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A Marine performs pre-flight maintenance on an F/A-18 Hornet on Tyndall Air Force Base in Panama City, Fla., in preparation for a live-fire missile shoot June 15. Pilots and ground crew received vital experience during simulated combat missions to increase mission readiness. The Marine is with Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 224, Marine Aircraft Group 31.

Photo by Courtesy Photo

Hornets sharpen skills down south

19 Jun 2015 | Lance Cpl. Jonah Lovy Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort

F/A-18 Hornets from Marine Aircraft Group 31 participated in a live missile shoot on Tyndall Air Force Base in Panama City, Fla., June 6-12.Marine Fighter Attack Squadrons 122 and 115, and Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 224 participated in the exercise.
The primary purpose of the exercise was to execute air-to-air live-fire missle shoots against unmanned aircraft, also known as drones. The pilots fired live missiles at the drones to simulate a combat environment.
“This is a unique experience,” said Lt. Cmdr. Michael Mitchel, head of the F/A-18 weapon system evaluation program under the 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group. “This exercise is the first time these squadrons have had an opportunity to train like this. It’s good to get them out of their comfort zone.”
The squadrons are using the ADM-141 Tactical Air Launched Decoy against the drones. The ADM-141 TALD is designed to confuse and mislead enemy air defenses.
Ordinance used during the training includes the AIM-7 Sparrow, AIM-9 Sidewinder, and AIM 120.
The Sparrow is a medium range semi-active radar homing air-to-air missile introduced in the late 1950s. The Sidewinder is a short-range, air-to-air missile with a kill radius of 30 feet, and was the world’s first combat successful air-to-air guided missile introduced in the late 1950s. The AIM-120 is an advanced medium-range air-to-air missile with active guidance, and was introduced in Iraq in the 1990s.
“It is important for pilots to know what it feels like to pull the trigger on a real target,” said Capt. Nathaniel Griggs, a pilot with the Marine Aviation Training Support Squadron, Marine Aircraft Group 31. “These live fire exercises provide crucial experience.”
The exercise reaffirmed the Marines ability to effectively execute live fire missile shoots, and ensures Marine squadrons remain a deadly force in the skies.