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An F-35 takes off during Marine Division Tactics Course aboard Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, Feb. 1. MDTC focuses on air to air and self-escort strike tactics to help aviators hone their skills for real life scenarios.

Photo by Cpl. Terry Haynes

Fightertown pilots fly high during MDTC

15 Feb 2019 | Cpl. Terry Haynes III Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort

Fightertown pilots participated in Marine Division Tactics Course culminating in a graduation aboard Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, Feb. 1. 

The 4-week long course is ran by Marine Aviation Weapon and Tactics Squadron 1, and broken down into 3 phases designed to give pilots valuable simulated air-to-air combat experience and the skills to train pilots on the most up to date tactics. At the end of the course, Marine Aircraft Group-31 also took part in a Department of Defense wide readiness initiative where they flew every flight ready aircraft.  

The first phase is a week of classroom time that covers mission essential tactics as well as briefing and debriefing before and after their flights. The pilots not only need to be proficient in the air but also after a flight. Debriefing after a mission is important, so that the pilots and weapon safety officers can examine what they did and how to track changes and improve in the future.

“MDTC is focused on the students and brings together Marines from the Marine Air Control Groups as well as the pilots,” said Lt. Col. Dennis B. Dalton operation officer with Marine Aircraft Group 31. “In totatality we have about 800 to 900 Marines from across the Marine Corps to help support this course. MDTC is important not only for our pilots but also our maintainers and air crew as well in the fact that it is helping them gain valuable on hands knowledge throughout the course.”

The next 2 phases involve simulated air combat where the students engage the pilots from Marine Fighter Training Squadron 401 and apply the tactics they’ve learned in the classroom in increasingly difficult scenarios. The “Snipers” of VMFT-401 are an adversary squadron based out of Marine Corps Air Station Yuma that frequent MCAS Beaufort and other air station fleet-wide to provide red air training for different squadrons.

Once the course is completed, the student pilots will return to their respective squadrons and use their newly learned skill sets to help teach and develop other pilots with the new and up to date tactics.

“When our pilots get back to their home squadrons the knowledge they’ll be able to dispense is immeasurable,” Dalton said. “This course is also great in the fact that it acts as a stepping stone for more valuable training as well, especially Weapons and Tactics Instructor course.”

According the MAWTS-1, WTI is a 7-week long course held aboard Marine Corps Air Station Yuma. The course is held twice annually to support the needs of Marine Corps aviation fleet-wide. The course serves as a major step in sending Marine Corps pilots as training experts back into the fleet, making sure that Marine Corps aviation units continue to successfully train and to maintain the standard fleet-wide.

“This course is important not only to our pilots but also our maintainers and aircrew,” Dalton said. “MDTC is going to add instructors who can support our ready room and get them up to qualifications as they progress in their careers. All of that is important for our mission so that we continue to go out and fight.”

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