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Heavies to Fighters

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Nov 29, 2001
Does anybody know of a conversion course for guys that went to JSUPT in the T-1 to become fighters pilots. Is there a high speed checkout or something at a UPT base in the T-38 and of to RTU? Does anything like this exist?

I have 3 guys going through the IP course at my F15 unit at Tydnall that are all ex-heavy drivers, but all did T-38s in UPT prior to the JSUPT track being developed.

As of now, I do not know of any such conversion program. The old UPT program had about 110 hours in the T-38, and you did take a Form 8 instrument checkride--your first "real" AF checkride. This allowed you to legally solo the AT-38 during the old LIFT (lead in fighter training) program at Holloman AFB.

Jumping ahead, I have no idea how many hours guys now get in the T-38, but the combination of UPT and IFF (LIFT's follow on) probably provides over 100 hours of T-38 time. That's a lot of time for a "requal" course to match. I highly doubt there are any such courses, primarily because right now the SUPT workload is very high, and every bit of daylight at UPT bases is being used to train students. I'm not sure they have the time to provide the T-38 assets for such a course.

The best source of info would be 19AF DOT at Randolph AFB. Maj. "Notch" Miller can steer your question in the right direction if he cannot answer it for you.

I gather you are considering trying to find a job flying pointy jets somewhere. I wish you the best of luck--its an addicition you will enjoy feeding.

Hey Thanks AlbieF15...

Do you think the guys at AFPC may have the answer? They seem pretty helpful in putting my packgage together to return to active duty to fly FRED around full time. My first choice was to go to the BONE, but of course the Bones are being removed from guard service and consolidated. Some friends at JSUPT went that way to the B-1 after a quick course (if there is such a thing) in the T-38. Both the B-1 and B-52s were gained from both tracks, T-1 and T-38s. I'm not sure what the standing is now for the bomber track. Thanks for the contact, I'll try that route with the 19AF DOT.

I have pretty good info on your question since I was recently an AETC geek for 4 years. There is currently no program designed to allow crossover from heavies with a T-1 background to fighters. In fact, when I left Tweets in April the heavy-to-fighter program had been terminated. I had several friends who did cross-flow into fighters, but they all had T-38 backgrounds. When I left AETC the program had been terminated/put on hold. Right now I have no idea if they've started it up again.

As for the transition course for bomber newbies who trained in the T-1, well that course is also gone. For a brief period of time the AF was allowing a few T-1 types to proceed to bombing RTU following UPT. After UPT these folks would walk over to the T-38 squadron for a short t-x course. However, like all things, that program went away and now all bomber pilots once again are sourced from T-38s.

Sorry if this isn't what you were looking for. I hope it helps and good luck with the return to AD.

As a former AETC and bomber dude, I can give you some additional info. In fact, there used to be a program for T-1 grads going to B-1s to get T-38 time. I was in charge of the program at a UPT base. The program has gone away, now that all bomber bound students go to T-38s.

There is a long way around to get a fighter from the heavy side...go to the U-2. The U-2 uses the T-38 as a companion trainer to keep up instrument proficency. You do low levels, X/Cs, formation etc...and it's California...without the expense. My last job before I got out was as a T-38 instructor at the U-2 squadron at Beale AFB. We put several guys with non-T38 background thru the T-38 at Beale before they can start the U-2. Advantages include lots of flying, great area, cool mission. Disadvantages include high TDY rate...though that's easing somewhat. Also, there have been a few guys who have gone on to the F-117 after the U-2...so the fighter thing is an option.

My .02
The problem with volunteering for the U-2 or F-117 to get T-38 experience is that you become a *program asset* for that program once you do.

For example, I'm midway through my first fighter tour as a mid-level Captain (spent a few years as a tree-suit-wearer before going to UPT) and I have been trying to decide how to take my career path. In taking to the fighter assignments guy at AFPC, I was told that once you go for a U-2 or the Stink Bug, you are not available to come back (in my case) to the F-15E -- that you now are a "U-2 pilot" or "F-117 pilot" and no longer an "F-15E pilot".

Now, there may be dudes who made it to the Stink Bug from the U-2, but seeing as both of those airframes are massively undermanned, I don't see it as likely that a T-1 trained heavy guy would T-X 1 into the U-2, then T-X 1 into another fighter somewhere else down the line. Possible, I'm sure -- just not very likely.

Personally I think a tour in the U-2 or the Stink Bug would be interesting and fun...I'm just not willing to give up on future operational Strike Eagle tours (or possibilities to get into the Raptor) to do it!
Hehe "Stink Bug"....I hadn't heard that one before :D Sounds like something an Eagle driver made up as payback for "Mudhen."
Stink Bug

The "Stink Bug" name has been around the fighter community for quite a while; however, "Cockroach" has been used a little more often since they are ugly, and only come out at night....Happy Holidays :D
Another way to fighters...

I'm flying C-21s now and I just got an email back from the bomber dudes at AFPC and anyone with 500 hours total military time can apply for the B-2 now. There is a T-38 qual course at Randolph specifically for the B-2 selectees without any T-38 experience. Problem is, once you get selected, you owe the B-2 career field 5-6 years. After than, I'm not sure what you can do. They may make heavy guys go back to AMC, or they might open doors into other programs.
From what the B-2 guys I know have said, the B-2 is a black hole just like the U-2 or the F-117. It takes a really long time to get fully qualified, so once you are they don't want to let you go.

On the plus side, they almost never deploy. Of course, the minus is those 24 hr+ missions...


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