VMFA-251 soars through SFARP

22 Aug 2014 | Cpl. Brendan Roethel

Marines with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 251 conducted Strike Fighter Advanced Readiness Program training at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Aug. 4-22. 
The training both pilots and aircrew personnel receive during the exercise hones the air-to-air skills a squadron needs for a six month carrier battle group deployment. SFARP consists of a comprehensive academic syllabus and a 15 sortie flight syllabus. The carrier air wing executes its SFARP syllabus every two years to ensure they are executing the latest tactics, while increasing overall squadron readiness in preparation for deployment aboard aircraft carrier USS Roosevelt.
“The SFARP is a focused, unit-level training exercise conducted under the auspices of the Air Combat Training Continuum,” said Capt. Jason Robertson, flight officer with VMFA-251. “The SFARP is directed by Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center, and is implemented by the Strike Fighter Weapons Schools.”
According to Robertson, the course follows a “walk before you run” approach to re-enforce the tactical undergraduate level of training received during their initial F-14 and F/A-18 instruction, but rapidly progresses to graduate level training on the latest fleet tactics. 
Both the East and West Coast Weapons Schools are responsible for SFARP which is the first part of the Fighter Advanced Training Program. Aircrews spend two weeks at their home station attending 18 lectures on aircraft weapons systems, tactics and F/A-18 employment from Strike Fighter Tactics Instructors assigned to the respective school. 
After completion of these lectures, aircrews spend another week flying the first five of 15 flights in the SFARP syllabus before going to ranges to hone their air-to-air combat techniques in preparation for future combat operations.
“Nellis AFB provides a unique training environment, which enables us as a squadron to complete all SFARP flights from one location, and the weather and available ranges to support several pilots operating at the same time,” Robertson said. “The training has been beneficial to the squadron and has definitely brought us one step closer to being fully prepared for our up-coming deployment.”