Jump to content
Baseops Forums
innovator

How do you feel about your airframe and mission?

Recommended Posts

Whenever I have asked someone about their experience in an airframe, I have always heard nothing but positive things. I am sure most of all airframes are a blast to fly, but like anything else there has to be cons as well. Most students tend to decide on what they want to fly based on what they see at an airshow or a tv show, but there is always more to it when you get into the thick of things.   

If you are currently flying one of these airframes or have flown them in the past, could you provide current feedback and opinion on the following subjects? Honest rants and praise on these platforms much appreciated.

1.  Ops Tempo/Deployment

      2.  Lifestyle/ Family Stability

      3. Community morale

      4. Advancements & Future of the airframe

      5. Preferred PCS locations 

--------------

F-15E

F-15C

F-16

A-10

F-22

F-35

B-2

B-1

B-52

EC-130H 

MC-130H

MC-130P 

AC-130W 

HC-130 

AC-130U

AC-130H 

C-130J

C-17 

C-5

C-21

KC-10 

KC-135

RC-135 

E-3

E-4

E-8

CV-22

HH-60

UH-1

        U-28

 

Edited by innovator

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm in the B-1.  OPSTEMPO wasn't too oppressive when I was in an ops squadron...6 months deployed, a year at home.  I'm still waiting to see what it will be like under Global Strike.  There's a lot of options on the table regarding 3 month deployments, deploying one squadron to two geographically separated areas, rainbowing squadrons in various theaters, etc...so honestly, no one actually knows what the OPSTEMPO will look like for the next year or so.  

At home, the work load is significant, but not crushing.  I've been at the schoolhouse for a while, and honestly the biggest adjustment is the constant thrash that the schedule becomes when you're dealing with student lines instead of normal continuation training lines.  But still, it's rare to stay much past 1800 if you're not on the night shift, and working weekends is very rare for most of us.

The family life is relatively stable.  There are only two bases with B-1s, so there isn't much PCSing in the early part of your career (unless you draw the ALO or UPT card).  Because the community is so small, you'll quickly find people that you knew at your last assignment when you go to your next one.  Almost half the people I'm at the schoolhouse with are people I deployed with from Ellsworth.

The B-1 is currently undergoing the largest upgrade since the fleet was introduced.  We're replacing all the green-screen CRTs with full-color LCD displays, we're opening a lot of the software to the pilots (who used to have to just trust the WSOs that things were set correctly), we're finally on Link-16, and we got some really nice upgrades to the targeting capabilities.  I see the B-1 as being in service for at least the next 20 years or so, depending on how long it will take to get the B-21 online and what capabilities it eventually brings to the table.

Community morale is actually pretty high in the B-1 from what I've seen, although like every other platform we are hemorraging our fair share of pilots.

Finally, if you go to the B-1, you want to go to Ellsworth.  You'll end up back at Dyess eventually, but Ellsworth is a hidden gem tucked away in the Black Hills.  There's something new to see or do almost every weekend, and the winters aren't as brutal as people like to pretend.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

MQ-9s weren't on your list, but if you're graduating UPT soon there is a non-zero chance you'll be stuck flying them in a few years.

1.  Ops tempo: awful, I routinely worked 70+ hours a week.  Deployments: not enough, I only got 1 that lasted 5 months.  It was a nice break from the misery of home station.

2.  Lifestyle/Family Stability: You'll sleep in your own bed, but 1/3 of the time you'll be sleeping in the middle of the day.  If your absolute number one goal is to avoid deployments and TDYs, MQ-9s have got you covered.  It seemed like someone was getting divorced every couple of months, but you never know what's really driving those.

3.  Community Morale: Zero to very low.  I'm shocked no-one at my last squadron killed themself.  Things were/are that bad.  We have a retention crisis that will not be abating any time in the foreseeable future.

4.  Advancements & Future of the Airframe: There are two tracks in MQ-9s: one for the shiny pennies who parachute in to be SQ/CCs and DOs and one for the unfortunate bastards flying the line.  If you're looking for any kind of career broadening (staff/instruct at UPT/white jets) you can forget it.  These things aren't going away so you'll have job security.

5.  PCS locations: Ugh.  Two undesirable locations in New Mexico.  Vegas is your most likely option.  There is also Ellsworth AFB, SD which is a lovely location with a terrible wing if you're in the MQ-9 squadron.  After my time there, I wouldn't shit on the 28th BW if it was on fire.  YMMV.  On the plus side there are Guard & Reserve locations all over, which is nice.

  • Upvote 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
19 minutes ago, guineapigfury said:

MQ-9s weren't on your list, but if you're graduating UPT soon there is a non-zero chance you'll be stuck flying them in a few years.

1.  Ops tempo: awful, I routinely worked 70+ hours a week.  Deployments: not enough, I only got 1 that lasted 5 months.  It was a nice break from the misery of home station.

2.  Lifestyle/Family Stability: You'll sleep in your own bed, but 1/3 of the time you'll be sleeping in the middle of the day.  If your absolute number one goal is to avoid deployments and TDYs, MQ-9s have got you covered.  It seemed like someone was getting divorced every couple of months, but you never know what's really driving those.

3.  Community Morale: Zero to very low.  I'm shocked no-one at my last squadron killed themself.  Things were/are that bad.  We have a retention crisis that will not be abating any time in the foreseeable future.

4.  Advancements & Future of the Airframe: There are two tracks in MQ-9s: one for the shiny pennies who parachute in to be SQ/CCs and DOs and one for the unfortunate bastards flying the line.  If you're looking for any kind of career broadening (staff/instruct at UPT/white jets) you can forget it.  These things aren't going away so you'll have job security.

5.  PCS locations: Ugh.  Two undesirable locations in New Mexico.  Vegas is your most likely option.  There is also Ellsworth AFB, SD which is a lovely location with a terrible wing if you're in the MQ-9 squadron.  After my time there, I wouldn't shit on the 28th BW if it was on fire.  YMMV.  On the plus side there are Guard & Reserve locations all over, which is nice.

I'll caveat that with the Cannon perspective, place sucks, hours suck, morale is eh, but in the current envirement strikes happen very frequently, so if your into population control this is the pace to be. We also have the LRE squadron, 1 to 1 deployments, some decent TDYs. Standard work days, weekends off, but they currently are AFSOCs most deployed squadron, so they are gone a lot. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

U-28

 

1. Ops Tempo: High but stable for now. 3 gone, 6 home with usually a week in transit on both sides of that. 

2. Lifestyle: It's fine but expect hours switching around a lot with night flying and early mornings regularly.

3. Community morale: Good but the older guys are getting worn out.

4. Advancements & Future: This thing evolves all the time so it's always on the cutting edge technology wise. That's a plus. In a few years, the U-28 will be replaced by something else. What that will be, I have no clue. 

5. PCS Locations: Hurlburt and Cannon. 2/3 chance for Hurlburt. And in AFSOC, all roads eventually lead back to Hurlburt. 

Bottom line, if you pick based on mission, this airplane has one of the best in the AF now. If the big one with the Commies kicks off, we will not participate. But in the current counter terror fight, we get to have a big impact. 

  • Upvote 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

AC130U

1.  Ops Tempo/Deployment

It changes from time to time, I've seen it as slow as 1:2 (3 month deployments) but currently the longest dwell is 1:1 (4 month deployments) and multiple guys are on dwell waivers.

Deployments are pretty good when we're doing what we're designed for. There's a lot of times recently where we just get used as a dual sensor ISR and that sucks.

2.  Lifestyle/ Family Stability

There are people/families who absolutely love it and others who absolutely hate it. My family and I are fortunate to be the former. There will be a decent amount of both day/night flying at home and the opportunity to be home or gone a decent amount depending on your personal priorities. In my experience the squadron is willing to work with you for big events to make sure you're home.

3. Community morale

Much better than some communities, but there will always be people who think it's the worst place in the AF. The squadron is like the older brother who beats on you but will kill anyone who isn't family and looks at you the wrong way.

4. Advancements & Future of the airframe

There are always exceptions, but once you're in AFSOC, don't expect to leave. For some that's a blessing, for others it's a sentence. You can probably count the number of gunship guys that have gone back to white jet tours on one hand. There have been a handful of guys who have made moves to other AFSOC airframes, if that's your thing. I am not the kind of person who is looking to be a commander of any kind, so I don't keep track of people who are. But I can say if you're willing to climb on the backs of others to climb the ranks, it probably won't be a very enjoyable time for you.

Future of the airframe - the gunship will be around for a long time. The U won't. As soon as they figure out the AC-J dick dance, the U is on the way out. That was supposed to be FY17, but obviously we're still a couple years out from that.

5. Preferred PCS locations 

There's only one. So if you like the beach and fresh seafood, you're in luck. If you like Cannon, go to the W because the old transition from Hurlburt to Cannon (or vice versa) is quickly going away as the J comes up. There's still a few guys that go back and forth but any new guys will likely avoid it until the J is solid at both locations, and that will be several years in the making.

There isn't a single airframe that is always awesome, but the gunship comes pretty close.

Much like what Danger said - if you pick based on mission, you'll like what you get.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  • Upvote 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Pawnman, Guineapig, Viper, Danger and his speed: Thanks for your input so far!

Its great to hear directly from drivers themselves then someone that has a grudge against another community. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

KC-10 (I'll caveat up-front that my view is that of an enlisted Reservist, who's been out of the jet for over a year)

 

1.  Ops Tempo/Deployment: Busy. AFAIK, deployments are still 56 days a pop, with AD guys seeing ADAB anywhere from 2-4 times a year, every year.  The Reserves are still on the partial mobilization that started 5 years ago, and as of March of this year my SQ leadership said there was no end in sight.  Plenty of TDY when you're not deployed - it's AMC.

      2.  Lifestyle/ Family Stability: It's AMC.  Be prepared to spend at least half your time away from home. 

      3. Community morale: Not too bad (I think) on the Ops side.  It's a relatively small community (59 jets, 2 bases), so after a few years of Dhafra deployments everyone pretty much knows who everyone else is.  MX has been slashed and beaten to a bloody pulp, which causes availability issues and the occasional Ops vs. MX firefight.

      4. Advancements & Future of the airframe: They're still modding the jets for the CNS/ATM mod, which is good.  There was once talk of flying the jet into the 2030s, which was the whole point of spending the money on CNS/ATM.  However, they're also still talking about the KC-46 turning into a KC-10 replacement... which is bad.  I'm hoping they don't finish the CNS/ATM mod just in time to start parking them at AMARG, but the realist in me knows that unless Big Blue finds a shit-ton of money hiding in some dark corner of the budget (or if Boeing suddenly forgets how to build the KC-46), the -10's days are numbered. 

      5. Preferred PCS locations: Only two choices - McGuire or Travis.  McGuire folks can live in PA and have a 30-40min commute to work, and pay half the property taxes vs. living in NJ.  Philly is <1hr, NYC is ~1.5hrs, the NJ shore is ~40min depending on your beach choice. Travis is not far from the SF Bay area, and Reno/Tahoe is an easy day trip (I skied Squaw Valley once with half my crew, on a 36hr stop at Travis).  If you're a gun guy/gal at McGuire, you can live in PA, get your PA LTCF and carry concealed (or open carry with no permit/license), possess any ammo variety and/or magazine size you'd like, and even own suppressors with nothing more than the usual ATF stamp.  Just stay out of NJ with ANY of that on your person or in your car.  At Travis... you might still be able to buy Guns & Ammo from the magazine rack in the BX.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There is also Ellsworth AFB, SD which is a lovely location with a terrible wing if you're in the MQ-9 squadron.  After my time there, I wouldn't shit on the 28th BW if it was on fire.  YMMV.  On the plus side there are Guard & Reserve locations all over, which is nice.

Back story? BTW as of October with the B-1 transition to Global Strike the Ellsworth MQ9s are now a tenant unit (moved under the 432 OG at Creech for ADCON)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

*Edited because I didn't RTFQ*

C-12s weren't on your list, but there's nothing bad about them.

1/2 -- deployments are rare (and usually voluntary).  Banker's hours most other times and even RONs are pretty unusual.

3.  Morale is great because it's a good deal in a good spot and most people asked for it

4.  The plane isn't going anywhere soon

5.  Elmendorf/Yokota, unless you're with DIA or AFMC.

 

And if you hate it, you only have to deal with it for 3 years.

Edited by propflux
  • Upvote 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, magnetfreezer said:

Back story? BTW as of October with the B-1 transition to Global Strike the Ellsworth MQ9s are now a tenant unit (moved under the 432 OG at Creech for ADCON)

There was no single incident, just a continuing pattern of support agency epic failures, particularly for our deployers.  I left prior to the transition, so I can't speak to how changing the wing patch affected the squadron.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

C-17s:

1. Ops tempo's varied wildly over the life of the program. Before my time, it was common for guys to be gone at least 250 days a year, but it's not nearly that bad anymore. These days, you can probably expect about one 90-day deployment every 18 months or so, and an average of one 7-10 day mission per month out of home station. As a young guy, you'll also spend a lot of time back at the schoolhouse at Altus. It takes five trips there to go from UPT grad to C-17 airdrop IP.

2. Lifestyle/family stability: highly related to #1. We generally don't get many long deployments, but you'll often be gone for relatively short bursts. Like Jarhead said, it's AMC.

3. Morale: Probably average compared to USAF flying squadrons as a whole. You'll get some amazing opportunities to travel to some really cool places. I've been handed papers before to fly to a country I didn't even know existed at the time (Mauritius, as an example). But the sweet trips are tempered with the usual AF BS. Most C-17 guys who are past their UPT commitments are now based at KATL or KJFK, leaving a relatively young and inexperienced crew force behind to pick up the slack. Like I said, standard.

4. This jet's not going anywhere. Being a newer airframe, she's already got most of the bells and whistles that you want. The jet was designed with a 30,000 hour service life in mind, but several of the tails have already hit 20,000+. That lifespan will be extended well past 30,000 in due time. As far as usage goes, I don't see any real changes coming down the pipe. Wherever the US gov operates, which is everywhere, there's going to be a need for airlift.

5. Besides the FTU at beautiful Altus, there are seven AD C-17 bases: four on the west coast (McChord, Travis, Elmo, and Hickam) and three on the east coast (Charleston, Dover, and McGuire). Charleston and McChord are by far the two largest hubs, each with close to 50 of the 223 tails. There are also some limited opportunities to pick up exchange tours with the Aussies, Brits, or Canadians or to go out to fly with the HAW, a NATO unit based in Hungary.

All in all, I've really enjoyed it. If you like to travel and you like working with a team of guys and gals on a crew airplane, you'll have a good time. The mission set is varied enough that it's never the same thing twice. You'll see plenty of Iraq and Afghanistan, but you'll also wake up in Peru, Chad, Myanmar, or wherever else Uncle Sam wants to go that day. Pretty fun gig.

  • Upvote 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, JarheadBoom said:

KC-10 (I'll caveat up-front that my view is that of an enlisted Reservist, who's been out of the jet for over a year)

 

1.  Ops Tempo/Deployment: Busy. AFAIK, deployments are still 56 days a pop, with AD guys seeing ADAB anywhere from 2-4 times a year, every year.  The Reserves are still on the partial mobilization that started 5 years ago, and as of March of this year my SQ leadership said there was no end in sight.  Plenty of TDY when you're not deployed - it's AMC.

      2.  Lifestyle/ Family Stability: It's AMC.  Be prepared to spend at least half your time away from home. 

      3. Community morale: Not too bad (I think) on the Ops side.  It's a relatively small community (59 jets, 2 bases), so after a few years of Dhafra deployments everyone pretty much knows who everyone else is.  MX has been slashed and beaten to a bloody pulp, which causes availability issues and the occasional Ops vs. MX firefight.

      4. Advancements & Future of the airframe: They're still modding the jets for the CNS/ATM mod, which is good.  There was once talk of flying the jet into the 2030s, which was the whole point of spending the money on CNS/ATM.  However, they're also still talking about the KC-46 turning into a KC-10 replacement... which is bad.  I'm hoping they don't finish the CNS/ATM mod just in time to start parking them at AMARG, but the realist in me knows that unless Big Blue finds a shit-ton of money hiding in some dark corner of the budget (or if Boeing suddenly forgets how to build the KC-46), the -10's days are numbered. 

      5. Preferred PCS locations: Only two choices - McGuire or Travis.  McGuire folks can live in PA and have a 30-40min commute to work, and pay half the property taxes vs. living in NJ.  Philly is <1hr, NYC is ~1.5hrs, the NJ shore is ~40min depending on your beach choice. Travis is not far from the SF Bay area, and Reno/Tahoe is an easy day trip (I skied Squaw Valley once with half my crew, on a 36hr stop at Travis).  If you're a gun guy/gal at McGuire, you can live in PA, get your PA LTCF and carry concealed (or open carry with no permit/license), possess any ammo variety and/or magazine size you'd like, and even own suppressors with nothing more than the usual ATF stamp.  Just stay out of NJ with ANY of that on your person or in your car.  At Travis... you might still be able to buy Guns & Ammo from the magazine rack in the BX.

In your experience as a reservist, how much flexibility do Reserve pilots have in their schedule? Is there a minimum participation you see from them? Do they get forced into going on missions against their will? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, guineapigfury said:

There was no single incident, just a continuing pattern of support agency epic failures, particularly for our deployers.  I left prior to the transition, so I can't speak to how changing the wing patch affected the squadron.

If it makes you feel better, the B-1 guys also experienced a continuing pattern of support agency failures for every deployment.  Then I got to Dyess and saw what a shit-show deploying really could be.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, pawnman said:

If it makes you feel better, the B-1 guys also experienced a continuing pattern of support agency failures for every deployment.  Then I got to Dyess and saw what a shit-show deploying really could be.

Actually it doesn't.  I assumed they were pretty good at deploying the B-1s and just couldn't handle doing something different.  I've come to the belief that maybe we should just have one pre-deployment center with a massive warehouse where you show up three days before your rotator to knock out all your ground training and pick up all your gear.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, bb17 said:

In your experience as a reservist, how much flexibility do Reserve pilots have in their schedule? Is there a minimum participation you see from them? Do they get forced into going on missions against their will? 

Flexibility: As a Traditional Reservist (and, I suspect, as a Traditional Guardsman), your individual scheduling flexibility is dependent on your currency needs vs. what the SQ has available for locals & trips.  The more currency items you need to bang out, the more flexible you'll need to be WRT flying on a day/night/trip that you're really not into.  As a for-instance, last year I got a short-notice .civ contract job that was going to keep me away from home and out of the local area for a few months.  I was also going to go non-current for a cargo load during that time, and the contract was ending shortly before my desert rotation was leaving.  To avoid being non-current for deployment, I had to go on a weekend trip that had scheduled cargo, on my last weekend at home before I left for the .civ job.  Wife was not happy (we had already made family plans for that weekend), but it was what was required to maintain currency in the short time I had available.

 

Min participation: Once I became a true TR (after the days of "MPA for errbody" ended), I quickly realized there was no way to stay current in the jet, much less proficient, in just one UTA weekend a month.  I averaged two double-teeps (AFTPs) a month in addition to UTAs to stay current & proficient, along with at least one trip per quarter.  As a boom, my list of currency beans is a hell of a lot shorter than a pilot's list, so depending on a pilot's particular currency needs & training level, they may need to do 3-4 additional days/month on top of UTA weekends.  Or, reschedule their UTA days to mid-week to take advantage of trips, local mission profile, etc.

 

Forced into missions: Not in my experience.  As a Traditional Reservist, about the only way you can be forced into duty outside of a UTA or AT period is through a mobilization/activation order.  The approval level for that is way too high for someone to pursue that for a training mission; to get to that point you'd have to be violating several SQ/WG policies, and you'd be more likely to be booted from the unit than mobilized solely for a mission for training. 

This is not to say, however, that you will not get pressure from your scheduler/DO/CC to "make the time" and get your ass on the schedule.  The flying Reservist/Guardsman's obligation is to maintain currency & proficiency in their airframe, along with all the ancillary bullshit Big Blue has piled on over the years.  If you are unwilling or unable to maintain the *family - .civ job - Guard/Reserve* balance and stay current in the jet, you're gonna have a bad time.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, innovator said:

Any fighter guys and gals out there that would like to give their input? 

 

Endangered species, mate.

 

Edited by WAG
  • Upvote 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

C-17s:

1. Ops tempo's varied wildly over the life of the program. Before my time, it was common for guys to be gone at least 250 days a year, but it's not nearly that bad anymore. These days, you can probably expect about one 90-day deployment every 18 months or so, and an average of one 7-10 day mission per month out of home station. As a young guy, you'll also spend a lot of time back at the schoolhouse at Altus. It takes five trips there to go from UPT grad to C-17 airdrop IP.

2. Lifestyle/family stability: highly related to #1. We generally don't get many long deployments, but you'll often be gone for relatively short bursts. Like Jarhead said, it's AMC.

3. Morale: Probably average compared to USAF flying squadrons as a whole. You'll get some amazing opportunities to travel to some really cool places. I've been handed papers before to fly to a country I didn't even know existed at the time (Mauritius, as an example). But the sweet trips are tempered with the usual AF BS. Most C-17 guys who are past their UPT commitments are now based at KATL or KJFK, leaving a relatively young and inexperienced crew force behind to pick up the slack. Like I said, standard.

4. This jet's not going anywhere. Being a newer airframe, she's already got most of the bells and whistles that you want. The jet was designed with a 30,000 hour service life in mind, but several of the tails have already hit 20,000+. That lifespan will be extended well past 30,000 in due time. As far as usage goes, I don't see any real changes coming down the pipe. Wherever the US gov operates, which is everywhere, there's going to be a need for airlift.

5. Besides the FTU at beautiful Altus, there are seven AD C-17 bases: four on the west coast (McChord, Travis, Elmo, and Hickam) and three on the east coast (Charleston, Dover, and McGuire). Charleston and McChord are by far the two largest hubs, each with close to 50 of the 223 tails. There are also some limited opportunities to pick up exchange tours with the Aussies, Brits, or Canadians or to go out to fly with the HAW, a NATO unit based in Hungary.

All in all, I've really enjoyed it. If you like to travel and you like working with a team of guys and gals on a crew airplane, you'll have a good time. The mission set is varied enough that it's never the same thing twice. You'll see plenty of Iraq and Afghanistan, but you'll also wake up in Peru, Chad, Myanmar, or wherever else Uncle Sam wants to go that day. Pretty fun gig.

I am currently in AETC and only one of the Moose drivers I have talked to even want to go back. Personally I loved landing in different locations but the leadership seemed horrible, even from people that worked directly for JQP. I know the grass isn't always greener.

Also Elmo is closing the active unit and rumor is Hawaii won't be far behind. Take away the two best deals and it's not as nice looking. The entire community is overmanned but that will eventually lead to a push like 2013 where even gets an RPA to level manning out.

I rarely felt like a pilot. I was a systems and teams manager the entire time. Track the aircraft with an external computer, worry about crew rest, do TACCs job because they are fools, and try not to get Q3'd.

Now I have the opportunity to put stick and rudder skills to use. I know it's not the future but I love not having an A/P to do my work.

Would I go back? If they made me, I'm not going to say no but it is currently number 5 on my ADP. Edit for add: the main reason it's number 5 is the leadership that I have experienced in the communities. Even one of our SQ/CCs are my current location says the same thing.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Lstcause257 said:

What is your source, because this is the first I've even heard of this and we just sent/are currently sending a ton of people to those squadrons. (A whole different AFPC debacle but still)

4 hours ago, Lstcause257 said:

The entire community is overmanned* but that will eventually lead to a push like 2013 where even gets an RPA to level manning out.

*Was overmanned, we just PCS'd out a ton of people when we closed the 10th and 17th. While we are still "overmanned" (reality we didn't have enough bodies even before they cut us), what I'm hearing is they aren't planning on cutting anymore and the last 2 VMLs have supported this. We went from VMLs of 12-20 non-vols to 6ish (majority being back to Altus) with more Ops to Ops than I've seen in my almost 4 years a TCM. 

4 hours ago, Lstcause257 said:

I rarely felt like a pilot. I was a systems and teams manager the entire time. Track the aircraft with an external computer, worry about crew rest, do TACCs job because they are fools, and try not to get Q3'd.

I actually enjoy the mission management portion of the mission, it does get exhausting when supporting agencies are acting like idiots. Also I picked up and stuck with airdrop because it makes me feel like a pilot, 8 hour legs at cruise makes me want to jump off the ramp without a parachute. 

 

4 hours ago, Lstcause257 said:

Edit for add: the main reason it's number 5 is the leadership that I have experienced in the communities. Even one of our SQ/CCs are my current location says the same thing.

We've had a decent run at TCM not always the best but definitely not one of those that makes the "what's wrong with the AF" thread. Right now we have a great set of squadron commanders across the board in the OG.

Edited by Fuzz

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, Lstcause257 said:

Perspective

I'll try to keep this short because I don't want to make this a C-17 thread. Pretty fair criticisms here, so I'm glad this thread's seeing some balanced inputs. 

I hadn't heard anything about Elmo or Hickam closing - that's news to me. I guess the long-awaited "shift to the Pacific" never really materialized. I do know that the Charlotte ANG unit is transitioning from Herks to 17s and the AFRC unit in Pittsburgh is doing the same. 

The community is still "overmanned" on paper, but only because Big Blue changed the crew ratio in order to magically green up the spreadsheets. I think we're at about 107% as a whole now, using the new ratio, but it certainly doesn't feel that way at the squadron level. Completely agree on the potential to see "excesses" in the community abused for AF benefit a la RPA debacle of the last few years.  

And lastly, being a pilot. I "grew up" as a young copilot flying Afghanistan lines to fields where, by and large, the biggest threat to the jet was ourselves. The ACs and IPs would let their young guys fly something resembling a 3-3 or 3-1 style approach, provide some input when they did a shitty job, and then congratulate them with some beers in K-town that night for managing to avoid the largely-imaginary bad guys. Iraq right now isn't like that. The threat is real and visible, TTPs have changed significantly, and several fields offer a pretty good test of a guy's skills. 

For a young dude or dudette coming out of UPT, understand that it's a balance. The C-17 doesn't maneuver like a Viper, doesn't play in the dirt like a Hog, and has the RCS of an aircraft carrier. That said, there is enough of this kind of stuff to balance out the long cruise legs, and to occasionally make you feel like you've done something that might matter after spending your last couple crew rests in Belgium or Panama. I personally like the balance and variety of it all. YMMV.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Flying fighters (F-16 for me) is awesome.  I've done incredible things I would never had the opportunity to do anywhere else.  The flying part: Flying A-B is nothing more than a means to an end...the end being tactically employing the aircraft.  Flying the jet is easy, employing it well is difficult.  If you want to fly around the world and stay in 69 countries before your first assignment is up, this is not the place.  If you want to have "chill" time while flying, fighters are not what you're looking for.  That said, I have flown all over this world (for a fighter guy anyways), had countless badass TDYs, and employed weapons in the best (i.e. TDYs) and worst parts of this world.  The squadron camaraderie, even under the iron fist of the past few years, is second to none.

Squadron life: Can vary a lot depending on leadership, as I'm sure the same is true in just about every walk of life.  I have been fortunate to have great leadership, so my general experiences have been very positive.  I know guys who were/are miserable because they have shitty leadership.  Luck and timing matters.  In the CAF, I'd say the average guy works 12 hrs day, 5 days a week.  It's not uncommon to come in on the weekend to do 2-6 hrs of mission planning for a Mon sortie (because everyone was too hammered or didn't give a shit on Fri afternoon after academics and pilot meetings).  However, that's personal choice; dudes could get it done on Fri and have the whole weekend off.  You're expected to work your ass off on the tactical side to be a good fighter pilot, but there is still all of the BS that has to get done.  You will have a lot to balance, but it is doable and the reward of flying the mission is worth it...at least for a while.  If you go to other assignments such as teach B-Course, test, etc. life can ease up a bit and you're not necessarily working 60+ hr weeks...those are good "break for the family" assignments.

Family life: It seems in general we are not on the road nearly as much has the AMC/AFSOC bros.  But, depending on what's going on the squadron, those 12+ hr days can lead to a lot of missed dinners with the family, etc.  There was about a 4 month period (no TDY, no deployment) where I didn't see my first kid 5 days a week because I left for work before he woke up and came home after he went to bed...I made the weekend family time.  Overall, in my time flying fighters, I've been gone roughly 50% of the time (TDYs or deployed).  Some guys hit more or less, but I'd say 50% is about the average.  Overall for my family personally, we prefer longer time away with less frequency.  Other communities do less time away, but far more frequently.  That may work out better for other's family situation.

Overall, I absolutely recommend dudes look into fighters.  I think the best analogy I can think of is it's like playing team sports - very competitive (in a good way), you're very close with the bros (work and leisure), and you fly the jet/work together to win.  Or you lose, but you learn and get better so when the big game kicks off, you're ready.  It's a constant challenge that I personally would be bored without.

  • Upvote 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Fighters are terrific overall and I've never met a fighter pilot who regretted flying them vs something else.

The only bad part of flying fighters in the USAF is the USAF.

I've seen a constant erosion of lifestyle fun and reward but it is still the best job in the world....just not as fun as it used to be or "could" be.

Once you figure out the USAF game/system and realize the USAF needs you as an 11F more than you need it, the work drops off and the lifestyle quality dramatically increases.

If you are willing to stab your bros in the back and sell your soul to climb the exec ladder into rank/school/Job etc. you will be miserable, hated or burn yourself out.

  • Upvote 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

C-130H at Yokota

Take all this with a caveat since the C-130H is going away and being replaced with the J (same mission, just no engineer, navigator and much more advanced systems.)  Also, I'm at Yokota which is one of the best flying assignments in the Air Force, so what I say will not necessarily mirror Little Rock or Dyess.   Maybe Ramstein..

 

1.  Ops Tempo/Deployment:  We don't deploy anymore but the ops tempo is absolutely crazy.  This is cool if you like to fly like me, not so cool if you value family life.  That being said most families love Yokota/Japan.  Tight knit community here and the Japanese are absolutely wonderful people (although robot like.)   We fly about 30 local lines a week, and about 20 off station missions a month as a squadron.   Not to mention, exercises (to awesome places like Thailand, Guam, Philippines.)   Life is busy.   Young guys can expect to fly their asses off and I'm sure that will continue with the J transition.  Captain-Major types, still expected to fly the line often (which is great,) but also manage a flight, 18 additional duties, MC for an exercise and be in-charge of the air-show.   One thing that sucks about the H is that it breaks ALL the time.   Very frustrating to go try to fly the line and the plane has a 3 hour ETIC thus your line cancelled.  Your 2 day off station can turn into a 30 day real quick.  Not too bad if you are single and like being on the road but very unstable.

      2.  Lifestyle/ Family Stability:  As a young guy it is awesome.  I've been to 80% of the countries in Asia in the C-130.  While we don't deploy, we go to some very challenging, remote airfields that really put your PIC skills to test.  We go to Nepal often and as a bro of mine would say: "there is no way to legally take off out of that place."  Mt Everest is 29,000 feet and we can't even climb that high.  As I mentioned, most families love Yokota, all families live on base and single dudes/dudettes live off base.

      3. Community morale:  The base sucks, plain and simple.  Worst support service I've ever seen.  Not knocking on any one individual, I know many great dudes in comm/finance/etc. but as an organization the base is horrendous.  People care more about keeping track of resiliency training/SAPR/w/e than launching planes. 

      4. Advancements & Future of the airframe:  Future? Guard/Reserves or go J.  Most H guys are going J so that's cool.   Advancements?  We get a lot of opportunities here that you won't get elsewhere.   Young captain as mission commander of a combined/joint exercise with Philippine/Korean/Japanse/Aussie C-130s flying together in formation?  Hauling cargo and people into third world countries?   Dropping Cambodian paratroopers out of an American C-130 and planning the whole thing?  A lot of advancement.

      5. Preferred PCS locations : Yokota or Ramstein. 

 

Dude, at the end of the day, I love the C-130.   We get to travel the world like our C-17/C-5 brothers but yank and bank like our fighter bros, 300 feet of the ground, in formation, to an assault landing or throw shit out the back like our bomber bros.  It truly is the best of all worlds.  

  • Upvote 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now



×