CLARK AIR FORCE BASE, Rebulic of the Philippines --
Four Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 224 pilots participated in one of the first flight training exercises during exercise PHIBLEX here Oct. 15.
The unit-level training exercise was conducted to give pilots position-approach training, which covered basic fighter maneuver training, aerial refueling and arrestment landing.
BFM training, or “dog fighting,” was the first exercise during the training in which pilots simulated close aerial combat against enemy fighter jets.
“In the event that we were to encounter an adversary airplane and were unable to take a beyondvisual- range shot, then we would have to attack them in visual range. That’s the kind of training we were doing today,” said Maj. John Dinh, VMFA(AW)-224 pilot.
After the dog fighting training was complete, the pilots received additional aerial refueling training by refueling from a C-130 with 8,000 pounds of fuel.
“Aerial refueling is another proficiency that we need to maintain,” said Dinh. “Whenever we get the chance to do it, it’s always good, and it keeps us proficient.
The final segment of the training was an arrestment landing in which pilots had to simulate a landing failure and their aircraft had to be arrested by Marine Wing Support Squadron 172 expeditionary airfield specialists.
“Being (home), we don’t get much time to actually train with the gear at our base, so the best training comes while we’re deployed,” said Sgt. Gordon L. Llewellyn, MWSS-172 production control chief. “Our sole purpose in life is to be there for an emergency, not for practice.”
When a plane performs an emergency arrestment landing, the tail hook on the end of its aircraft catches a steel cable on the runway, which unwinds and slows the plane while allowing the pilots to maintain control.
The exercise is not only beneficial for the pilots, but it also affords Marines, like MWSS-172 expeditionary airfield specialists, a chance to improve their response time between their dayon, day-off 24-hour shifts.
“Without these exercises, we wouldn’t have the real-time training that’s required to perform our jobs in wartime,” said Llewellyn.
After the arrestment landing, the pilots made their way back to their respective spots on the flight line and were debriefed on the training. The pilots then returned to the ready room and talked about how the exercise was conducted, what flaws they encountered and how they could have improved performance.
Dinh said the run was smooth, the pilots had few issues, and overall, the exercise was a success. “It’s always good to go to a different place, somewhere unfamiliar, somewhere not home field and exercise the expeditionary asset of Marine Corps aviation,” said Dinh.
VMFA(AW)-224 was slated to run flight exercises daily for the remainder of PHIBLEX, but due to inclement typhoon conditions, exercise PHIBLEX was canceled for the safety of our Marines and Philippine counterparts Oct. 16.