MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT, S.C. --
Division Tactics Course began aboard Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort Jan. 11.
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
Attack Squadron 122, Marine Fighter Training Squadron 401, and Marine Fighter
Attack Training Squadron 101 are participating in the training.
provides a graduate level air to air school for some of the finest fighter
pilots in the fleet to attend and continue to sharpen and hone their skills,”
said Capt. Rick Gallup, the pilot training officer for VMFA-122. “It is not
just for Marines in Beaufort, Marines around the country can attend this course
and learn as our tactics continue to evolve and change.”
The training is
continuous and intense for the students who are comprised of pilots from the various
squadrons. The training went from theory in classroom to practical application
with the F/A-18 Hornets simulating combat air maneuvers against F-5N Tiger II
The Tiger IIs
from VMFT-401 play the role of the adversary squadron in the course. Based out
of MCAS Yuma, VMFT-401 is a Marine Corps Reserve fighter squadron and belongs
to Marine Aircraft Group 41, 4th Marine Aircraft Wing. The squadron brought eight
F-5N Tiger II aircraft to support the pilots in training. Approximately 30
Marines made the trip along with the aircraft.
start off in a one on one dogfighting environment then they transition to a two-on-two
employment and then the last section of the course puts four pilots up against
an unknown number of adversaries,” said Gallup. “The final test is applying
division tactics to strike a target in hostile territory. They learn to fight
their way in, drop air-to-ground ordnance, and then fight their way back out.”
air-to-air and self-escort strike tactics course is equivalent to the Navy’s
Top Gun program and has a rigorous training schedule where pilots learn both in
the classroom and in the sky. The arduous course is offered twice a year, once
on the West Coast and once on the East Coast.
preparing to take the course go through an extensive training process. The best
pilots are chosen and designated to represent their squadron. After the course,
the pilots take what they have learned to pass on to their peers.
“The pilots will come back to us and teach us
the new standards for tactics and knowledge,” said Gallup. “This keeps us all
up to date and mission ready.”
training is demanding and requires pilots to think quickly in uncertain
situations. The purpose is to teach them to work together effectively to
accomplish the mission.
requires a lot of dedication and focus,” said Gallup. “Pilots need to have
situational awareness about what is going on around them and look to employ not
just their own aircraft but the division as a whole.”
serves as an opportunity to highlight individuals who stand out in their units.
Pilots with talent and skill have the opportunity to further their military
education and become mentors to their fellow aviators.
“We have this opportunity to identify
individuals with a lot of potential and give them excellent training so the
entire Marine Corps can benefit,” said Gallup.