News: VMAQ-3 prowls Nevada skies
Story by Lance Cpl. Tyler J. Bolken
NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. – More than 100 Marines of Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 3 continue to train in the arid desert outside Las Vegas, where triple-digit temperatures have been the norm.
Nicknamed the Moondogs, VMAQ-3 Marines flew to Las Vegas July 15 from Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point to participate in a training evolution dubbed Red Flag Class 10-4, which is a two-week advanced aerial combat training exercise hosted at Nellis Air Force Base.
“The training here is world class, second to none and extremely realistic,” said Maj. Joseph B. Linggi, an EA-6B Prowler pilot with VMAQ-3, who has participated in several other large force exercises internationally. “The outside air temperatures are also providing a whole new valued asset to the training.”
The Moondogs brought six EA-6B Prowlers to join aircraft from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Singapore and the the U.S. Air Force in the multinational training exercise.
The Prowler’s primary purpose is to provide electronic attack and countermeasures. The Prowler is unique in the Marine Corps because it’s the only jet manned by four Marines.
Teamwork, or crew resource management, is important when operating the Prowler because there is a lot going on in regards to the electronic attack, explained 1st Lt. Matthew C. Strieby, electronic countermeasures officer with VMAQ-3.
Strieby stated there is one pilot and there are three ECMOs in the four-seat Prowler, and the ECMO’s responsibilities are interchangeable.
Linggi said the operations officer generally and initially assembles the teams based on experience. During training the junior crewmembers are paired with the more experienced Marines. The ECMO’s flexibility helps as well.
“ECMOs can rotate between all three ECMO seats,” explained Strieby. “Any given day, you’ll fly in any seat, besides the pilot seat of course.”
The first ECMO operates a communications jammer and is seated next to the pilot to assist with navigation, while ECMOs two and three sit in the backseat and man the aircraft weapons system. The ECMO in the back left seat is generally the mission commander because he is the main communication link from a tactical standpoint, explained Strieby.
The job of a Prowler pilot is to provide safe operation of the airplane at all times with mission accomplishment in mind, explained Linggi. This includes takeoffs, landings, getting gas, tanking, and making sure that the airplane is constantly in a secure, safe state.
Linggi attributes aircrew success during Red Flag to the maintenance Marines who are persevering through blistering heat daily.
“We’ve got the world’s greatest maintainers here,” said Linggi. “Marines who are absolutely motivated and 100-percent professional. They hit the home run every single day just keeping the airplanes airborne and combat ready.”
The Moondogs are scheduled to return to Cherry Point Aug. 2.