Seventh Epoch: 1974 to Present The nav all but gone, pilot going and C-UAV coming.

In this time period, the NavStar navigation satellites matured, and all of navigation (land-sea-air) migrated to the use of this accurate and reliable satellite based navigation system now know as the Global Positioning Satellite (GPS). The beautiful large B-70 program was terminated at two planes. The North American B-1 bomber, was on, then off, then on repeatedly and in the in end only 100 manufactured. Later the B-2 bomber came in to the USAF with no need for a navigator or a bombardier, at all. In this period of time almost all navigation training was moved to Mather AFB California and the piston engine T-29 was phased out in 1974 and the newer all jet Boeing T-43 (nav configured 737) brought on-line. The USAF as of 2005-2006 has also redesignated the navigator as a Combat Systems Operator (CSO) officer. Some of the CSOs have been assigned at this time to the newly created Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) squadrons at Nellis, AFB, Nevada. The US military trains approximately 300 navigators (CSOs) a year at this time (February 2007).

Navigator developments in this period:


NOTE:
The traditional, dead reckoning qualified navigator with an E-6B computer (whiz wheel), is found in a number of notable flying squadrons: namely C-130 tactical combat units, Special Operations (SOs) squadrons, and in the LC-130H squadrons of the New York Air National Guard, 109th Air Mobility Wing that flies the south pole McMurdo Scientific base support. The 109th AMW squadrons also fly GRID, all gyro steering directional flights because the GPS satellite coverage does not reach to the South pole. Other navigators are flying at this time as Weapons System Operators (WSOs) in the back seats of the F-15E Strike Eagles, and in some special recci planes. And still more navigators are in air staff positions throughout the USAF.

A special thanks to Ron Barrett, USAF Retired, Navigator for all his hard work putting this time line together.

If you have information to add or comments, e-mail Mike Radowski at: mradowski@austin.rr.com