Brilliance in the basics

14 Jun 2012 | Lance Cpl. John Wilkes


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.”