MCAS BEAUFORT, S.C. --
The Marine Division Tactics Course began June 4 aboard the Air Station. The course provides F/A- 18 Hornet aircrew and Marine air intercept controllers with groundside and airborne instruction in doctrine, tactics and weapons considerations for the successful use of Marine fighter attack aircraft in combat.
One Marine from VMFA- 122, four from Marine All- Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 224, and one from VMFA-312 are taking part in the course.
“[Marine Division Tactics Course] consists of four blocks; the first is academic, the second is the basic fighter maneuvering phase, the third is the section phase and the fourth is the division phase,” said Maj. Jeremy Siegel, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 122 operations officer.
During the first week of the MDTC, pilots participate in practical application of weapon systems, radar, surveillance and detailed capabilities of F/A-18s, as well as, simulated opposing aircraft.
For the remaining three weeks, pilots fly sorties in which they practice basic fighter and engagement maneuvers with differing number of allies and adversaries, including simulated missions where pilots face an unknown number of adversaries.
The course concludes with the graduation strike flight, which is an event designed to test pilots on everything they have learned throughout the course.
During the MDTC, pilots must know not only their own aircraft, but those flying against them, said Siegel. Aircraft including the more maneuverable F-5N Tiger II, and the faster F-16C Fighting Falcon will challenge the F/A-18s and pilots of the Air Station.
“MDTC is designed to provide requisite air-to air training prior to attending Weapons and Tactics Instructor course,” said 1st Lt. Jennifer Silvers, maintenance officer with VMFA-122.
According to Capt. Joe Freshour, F/A-18 Hornet instructor with Marine Aviation and Weapons Tactics Squadron 1, the course is considered to be the Marine Corps equivalent to United States Navy Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor program, or more commonly known as TOPGUN.
“Throughout the course students are encouraged by instructors to pay very close attention to detail and learn everything they can,” said Freshour. “Establishing a standard for all pilots is important—There is brilliance in the basics.”