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CNATRA: Training Future Aerial Warriors
The Chief of Naval Air Training (CNATRA) headquartered at NAS Corpus Christi, Texas oversees the Naval Air Training Command (TRACOM) whose mission is to safely train the world's finest combat quality aviation professionals, delivering them at the right time, in the right numbers, and at the right cost to a Naval Force that is where it matters, when it matters.
Naval Aviator and Naval Flight Officer (NFO) training and production is conducted by 17 TRACOM squadrons aligned under five Training Air Wings located at five naval air stations in the southeastern United States. This training involves over 750 TRACOM aircraft flying over 350,000 annual flight hours with an annual budget in excess of $575 million. CNATRA’s aircraft inventory and annual flight hours make up just under a third of the Navy’s total aircraft and over a third of its annual flight hours. Over 1300 instructor pilots and NFOs – active duty and reserves – from the Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and Air Force use these aircraft, flight hours and budget combined with simulators, classrooms, and other training media to produce and graduate more than 1,500 pilots and NFOs each year.
Since the days when Naval Aviator number One - LT Theodore Ellyson - trained at the Curtiss Aviation Camp on North Island, California in 1911 - to today with five Training Air Wings located in Texas, Mississippi, and Florida - Naval Aviation training has been a unique business. Teaching aviators to fly, survive, and excel in peacetime and combat operations in both land based and maritime environments – operating over or from ships in fixed or rotary wing aircraft - has always been unique, extremely demanding, challenging, and totally unforgiving. Naval Aviation training equipment, technology, and locations have evolved and changed over the years; however, the mission has remained constant. The TRACOM also works to instill and re-enforce the heroic legacy and attributes of our past Naval Aviation heroes, as well as the core values and qualities our Navy and country demand of today’s naval officers and future naval leaders. CNATRA does that through a demanding and constantly evolving syllabi, proper personal example at all times, and continual reinforcement and exposure.
The TRACOM strives to train the right number of aviators, at the right price, delivering them to the Fleet Training Squadrons at the right time, to ultimately enable them to arrive in the fleet exactly when they are needed. The TRACOM achieves efficiencies by utilizing civilian contractors overseen by military and government civilians to conduct aircraft maintenance in the place of traditional and more expensive military maintainers.
The TRACOM trains all Navy, Marines Corps, and Coast Guard aviators plus a large number of Air Force and international students from partner foreign countries. All Student Naval Aviators still attend Aviation Preflight Indoctrination at NAS Pensacola and then head to primary training followed by intermediate and advanced training. Time to train varies by designator (Naval Aviator or Naval Flight Officer) and pipeline (Strike, Rotary, Maritime Patrol, Multi-Engine, or Tilt Rotor).
It is an exciting time in Naval Aviation as most training and fleet aircraft are in the process of transitioning to newer models / aircraft. CNATRA is modernizing and downsizing from seven type model series with eleven configurations to four type model series and configurations.
In primary training – the 30 year old workhorse – the T-34C Turbo Mentor – is being replaced by the T-6B Texan II. The T-6B has twice the horsepower with resulting higher performance, ejection seats for increased safety, and a completely digital / glass cockpit with heads up display. Training Air Wing FIVE at NAS Whiting Field is currently transitioning to the T-6B and Training Air Wing FOUR at NAS Corpus Christi will follow suit in 2012 with the transition being complete in 2014.
The T-45 Goshawk fleet is nearing transition completion to the all digital / glass cockpit T-45C. Only a few analog T-45A aircraft are left in the inventory and they will ultimately become T-45Cs. The T-45C is the perfect lead-in aircraft for the digital / all glass FA-18 Hornet series, AV-8B Harrier, and Joint Strike Fighter – Lightning II. The T-6B is the perfect lead-in aircraft for the T-45C. Both of these aircraft are supported by high fidelity visual simulators which closely replicate actual flight. These simulators provide effective, realistic, safe, and economical training to enable the optimal mix of ground and air training.
In the multi-engine world, the 30 year old T-44A Pegasus is slowly being replaced by the T-44C which boasts a digital / glass avionics suite. High fidelity visual simulators are to follow, when funding is available, which will enable the perfect mix of ground and air training and provide a means to divest the entire TC-12 Huron fleet. The T-44C is the perfect lead-in trainer for the digital / glass cockpit P-8 Poseidon, MV-22 Osprey, and C-130J Hercules aircraft.
In the rotary world, CNATRA has plans and funding to consolidate the TH-57B and C Sea Ranger models into a digital / glass cockpit TH-57D. This aircraft will be supported by high fidelity visual simulators to enable the optimal and most efficient mix of ground and air training. The TH-57D will be the perfect lead-in aircraft for the digital / glass cockpit H-60R/S Seahawk and MV-22 Osprey aircraft which are operating in the fleet today.
The following is a look at CNATRA’s training continuum today and into the future.
Aviation Training Alignment
CNATRA is aligned under Commander, Naval Air Force, Pacific Fleet and Commander Naval Air Forces (CNAF) - in the Naval Aviation Enterprise (NAE) concept. CNATRA is dual hatted as CNAF Deputy Commander for Training. This alignment enables the ability to orchestrate and manage a full spectrum training continuum, not only within the TRACOM, but also throughout the NAE from student induction through the completion of Fleet Readiness Squadron (FRS) training. This continuum and alignment enables leadership and training practitioners to design and optimize training content and flow across all phases and pipelines of the entire training spectrum to ensure the right training is conducted at the right level. Additionally this continuum and alignment ensures the most effective and efficient training organization is in place to achieve optimal student aviator time to train. This continuum and alignment ultimately ensures the production of the world’s finest Aerial Warriors for the world’s finest Air Force – the Naval Air Force. A Naval Air Force made up of Naval Aviators and NFOs, who can think, perform, excel under pressure, and deliver in the most demanding aviation environment - projecting power ashore or at sea from the decks of aircraft carriers both day and night.
CNATRA and FRS training syllabi are in the process of converting from the old Navy Standard Score Grading convention we all used (aboves, averages, belows and unsats) to a new Multi-Service Pilot and NFO Training System (MPTS/MNTS). This new system enables a greater degree of course flow flexibility while providing more objective grading to ensure specific and required knowledge, skills and experiences are developed during each phase of aviation training. These skills and experiences are linked and tracked through a single network of task lists and learning objectives reaching back from the fleet all the way to a student aviator’s first exposure to flight training. MPTS/MNTS enables each stage of training to be broken down into carefully designed training blocks to incrementally build and refine required skill sets. MPTS/MNTS incorporates course training standards that define specific parameters for each maneuver in order to reduce subjectivity in grading. The end product is targeted proficiency at each level of training to optimize efficiencies and ultimately ensure Student Naval Aviators and NFOs succeed in follow-on training venues.
CNATRA has also introduced and incorporated the Joint Mission Planning System (JMPS) to further align training and standards with the fleet. JMPS is a development effort between the Navy and the Air Force to join the Navy Tactical Automated Mission Planning System (TAMPS) and the Air Force Mission Support System to the Global Command and Control System and the Defense Information Infrastructure Common Operating Environment.
Joint and Combined Training
CNATRA embraces and places strong emphasis on Joint and Combined training wherever appropriate and effective. As such, Air Force and International student aviators train alongside Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard counterparts at all Training Air Wings and in all phases of training. One hundred Air Force Primary student pilots are trained annually at Training Air Wing FIVE at NAS Whiting Field and over 155 Air Force pilots receive their wings each year at Training Air Wing FOUR at NAS Corpus Christi following Multi-Engine training. Correspondingly, 110-120 Navy and Marine Corps student pilots receive Primary and Multi-Engine flight training each year from the Air Force at Vance AFB in Enid, Oklahoma. Air Force Combat System Officer (CSO) students train alongside Navy and Marine Corps NFO counterparts at Training Air Wing SIX in Pensacola, Florida in Strike and Strike Fighter syllabi. CNATRA also trains more than 100 pilots and Undergraduate Military Flight Officers annually from ten partner foreign countries under the International Military Training program. Student aviators from Italy, Norway, Germany, Spain, Denmark, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, France, Singapore and India train alongside their American counterparts in Primary, Strike, Rotary and Multi-Engine pilot and NFO syllabi.
Leadership and instructor positions are filled by officers from the Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, and foreign nations in order to facilitate and optimize this Joint and Combined training. As such, both Navy and U.S. Air Force squadron command positions are rotated between Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard officers. This early exposure to the Joint and Combined environments adds yet another dimension to the NAE training continuum and CNATRA’s “train like you fight” mind-set by preparing instructors and Student Naval Aviators and NFOs to the reality of today’s Joint and combined war-fighting teamwork.
Training Integrated Management System
The Training Integrated Management System (TIMS) was developed as an integral part of the T-6 Joint Primary Aircraft Training System’s (JPATS) ground based training system. TIMS combined and replaced five separate TRACOM training management systems and provided a single command-wide management system for both CNATRA and the Air Force Air Education Training Command. TIMS is the core of CNATRA’s ground based training system and manages all aspects of undergraduate ground based flight training activities to include scheduling, creation of grade sheets and flight records, resource allocation, qualification and currency tracking, academics and computer aided instruction, long-range planning, and all training reports. TIMS also provides training connectivity between all CNATRA units using a linked network and has been chosen for the Joint Strike Fighter Program.
Naval Aviator and NFO Training
CNATRA conducts seven Student Naval Aviator training pipelines — Strike, Rotary, Maritime Patrol, Multi-Engine, Tilt-rotor, E-2/C-2 ,and E-6. Strike and intermediate E-2/C-2 training is conducted at Training Air Wings ONE and TWO at NAS Meridian, Mississippi and NAS Kingsville, Texas. Maritime Patrol, Multi-Engine, and advanced Tilt Rotor and E-2/C-2 training is conducted at Training Air Wing FOUR at NAS Corpus Christi, Texas. Rotary and intermediate Tilt Rotor training is conducted at Training Air Wing FIVE at NAS Whiting Field in Milton, Florida. CNATRA conducts four NFO training pipelines — Strike, Strike Fighter, Multi-engine and E-2. Initial training for all four NFO pipelines is conducted at Training Air Wing SIX at NAS Pensacola, Florida. Intermediate and advance Strike and Strike Fighter training is conducted at Training Air Wing SIX while intermediate and advanced Maritime Patrol (P-3), Electronic Warfare (EP-3), Take Charge and Move Out (TACAMO – E-6A), and Airborne Early Warning (E-2C/D) NFO training is conducted at VP-30 at NAS Jacksonville, Florida; VQ-7 at Tinker AFB in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; and VAW-120 at NAS Norfolk, Virginia.
The foundation of a Naval Aviator’s development begins in the Primary phase of training. Primary training is conducted in the T-34C at VT-27 or VT-28 at Training Air Wing FOUR, VT-2 or VT-6 at Training Air Wing FIVE, or in the new T-6B at VT-3 also at Training Air Wing FIVE.
The T-6B, with its digital avionics provides fighter-type maneuverability with a modern glass cockpit including a head-up display, up-front control panel, multi-function displays, hands-on throttle and stick ,and a global positioning system with wide-area augmentation system and required navigation performance. The T-6B cockpit and avionics suite is designed to better facilitate the transition to increasingly sophisticated follow-on training and fleet aircraft ,as well as keep pace with emerging air traffic control regulations.
The T-6B trainer is an integral part of the JPATS, a Joint venture with the Air Force, which encompasses aircraft, simulators, courseware, syllabus, and training aides. JPATS utilizes TIMS to manage and deliver course content. The entire curriculum and daily activities of students and instructors are scheduled and tracked to ensure accurate and efficient training from the first day of training to winging.
Simulated instrument training in the T-34C is conducted in non-visual instrument devices. T-6B training has been significantly enhanced with a suite of high-fidelity visual simulators.
Strike (Tailhook) Training
Intermediate and Advanced Strike training is conducted in the T-45A and C Goshawk at VT-7 or VT-9 at Training Air Wing ONE or VT-21 or VT-22 at Training Air Wing TWO. This syllabus is the foundation upon which all tailhook aviators build their carrier experience. Student Naval Aviators are selected to continue training in either the advanced Strike or advanced E-2/C-2 pipelines at the conclusion of an intermediate Strike syllabus.
The Strike pipeline fills fleet seats for the FA-18A+ through F Hornet or Super Hornet, EA-6B Prowler, EF-18G Growler, and AV-8B Harrier in the Navy and Marine Corps. Future F-35 Lightning II pilots will also come from the Strike pipeline.
Student Naval Aviators selected for the E-2/C-2 pipeline at the completion of intermediate phase of the Strike pipeline report to Training Air Wing FOUR for Multi-engine training in the T-44A/C or TC-12 before receiving their wings.
As CNATRA rapidly moves toward an all T-45C digital configuration, all Student Naval Aviators will receive top quality training in a technologically advanced cockpit to optimally prepare them for fleet digital / glass cockpit aircraft of today and tomorrow. With numerous cockpit similarities to the FA-18A+ through G series, the digital Goshawk enables the potential future downloading of FRS training at a considerable reduction in cost per flight hour. The T-45C is planned to meet CNATRA’s Strike training requirements through 2025.
Rotary and Tilt-Rotor Training
Rotary and intermediate Tilt-Rotor training is conducted in the TH-57B and C Sea Ranger at HT-8, HT-18 and HT-28 at Training Air Wing FIVE. The rotary pipeline provides fundamental and advanced rotary skills for Student Naval Aviators selected for fleet service in the AH-1 Cobra, UH-1 Huey, H-46 Sea Knight, H-53 Sea Stallion, H-60 Seahawk series, HH-65 Dolphin, and MH-68 Sting Ray in the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. Marine students designated for the MV-22 Osprey Tilt-Rotor receive intermediate Rotary training at Training Air Wing FIVE and then report to Training Air Wing FOUR for Multi-engine training in the T-44A/C or TC-12 before receiving their wings.
CNATRA is pursuing a single type model series TH-57D to incorporate the latest digital technology with a NVG compatible digital cockpit to enhance training by closely emulating digital / glass fleet cockpits. The TH-57D will eliminate the transition flight syllabi between the B and C models and reduce total aircraft inventory requirements. The TH-57D will be supported by high fidelity visual simulators that will enable the downloading and optimal mix of flight and simulator syllabi.
Maritime Patrol, Multi-Engine and Advanced Tilt-Rotor Training
Maritime, Multi-Engine, and Advanced Tilt-Rotor training is conducted in the T-44A and C Pegasus and TC-12B Huron at VT-31 and VT-35 in Training Air Wing FOUR. The Maritime Patrol, Multi-Engine, and advance Tilt-Rotor pipelines provide foundational training for Student Naval Aviators and Air Force pilots selected to fill fleet seats in the P-3C Orion, C-130 Hercules, HU-25 Guardian Falcon, E-2C/D Hawkeye, C-2A Greyhound, MV-22 Osprey, and C-12 Huron.
Training Air Wing FOUR is slowly converting analog T-44As to digital T-44Cs which is the perfect lead-in trainer for the digital / glass cockpit P-8 Poseidon, MV-22 Osprey, and C-130J Hercules aircraft. High fidelity T-44C visual simulators are to follow, when funding is available, which will enable the perfect mix of ground and air training, as well as the means to divest the entire TC-12 Huron fleet as a training aircraft.
Strike and Strike Fighter NFO Training
Primary, intermediate, and advanced Strike and Strike Fighter NFO / CSO training is conducted in the T-6A Texan II, T-39G/N Sabreliner, and T-45C Goshawk at VT-4, VT-10, and VT-86 in Training Air Wing SIX. The Strike and Strike Fighter pipelines provide fundamental and advanced skills for NFOs and CSOs selected for fleet service in the FA-18D/F, EA-18G, EA-6B, F-15E and B-1B in the Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force.
Maritime Patrol (VP) / Electronic Warfare (VQ) / TACAMO (VQ) NFO Training
Primary Maritime Patrol, Electronic Warfare, and Take Charge and Move Out (TACAMO) NFO training is conducted in the T-6A at VT-4 and VT-10 in Training Air Wing SIX. Intermediate and advanced training occurs in the P-3C at VP-30 in Jacksonville, Florida for VP and VQ (EP-3) NFOs and in the E-6A Mercury at VQ-7 in Tinker AFB in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma for VQ NFOs. Maritime Patrol and Electronic Warfare NFOs receive their wings at VP-30 while TACAMO NFOs receive their wings at VQ-7.
Airborne Early Warning (AEW) NFO Training
Primary and intermediate Airborne Early Warning NFO training is conducted in the T-6A and T-39 at VT-4 and VT-10 in Training Air Wing SIX. Advanced training occurs in the E-2C Hawkeye at VAW-120 in NAS Norfolk, Virginia. VAW NFOs receive their wings at VAW-120.
Undergraduate Military Flight Officer (UMFO) Training
CNATRA has embarked on a program to completely transform NFO training staring in 2012. The new UMFO training program supports CNO guidance to increase efficiency through the reduction of aircraft type model series while simultaneously taking advantage of new training technology and simulation capabilities. The UMFO curriculum will provide the knowledge, skills, and experience required to operate a new generation of tactical aircraft and reduce total training costs by leveraging emerging technology and downloading VP, VQ, and VAW FRS undergraduate training to the TRACOM.
The new UMFO training program will consist of T-6A, T-45C, and high fidelity ground based training systems. The T-45C will be upgraded with the Virtual Mission Training System (VMTS) embedding a synthetic radar system in the aircraft. With this modification T-45C VMTS will replace the aging T-39 in late 2013 as the advanced phase radar trainer. T-45C VMTS will be used to train Strike and Strike Fighter NFOs for duty in the F/A-18D/F, EA-18G, and EA-6B.
In conjunction with T-6 / T-45 simulators and high quality part-task trainers, a new Multi-Crew Simulator (MCS) is being procured to conduct all VP, VQ, and VAW undergraduate NFO training. The MCS will focus on crew resource management, communications, and sensor integration training and will provide intermediate and advanced training for all P-3, P-8, EP-3, E-6, and E-2C/D NFOs. With MCS all NFOs will receive all undergraduate training along with their wings at Training Air Wing SIX.