Marine Corps Fighter Pilot


New Member
Sep 7, 2017
I will be enrolling in NROTC in the fall with the hopes of one day becoming a fighter pilot. Flying jets is my biggest motivation, but, I chose the Navy because, put simply, I would prefer working elsewear in the Navy than in the Air Force, and because I have an all around better impression of naval aviation. Truth be told though, I would love to be a Marine fighter pilot. It seems like it's slightly more difficult to be a naval fighter pilot than an AF fighter pilot, but that Marine fighter pilots are significantly less abundant than either of the other two branches, and therefore not worth the risk.
Is my perception accurate? Is going Marine option just to become a Marine Corps fighter pilot a complete waste of time? Furthermore, is switching branches before or after commissioning, when I'm better informed of the prospects of flying within a branch, an option?
Addressing one important implication of your post: Your “biggest motivation” for going NROTC should not be “flying jets” but instead, serving your country as a Navy or Marine officer. Because an awful lot of things can happen between now and commissioning that could prevent you from ever achieving your dream. Some factors are in your control, many not, and you could be subject to something as simple as “the needs of the Navy/Marines.”

Don’t go into NROTC thinking that you can just switch branches after commissioning. Won’t happen. You can try switching before commissioning, but don’t expect to get much credit for already having done another branch’s training.

Bottom line: NROTC’s primary mission is to develop officers. Before joining, make sure that’s your primary mission also.
Agree with MidCakePa. That being said, there is currently a shortage of Marine pilots but I have no idea which airframes this is true for. There are all kinds of rotary aircraft in the Corps. You can get a "guaranteed flight school" slot as early as your sophomore year as an NROTC MO midshipman, provided you meet all the requirements, including flight physicals, etc when the time comes. You will still go to TBS and learn the rudiments of leading an infantry platoon (rudiments being the key word). Once you complete flight school, assuming you do, then you will be assigned an airframe based on what's available and your ranking in flight school. Very few become fighter pilots. Some folks drop flight school. Some folks wash out of OCS. SOme folks wash out of NROTC before even getting to OCS. Some folks wash out during NROTC Freshman orientation. You have a long way to go and it will be difficult to achieve your dream. Nevertheless, some folks do it. Keep your eye on the ball now, worry about done the road when you get down the road.

Oh yeah... you're a Marine Officer first, pilot second... if you make it.''

EDIT: Hurricane12 recently made a very long post on what flight school is like. You might want to read it here.
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Rough statistics I heard from a Marine pilot on the breakdown for what they fly (don't take them for gospel):

Rotary Wing: 75%
Fighter Jets: 20%
Heavy: 5%

Also understand that with NROTC if you decide to go Marine Option and for some reason lose your flight contract you will be moved over to the ground. And as kinnem said above, you are a Marine before you are a pilot. You will go to OCS. You will go to TBS. Then you will go to flight school. Consider where you want to be and what you want to do long term. I know that's hard to do for a new college student but it's important when considering these things
Don’t go into NROTC thinking that you can just switch branches after commissioning. Won’t happen.
Not necessarily. Interservice transfers are possible, and they probably happen more often in military aviation than in any of the other career fields.
You can apply for a blue to green scholarship transfer and then get a flight contract sophmore year. Don't know the stats but it is an option.
Switching from Navy to Marine Option is not a trivial task. At least at my DS unit, you will train with the Marines, you will have to prove that you have what it takes to be a Marine. Then you will have to apply and be selected for the Marine Option and they are very selective.
.... and it's a national board that does the selection ...