The primary difference is in the “life-style" of a Marine and a Sailor. Marines all consider themselves combat riflemen first, and whatever job they have second. Generally, Marines have to meet a higher physical fitness and disciplinary standard than any of the other services.
The flying training program is much the same. In fact, Marine and Navy pilots go through the same flying training program (for the most part).
The Active Duty Service Commitment is real. It costs almost a million dollars to train a military pilot or navigator, and the military services want to make sure they get their money's worth (and are not just training someone for an airline pilot's job).
The active duty service commitment (A. D. S. C. ) for Navy and Marine Corps pilots is 8 years (following graduation from flight training). The A. D. S. C. for Navy and Marine Corps NFOs (following training) is 6 years (following completion of training and designation as an N. F. O. ).
The ADSC for Air Force pilots is 10 years, following completion of flight training, and 8 years for navigators (following training).
The Navy and Marine Corps does not have a “Palace Chase" program, and - just for info, the Air Force rarely (if ever) allows pilots and navigators, who are on their initial active duty service obligation to participate in “Palace Chase".
As I said, flight training is expensive, and the services want to get their money's worth. I spent several years as the first sergeant of various Air Force flying squadrons, and I never (not once, not a single time) saw a pilot or navigator on their initial active duty service obligation approved for a “Palace Chase" or “Palace Front" active duty separation. Not once. Not even close (unless they were disqualified from flying for such reasons as medical).
In an F-18 (or any other Navy aircraft), the pilot is called “a Navy Pilot. " In a two-seat aircraft, the other officer (who navigates and operates the weapon systems) is called an “N. F. O. " (Navy Flight Officer). As a group, they are both referred to as “aircrew. "
Any military member, aboard the aircraft (of whatever type) who is flying on the aircraft, with a job to perform aboard that aircraft, as part of the aircraft crew is an “aircrew member. " That means, on two-seat aircraft, such as the F/A-18, both the pilot and the NFO is referred to as “aircrew. "
On other types of aircraft, there would be more than two “aircrew members. " For example, the EC3 “Hawkeye" carries a crew of five. All of them (pilot, co-pilot, NFO, enlisted techs) are “aircrew" on the aircraft.
With the Marine Corps when you join them they will give you a chose of 3 MOS that you can pick from, but you can only pick one of the three no matter if you don't like any of them. I'm afraid that's the way the Marine Corps does enlisted job choices. If can always of to there web site or call someone from that branch and ask them questions.
But, quite simply, you're not going to become a Marine Corps pilot unless you (1) get a college degree (2) get commissioned (OCS or PLC), and (3) pass the flight aptitude tests and flight physical. About one candidate out of every five makes it through the selection process.
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