aviation brain trust believes. Aviators would be better for
the experience, and more able to learn from further integrated and advanced training in other aircraft once they
become assigned to joint forces or carrier strike groups.
Given the technical proficiency and ease Sailors bring
to the Navy when they join, adaptation to new technologies is less a burden than old salts might assume. They
enter the sea services with a good understanding of smart
phones, tablets and computers — a skill easily applied to
their aviation training, the spokesperson said. In turn, the
younger charges can teach their teachers on occasion.
“Oftentimes, their feedback allows the technological
gurus within the field to make changes to improve the
functionality or practicality of the technology implemented within the aircraft,” the spokesperson said.
Thus the stage is set, NAVAIR believes, for pilots,
crews and support personnel to operate and maintain
the newest aircraft nearly seamlessly.
A memorandum of understanding reached in January
among Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, then-Marine Corps
Commandant Gen Joseph F. Dunford Jr. and then-Chief
of Naval Operations ADM Jonathan W. Greenert outlined
plans for introduction of the V- 22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft
into the Navy. Twelve V-22s, which had been allocated for
the Marine Corps, instead will be delivered to the Navy
between October 2017 and September 2020.
Expect naval aviation to lean heavily upon what the
Marines have gleaned through experience.
“The Marine Corps has been using MV-22s for nearly
a decade. They have been using the aircraft for many
missions, from combat to humanitarian. Throughout the
past nine years, they have learned many lessons, which
… will be implemented when the Navy begins using V-
22s in the upcoming years,” the
A year ago, the Navy’s first F- 35
Lighting II unit — Strike Fighter
Squadron (VFA) 101 — reached a
milestone by completing more than
1,000 mishap-free flight hours. A test
pilot made the first successful arrested carrier landing of an F- 35 test variant that same month, on USS Nimitz.
VFA-101 sent a detachment in
September from its home at Eglin
Air Force Base, Fla., to Fallon,
where pilots and crews conducted
test missions over the Nevada base’s
While encouraged by the F- 35’s
successes in the flight-testing environment, NAVAIR harbors concerns
about procurement of the new plane.
The Navy historically replaced each
old aircraft that had reached the end of its useful service
with one new one. The NAVAIR spokesperson said the
average was about 35 new fighter aircraft annually, but
noted that the current budgetary environment has cut
that figure significantly.
Congress has been authorizing smaller and smaller
budgets. Sequestration — the automatic budget cuts
triggered in 2013 when the White House and lawmakers could not agree on a compromise spending package
— did not help matters. Personnel were furloughed.
Production at depot-level maintenance facilities languished, which caused backlogs in so-called “out of
reporting” aircraft, which cannot be flown.
Still, to date, the Navy believes its fledgling aviators
receive the right balance of flight and simulation hours to
ensure combat readiness. Moreover, there is a prevailing
sense within the community that despite limitations, student pilots get a considerably higher quality of flight
instruction than their predecessors did a generation ago.
Leadership believes the entire enterprise must continue to focus upon delivering the best hands-on instruction
while fliers are in the Air Combat Training Continuum’s
three components: the Weapons and Tactics Instructor
program, the Air Combat Weapons and Tactics syllabus
and the Air Combat Training System. Even with tight
budgets, however, “flight hours and airborne experience
still matter,” the NAVAIR spokesperson said.
“It is important to understand that simulation won’t
replace our need for flight hours,” the spokesperson said.
“It takes a group of highly qualified Sailors to get our strike
fighters, maritime aircraft and rotary aircraft airborne. If
we focus too heavily on simulation, the critical skills associated with keeping these assets will atrophy.” ■
WWW.SEAPOWERMAGAZINE.ORG SEAPOWER / OCTOBER 2015
Live Virtual Constructive (LVC) capabilities can simulate and incorporate virtual and
constructive entities into live development, testing and training exercises. Naval aviation officials believe LVC training can offer a cost-effective solution for developing
and testing emerging technologies and help aviators and crews better prepare for
the complex challenges they might face in actual combat situations.