itself A/A....but not at the same time:) I honestly think the Harrier is probably cooler...more fun to fly...but marginally less capable in terms of pure tonage and defending itself. You do more in the Hornet RAG than in the Harrier....obviously because the Harrier is more difficult to fly. Remember that after you CQ in Advanced, EVERYBODY wants to go back to the boat....the thing I kept trying to think is "would I want to spend 6 months on this floating pile?" If you love to fly, but aren't much for the whole strike/bfm stuff, might want to think about the Prowler? In all honesty, when I was in Advanced, everybody knew who'd get a Prowler slot...I only remember one shocker when it comes to that. Just thoughts.
 

puck_11

Growler LSO
pilot
In all honesty....Prowlers win hands down once you get to the fleet. In all honesty, when I was in Advanced, everybody knew who'd get a Prowler slot...I only remember one shocker when it comes to that. Just thoughts.
There are no Marine pilots talking so I'll throw in my two cents as a Navy prowler pilot. I'm not in the fleet though so you'll just be hearing what its like to fly it. Dude, if you want quality of life, this probably is the place to be, the Marines that are in the RAG here take forever to go through, lots of chill time to enjoy the PNW. If all you want to do is fly a jet, you don't care about anything else, this is probably the place to go. ECMO 1 does all the radios and navigation, ECMOs 2 and 3 run all of the weapons systems, all you need to do is fly the jet. However Marine VAQ squadrons are heavily deployed, 6 on, 6 off, as prowlers are in high demand. Of course if you love dropping bombs and flying acm, I would avoid this place like the plague.

As far as everyone knowing in advanced, wish we all would have known, my class and those behind me, all finished mid to high 50's, but the prowler draft won out.
 

SteveG75

Retired and starting that second career
None
As another Navy carrier guy who did an amphib float, couple of other points.

1. Big Navy was talking about 1 Marine F/A-18 squadron per carrier air wing. Right now there are 3 if I remember correctly. That means, living life just like a Navy guy.

2. Harriers have no gas when they come back to the ship. About 5 min of fuel so you better get that landing right. No tanker available around that LHA/D either.
 

Reconjoe

Active Member
So....are you all saying if you really just wanted the Hornet, you should consider not scoring so hot on training, just passing so you don't make the cut for Harrier or Prowler? Then theres that rumor if your the top guy in the class you'll get what you want....but I've never heard if this was actually true from any1 who's actually been through lately....comments?
 

FLY_USMC

Well-Known Member
pilot
I doubt nothing that Puck said. Navy Prowlers have it made....Whidbey....I mean come on....you nearly can't beat that! The Growler will be coming online soon, another plus for you all. I agree the Prowler time to train at the RAG is frigain retarded, I think I had finished the Hornet RAG by the time someone in my Advanced class had like 5 hours in the Prowler....and this was recently....and I'm not exaggerating.

ReconJoe, I promise you there is absolutely NO WAY to purposefully sway the system...I PROMISE you. Rather than explain why...I challenge you to try and then report back with your results. I'm not sure about you, but I'm a Type A personality, 2nd best is first loser and I couldn't purposefully fail if I wanted to. Besides, you might not understand the system....so I'll explain it for you....there are guys who actually SELECT the Prowler....I know because very recently I have met some. But I would say more of them didn't make the Harrier cut....and possibly were thought to have a better chance at completing the Prowler RAG than the Hornet RAG...or were selected due to their personality....or maybe both. Either way your comment is absolutely retarded and tells me you have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. The main problem with your statement is you are assuming you are good enough to just "squeek by".....and not assuming the very possible reality that your best might have you just "sqeeking by." In which case, the last thing on your mind is going to be what you'll get, the first being getting Jack Douglass out of your ass.

And yes, for the most part, #1 gets what he wants, unless you are #1 out of a bunch of retards...in which case nobody cares how you did.
 

yodaears

Member
pilot
As another Navy carrier guy who did an amphib float, couple of other points.

1. Big Navy was talking about 1 Marine F/A-18 squadron per carrier air wing. Right now there are 3 if I remember correctly. That means, living life just like a Navy guy.

2. Harriers have no gas when they come back to the ship. About 5 min of fuel so you better get that landing right. No tanker available around that LHA/D either.
As a marine that wants hornets and at least one boat tour, your point number one doesn't seem that bad. But where did you hear that? We don't have enough single seat sqdrns to cover all the CAWs and I have never heard of Deltas on the boat. So you would be implying that Deltas would be going to the boat? Or am I missing something completely?
 

Reconjoe

Active Member
I doubt nothing that Puck said. Navy Prowlers have it made....Whidbey....I mean come on....you nearly can't beat that! The Growler will be coming online soon, another plus for you all. I agree the Prowler time to train at the RAG is frigain retarded, I think I had finished the Hornet RAG by the time someone in my Advanced class had like 5 hours in the Prowler....and this was recently....and I'm not exaggerating.

ReconJoe, I promise you there is absolutely NO WAY to purposefully sway the system...I PROMISE you. Rather than explain why...I challenge you to try and then report back with your results. I'm not sure about you, but I'm a Type A personality, 2nd best is first loser and I couldn't purposefully fail if I wanted to. Besides, you might not understand the system....so I'll explain it for you....there are guys who actually SELECT the Prowler....I know because very recently I have met some. But I would say more of them didn't make the Harrier cut....and possibly were thought to have a better chance at completing the Prowler RAG than the Hornet RAG...or were selected due to their personality....or maybe both. Either way your comment is absolutely retarded and tells me you have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. The main problem with your statement is you are assuming you are good enough to just "squeek by".....and not assuming the very possible reality that your best might have you just "sqeeking by." In which case, the last thing on your mind is going to be what you'll get, the first being getting Jack Douglass out of your ass.

And yes, for the most part, #1 gets what he wants, unless you are #1 out of a bunch of retards...in which case nobody cares how you did.
It was just a question from someone with no working knowledge of the system....regardless point taken, and thanks
 

SteveG75

Retired and starting that second career
None
As a marine that wants hornets and at least one boat tour, your point number one doesn't seem that bad. But where did you hear that? We don't have enough single seat sqdrns to cover all the CAWs and I have never heard of Deltas on the boat. So you would be implying that Deltas would be going to the boat? Or am I missing something completely?
It was floated around about 6 years ago under the TACAIR INTERGRATION PLAN. Word I heard was shift some of the Delta's to the reserves and make more active Charlie squadrons. Probably gone by the wayside since the Delta's are earning their pay in MNF-W.

From 2003:
http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3834/is_200304/ai_n9204997/
USN/USMC TACAIR integration
In addition to aircraft procurement, we will more fully integrate our USN/USMC F/A-18 squadrons. One of the most noticeable changes in the way we do business is the recent selection of a USMC officer to command a carrier air wing. COL Douglas Yurovich will be the first Marine to command an air wing since the Korean War. Presently, he is slated for CVW-11 at NAS Lemoore. An additional four USMC Hornet squadrons will be integrated into our CVWs, and after FY12, two Marine JSF squadrons will be integrated resulting in every carrier air wing having a USMC squadron assigned. Additionally, three Navy Hornet squadrons will be assigned to the USMC Unit Deployment Profile (UDP) rotation.
 

skidkid

CAS Czar
pilot
Super Moderator
Contributor
TACAIR integration is getting looked at again with a skeptical eye.
 

Banjo33

AV-8 Type
pilot
If all you want to do is fly a jet, you don't care about anything else, this is probably the place to go. ECMO 1 does all the radios and navigation, ECMOs 2 and 3 run all of the weapons systems, all you need to do is fly the jet...
Sounds like a blast.


From a Harrier guy:

Expect 5-15 hours of flying a month. East Coast guys det somewhere in the US for about 30 days twice a year (closer to 20-25 hours of flight time that month...which is suprisingly exhausting). Until they yanked us out of OIF, you could almost expect one dirt det to "the show" in your first tour. Hopefully with OEF cranking back up and our first legit Harrier det enroute, this will still hold true. Otherwise, you might be fortunate enough to jump on a MEU. The real lucky guys get one of each. Now you're looking at 2 deployments in 3 years, at worst. The ground job will kick your butt the rest of the time, depending on what you land. Dispursed among about 20 officers, it isn't too terrible though.

A/A: I've got about 6 hours of air-air in the last 3 years. Not one of our focuses, nor should it be. There's more capable platforms out there.

A/G: "Moving mud" is your focus. CAS, Recce, SCAR...PGM and GP ordnance. You'll do it all. Lot's of practice in the restricted areas, building your habit patterns and exploring the capabilities of the systems. Then when you go on det, honing those skills while blowing up whatever you can find in the desert. Believe it or not, you'll get sick of blowing shit up by the end of your det. Cluster bombs, JDAM, rockets, 25 mm....it's all there and you'll get good at employing it quickly and with a lethality that'll give you goose bumps.

Flight duration: Definitely a weakness of the Harrier. Expect your sorties to last about 1-1 1/4 hours. However, with the precision of our weapons and your skills, you don't need much time. Besides, I don't know about you but that's about all the fun I can take without a break. We do a lot of pit turns, basically refueling the jet while it's still turning so that we can go fly another 1.2 hours. Better yet, you'll head out to the tanker, top off on gas and get back to blowing shit up. Regardless, it's rare that we log more than 2.5 hours at a time, unless you're deployed.

Cherry Point is what you make of it. The immediate area sucks, however you don't have to go far to find amusement. East 20 minutes get's you to the Atlantic. West 2 hours get's you to Raleigh. 4 more hours gets you to the Mountains. South 1.5 hours gets you to Wilmington...not a horrible college town. Another 2 hours gets you to Myrtle Beach...great cross country destination and definitely worth a weekend now and then. Yuma is relatively comparable in that you've got Phoenix 2 hours or so East, San Diego 3 hours West, Vegas 4? hours north. If you're Married, it doesn't matter anyway. You'll rarely leave the house.

JSF transition: they're taking pilots now to head up the RAG. However, don't think you have to be able to fly the Harrier to hover a JSF. My 8 year old sister could land that thing on a postage stamp.

As far as flying the jet: it's not easy. If you're anything like me, you'll probably scare yourself a couple times a month in it. I'm sure you've heard the saying, referring to fly by wire aircraft "you're just a voting member." In this jet, that's not the case. They don't send bad pilots to fly this thing, it was learned early on it cost the government too much money to continue replacing the planes and paying out the SGLI. It's a beast though! Fast, loves to turn (down low), exceptional visibility out of the cockpit and unlike anything you'll ever have the opportunity to ever fly again. The powers that be are dumping money into our jets now too; upgrading sensors, software and weapons. It's a great time to be Harrier guy.

That's my nickle's worth.
 
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