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VMFA-122 pilots become first Fighter Attack Instructors

By Cpl. Justin M. Boling | | September 6, 2012

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 F/A-18 Hornet pilots constantly learn and maintain a plethora of tactical knowledge.

 

Two Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 122 pilots were the first Marine aviators to earn the fighter attack instructor designation and are tasked with sharing their knowledge with their juniors.

 

“The purpose of this designation is to pro­vide an instructor cadre at the middle experi­ence level,” said Capt. Geoffrey Franks, the Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 122 pilot training officer. “A fighter attack instructor will be able to teach at a more general level.

 

“They will be able to instruct in many different areas, which are very important to the tactical em­ployment of the F-18.”

 

Capt. Albert Garcia IV and Capt. Brian Hansell, both F/A-18 Hornet pilots, passed the final require­ments set fourth by Marine Avia­tion and Weapons Tactics Squadron 1 and Marine Corps Training and Education Command.

 

“We will now be in charge of teaching some of the more junior pilots advanced tactics,” said Gar­cia, a Georgetown, Texas native. “It is going to enhance the ability for junior pilots to seek out the knowl­edge they need to know.”

 

Weapon system knowledge, air to air combat tactics and low altitude aerial combat strategy only name a few of the skills used to provide close air support to ground forces or provide maritime security.

 

“It was a pretty challenging course,” Hansell said “We had both WTI and MAWTS-1 instructors come out to evaluate us.

 

“These instructors would go through all of the mission capabili­ties of the Hornet to ensure that we have the knowledge and are able to share with junior pilots.”

 

“It is a good feeling to have earned the designation, but without the preparation by our squadron and training officer we would have not been able to accomplish it,” Garcia said.

 

The six F/A-18 Hornet squadrons aboard the Air Station fulfill nu­merous operational commitments around the globe from training with foreign militaries to providing close support to troops on the ground.

 

“We have Weapons and Tactics instructors and TOPGUN gradu­ates on hand, who can teach at a very high level, but we only have a few of them,” said Frank. “A fight­er attack instructor will be able to instruct at lower level to ensure a higher level of proficiency in less experienced pilots.

 

“We always need the highest standard for instruction at the middle level, which leads to high­est level of performance from that level.”

 


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