News: VMFA-314 prepares for Australian skies
Story by Lance Cpl. Charles Clark
KADENA AIR BASE, Japan - Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 314 flew to Royal Australian Air Force Base Townsville, Australia, to start Talisman Saber 2011 and Southern Frontier 2011 July 1.
Talisman Saber 2011, a biennial joint exercise with the Australian Defense Force, U.S. Navy assets providing support for amphibious assault training and various U.S.
Marine Corps fixed-wing and support squadrons, is designed to have U.S. forces provide close-air-support to the Australian army during future joint combat operations and is slated to begin July 13.
Close-air-support is assistance from friendly aircraft against enemy forces that are in proximity to U.S. or allied troops on the ground.
“We are directly supporting service members on the ground,” said Capt. Elliott B. Lushin, a VMFA-314 F/A-18 Hornet pilot. “The troops will call us in to take out the enemies when they can’t do so from their position.”
Whenever the Australian soldiers require close-air-support, they need to be able to call upon any branch of service for support.
“Australia and the U.S. are allies who go to war together,” said Capt. Russ L. Henos, a VMFA-314 F/A-18 Hornet pilot. “We are making sure everyone is operating on the same page.”
The bombing ranges the Australian military provides allows for air-to-ground training for the pilots.
“We couldn’t do any air-to-ground training in Iwakuni, and we were limited to just one island during our training in Okinawa,” Lushin said. “The ranges in Australia really broaden the Black Knights training horizons.”
VMFA-314 is slated to roll right into Southern Frontier 2011 toward the end of July following the conclusion of Talisman Saber 2011.
Southern Frontier 2011, hosted by the Royal Australian Air Force, is an annual, bilateral training exercise, which allows Marine F/A-18 Hornet squadrons the opportunity to focus on close-air-support training in order to improve the different squadron’s readiness and combat efficiency.
The Black Knights’ pilots plan to do a lot of training exercises in support of Southern Frontier 2011, Henos said. Part of Southern Frontier includes night training.
Night training is especially difficult because the pilots can’t see the visual cues used to drop ordnance.
The pilots are forced to rely on their equipment during these situations in order to be precise when dropping bombs in night combat operations.
“This is a great opportunity for us to maintain our nighttime combat effectiveness,” said Lushin.
The maintenance Marines can also take advantage of the latenight training.
“The Marines who work on the aircraft have qualifications that they need to re-qualify for annually,” said Cpl. Michael P. Weston, a VMFA-314 aviation operations specialist. “This type of training benefits all the Marines in the squadron, not just the pilots.”
The VMFA-314 Marines and ADF troops will use these exercises to keep the U.S.-Australian multinational interoperability strong.