VMFA-115 returns from Panama City after extensive training

6 Mar 2009 | Lance Cpl. Kel Clark

After four weeks of conducting air-to-air combat training, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 115, also known as the Silver Eagles, returned to the Air Station Feb. 27 from Tyndall Air Force Base in Panama City, Fla.

The Silver Eagles went to Tyndall to increase their core proficiency by conducting air-to-air missile shoots on the base’s expansive training areas.

“The Silver Eagles completed a highly successful validation of the Corps newly upgraded F/A-18 A++ aircraft,” said Lt. Col. Glenn Klassa, the commanding officer of VMFA-115. “All air-to-air weapons were op-checked, loaded and fired with direct hits on live targets. 

“Joint integration exposed the squadron to the nuance of working with our Air Force brethren, once again validating the lethal combination of joint interoperability and integration,” Klassa continued.

During the training, VMFA-115 worked with the Air Force’s 83rd Fighter Weapons Squadron at Tyndall and 425th Fighter Squadron at Luke Air Force Base Arizona, which also provides higher weapons and tactics continuation training for Republic of Singapore Air Force F-16 pilots, and the Air Force’s 53rd Wing of Eglin Air Force Base Fla. 

While at the base, the Silver Eagles were also able to participate in nine missile shoots. Some of the missiles used were the AIM-120A, AIM-120C, AIM-7, AIM-9M and the AIM-9X.

“Our squadron was the first Marine air squadron to fire the AIM-9X,” Estell said. “It was also a spectacular experience being out there firing missiles with the Air Force.”

Throughout their stay at Tyndall AFB, the Silver Eagles received live-fire debriefs, broke down every missile shoot and received jet academics from the Air Force. Marine Fighter Attack Squadron-115 also shot down flight drones that simulated enemy jets.

The Silver Eagles also trained with Marines with Marine Fighter Training Squadron 401, also known as the Snipers, aboard Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, during their detachment. The Snipers consist of reserve pilots who serve on an active reserve or weekend drill status.

The Silver Eagles completed their mission spectrum, Estell added. There will be another detachment in the summer, and they will continue training for an upcoming Western Pacific deployment in the fall.

“There were a lot of firsts for the squadron, whether it was Marines’ first time being out there, or even seeing some of the aircraft,” Estell said. “The whole experience was something beneficial for us. We are thankful for the squadrons and units that came out to assist us.”