MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT, S.C. --
Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 312 conducted field
carrier landing practice aboard Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, March 22.
The pilots with VMFA-312 practiced landing F/A-18C Hornet aircraft on a simulated aircraft carrier to
prepare for an upcoming exercise aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt, a naval aircraft carrier, scheduled for
“VMFA-312 is one of two squadrons within the Marine Corps that almost exclusively deploys aboard aircraft carriers,” said Capt. Cole Hatch, a pilot and the
airframes officer in charge with VMFA-312. “This
field carrier landing practice is going to give us the
training that we need as pilots to go out in the upcoming months to land on aircraft carriers.”
The air station’s flightline is equipped with a painted
outline simulating an aircraft carrier that the pilots
utilize as a training aid prior to participating in exercises or deployments aboard an actual carrier.
“The FCLPs aboard the air station allow our pilots
to train in a controlled environment,” said Hatch. “This
type of training is something that we do regularly.
Each time we go out, it is important to get back in the
right mindset. When we land on a carrier the aircraft
is going roughly 150 miles per hour and there are only
so many wires that the tail hook on the back of the aircraft can catch.”
According to Hatch who is a landing signals officer
there are multiple factors that compromise a successful and safe landing aboard a carrier. The LSO communicates with the pilot and the pilot uses the Improved
Fresnel Lens Optical Landing System, which is a highly precise landing aid that analyzes the glide slope of the incoming aircraft and the movement of the carrier.
“The training that these pilots are going to gain from this FCLP
is that they are so precise with their aircraft that they can hit a
two-by-two foot square with their tail hook,” said Hatch. “Our
ability to conduct flight operations when embarked on an aircraft
carrier is another tool for the Marine Corps to have the ability to
exercise projection of power.”
As the nation’s ready expeditionary force the Marine Corp’s predominant mode of warfare is maritime warfare. The F-18 Hornet
community’s ability to work cohesively with all elements of a Marine Air Ground Task Force is shown in their tactical air integration missions and training exercises such as this FCLP and the upcoming embarkation aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt in April.
“The F-18 is a multi-role aircraft, but in the past ten years the
Marine Corps has utilized it primarily for close air support,” said
Hatch. “In the upcoming months, and years, we will continue to
provide close air support for our ground units. Whether for training or a deployment we are mission ready to fill that role.”