Hawks, Eagles fly to Florida

27 Feb 2014 | Cpl. Sarah Cherry

Marines with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 115 and Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 533 went to Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., to participate in the Weapon System Evaluation Program hosted by 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group, Feb. 21.

While there, Marines will help test weapons systems for performance, reliability, capability and limitations, and deficiencies as they prepare for a deployment later this year.

"We go down there to do live fire for air-to-air weapons, which is the three primary missiles that we shoot, and we’ll also shoot our air-to-air guns," said Maj. Dennis Dalton, operations officer for VMFA(AW)-533. "We’ll shoot those missiles against drone targets."

The weapons systems the Marines will fire for evaluation include the AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-air Missile, AIM-7 Sparrow missile, and the AIM-9 Sidewinder missile.

"We don’t get to shoot missiles often," said Capt. Jordan Meredith, a pilot with Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 533. "We’ll also be able to interact with F-15s, F-16s and [F-22s]. It’s important because it builds your knowledge base and allows you to react to different circumstances."

This training gives the Marines knowledge, confidence and experience with air-to-air combat, live ordnance, and joint service functions.

"It’s important because this is part of a bigger Pre-deployment Training Program," said Lt. Col. Lance Patrick, the commanding officer for VMFA-115. "It builds confidence in the maintenance crews and the pilots in operating with and around the live ordnance. When we go to El Centro [this spring], we’ll focus more on air-to-ground and finishing up the PTP process before we go out the door later this year on a Unit Deployment Program."