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Snipers, Warlords take to skies

By Cpl. Jonah Lovy | Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort | May 18, 2016

  Marine Fighter Training Squadron 401 arrived at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort May 16 to support Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501 in air-to-air training from May 17-27. The squadron is flying as adversaries to the F-35B Lightning II’s of VMFAT-501.

  The “Snipers” of VMFT-401are the only adversary squadron in the Marine Corps. Based out of MCAS Yuma, VMFT-401 is a Marine Corps Reserve fighter squadron and belongs to Marine Aircraft Group 41, 4th Marine Aircraft Wing. 

  “We train with squadrons all over the Marine Corps when we are needed,” said Maj. Ben Apple, the operations officer for VMFT-401. “Our mission here is to specifically provide support for the training squadron. We’ll be providing them with training scenarios designed to improve their capabilities.” 

  The squadron brought seven F-5N Tiger II aircraft to support dissimilar air combat training for VMFAT-501.  Red air is the adversary forces for air-to-air training simulating dissimilar air tactics. Approximately 30 maintainers made the trip along with the aircraft. 

  “We are very happy to be out here to support VMFAT-501,” said Lt. Col. Bill Sheridan, commanding officer of VMFT-401. “Understanding fleet replacement squadron training is very important to future pilot production especially as the squadron starts standing up, I think we’re going to help out pretty significantly over the next couple of years, and to be part of that is very special.”

  “It is exciting to train with VMFAT-501,” said Apple. “The F-35 is the newest jet that we fly against and they present new challenges. The stealth technology is extremely advanced making them hard to see when we train against them.”   

  Operating aboard the air station can bring up certain challenges for visiting squadrons that train on the facility, but that is not the case for VMFT-401. 

  “It’s not any different operating here,” said Apple. “We deploy frequently because we go wherever red air is needed. We provide support for Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One, Fleet Marine Forces and fleet replacement squadrons.”

  The squadron consistently supports Weapons and Tactics Instructor Courses and assists squadrons in air-to-air training.  

  “Besides WTIs, we also support the Marine Division Tactics Course,” said Apple. “Once we are done with this training, we will move on the the next squadron that needs our support.”
 “It’s always great to be out here in Beaufort,” said Sheridan. “We get a lot of support and we’re very grateful to everybody here.”