The air force says it takes

Fighter Jet Pilot training

Pilot Training / October 24, 2022

Fighter pilots undergo extensive training.Fighter pilots undergo extensive training.


Part of an elite group of soldiers, fighter pilots in the United States military help serve and protect from the air. Fighter pilots serve in the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps and fly a variety of fighter aircraft, including the F-22 Raptor, the F-16 Fighting Falcon, the F-18 Super Hornet, the F-15 Eagle, the AV-8B Harrier and the A-10 Thunderbolt. Both active duty and reservist soldiers can become fighter pilots. The path to becoming a fighter pilot follows several steps and involves intensive and specialty training.

1. Join the Air Force, Navy or Marine Corps as a commissioned officer. Commissioned officers in each branch must be at least 18 years old, be a United States citizen and hold a four-year civilian or military bachelor's degree.

2. Attend officer school. For the Air Force, officer school covers 12 weeks and takes place at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama. Naval pilots must take part in Officer Candidate School located in Rhode Island. Marine pilots attend Officer Candidates School in Virginia. Pilots can also fulfill officer school requirements by joining a college-level Reserve Officers Training Corps unit.

3. Pass qualifying officer tests. The Air Force requires all candidates to pass the Air Force Officer Qualifying Test. Navy and Marine pilots must take and pass the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps Aviation Selection Test Battery.

4. Pass the physical qualifications. Fighter pilots must have 20/20 vision, perfect hearing and be able to withstand the physical nature of flying jets. Fighter pilots undergo the pressure of several G’s during flight and must be able to avoid passing out or vomiting while in flight.

5. Agree to the time commitment. Air Force pilots must commit to at least 10 years of active duty service. Navy fighter pilots must commit to eight to 10 years of active duty, depending on the aircraft they fly. Marine pilots must commit to eight years of active duty service.

6. Undergo flight training. Naval pilots take part in a six-week air indoctrination course at Naval Aviation Schools Command in Florida, followed by primary flight training. Marine fighter pilots must undergo the longest training of all the Marine Corps training programs, including six weeks of Aviation Preflight Indoctrination in Florida, 22 weeks of Primary Flight Training in Florida, Texas or Oklahoma, and 14 to 49 weeks of Advanced Flight Training in Florida, Mississippi or Texas. Air Force pilots take part in pre-flight and academic training, followed by 22 weeks of primary training.

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