MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT, S.C. --
Hornets with Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 224 returned to Marine
Corps Air Station Beaufort March 16. The squadron has been deployed to the Western
Pacific since October 2015 as part of the Unit Deployment Program.
arrived at MCAS Iwakuni Oct. 7, 2015, with more than 180 Marines and 10 F/A-18D
Hornet aircraft. The goal of the UDP is to raise the overall readiness level of
the squadron, produce and sustain
qualifications for the pilots and to get the pilots what they need to properly
operate the aircraft.
“We learn new and
exciting things every time we deploy with a foreign military,” said Lt. Col.
Michael P. Shand, commanding officer of VMFA(AW)-224. “There are only so many
ways to operate a fighter squadron, and we all do it a similar way, further
building trust and confidence in any future endeavors we might share.”
The UDP allows
units to conduct training that would not be possible at their home bases.
VMFA(AW)-224 participated in Exercise Island Warrior at Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii,
and conducted the Chitose Aviation Training Relocation exercise.
Aviation Training Relocation exercise involved dissimilar air combat training
alongside and against the Japan Air Self-Defense Force to further support
combined interoperability and Pacific theater security cooperation.
“We have a need to
practice with other aircraft that are not F/A-18D Hornets,” said Shand.
“Chitose ATR gives us an air-to-air training opportunity, and since we have
several different generations of aircrew in the squadron, for some this is
their first deployment.”
Many of the pilots
fought against dissimilar aircraft for their first time. They trained against
the F-15J/DJ Eagles from the JASDF’s. The Eagles encompass different
performance characteristics, forcing VMFA(AW)-224 to maneuver their aircraft in
a different fashion.
“I believe the [the exercise] has strengthened
over time and it gives UDP units an opportunity to strengthen and sharpen their
skills as well,” said Shand. “Overall, this will continue to increase the
readiness of Marine combat units across the theater.”
Aviation Training Relocation exercise allowed the squadron to work on
air-to-air abilities as well as one versus one, two versus two and beyond
visual range training. The Island Warrior exercise had Marines building other
focuses on close air support and forward air control,” said Maj. Dustin Cook,
pilot and director of safety and standardization with VMFA(AW)-224.
Warrior, the squadron participated in a series of similar exercises to develop
greater operational readiness by honing their tactics, techniques and
procedures. Every Marine in the squadron had the opportunity to hone their
“We went to Guam
and completed a lot of qualifications for our pilots,” said Lance Cpl. Garrett
Tallent, aviation ordnance technician with VMFA(AW)-224. “The exercises provide
good on-the-job experience by allowing us to load different types of ordnance.”
Tallent said this
was his first deployment and he enjoyed adapting to a new environment and had
great experiences on and off base.
“I enjoyed my time
in Iwakuni, it was awesome being able to go out in town and experience the new
culture,” said Tallent.
The rest of the
Hornets and Marines are slated to return to MCAS Beaufort later in week.