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Old 04-22-2011, 07:05 PM   #1
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Marine FAC vs. Naval Aviator

Sorry not FAO, I meant FAC!

Can anyone explain the Pros and Cons to each?
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Old 04-22-2011, 07:16 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brunes View Post
Title changed.

IIRC-FACs are usually winged aviators...So you'd be a Naval Aviator in either service with the same training, just different services.
I guess I meant in terms of job description. I know they both land on carriers, the planes they fly, etc.

I thought if you were deployed as a FAC you would go in with ground marines, got to shoot some guns, run around, and call in airstrikes. Being able to fly planes and doing ground marine duties sounds very appealing to me.
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Old 04-22-2011, 07:21 PM   #4
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I'm NOT a FAC, a Marine or Naval pilot- but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express one time (and I went thru the same flight training as them).

A FAC job is a tour where you will be embedded with a ground unit to train and deploy with. It'll be 2-3 years there...but it will come after 1 or 2 flying tours. I have no idea how competitive it is to get a FAC job.
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Old 04-23-2011, 07:43 PM   #5
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IIRC ... In the old days, ALL Marines had to be infantry qualified (even fixed wing carrier flyboys) ... and Navy pilots were not.
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Old 04-24-2011, 01:13 PM   #6
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I consider myself a Naval Aviator...well...the document says that...but technically I'm a Marine Aviator, as well as a FAC. So I guess I'm qualified to answer your question. I'm a Hornet guy by trade, so for the flying question, I absolutely love it, it's all I've ever wanted to do, wouldn't change it for the world. Like everything worth doing, it's a long difficult road, and in most cases it's well worth it. Deployments have brought me away from my family more than I'd like; I missed the birth of my first child for example. There are so many Pros and Cons of each that you might be better served searching through airwarriors.com and finding all the responses there. I can say that the one thing that drives people to carrier aviation is the same thing that will inevitably drive you away from it.....carrier based aviation. Life on the boat is rough, workups for a boat deployment are rough....workups start typically 6-8 months prior to a deployment, and they are just a series of exercises that take you away from your family for a month at a time. They couldn't come at a more worse time, because they conclude with you deploying, so you're gone quite a bit prior to ever leaving CONUS. Then, following your float, you'll do what's called a "surge deployment" meaning you'll turn around quickly and deploy again 4-6 months after getting home, it's the militarys way of capitalizing on your training. That deployment you don't have to do workups, because the air wing is already all qual'd up, so you really just hit the road. I have also been land based for a deployment. No workups, living is better, your not stuck on a boat, etc.

As for being a FAC, after your first tour in the fleet which is typically a 3-4 year flying tour in a gun squadron, you do what's called a "B-Billet." This is all after you've done roughly 3 years of OCS, TBS, Flight School...and that timeline is for jet guys, rotory-wing guys go through faster. Anyways, after your first fleet tour the Marine Corps takes you out of the cockpit for a year give or take to do something else, to become "well-rounded." Some go to Expeditionary Warfare School which is just a 10 month course on all things MAGTFesque, some do recruiting tours(typical for infantry types, not pilots), some do any number of other things. "Most" shooter types, ie Cobra guys, Huey guys, Hornet guys, Harrier Guys, Prowler Guys...and then some of the other MOS' like KC-130/Phrog pilots will do a FAC tour. It's exactly like was said, you go to TACP School, learn to call in air, and you deploy with a batallion to OEF. Most are exactly 12 months, and then your back to the Hornet for another 3-4 years. Some are 16-18 months, ANGLICO for instance...which is Air-Naval Gunfire Liason. Your usually attached to some Artillery Battery or whatever. You could do a MARSOC FAC tour as well, which is Marine SpecOps. They are longer 2-3 years. "Typically" you probably won't make it back to the Hornet after that, out of the cockpit too long, skills and knowledge have lapsed, and you're probably a Major by then with only 1 fleet tour. So maybe you go to the Training Command and instruct in the T-45 or if your lucky, to the RAG and instruct in the Hornet.

What I'm telling you is the possibilites are endless, the combinations of jobs are endless. The chances that you'll actually fly a Hornet are actually very low. Competition is extremely difficult and you compete against some of the smartest and most talented guys the U.S. has to offer. Chances you'll fly a helicopter are quite a bit better, and the chance that you won't pass flight school are actually pretty descent as well, unfortunately. Read through airwarriors.com, I'm sure all the answers to your questions are there, they were for me when I was originally applying back in the day.
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Old 04-24-2011, 01:26 PM   #8
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I also meant to caveat that I'll answer any questions you have to the best of my ability, but like I pointed out, every seemingly simple question in enevitably a long arse post! So I'll do my best to cut to the chase. Cobra and Hornet guys can also become FAC-A's as well, having the ability to find targets on the deck and coordinate with other aircraft to strike it.....with troops in close proximity. If Marines weren't close by then it wouldn't be called Close Air Support, in which case I'd just smoke everything that moved. Lastly, though being a pilot is pretty much a prerequisite for being a FAC, the military does train JTACs as well. Joint Terminal Attack Controllers. Typically enlisted guys that are trained very similarly to FACs but are grunts by trade. Typically not the final authority when it comes to ordnance employment...the FAC is...but trained to call in Air when needed. Buddy in my Squadron's brother is a Green Beret. Just so happens he's the "Air" guy, everybody has some random specialty..the DOC...the SNIPER...blah blah blah...one of his external jobs is he's the JTAC.
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Old 04-24-2011, 04:48 PM   #9
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I guess my dream track would be to the F-18 or F-35 by the time I graduate, then to MARSCO/Force Recon FAC duty, but really, whose dream wouldn't be.

I hold a PPL now and max my NROTC PFT so I guess I'm on the right track, but anything specific I can be doing to tailor myself for that niche in the market?
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Old 04-24-2011, 08:41 PM   #10
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Just curious, it's a different world, but have your thought of UAVs? Boeing has some cool ones that will be out when you are ready to fly.
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Old 04-24-2011, 08:43 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SOSHeloPilot View Post
.
Just curious ... it's a different world, but have your thought of UAVs ???
.
I'm a pilot, you're a pilot. You know we feel about UAVs. I have no interest in playing a video game when I can do it for real and I will fight every other wannabe military pilot for the opportunity before I ever consider one of those "toys".

With all do respect, sir.
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Old 04-24-2011, 08:52 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NumNutz View Post
I'm a pilot, you're a pilot. You know we feel about UAVs. I have no interest in playing a video game when I can do it for real and I will fight every other wannabe military pilot for the opportunity before I ever consider one of those "toys".

With all do respect, sir.
3/C Midshipman
.
I understand your feelings, believe me, I originally viewed the AH-64 as "Star Wars Video Game" technology.

But grasshopper, you will learn, it is ALL relevant to your placement in time & function in the military. Cheers & no offense taken ...
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Old 04-24-2011, 08:55 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NumNutz View Post
I guess my dream track would be to the F-18 or F-35 by the time I graduate, then to MARSCO/Force Recon FAC duty, but really, whose dream wouldn't be.

I hold a PPL now and max my NROTC PFT so I guess I'm on the right track, but anything specific I can be doing to tailor myself for that niche in the market?
Keep studying. Your PFT score has a very limited amount of impact on your flight school scores. Your grades are a huge part. The # of events you can fail has decreased and the passing score has gone up...It's a VERY challenging program.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SOSHeloPilot View Post
.
Just curious, it's a different world, but have your thought of UAVs? Boeing has some cool ones that will be out when you are ready to fly.
.
I haven't seen many folks that go SOLELY UAV. Most are newer pilots to the F/W pipelines (read:Jets and Transport) that don't have a spot in RAG/FRS training yet or who are complete but don't have a seat at a squadron yet. Do a quick year or two flying from a box and then go on to real planes.
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Old 04-24-2011, 09:05 PM   #14
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... ^^^ ... I knew that the USAF had some younger pilots flying UAVs from some double wides in _______.

The UAV pilots liked the "9 to 5" atmosphere, with no pilot at risk. Personally, I think that UAVs for air warfare are really going to take off (no pun intended ) in the next 10 years and especially after the F-35s. Boeing is betting on it too.
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Old 04-24-2011, 09:06 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brunes View Post
Keep studying. Your PFT score has a very limited amount of impact on your flight school scores. Your grades are a huge part. The # of events you can fail has decreased and the passing score has gone up...It's a VERY challenging program.
By my PFT scores I meant in terms of MARSOC. Being that my PFT score is really the only way that I can be preparing for a MARSOC career at this point. Flight school wise, I know grades and ASTB scores are the most important to secure a flight school spot.

SOS - How do you go about securing a MARSOC FAC spot? I realize becoming a marine first would probably help so we can skip that step
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Old 04-24-2011, 09:16 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrw3685 View Post
I consider myself a Naval Aviator...well...the document says that...but technically I'm a Marine Aviator, as well as a FAC. So I guess I'm qualified to answer your question. I'm a Hornet guy by trade, so for the flying question, I absolutely love it, it's all I've ever wanted to do, wouldn't change it for the world. Like everything worth doing, it's a long difficult road, and in most cases it's well worth it. Deployments have brought me away from my family more than I'd like; I missed the birth of my first child for example. There are so many Pros and Cons of each that you might be better served searching through airwarriors.com and finding all the responses there. I can say that the one thing that drives people to carrier aviation is the same thing that will inevitably drive you away from it.....carrier based aviation. Life on the boat is rough, workups for a boat deployment are rough....workups start typically 6-8 months prior to a deployment, and they are just a series of exercises that take you away from your family for a month at a time. They couldn't come at a more worse time, because they conclude with you deploying, so you're gone quite a bit prior to ever leaving CONUS. Then, following your float, you'll do what's called a "surge deployment" meaning you'll turn around quickly and deploy again 4-6 months after getting home, it's the militarys way of capitalizing on your training. That deployment you don't have to do workups, because the air wing is already all qual'd up, so you really just hit the road. I have also been land based for a deployment. No workups, living is better, your not stuck on a boat, etc.

As for being a FAC, after your first tour in the fleet which is typically a 3-4 year flying tour in a gun squadron, you do what's called a "B-Billet." This is all after you've done roughly 3 years of OCS, TBS, Flight School...and that timeline is for jet guys, rotory-wing guys go through faster. Anyways, after your first fleet tour the Marine Corps takes you out of the cockpit for a year give or take to do something else, to become "well-rounded." Some go to Expeditionary Warfare School which is just a 10 month course on all things MAGTFesque, some do recruiting tours(typical for infantry types, not pilots), some do any number of other things. "Most" shooter types, ie Cobra guys, Huey guys, Hornet guys, Harrier Guys, Prowler Guys...and then some of the other MOS' like KC-130/Phrog pilots will do a FAC tour. It's exactly like was said, you go to TACP School, learn to call in air, and you deploy with a batallion to OEF. Most are exactly 12 months, and then your back to the Hornet for another 3-4 years. Some are 16-18 months, ANGLICO for instance...which is Air-Naval Gunfire Liason. Your usually attached to some Artillery Battery or whatever. You could do a MARSOC FAC tour as well, which is Marine SpecOps. They are longer 2-3 years. "Typically" you probably won't make it back to the Hornet after that, out of the cockpit too long, skills and knowledge have lapsed, and you're probably a Major by then with only 1 fleet tour. So maybe you go to the Training Command and instruct in the T-45 or if your lucky, to the RAG and instruct in the Hornet.

What I'm telling you is the possibilites are endless, the combinations of jobs are endless. The chances that you'll actually fly a Hornet are actually very low. Competition is extremely difficult and you compete against some of the smartest and most talented guys the U.S. has to offer. Chances you'll fly a helicopter are quite a bit better, and the chance that you won't pass flight school are actually pretty descent as well, unfortunately. Read through airwarriors.com, I'm sure all the answers to your questions are there, they were for me when I was originally applying back in the day.

Wow
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Old 04-24-2011, 09:25 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by NumNutz View Post
By my PFT scores I meant in terms of MARSOC. Being that my PFT score is really the only way that I can be preparing for a MARSOC career at this point. Flight school wise, I know grades and ASTB scores are the most important to secure a flight school spot.

SOS - How do you go about securing a MARSOC FAC spot? I realize becoming a marine first would probably help so we can skip that step
... ^^^ ... I don't know that answer in today's military, my experiences go back to RVN.

I have several friends that I can talk to (former XO & CO) at old MAG 42 at Lockheed - Dobbins.

Like Brunes & mrw3685 have said ... the higher you are on the "grades & performance food chain", the better your chances.

FWIW ... I came into the USMC from the Navy and missed some of the normal USMC grind. Also my flying experiences in RVN were much more informal than today's military. We had some helicopter pilots who volunteered as FACs for short stints on the ground.
Things were very different, with less formality than today ... we did what we had to do to make things work and accomplish the mission.
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Old 04-24-2011, 10:10 PM   #18
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Sometimes MARSOC FAC tours are about who you know, but for the most part, they have an opening, it's posted on the available FAC tours list you'll get after your first tour, and you submit a package, pretty simple. A phone call to the FAC you're replacing wouldn't hurt either. I went to SERE school late in my first tour...was hoping to get out of it all together...either way I was with a bunch of guys, 2 of them happened to be Force Recon Marines. Both were GySgts and said they'd love to have me as a FAC, and if I ever needed an "in" to give them a call. 3 years out of the cockpit is too long for me but I Thanked them anyways.

Recon FAC tours are about the same to get, just apply, they're out there. "Sometimes" you might get to go to Jump School things depending, but again, you're just a FAC, they have plenty of well-trained Marines to do everything else. If I remember right, PFT score is looked at for Recon FAC spots, probably one of the only jobs that cares about your PFT in the Officer ranks....most just care that it's a 1st class.

The best advice I can give you to fullfill your dream is keep your nose clean....stay away from drugs, don't drink and drive take a cab, in essence don't do something that will make the Marine Corps or any other service question your integrity. College students will be college students, I didn't say don't be crazy and don't have fun and don't chase everything with boobs and a heartbeat, just be smart when you do it. And once you get in the pipeline, concentrate on the task at hand, don't think about what's going on too far down the road or you'll get overwhelmed. Realize that initially all you need to know is you're a Marine that hopes one day to fly. "Marine first, pilot second" is the common phrase. Shortly after TBS you'll have to drop that mantra to the chagrin of all your drill-instructors and acknowledge you need to become a pilot first or you'll never make it through flight school let along get what you want. See the theme? Closest aligator to the boat, tell them what they want to hear, the rest is gravy.
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Old 04-25-2011, 06:23 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrw3685 View Post
Sometimes MARSOC FAC tours are about who you know, but for the most part, they have an opening, it's posted on the available FAC tours list you'll get after your first tour, and you submit a package, pretty simple. A phone call to the FAC you're replacing wouldn't hurt either. I went to SERE school late in my first tour...was hoping to get out of it all together...either way I was with a bunch of guys, 2 of them happened to be Force Recon Marines. Both were GySgts and said they'd love to have me as a FAC, and if I ever needed an "in" to give them a call. 3 years out of the cockpit is too long for me but I Thanked them anyways.

Recon FAC tours are about the same to get, just apply, they're out there. "Sometimes" you might get to go to Jump School things depending, but again, you're just a FAC, they have plenty of well-trained Marines to do everything else. If I remember right, PFT score is looked at for Recon FAC spots, probably one of the only jobs that cares about your PFT in the Officer ranks....most just care that it's a 1st class.

The best advice I can give you to fullfill your dream is keep your nose clean....stay away from drugs, don't drink and drive take a cab, in essence don't do something that will make the Marine Corps or any other service question your integrity. College students will be college students, I didn't say don't be crazy and don't have fun and don't chase everything with boobs and a heartbeat, just be smart when you do it. And once you get in the pipeline, concentrate on the task at hand, don't think about what's going on too far down the road or you'll get overwhelmed. Realize that initially all you need to know is you're a Marine that hopes one day to fly. "Marine first, pilot second" is the common phrase. Shortly after TBS you'll have to drop that mantra to the chagrin of all your drill-instructors and acknowledge you need to become a pilot first or you'll never make it through flight school let along get what you want. See the theme? Closest aligator to the boat, tell them what they want to hear, the rest is gravy.

... ^^^ ... Some of the best "common sense advice" that you will ever get for a career in the military or for "life in general"
.
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Old 04-27-2011, 01:00 PM   #20
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As a grunt Marine, I can honestly say I love the FAC's. We had a Captain _____ (too many years have gone by) who was a great FAC with my battalion in Iraq, 2004. He said he was having a blast as a flyboy playing grunt, but he was ready to get up in the sky again, not having to walk everywhere. He pulled my battalion's bacon out of the fire a few times. They are wonderful folks, even if they're not grunts (IMHO ). Best of luck to you whatever you decide to do.
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