It's funny. As an aviation and military aviation buff, I enjoy seeing how technology makes it possible to do things that we'd only imagined a few years ago. Automated In-Flight Refueling of an F/A-18 Fighter Jet is a recent example of that.

That sort of automation is consistent with the amazing growth in unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) like the popular Predator. And with all this fancy new technology, I expected to see a next generation fighter that's self-flying and remotely controlled to some degree.

But then I came across something completely in the other direction!

EA-18G prototype

Under the heading of Cyberwar Spawns New Combat Aircraft, I learned that the military is building new 2 seat versions of the popular F/A-18, F-16, F-22, and even the F-15 fighter jets!

Even two aircrewmen may not be enough as cyber, intelligence and air combat commands have joined forces to promote new fighter designs that can conduct at least three missions at the same time.
New two-seat versions of the F/A-18, F-16, F-15C, F-15E and F-22 with advanced active, electronically-scanned array (AESA) radars will be expected to wind their way through enemy air defenses, invade networks, shoot down opposing aircraft and find very small targets and bomb them with precision.
Planners also see two-person crews as crucial in establishing local area networks so that in the event of nuclear, electronic or computer attacks (which could blackout command and control of today’s network centric forces) even a few of these aircraft could quickly begin communicating, gathering intelligence and counterattacking.

That's right, they're adding seats!

Huh. Who'd have thought?

Now, the important question here: Who can get me a ride in one of those jets? :-)

Posted by jzawodn at October 02, 2007 12:38 PM

Reader Comments
# Best said:

watch out! pretty soon they'll be adding a wide screen plasma and a vending machine to serve chilled coke and freshly baked popcorns, just in case the pilots get bored of flying :)

on October 2, 2007 02:02 PM
# dan smith said:

are you even a person?
("leave it blank" below).

on October 7, 2007 11:44 PM
# Paul Pencikowski said:

Ref: "Now, the important question here: Who can get me a ride in one of those jets? :-)"

Not as hard as you think. YOU are "who gets you the ride".

1) Must demo to Commanding Officer why this ride "in the best interests of the [Navy/USAF etc]". Possibly "widely read aviation writer" or "wide access/following of recruitable flight candidates".

2) Be willing to "jump through hoops" (pressure chamber, seat check-out, etc).

3) Every jet base has a PAO Public Affairs Officer. That's where you start. For Navy, China Lake (Ridgecrest) has F-18's (great 1st-jet because easy-to-fly, very quiet inside unlike F-4/F-14 noisy uncomfortable).

You must fly a "2-seater" (F-18) as opposed to "2-crew" (e.g. F-14 which required a rated crewman in back just to get it running).

Can't just barge-in and "ask for a ride". Find the PAO, "make friends", get "coached through the ride-process".

Be humble. "Any old flight will do".

Approach: Get w/the PAO, ask for a Pressure Chamber ride. Then a Seat Checkout (usually done on the same day). Then (Navy) Survival Swim (done in special pool, all-day certification). Then Instrument School (Sat/Sun refresher, done once/month by every jet base, "buddy system" for exam). Every jet has an open/closed book exam (if you do this, not hard, a ride "done deal" this is all "home study") and the A/C manuals not classified. You MUST pass the "Bold Face Emergency" test, will take a week of casual study. Boldface exam approx 20-min.

All this stuff is *easy/fun*. Then, when you/PAO go in to the Jet Commander and ask for a ride, you will have de-fused most of the "No" reasons.

Trust me, this works.

Soar Truckee shareholders meeting Sat.19th I'll be there, say hi if you're around.

Haven't flown a glider since last Soar Truckee meeting. "Club" here in Inyokern not particularly active, "not recruiting members".

Personally I'm gonzo writing dirt-bike-stories...

Paul P.
3,000 hrs F-4/F-14
16 consecutive years no-desk-job :-)

on September 11, 2009 08:29 PM
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