Navy and Marine Corps Aviation

Discussion in 'Life After the Academy' started by ajwilliams96, Dec 28, 2011.

  1. ajwilliams96

    ajwilliams96 Member

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    As aviators in both the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps are designated as Naval Aviators, what is the difference in their career progression? Thank you.
     
  2. SamAca10

    SamAca10 Ensign - DWO

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    Coast Guard Aviators are also designated as Naval Aviators, as all 3 branches send their prospective pilots to Naval Flight School in Pensacola, Fl.

    I can't speak too much for the USN or USMC, but only around 10% of a graduating class at coast guard is allowed to go to flight school right out of the academy. Many people spend their first tour on a ship/sector then make their way down to flight school.

    In flight school you select your track of fixed-wing or rotary wing at the end of Primary. Then you do that intermediate training, get selected for your specific air frame, and head over to the transition course for that airframe.

    So say I'm selected to fly the Jayhawk, I'll go to the transition course and then get assigned to my first air station.

    Aviators will typically have 2-3 operational tours (4 years each) before moving higher in the organization. There are different tracks with aviation as you move up. Aviation engineering officers deal with the maintenance of the aircraft, while the operational officers deal with the day to day planning. Both types of officers still get time in the cockpit.

    You're opportunities are limitless in Coast Guard Aviation. Captain Burbank is currently an astronaut and in space :thumb:

     
  3. JettAirliner

    JettAirliner USNA Appointee 2016

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    Yeah, you'll be in one of the three branches; which you commission into obviously changes your career. Marine Aviation focuses on supporting Marine ground operations. You'll also have to complete Marine Officer training. At the Naval Academy, they do Leatherneck I believe (although one current mid going Marine Aviation said she did other training), which is more or less a very shortened version of OCS. Then you'll have The Basic School after commissioning. Then flight school.

    I can't really speak for Navy or Coast Guard Naval Aviators, and only that little on the Marine Corps.
     
  4. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    They'll both wish they did DLs as well as Army Aviators. :biggrin:

    Marine aviation is a wholly different animal than the "little Air Force" of Navy Aviation. Both have fantastic equipment, some of which is similar, much of which is not.

    If you are asking about the nuanced ins and outs of each career path, you'll have to talk to folks in those communities. The Marines work on an A-billet/B-billet system, which is essentially an operational/non-operational tour system. They do force management fairly well.

    TPG may be able to tell you something about USMC aviation. If you want the opinion of an old(ish), jaded Army aviator, I think both realms are a fascinating way to make your living. If I had I to rank them, I'd say:

    1. Army Aviation. The grand-daddy of them all. We'll get the mission done faster and better just so we have time to smoke a Lucky and slap your mama. You know I had to get a plug in there for the best pilots the DoD can buy.

    2. USMC Aviation. As a dyed-in-the-wool scout pilot, I existed to provide the ground maneuver commander with timely and accurate intelligence of the enemy and, on order, lethal fires in support of tactical objectives. That's very similar to how the Marines use their aviation, though they are more...how should I say this...restricted in their use of fires. They prefer the FAC-A/JTAC architecture vs. letting the ground commander clear his own fires. The Marines, due to a lack of organic artillery capacity, use their air assets as a sort of supplemental artillery.

    3. Naval aviation. Still some pretty cool missions, just less focused on the air-to-mud mentality and since the end of the Cold War, Naval Aviation's capacity and missions have been searching for an enduring definition.


    Sam threw his plug in for CG aviation (a laudable pursuit, for sure, and you DARE NOT speak of the CG in anything less than laudatory tones here, lest chips be knocked off shoulders). Those boundless opportunities exist in every branch, as every branch has more than one astronaut to its credit.
     
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2011
  5. Hurricane12

    Hurricane12 USNA 2012

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    The Navy and Marine Corps operate on a similar principle for how flight careers work, but call it different things.

    Quick and simple: In both services, you alternate tours where you're flying with an operational squadron and tours where you don't and instead get exposure to the larger Navy/Marine Corps and how the military works as a whole. These tours vary based on service, platform, and what you want to do.

    Long and Complicated:
    After flight school for both services, new pilots head to their first squadron for their first tour, which generally lasts 2-4 years, depending on platform, timing, and other factors. The Navy calls this your "DivO" (division officer) or JO (junior officer) tour.
    During your first tour, you work on getting different qualifications and building flight experience, as well as leading a group of Sailors or Marines as part of your "ground job" that you do when not flying. What your ground job is can vary from being in charge of maintenance to scheduling to legal stuff.

    After your first tour, you do what's called a "shore tour" in the Navy (but could be on a ship) and a "B-billet" in the Marines. Some of these are the same for both services and some aren't. For example, both Navy and Marine Aviators can serve as instructors in flight school or go to test pilot school. There are graduate school opportunities in both services as well.
    Other shore tours (more Navy specific) could be being on a staff (on shore), working at USNA as a company officer or teacher, or ROTC instructor.
    Marine specific B-billets would be things like a FAC (forward air controller...basically, an aviator is embedded with an infantry unit and advises them on air matters and helps them with air support), MCRD series commander, Officer Selection Officer, a Battalion Air Officer, or also teaching at USNA/ROTC.

    Following that, Navy types do a "disassociated sea tour." This is working as ship's company or staff on a carrier, such as being a "shooter" (the guy who launches airplanes). You can also do a second JO tour here, flying with a squadron again.
    Following that is your Department Head tour. You return to a squadron and lead a department, which is a much larger segment of the squadron than a division. At this point, you're most likely a LCDR.

    On the Marine side, after your B-billet, you go back to a squadron, then do another B-billet or PME (professional military education), then back to a squadron, and "repeat until Colonel." Your first B-billet you have more leeway to do what you want, but the Marine Corps wants well-rounded officers and so even as an aviator you will likely spend time doing things other than flying.

    For both services, there are certain routes for if you want to get command and stay in for a while that best improves your chances of advancement because it hits all of the wickets that the Navy/USMC wants. If you stray from the path, it can be okay, but stray too far and too often and you probably won't get as far career-wise.

    My pitch:
    Though there's a lot of similarities between Marine and Navy Air and a lot of chances to work with the other (Marines on carriers, etc), they are different services. Marine Aviators are Marines and Marine Officers first. This means six months at The Basic School, a different culture, different platforms, different standards in flight school, and different missions.
    Though, say, F/A-18s may do similar things in both the Navy and Marine Corps, the rotor wing missions between the two services are very different (Anti-submarine warfare and logistics support vs. close air support and assault support) and there are lot more rotor than fixed wing pilots in both services.

    If you want to get a sense of the differences between the services more and generally how Naval Aviation works, check out airwarriors.com and read everything.
     
  6. SamAca10

    SamAca10 Ensign - DWO

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    I can take a little ribbing just like you Scout. And you're right, every branch/SA has had an astronaut. Including MMA! :eek:

    Not to derail this thread, but remember, we've had pilots from every branch come in under the DCA program, but I've never heard of a CG aviator going into another branch. :wink:

    If the OP wants to check out some more about CG aviation we do have our own TV show. http://www.weather.com/tv/tvshows/coast-guard-alaska
     
  7. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    MMA...they're your big brother, right?

    I know a few guys who've gone CG. They like the relaxed, predictable lifestyle.

    We have our own show, too. It's been on CNN for the last 10 years. :thumb:
     

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