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    Exercise Southern Frontier allows Marine squadron to perfect low altitude tactics

    Exercise Southern Frontier allows Marine squadron to perfect low altitude tactics

    Courtesy Photo | A pilot with Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 242 conducts low altitude...... read more read more

    NT, AUSTRALIA

    08.09.2013

    Story by Sgt. Charles McKelvey 

    Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni

    ROYAL AUSTRALIAN AIR FORCE BASE TINDAL, Australia – Aircrew from Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 242, Marine Aircraft Group 12, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, are obtaining initial and renewing existing low altitude tactic qualifications during Exercise Southern Frontier at Royal Australian Air Force Base Tindal, Australia, which began Aug. 5, 2013.

    The squadron made LAT training a priority while in Australia’s Northern Territory because it is not possible to conduct the training while at their home station, Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan.

    “Where we are in our (area of responsibility) really inhibits pilot training in regards to low altitude tactics. In Japan we are forced to fly and adhere to host country rules, which inhibits us from going below 500 feet,” said Maj. Frank Savarese, the pilot training officer for VMFA(AW)-242. “We have a wonderful opportunity to come down to Australia and take advantage of all of these ranges that Australia has to offer to us, which allows us the opportunity to fly low.”

    Savarese said the squadron would obtain almost 14 initial LAT qualifications during the exercise hosted by the RAAF. In addition to gaining qualifications, the training also boosts the aircrews’ skillset and proficiency.

    “It builds confidence in our pilots, especially the young pilots and weapon systems officers,” said Savarese. “If for whatever reason we do have to enter into a conflict and we have to execute any sort of low altitude ingress this will just help build our habit patterns for combat.”

    Savarese said one scenario, which LAT might be used is when there is multiple surface to air missiles in the area that would prevent an aircraft from striking the target sets from a medium or high altitude environment. He added that the aircrew may have an opportunity to enter the area unseen, undetected or with minimal detection from a low altitude environment.

    “Low altitude tactics is very difficult at first, a lot of scan goes into flying in a low altitude environment and it’s very hot,” said Savarese. “There is a lot of (gravitational force) involved in low altitude environments so there is an awful lot of training that goes into building a pilot up and getting him ready and prepared to fly in low altitude.”

    Low altitude currency is one of the quickest things a pilot and weapon systems officers can lose. Outside of 30 days aircrew are no longer LAT current so they have to continue to build these skillsets to be able to train to a low altitude environment, said Savarese.

    Pilots and weapon systems officers are not the only ones experiencing LAT during the month-long training exercise. The squadron ensured other personnel, vital to the aircrews’ mission, had the opportunity to experience the training.

    “As a flight surgeon I want to get close to the pilots, and I want to learn what they are about, and what kind of experiences they have in the aircraft to better know what sort of things they have to deal with,” said Navy Lt. Nathan Oehrlein, a flight surgeon with Marine Wing Support Squadron 171.

    Oehrlein said learning those things is important so he can best say whether the pilots and weapon system operators are safe to fly or not.

    “The sheer enormity of the tasks involved that the pilots have to work; the memorization of the altitudes and air speeds of the markers he has to hit, means that he pretty much has to be pretty close to 100% every time he goes up into the aircraft,” said Oehrlein. “Even minor things such as illnesses, congestions, headaches or personal issues can detract from some of that. When you are at a low altitude-training environment or actually getting shot at in the field, one mistakes or one missing of the target can put you in a dangerous situation.”

    Oehrlein said, appreciating that, and really knowing that, helps him relate, and gives him a little bit of experience so he can say ‘Hey I know what it takes; I’ve seen you guys do it and I know I couldn’t.’

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 08.09.2013
    Date Posted: 08.20.2013 00:36
    Story ID: 112243
    Location: NT, AU

    Web Views: 3,290
    Downloads: 3

    PUBLIC DOMAIN