Naval Flight Officer (NFO) Program (2023)

Last Updated on September 14, 2023

This guide provides information that will help you with your decision to become a Naval Flight Officer during Fiscal Year 2023.

A Naval Flight Officer (NFO) is an Unrestricted Line Officer in the United States Navy who is an expert in flight planning, aircraft engine systems, navigation, aircraft safety, meteorology, and aerodynamics. The Navy designator code for NFO is 1320.

NFOs experience the excitement and responsibility of the world’s most capable aviation force as members of a team that operates more than 6,000 aircraft.

From precision fighter/attack jets to turboprops and helicopter submarine hunters, based on land and launched from sea platforms this force is mission ready – anytime – anywhere – worldwide.

For a select few, those who have the right balance of skill and desire, training as a NFO is the best possible position on the Navy aviation team.

We shall go into more detail.

What Does A Naval Flight Officer Do?

Naval Flight Officers are commissioned officers in the United States Navy. They hold a primary role in naval aviation, but they are not pilots. They fill the “co-pilot” role, depending on the type of aircraft.

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They typically function as tactical coordinators, radar intercept officers, or airborne electronic warfare specialists.

NFOs are experts in aircraft engine systems, navigation, meteorology, aerodynamics, flight planning and aircraft safety. They are leaders of Sailors in the naval aviation community.

Naval Flight Officer Training

NFOs undertake rigorous training on the advanced tactical systems and complex communications systems employed by Navy aircraft.

NFOs train and specialize in specific aircraft, including:
• Strike: EA-18G Growler electronic countermeasures aircraft
• Strike Fighter: F/A-18 Hornet and Super Hornet jet fighters
• Advanced Radar Navigation and Airborne Early Warning System: E-2C Hawkeye early warning and control aircraft
• Advanced Navigation: P-3C Orion and P-8 Poseidon anti-submarine aircraft

Officer Candidate School (OCS)

Prospective Officers attend a 12-week Navy orientation course called Officer Candidate School or OCS that develops knowledge of the naval profession and helps make the transition from civilian life to Navy life. 

Graduates of the U.S. Naval Academy and Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC) do not attend Navy OCS.

Academic and military training at OCS are difficult and intense. Good study habits, self-discipline, and physical fitness conditioning are required. 

Course subjects include Programs and Policies, Sea Power, Engineering and Weapons, Damage Control, Naval Orientation and Warfare, Leadership, Naval Orientation and Seamanship, Navigation and Military Law.

Before Navy OCS graduation and commissioning as a Navy Officer, candidates receive an assignment to an aviation training squadron.

Squadron assignment depends partly on whether the new officer is learning to be a Naval Flight Officer or a Navy pilot. NFO training squadrons are located at Sherman Field, Pensacola, FL.

Also Read: Navy OCS Guide for Officer Applicants

Aviation Training Pipeline

There are 4 training pipelines for Naval Flight Officers, namely:

  • Strike Fighter
  • Airborne Early Warning (AEW)
  • Maritime Patrol (MPR)
  • Take Charge and Move Out (TACAMO)

All 4 training pipelines are conducted at Training Air Wing Six in Naval Air Station Pensacola in Pensacola, FL.

How To Become A Naval Flight Officer

If you are interested in becoming a Naval Flight Officer, you must first be aware that earning a commission in the United States Navy is very competitive, especially in naval aviation.

You must determine if you meet the initial requirements to obtain a commission in the United States Navy. So, apply early – approximately 12 months before you graduate from college – as openings are limited and fill up quickly.

To become a Naval Flight Officer, you must be an American citizen between 19 and 32 years old with at least a Bachelor’s degree and pass the Aviation Selection Test Battery (ASTB) exam.

Note that this is slightly different from applying for a civilian aviation position because Naval Flight Officers directly affect national security. Know that you will be held to a higher standard of performance and behavior compared to civilian counterparts.

If that did not deflate you, you may have the right sense of pride and integrity for this job.

Below are basic information you will need to know before applying. There will be more requirements during the application process, but these will get you in the door.

Contact your local Navy Officer recruiter for a more personalized assessment and support.

The application criteria for NFO below are current as of May 2022, per the Navy Personnel Command. There are no updates issued so far.

NFO Basic Eligibility Requirements

CitizenshipYou must be a United States citizen either by birth or naturalization to apply for a commission as an NFO.
GenderThe Naval Flight Officer program is open for both men and women.
AgeNFO applicants must be at least 19 years old and must not be older than 32 years old upon commissioning.
EducationNFO applicants must hold at least a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree from an accredited college or university.
PhysicalNFO applicants must be physically qualified and aeronautically adapted to engage in duties involving flying in line with the Navy physical standards.
AptitudeAviation Selection Battery Test (ASTB) minimum qualifying scores are:
Academic Qualifications Rating (AQR) – 4
Flight Officer Flight Aptitude Rating (FOFAR) – 5
Source: Navy Personnel Command (May 2022)

The most crucial requirement that you can fully control is your ASTB score. It is the primary objective criteria upon which all applicants are compared against.

To maximize your chances of obtaining an exceptional ASTB score, we only recommend this ASTB Study Guide for your success. All others are mediocre at best.

Service Obligation

Selected NFO candidates must serve on Active-Duty for a minimum of 6 years from the moment they are designated as a Naval Flight Officer.

More Information

If you want more information about becoming a Naval Flight Officer, the next logical step is to contact a Naval Officer Recruiter.

Let us start figuring out how you can benefit from becoming a Naval Flight Officer – or if it is even the right career move for you.

You may also find more information about other closely related Navy Officer jobs in our Quick Guide for Unrestricted Line Officer programs, such as the Navy Pilot and Navy Surface Warfare jobs. Check them out.

Lastly, if you wish to fly Navy drones instead, check out the Navy Air Vehicle Pilot job.

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