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Old 03-07-2004, 06:44 AM
thedrifter thedrifter is offline
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Cool Putting the sting in Scorpion Fire: Joint exercise brings excellence in training, uni

Putting the sting in Scorpion Fire: Joint exercise brings excellence in training, unit esprit de corps
Submitted by: MCAS Miramar
Story Identification Number: 200434201246
Story by Cpl. Paul Leicht



MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif.(March 5, 2004) -- Taking off from Marine Corps Air Station Miramar during the early twilight hours Feb. 19, a night flight of six F/A-18D Hornets from Marine All-Weather Attack Squadron 242 marked the end of the Scorpion Fire exercise.

?The flight we?re going on tonight is a Forward Air Controller (Airborne) and Tactical Air Coordinator (Airborne) mission using practice ordnance and flares,? said Maj. Marvin Reed, weapon systems officer, VMFA (AW)-242.

Scorpion Fire, a Marine Aircraft Group 11 FAC(A) and TAC(A) joint training exercise designed to integrate all aspects of Marine aviation and supporting arms, began two weeks ago and provided the ?Bats? of VMFA(AW)-242 a unique opportunity to practice their trademark skills - flying close air support missions in all weather and night conditions.

?This year, Scorpion Fire gave us the chance to train current and prospective FAC(A)s and TAC(A)s,? said Reed, who is also a class of 1992 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. ?In addition, the exercise allowed F/A-18C/D Hornet, AV-8B Harrier, AH-1W Super Cobra and UH-1N Huey helicopter squadrons to enhance their close air support and strike coordination and reconnaissance tactics, techniques and procedures.?

Due to the deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom II, VMFA(AW)-242 and Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 169 took the lead on planning and organizing the Scorpion Fire exercise.

?In six weeks, our squadron and the ?Vipers? were able to organize the evolution, working 12-hour days, including weekends, to make Scorpion Fire a reality,? said Reed.

Training as hard as they fight, the ?Bats? and the ?Vipers? of HMLA-169 used current joint CAS procedures and techniques.

?(We) handled the bulk of fixed-wing planning and execution and HMLA-169 coordinated the bulk of rotary-wing planning, including a forward arming and refueling point,? explained Reed.

Scorpion Fire was broken into three phases.

?Phase one consisted of lectures covering artillery call for fire, low, medium, high threat FAC(A), TAC(A) employment and night employment to name a few,? explained Reed.
Reed also added that MCAS Yuma conducted range scheduling and sortie planning in the initial phase.

?Phase two consisted of basic low and elevated threat rotary-wing and fixed-wing FAC(A) tactics, including supporting arms coordination,? Reed said. ?The final phase, phase three, consisted of a five-day limited war during which aircrew integrated all of the skills they learned in a fluid threat environment.?

All of the Scorpion Fire training was done in the Chocolate Mountain Impact Area and Cactus West ranges at Yuma, according to Capt. Richard B. Patteson, embark officer, VMFA(AW)-242.

Before their twilight take-off Feb. 19, the ?Bats? were careful during their pre-flight aircraft inspection, confirming the safety of their aircraft.

Their Hornet?s were not armed to the teeth with some of the typical bomb loads used in real combat missions, but were loaded with practice ordnance and LUU-2 flares for marking targets.

Overall during Scorpion Fire, the participants expended a variety of ordnance, including Mk-80 series bombs, 5-inch rockets, 2.75-inch rockets, missiles, inert bombs, 20mm gun rounds and Joint Direct Attack Munitions, according to Reed.

Highlighting the exercise, Reed noted that four aircrew from VMFA(AW)-242 successfully completed FAC(A) Instructor and TAC(A) Instructor qualifications with Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron 1 instructor support.

?This type of exercise is great training for our aircrew because the missions we fly are the same as in a real combat environment,? said Patteson.

Scorpion Fire was truly a joint exercise with approximately 19 participants, including six Hornet squadrons, four Harrier squadrons, one aerial refueling squadron, one wing support squadron, three helicopter squadrons, two Air Force F-16 fighter squadrons, 1st Force Recon from Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., and Navy Seals from Naval Special Warfare Group 1, according to Reed.

With such a large number of participants, the importance of planning showed through.

?The main lesson we learned was to start planning early,? said Reed.

Since the ?Bats?? re-designation as an all-weather squadron almost 40 years ago in 1964, VMFA(AW)-242 has provided close air support at night as well as deep interdiction strikes and reconnaissance mission in all weather conditions.

Scorpion Fire proved once again that excellence in training ensures further victory in battle, delivering the venomous sting of Marine Corps aviation.



After groundcrew members help complete the aircraft?s pre-flight systems check, a F/A-18D from VMFA(AW)-242 taxis from the Combat Arms Loading Area to the runway to take part in the final night-time Scorpion Fire flight Feb. 19. Photo by: Cpl. Paul Leicht

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn20...4?opendocument

Sempers,

Roger
__________________
IN LOVING MEMORY OF MY HUSBAND
SSgt. Roger A.
One Proud Marine
1961-1977
68/69
Once A Marine............Always A Marine.............

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