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How do you feel about your airframe and mission?

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11F    73

1.  Ops Tempo/Deployment
      2.  Lifestyle/ Family Stability
      3. Community morale
      4. Advancements & Future of the airframe
      5. Preferred PCS locations 
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F-22

1. Expect to deploy either to the desert or to the Pacific for 6 months at a time once every 1.5-2 years (home for 1-1.5 years between deployments). While in garrison, expect 2 x RED FLAG-Nellis/Alaska that take one month away from home each. Also expect 1 x COMBAT ARCHER trip and 1 x COMBAT HAMMER trip in there for 2-3 weeks each. In between all of that, expect 4 or so night surges for 4-6 weeks that will throw home life off, a few one-week CONUS simulator trips, and upgrade surges when none of that other stuff is going on. The community is minimally manned due to poor TFI mix calculations, causing the various shops (training, stab/eval, UDM, etc.) to be one man deep. You're busy.

2. Family stability is all about expectation management (this is true of every military family): if your family expects you to be home for dinner most nights, they have bad expectations and will be frustrated. If they expect you to work 14 hours a day and a couple hours on Saturday or Sunday, they will be pleasantly surprised about 2-3 times a week.

3. Community morale depends on the year group: all of the young guys absolutely LOVE life! It's the most dominant fighter jet in the world and you're getting to fly it every day. Throw on top of that, just about every bro in the community was top notch to get in, so they are awesome selfless individuals who will stay several hours late multiple nights in a row if needed to help a bro out.

The oldest guys are usually the SQ/CC or SQ/DO; every now and then there is a Lt Col ADO who stuck around. They all love to be there because they chose to stay plus all of the stuff mentioned about the young guys applies to these guys (even leadership will stay to help out). I would be willing to bet that some of the best leaders in the USAF are in the F-22 SQ/CC seats. I've never once had even an average one.

The guys who've been in the USAF for 6-10 years are a mixed bag. They've always been the best at everything they've ever done...until they got into the F-22. The ones who go to WIC, typically love life until after their first WO job when they get burnt out and punch to the Guard/Reserve (VERY few stay longer). Those on leadership tracks still love life. The ones who didn't get either are often cynical and looking to get out ASAP.

4. It's the Raptor. It'll continue to get upgraded and be the USAF's top A/A fighter.

5. There isn't a single bad location: Anchorage, AK; Yorktown, VA; Honolulu, HI; Panama City Beach, FL; and Las Vegas, NV.

Expect to go Ops-to-Ops indefinitely unless you go to IDE. That's about the only way you reach escape velocity from the community, but you'll go right back after school/staff. Very very few go on 365s, and none are getting picked up for 180s anymore now that Schwartz' ridiculous "all-in" mentality has been purged (I digress).

I have absolutely loved my time in the Raptor.
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FlightTime    44
On 7/17/2016 at 3:54 PM, innovator said:

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 

 

I'm a little late to the fight here but dude, your engrish is f'ing terrible. 

Seriously guys? 

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Kiloalpha    207
4 minutes ago, FlightTime said:

I'm a little late to the fight here but dude, your engrish is f'ing terrible. 

Seriously guys? 

On your second post, you're going to bash someone who asked an honest question and by all accounts... has helped contribute valuable information to the forum?

Seriously? Indeed. 

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FlightTime    44
3 minutes ago, Kiloalpha said:

On your second post, you're going to bash someone who asked an honest question and by all accounts... has helped contribute valuable information to the forum?

Seriously? Indeed. 

I'm not sure what "valuable information" you're referring to.  You should reread his comment history.  Seriously. 

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Kiloalpha    207
7 minutes ago, FlightTime said:

I'm not sure what "valuable information" you're referring to.  You should reread his comment history.  Seriously. 

He's in UPT. He wants info on airframes and associated lifestyles. Actual pilots in those airframes have commented with information that could be helpful in the future. Hence the term "valuable information".

Unless you know about the lifestyles of every airframe in the Air Force... In which case, by all means. Enlighten us.

 

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FlightTime    44
On 7/17/2016 at 4:37 PM, gearpig said:

Print this list and tack it to a dart board. Throw three darts and let me know the results.

I have this crazy theory...

I wonder which three air frames would come up...

Must just be a crazy theory. 

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euro2005    5
20 hours ago, Kiloalpha said:

He's in UPT. He wants info on airframes and associated lifestyles. Actual pilots in those airframes have commented with information that could be helpful in the future. Hence the term "valuable information".

Unless you know about the lifestyles of every airframe in the Air Force... In which case, by all means. Enlighten us.

 

shack.  

There's a gold mine of info here thanks to the OP's question.

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RC-135:

1.  Ops Tempo/Deployment:

Varies by RC-135 model. For RIVET JOINT (RC-135V/W), you can expect 1 or 2 deployments per year as a line flyer. Desert trips go for 90 days and every other trip (EUCOM/PACOM/SOUTHCOM/etc) traditionally goes for 60 days. Between that, there are plenty of opportunities for Nellis trips supporting RF/WIC/other exercises. Everything is pretty well planned out for the following FY so there are few surprises as to when you will be hitting the road. Things have slowed down over the past couple years compared to the near 1/1 dwell that the community was sustaining circa 2010. It used to be that younger dudes could bank on a few trips to the desert before getting to see other COCOMs, but that is not at all the case anymore. A lot of dudes will go a few trips before ever putting on a tan flight suit. 

For COBRA BALL (RC-135S), things are significantly more dynamic depending on what is going on across the world. I would have to check with some 45th bros for some current data, but it is not that uncommon for these dudes to still be on the road for 4-5 (or more) months a year for various durations. Not uncommon for these dudes to be on a 1/1 dwell still. 

For COMBAT SENT (RC-135U), their deployments are pretty well scripted but can still expect to be on the road for upwards of 4-5 months out of the year. Similar to the BALL, depending on the crew position (pilot/nav vs EWO), these dudes can be close to a 1/1 dwell.

      2.  Lifestyle/ Family Stability

      Depends on the squadron. 343d/38th dudes (RJ) have a pretty steady family life as they can typically plan things out better in the future. 45th dudes (CB/CB) seem to be more of the road warriors over the past few years and it takes it's toll as one would imagine. While you are at home, things are pretty vanilla. Standard business hours for the most part and very few weekends at the office. Omaha is actually a great town to raise a family in and there are more things to do than you would think. Chicago and Denver are both an 8 hour drive away and easy to get to for a long weekend if you want to get somewhere more metropolitan. 

      3. Community morale

      Totally varies as with other airframes. With all things RC-135, the community is huge and it's easy to get lost in the mix. Timing plays a huge factor in this and you usually see the unlucky dudes that have multiple consecutive desert trips hating life whereas dudes that have trips to the more tropical locations with a more positive outlook. There are not as many command opportunities in the 55 WG as other MDSs just given the few operating locations but x-flow to other heavy C2ISR platforms have been more common over the past 5 years. For 11Rs, you can expect that Offutt will keep you as long as possible as we are starting to see shortages in ACs. 12Rs have a little better luck with getting a staff release after you have met your O-4 board. The next few years look like they might get weird as we are prog'd to get significantly less from UPT/UCT resulting in the potential for slower upgrades and more time on the road. Everyone is kinda holding their breath to see how this all buffs out. 

      4. Advancements & Future of the airframe

      Even though the fleet is made up of '62 & '64 model -135s, they are all fairly modern on the inside. As Joe $hithead gets new toys, we upgrade our systems to match. The jets typically go to depot on a 3 year cycle for complete overhauls to keep them as technologically relevant as possible.

      Talks are starting to heat up about recapitalization of the capabilities on a different airframe. I have heard everything from a business jet to a 737 airframe to "what if ISR wasn't on an air-breathing asset." Personally, I would not expect to see manned ISR go away any time in the next 30-40 years simply from a foreign policy power projection standpoint. I think that once the E-8/EC-130 finally get recapitalized, we will be quick to follow suit. The nice thing is that we get BIG SAFARI to do our acquisitions, so I would expect the timeframe to be significantly quicker than other platforms. 

      5. Preferred PCS locations 

      -Offutt. And more Offutt. The norm seems for dudes to do 6-9 years in Omaha before they can finally leave, but all roads will eventually lead back to Offutt... Not necessarily a bad thing since the Bellevue/Omaha area is a pleasant surprise, but there are not a lot of PCS opportunities to locations with permanent staff outside of Nebraska. We have squadrons at Kadena and Mildenhall, but they are only manned with ~10 permanent party flyers. A smaller number of dudes will get the chance to PCS to Souda Bay or to the depot at Greenville, TX but they are the exception rather than the rule. 

Edited by afthunderchief16

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Sparkle    4

Still somewhat early but are there any F-35 pilots or folks in the know here that can speak to life in that jet? This forum has been awesome, especially for another fresh UPT stud.

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08Dawg    103
On 1/7/2017 at 10:47 PM, FlightTime said:

I'm not sure what "valuable information" you're referring to.  You should reread his comment history.  Seriously. 

Here's a free piece of advice you should take-

NEVER pass up the opportunity to shut the fuck up

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TurnHer4    3
On 2/14/2017 at 3:43 PM, kaputt said:

Bump for any current E-3 updates? 

13B on the backend of the E-3 here. Don't think there many any E-3 pilots on this forum. I'll give you the data I have though.

1. Ops Tempo

You can expect to be deployed for 4 months and then home for a year. (Currently in the desert for my 3rd in 2.5 years, that is rare) Deployments can wear you down with how long our sorties are. TDYs are plenty and go all over the World. You can expect 4 to 5 TDYs during the year off. When my Sq gets back we're doing WTI, Maple Flag, Red Flag, and Green Flag West. That's just the schedule through September. Home station, you can expect to fly at least once a week, maybe less. We have a ton of Co-Pilots flowing in. Home station sorties are standard at 7.5 hours, 10.0 with a tanker. Normally you're home by 1700 unless you have a late show. Just an assumption, but I think we are the only platform that shows as early as we do. Some shows  are 0330 to take off at 0600 to meet a morning vul on the East Coast at 0900. I don't mind them. But I'm just hanging out in the back until we get enough altitude to turn the systems on.

2. Life Style/ Family Stability

I think AWACS has a great Life Style and its not too bad on the family. Like I said above, most days you're home by 1700. In most cases you know a year in advance when your going to deploy. TDYs are fragged out early. You have plenty of time to plan. We have to plan early since there are 20 people on a crew, If we bring 3 crews, an MPC, Staff, and MX to Vegas, that's a lot of people to put up in lodging so we have to get out in front of it. There is lot's of buffoonery, however. Example: Got married in Sept of 16, we deployed in Nov 16. The CC canceled my Honey Moon because I would miss the Road to War Brief on the first day of Spin-Up (for my 3rd deployment). Wife was not pleased. Also, showing at 0330 to find out the jet is on jacks in Doc 2 with a massive hydro leak. May be ready at 0900 or it may not, but you can't leave the Sq until we know for sure. Things like that happen here and there. 

3. Morale

Can't speak on the front end morale, but they all seem to enjoy it. I've heard the jet is a beast and fun to fly. The backend morale is damn low. There is sometimes a divide between the front end and back end. The MCC usually an O-4 or O-5 owns the back end. However, the AC usually an O-3 or above owns the jet and is responsible for it's safety. Backend needs to go to the East Coast to get in a Viper SEAD Vul, but flight deck needs to go Dyess to get some off station transition. So training priorities become an issue as well, it's normally hashed out on MP day prior to fly day. If we take off late or something moves in the timeline, it's usually a discussion in the air. 

4. Advancements & Future of the Airframe

E-3s are getting a flight deck upgrade. Not sure when it will be completed. But the flight deck bros are all excited about it except the Navs. We have old no glass gauges and it's being upgraded to glass(see AWACS Dragon Mod.) There is another upgrade that I'm not familiar with, but it will no longer require a Nav. The E-3 will be around for a while. When we're up and everything is working like it should, there isn't a lot we can't see and can't listen to. With 20 radios and an unlcassed radar range of 250NM, not a lot of platforms can provide that kind of capability.

5. Preferred PCS Location

If you're AWACS, "Mother Tinker" will always bring you back. Pilots have 3 locations they can PCS to from Tinker. Elmo, Kadena, and GK. Preferences are all over the place. Just depends on what that individual wants. Most folks say any where but Tinker. And that includes white jets.

If you have more questions, feel free to PM me. If I don't know the answer, I'll track down my AC and get the data. Lot of great stuff on this thread. Full disclosure, I'm looking to get to UPT in a year or so.

TurnHer 

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Best-22    4
1 hour ago, FishBowl said:

Any info on the CV-22?

I'm at Kirtland right now for initial qual. I don't feel qualified to do a full write up, but I can let you know about training or find someone who has been around a while if you have any specific questions. For now this is the best I got with my limited knowledge:

1. Ops Tempo/Deployment -- I've heard its usually a pretty steady 1:2 dwell ratio

2. Lifestyle/ Family Stability -- I have no idea but its a tight community.

3. Community morale -- All of my experiences have been very positive! People love to come to work. 

4. Advancements & Future of the airframe -- It takes a long time to upgrade to AC and then to IP and eventually flight lead. Understandably so in my opinion.

5. Preferred PCS locations -- Hurlburt. Which is convenient because its the command base so you will probably cycle through more than once. Other options are Cannon, and soon Japan and Germany.

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flyusaf83    98

E-3 (pilot perspective)

1. Ops Tempo/Deployment -- Very stable. 4 months deployed, 12 months home. A lot of guys don't go on every rotation, so you very well may have a couple years or more home.

2. Lifestyle/ Family Stability -- Probably the most family friendly you will find in the AF.  Deployments are predictable and spread out. You typically take off and land at the same location. Some TDYs to make flying interesting, but not a ton of them.

3. Community morale -- Here's the difficult thing about E-3s. As pilots, we are the red-headed stepchildren of the red-headed stepchildren. AWACS gets the shaft from ACC. The aircraft upgrades go to the mission systems in the back. Flight deck on the E-3 is very old school.  Oh and we are a tenant wing of Material Command here at KTIK, which means our sqdn facilities are embarrassingly awful. Like third world bad.  We also get the shaft in our community as well in terms of things like strats, school, jobs etc.  The community revolves around the 13Bs.  Most of our leadership is made up of 13Bs, which can be painful for pilots/navs.  A lot of them are good dudes, but it's real awkward when a brand new CP know more about aviation than the Wg/CC.

4. Advancements & Future of the airframe -- E-3s are very bottom heavy right now. Too many CPs, about the right amount of ACs, and not enough IPs. Because of this, it's tough for CPs to upgrade.  Lots of mouths to feed in the squadrons.

5. Preferred PCS locations -- Another positive of the E-3. Most guys start at KTIK.  OKC isn't a bad place, but not too exciting.  From there, if you stay in E-3s, it's Kadena, Elmo, or GK (NATO).  All good options.

Edited by flyusaf83
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Torch09    5
On 7/18/2016 at 7:40 AM, pawnman said:

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.

Update on life under AFGSC and PACOM deployments:

1.  Ops Tempo/Deployment:  It's still 6mo deployed/12mo home, with various TDYs punctuating those 12mo home.  The CBP mission is quite different from CENTCOM; reference NK's latest rants and you'll get an idea of the missions we fly.  The shift in TTP focus has been refreshing and provided training opportunities we can't find elsewhere.  Home station TDYs add another 4-12wks away from home.  Overall, life is fairly predictable and reasonable compared to stories from friends in other platforms.  

2.  Lifestyle/Family Stability:  No change.  Probably as good as you'll find anywhere in AF ops units.  

3. Community morale:  Still pretty high.  AFGSC/SAC introduced some extra queep and nosy oversight (ACC hardly knew we were in the inventory), but the transition has been fairly smooth.  GS seems to sincerely want to improve processes, and has adopted several B-1 dudes into 8AF/GS staff to smooth it out, but some things still don't translate well to BUFF language.  CSNO: conventional support of nuclear operations...really?

4. Advancements & Future of the airframe:  Blk16 (upgrade mentioned above) has now hit all the ops squadrons.  It's a dramatic difference in CRM, increase in SA for all 4 aircrew, and cuts down on previously required fore-aft chatter.  Future upgrades (next 1-3yrs) include JDAM mines, LRASM, FMV helmets w/targeting pod feed, and increasing bay door limits (will allow for supersonic weapons releases).  

For career moves, AFGSC initiated a program called Striker Vista.  It takes senior captains/instructors and moves them to a different bomber platform.  It promotes crosstalk between the platforms and probably feeds into leadership positions down the road.  Pilots can apply to any of the platforms, though I have yet to see the a B-1 pilot go to B-2s. 

5. Preferred PCS locations:  The wife and I would have preferred Ellsworth for all the reasons above, but Abilene was a guaranteed join spouse move.  I actually enjoy it.  Land is cheap, the community is very friendly and patriotic, and hunting licenses are free for military.  If shooting stuff and hunting aren't your thing, Ft Worth, San Antonio, and Austin are all within range for weekend trips.  There are two good hospitals in Abilene, and Dyess only has a clinic so all other medical appts are referred offbase.  The CDC is excellent and cheaper than any childcare you'll find offbase.  

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magnetfreezer    113
5 hours ago, Torch09 said:

GS seems to sincerely want to improve processes...

Unlikely, lots of institutional inertia (many of the B-52 guys I've talked to have had the same issue for longer)

5 hours ago, Torch09 said:

Pilots can apply to any of the platforms, though I have yet to see the a B-1 pilot go to B-2s.

Several have, they tend to use the normal B-2 hiring process vs Striker Vista though.

 

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Seriously    116
10 hours ago, Spaceballs said:

Are F-16 guys still flying a lot with the mass influx of UPT grads?

The wave is just hitting MQT, so IPs and flight leads are getting as much time as normal. 

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Switch408    15

Thread bump. I'm a few months away from filling out a dream sheet, but I'd love the most up to date info I can find. I'll be selfish and put in a request for things that tend to drop from the 38 side of the house, especially those that haven't been talked about in this thread yet (35s, C Models, etc). Please brag/bitch about whatever comes to mind. Also, drops from 38s have been pretty great lately, but I've been slightly curious as to how the respective B Courses are handling what would appear to be a larger than normal influx of studs (sts). Lastly, I'm a late to rate guy, so if anyone has any additional wisdom to pass on with respect to choosing an airframe, please let me know. Thanks

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brabus    519

If you want to fly 5th gen, now is your best opportunity.  If you go 4th gen, your chances of crossing over are a lot lower.  I say this based on what year groups F-35 is looking for, which is somewhere around '09 and younger.  If you're around that year group or older (based on your late to rate comment), there seems to be very little chance AFPC will send you there after an assignment in another jet.  Just something to consider.

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schokie    57

What are the odds of cross-training in 3-5 years? Once the 35 manning gets flush I expect them to just take pipeline folks, similar to F-22 stand up. How far out is that?

So for a current UPT student, is it 5th gen now or never? 

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