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Tanker second assignment opportunities

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Hey all, dropped KC-135s to Mildenhall. Excited for the OCONUS opportunity but wanted to know what kind of opportunities are out there for tankers after the first assignment. I have seen TPS and even some B-2 opportunities that came down for qualified 135 pilots to apply to. Is it rare for tanker pilots to cross train into other air frames? And is it even possible for them to cross train into an afsoc/tactical platform down the road? Tried digging around the forums and couldn't find any info. Cheers!

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Usually cross train opportunities don't present themselves until the end of your second assignment.  The most likely cross training opportunity will be Phoenix Reach as a senior Captain.  You could also go to UPT as a second assignment.  Random opportunities to cross into C-12s, or some other SOF platform, may arise as well.

Most likely your second assignment will be tankers to Fairchild or some such.  If you like being overseas you could lobby to go to Kadena.

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So, you’re upset about getting KC-135’s, are excited about living in Europe, but are looking to leave the community?

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I was in the same boat as you. I was NOT happy about getting tankers. My class dropped really sucked. On the toner side it was ALL tankers/17s with a c-130 and a c-5 that didn't even go to our base. Luck and timing is everything, and it seems that it was not on your side. 

As far as the 135, in time, you'll definitely learn to appreciate it. Altus REALLY sucks, but the 135 is a great aircraft, and you have an EXTREMELY important mission. You also got Mildenhall, which is an amazing first assignment. 

The 135 will humble you. We have FAIPS and crossflow guys that struggle with it, just because it's a difficult aircraft to fly, and a very hard airplane to land well. Don't be a turd in your squadron, don't show up day one with the "I don't want to be here" attitude, you'll paint yourself negatively right off the bat and you'll never get where you're trying to go.

Opportunities do exist, but tankers are undermanned right now. We have dudes coming in from B-1s, C-17s, and C-5s because of the manning issue. In my *current* opinion, you are never, ever going to fly a fighter once you get T-1s on active duty. The Air Force seems to think that 5 months of T-38 training is more valuable than years of a MWS. However, things could change.

However, to answer your question, I have seen the following:

1) The B-2 board. We had one guy a few years ago get picked up for it, but then dropped and he returned to us. He was a mid level AC. Timing didn't work out for him. We currently have a few people applying for the B-2 board, but from my understanding, they're extremely selective on who they take. They get a lot of applications from very qualified dudes for very few slots.

2) The KC-46. She has some growing pains, but it'll be an extremely effective weapons system when the details get ironed out. You're going to be going on some amazing TDYs, getting to fly the newest in the MAF, and you can't beat that 767 time. They swooping up a lot of dudes from my squadron.

3) AFSOC. You'll have to fight for it, but I've seen one get taken into U-28s from my squadron. 

4) Phoenix Reach - Go fly another MAF platform. It's usually C-17s, with a rare Herk/Fred drop.

5) OSA - The white jets. C-21s, etc. Usually senior captains get picked up for these.

6) U-2s. Those ol' girls are still flying, and they have a really good mission. I'm interested in applying for this once I get some more experience. It's a one shot interview from my understanding, so don't eff it up. 


At the end of your assignment, you need to paint yourself to be as eligible as possible for what you want. Study your ass off, fly your ass off, upgrade as soon as you can. Your community will have to pay some AETC bills, some RPA bills, etc, so put yourself in the best position not to be that dude. 

Also check out this thread.

 

Edited by LoveDumpster
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I was in the same boat man. Worked my @ss off in college, got to Sheppard and BAM 1-2 fighters per 20+ dudes. The KC-135 ended up opening a lot of doors on the outside for me, but I’m glad I only did 1.5 assignments of it. I bailed to UPT the first chance I got and thoroughly loved it. There is always gonna be those @ssholes who are like “meh you didn’t get what you wanted, boo hoo”. In my experience those people suck at everything and they just want everyone to be as miserable as they are. Don’t find your identity in what you do in the Air Force, she’s a cheating whore, eventually she will leave you. Instead get as much experience and enjoy the ride. Plan your exit strategy now, whether that is in 10 years or 30+, it doesn’t matter. Enjoy life and try and see the good wherever you are. It’s okay to have a good friend who you can shut the door and bitch about how bad you got screwed or how the Air Force sucks, in fact you probably need it. Just make sure that when the door opens again you have a positive attitude. That will open more doors to you than any flying ability. Finally, best of luck! The best part of KC-135s are the plethora of Guard units. I can’t tell you how many fighter, bomber and other heavy guys are coming out of the woodwork trying to get a job at my unit due to the CLOSE proximity to some premier airline domiciles. Hang in there, life gets way better.

 

Duck

 

 

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2 hours ago, Sua Sponte said:

So, you’re upset about getting KC-135’s, are excited about living in Europe, but are looking to leave the community?

Community is going to be great, looking forward to it. Just wanting to get a glimpse into the future and what I can be working towards.

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I guess I'm weird, but Altus isn't that bad. It's like being on a deployment; gym, food, movies, but I have my car, wear civvies, and can go anywhere I want without getting mortared. Plus I can drink more than 2 drink tickets a night if I want.

If I was stationed here I might have different thoughts, but for 5 months it's really not as bad as everyone told me it was gonna be.

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I cross-flowed from the KC-135 (RAF Mildenhall) to the B-1. 

The grass isn’t always greener on the other side. There are pros and cons to every airframe. You have an awesome assignment. You’ll “deploy” to Europe and TDY to over a dozen European countries. You’ll get tax free flying in the Adriatic Sea. You’ll fly all sorts of high priority missions to include aeroevacs, human remains, SecDef movements, and more. It feels cool to directly support the fighter/bomber that dropped bombs on the bad guys. Enjoy it!

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Hey all, dropped KC-135s to Mildenhall. Excited for the OCONUS opportunity but wanted to know what kind of opportunities are out there for tankers after the first assignment. I have seen TPS and even some B-2 opportunities that came down for qualified 135 pilots to apply to. Is it rare for tanker pilots to cross train into other air frames? And is it even possible for them to cross train into an afsoc/tactical platform down the road? Tried digging around the forums and couldn't find any info. Cheers!

Let me give you non-flying USAF life advice: Enjoy where you are at, pause, realize you are getting paid to do an awesome job while traveling the world. Surround yourself with good friends and have fun. You’ll only be young once. Don’t always look for the next thing thinking it’s better than now, especially if you think that your career or what you fly will determine your overall happiness.

Advice I’d give 25yr old me now that I’m old with 3,500+ hrs spread across 4 jets and I realize some of my fondest USAF memories was flying the worst jet of my career in the worst location of my career with some of the greatest people I’ve met making the best of our circumstances.


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Congrats on the assignment!

Second assignment is tough...usually the good deals become available on the 3rd go. Work hard, be a bro, and if you can manage it try and make IP while you are out there. The Phoenix programs are your best bet to cross flow. C-21's happen but I wouldn't bet on it. The occasional good deal on MyPers comes along for a mechanical cross flow as well.

But, assuming you have a normal duration, I'd say OSA/EA isn't going to happen for a first assignment KC-135 guy.

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I’m at Altus now and it sucks. But hey, I’m back in a manned airplane! Really looking forward to flying this thing everyday.
 
 
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Sup bros. Off topic here but how long is tanker school after UPT? I am hearing 3 months to 6 months. Also death by simulator except for 3 actual flights. Is it a PCS or TDY move? Can y’all shed some light. Thanks!

I meet some tanker bros from mindenhall at KAF a while ago. They had plenty of cool stories of Europe TDYs. For the most part, I felt like the bros with wife and kids couldn’t wait to rotate back stateside. The single dudes were having a blast for sure. Cheers


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Sup bros. Off topic here but how long is tanker school after UPT? I am hearing 3 months to 6 months. Also death by simulator except for 3 actual flights. Is it a PCS or TDY move? Can y’all shed some light. Thanks!

I meet some tanker bros from mindenhall at KAF a while ago. They had plenty of cool stories of Europe TDYs. For the most part, I felt like the bros with wife and kids couldn’t wait to rotate back stateside. The single dudes were having a blast for sure. Cheers


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I think those guys are in a 6 month course. I’m in a transition course and it’s a 4 month TDY. It is sim heavy with only 4 or 5 flights. Tons of CBTs.


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25 minutes ago, CharlieHotel47 said:

 


Sup bros. Off topic here but how long is tanker school after UPT? I am hearing 3 months to 6 months. Also death by simulator except for 3 actual flights. Is it a PCS or TDY move? Can y’all shed some light. Thanks!

I meet some tanker bros from mindenhall at KAF a while ago. They had plenty of cool stories of Europe TDYs. For the most part, I felt like the bros with wife and kids couldn’t wait to rotate back stateside. The single dudes were having a blast for sure. Cheers


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I spent 7 months there. CAE is the contractor that runs all the simulator and academics, and they REALLY need to get their shit together. The quality of your instructors is going to be fantastic, but the actual company management is terrible. In my opinion it should be about 3.5 to 4 months long. It'll be about 1-2 months of academics, death by sim, and then 5-6 flights and a checkride.  It's a TDY, and I made a good chunk of change, but I also threw all of my shit in a storage shed that was 50 bucks a month and just banked the BAH. 

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Sup bros. Off topic here but how long is tanker school after UPT? I am hearing 3 months to 6 months. Also death by simulator except for 3 actual flights. Is it a PCS or TDY move? Can y’all shed some light. Thanks!

I meet some tanker bros from mindenhall at KAF a while ago. They had plenty of cool stories of Europe TDYs. For the most part, I felt like the bros with wife and kids couldn’t wait to rotate back stateside. The single dudes were having a blast for sure. Cheers


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My data on Mildenhall is dated (2013-2016) but the vast majority of people, single and married wanted to extend our tours. Most of us and our families would have gladly stayed as long as we could. A few of the bro’s wanted to get back CONUS ASAP but I’d say that was the vast minority.

Also, first assignment dudes had a very different perspective than second of third assignment guys. A lot of the young CPs and ACs thought they were getting worked pretty hard Ops wise. It is true things got really busy, but I’d take EGUN busy over McConnell busy.




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1 hour ago, Right Seat Driver said:

single and married wanted to extend our tours.

I extended to 4 years (married, 2 kids at the time) while I was at EGUN ... awesome opportunity and the squadron was great.  This was in the age before Amazon, but even then there weren't many American thing we did without.  I was ready to go back to the states after 4, but was sad to leave.

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There's opportunities out there, but a lot of it is luck and timing. Other opportunities I've seen were cross flow to gunships and bombers (B-52). Also the other white jets, like C-40/C-32. There's also the 89th for DV Airlift. 6 SOS might also be an option as an air advisor flying some unique stuff. MC-12s were an option when I was younger (but now they're gone from AD).

Make the best of where you are, and be the best tanker pilot you can be. The common denominator in all these cross flow opportunities is that they want credible aviators with a good attitude, and you'll likely need to be at least an AC for many of the opportunities. But keep watching for the opportunities, they are out there.

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On 1/11/2020 at 6:29 PM, Right Seat Driver said:

 


My data on Mildenhall is dated (2013-2016) but the vast majority of people, single and married wanted to extend our tours. Most of us and our families would have gladly stayed as long as we could. A few of the bro’s wanted to get back CONUS ASAP but I’d say that was the vast minority.





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If you have received a European tour you have won the lottery.  Think of it as the AF paying for a ### year vacation.   I am an old guy and my first assignment out of UPT was a 3 yr Germany tour (RF-4C) and we extended.  Close nit squadron with reunions still happening some 30 yrs later.  No other stateside squadron came close even though we had great locations ie Austin/Tucson. 

Have been going back to Europe every year for the last 20 but its been on our nickel. 

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If you have received a European tour you have won the lottery.  Think of it as the AF paying for a ### year vacation.   I am an old guy and my first assignment out of UPT was a 3 yr Germany tour (RF-4C) and we extended.  Close nit squadron with reunions still happening some 30 yrs later.  No other stateside squadron came close even though we had great locations ie Austin/Tucson. 
Have been going back to Europe every year for the last 20 but its been on our nickel. 

### year vacation!! You must not have gotten the memo about what the USAF has been like since 2001. Being in Europe just means you are closer to the desert.

Not that there aren’t some good times to be had, but it’s not the Cold War era fun fest that I heard about growing up.


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On 1/14/2020 at 5:25 PM, di1630 said:


 but it’s not the Cold War era fun fest that I heard about growing up.


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Bummer. TDY was considered a good deal back in the day.  In spite of the "fun fest" era we still had a mass exodus for the airlines. 

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