MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan -- Pop flares. Brake right, brake left.
KC-130J Super Hercules pilots with Marine Aerial Refueler Squadron 152 practiced surface-to-air missile evasion maneuvers during a threat reaction evolution aboard a training island outside of Okinawa, Japan, Aug. 26, 2014.
VMGR-152 ordnancemen fired GTR-18 rockets, or better known as “Smokey SAMs,” at the aircraft.
“The smoke plume is what’s identified from the aircrew,” said Sgt. Korey Norman, quality assurance safety observer with VMGR-152. “Then the pilots react. They will either brake right or brake left to evade that threat and pop counter measures.”
“Counter measures” used by the aircraft are MJU-61 infrared flares, which act as decoys for heat-seeking missiles to follow in hopes the pilots steer away unharmed.
Lance Cpl. Marcos Bocanegra, an ordnanceman with VMGR-152, was one Marine who set up and aimed the rockets at the aircraft.
“Doing these Smokey SAMs is vital for the pilots so they know what to do in case an actual rocket is fired toward them,” said Bocanegra.
The KC-130J Super Hercules executed nine passes over the island, successfully evading nine missiles.
According to Norman, though the training is geared toward supporting pilots, it allows the Marines on the ground to gain experience as well.
“The training is mainly for the aircrew, so they can receive their (qualifications) and stay current on them,” said Norman. “For us, it’s a good experience to get out into a somewhat austere environment and get these Marines trained up on ordnance. In a C-130 platform, there’s not really a lot of ordnance for us to do, so any chance we can get our Marines out to the field and get some hands on training, then it’s good for them.”
With both pilots and ordnancemen playing a particular role in the evolution, Norman said their main mission is to help keep pilots ready and alert.
“If they don’t have the qualifications, then they can’t do the particular missions that require this kind of training,” said Norman. “There are things going on all over the globe, in particular, this (area of operation). We participate in all sorts of humanitarian missions and the more training we can get for our aircrew, the better. We are here to support them.”