MCAS Beaufort F/A-18 and F-35 Squadron Frequency Changes

Brunswick – The USMC MAG-31 F/A-18 squadrons and the F-35B FRS squadron at MCAS Beaufort have recently undergone a number of air-to-air and Base frequency changes, leading to an update of my Milair page, but I thought I would also make those changes a blog post as well. A basic overview is that VMFA-115 has changed their Base (squadron ops) frequency and have a possible new air-to-air frequency, VMFA(AW)-224 changed one of their air-to-air frequencies, VMFA-251 changed one of their air-to-air frequencies, VMFA-312 has changed their Base and air-to-air frequencies, and VMFA(AW)-553 has changed one of their air-to-air frequencies. The changes are detailed below:

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CHECK 61/62 (F/A-18C, VMFA-312) over the Savannah NWR while on approach to Savannah-Hilton Head Airport

MCAS Beaufort
119.050/342.875 – Tower
269.125/123.700 – Beaufort Approach/Departure
292.125/125.125 – Beaufort Approach/Departure
281.800 – Base Ops
264.500 – PMSV

VMFA-115
Aircraft: F/A-18
Callsign: BLADE
283.400 – VMFA-115 Base
339.500 – VMFA-115 Tac 1
225.675 – VMFA-115 Tac 2
274.500 – VMFA-115 Tac 3
225.875 – Possible new VMFA-115 Tac

VMFA(AW)-224
Aircraft: F/A-18D
Callsign: BENGAL
305.800 – VMFA(AW)-224 Base
228.300 – VMFA(AW)-224 Tac 1
258.900 – VMFA(AW)-224 Tac 2
336.225 – VMFA(AW)-224 Tac 3

VMFA-251
Aircraft: F/A-18C
Callsign: TBOLT
313.800 – VMFA-251 Base
251.400 – VMFA-251 Tac 1
327.475 – VMFA-251 Tac 2
376.425 – VMFA-251 Tac 3

VMFA-312
Aircraft: F/A-18C
Callsign: CHECK
262.700 – VMFA-312 Base
299.275 – VMFA-312 Tac 1
289.275 – VMFA-312 Tac 2

VMFAT-501
Aircraft: F-35B
Callsign: SWEDE, WARLORD
343.200 – VMFAT-501 Base
326.700 – VMFAT-501 Tac 1
349.225 – VMFAT-501 Tac 2
341.825 – VMFAT-501 Tac 3

VMFA(AW)-533
Aircraft: F/A-18D
Callsign: HAWK
310.200 – VMFA(AW)-533 Base
234.075 – VMFA(AW)-533 Tac 1
299.300 – VMFA(AW)-533 Tac 2
348.825 – VMFA(AW)-533 Tac 3

VMFA-122 Leaves MCAS Beaufort, Will Transition to the F-35B

Savannah – Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort and MAG-31 now have one less squadron. On 22 September 2017, VMFA-122’s squadron commander relinquished command of the squadron at MCAS Beaufort, South Carolina and its colors were cased in preparation for it to stand up as an F-35B squadron at MCAS Yuma, California. With the move, they will no longer be under the command of MAG-31 and will instead be part of MAG-13. The squadron had been based at MCAS Beaufort since 1957, flying F8U-1 Corsair IIs and F/A-18 Hornets during their time there. Prior to that, they flew the F4F Wildcat, F4U-1 and F4G-1A Corsair, FH-1 Phantom, and the F9F-4 and F9F-5 Panther from a number of aircraft carriers.

Known as the “Crusaders,” “Werewolves,” and later as “The Flying Leathernecks” and using the callsign NIKEL, I’ve enjoyed listening to the VMFA-122 fly and train in the South Carolina Lowcountry and Coastal Georgia area throughout the years. I’ll miss hearing them around.

VMFT-401 at MCAS Beaufort

Savannah – F-5s from VMFT-401 have been operating out of MCAS Beaufort for at least the last week or so. I haven’t had a lot of radio time, but it seems the “Snipers” mostly supporting VMFAT-501 F-35B training. On this visit, they’re utilizing VMFA(AW)-533’s frequencies while the “Hawks” are deployed:

310.200 VMFT-401 Base (Normally VFMA-533 Base)
289.275 VMFT-401 Tac (Normally VFMA-533 Tac 1)
299.300 VMFT-401 Tac (Normally VMFA-533 Tac 2)
348.825 VFMT-401 Tac (Normally VMFA-533 Tac 3)

Most of the activity has been on 376.900 (F-35Bs – SWEDE) and 349.800 (F-5s – SNIPER) in W-137 off of the Georgia coast after the aircraft check in with SEALORD on 284.500 or 313.700. Over the weekend, they also worked with some other squadrons from MCAS Beaufort in what was fairly heavy activity for a weekend, but more about that in another, upcoming post.

VMFT-401 Arrives in Fightertown, Trains with Warlords

I caught VMFT-401 active as adversaries with VMFAT-501 on Saturday. VMFT-401 was using their usual callsign of SNIPER and VMFA(AW)-224’s frequencies of 305.800 for Base, 250.300 for air-to-air, and 258.900 for air-to-air. Article below is from DVIDS.


 

Story by Lance Cpl. Jonah Lovy

BEAUFORT, S.C. – Marine Fighter Training Squadron 401 arrived at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort Dec. 1 to support Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501 in air-to-air training from Dec. 2-Dec. 11.

Sgt. Dengrier Baez An F-5N Tiger II taxis after landing aboard Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort in Dec. 3 to support Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501 in air-to-air training from Dec. 2-Dec. 11. Marine Fighter Training Squadron 401 brought five F-5N Tiger II aircraft to support red air for VMFAT-501, an F-35 training squadron. Red air is the adversary forces for air-to-air training simulating threat country tactics. The jet is with VMFT-401. (photo from DVIDS)
Sgt. Dengrier Baez
An F-5N Tiger II taxis after landing aboard Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort in Dec. 3 to support Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501 in air-to-air training from Dec. 2-Dec. 11. Marine Fighter Training Squadron 401 brought five F-5N Tiger II aircraft to support red air for VMFAT-501, an F-35 training squadron. Red air is the adversary forces for air-to-air training simulating threat country tactics. The jet is with VMFT-401. (photo from DVIDS)

The “Snipers” of VMFT-401are the only adversary squadron in the Marine Corps. Based out of MCAS Yuma, VMFT-401 is a Marine Corps Reserve fighter squadron and belongs to Marine Aircraft Group 41, 4th Marine Aircraft Wing.

“VMFAT-501 sent us a feasibility support request to come and support red air for them,” said Maj. Beau Wisdom, the operations officer for VMFT-401. “Our mission here is to specifically provide support for the training squadron. We’ll be providing them with a 4 versus 4 each day, totaling eight sorties per day.”

The squadron brought five F-5N Tiger II aircraft to support dissimilar air combat training for VMFAT-501. Red air is the adversary forces for air-to-air training simulating dissimilar air tactics. Approximately 30 Marines made the trip along with the aircraft.

“We are very happy to be out here to support VMFAT-501,” said Lt. Col. Bill Sheridan, commanding officer of VMFT-401. “Understanding fleet replacement squadron training is very important to future pilot production especially as the squadron starts standing up, I think we’re going to help out pretty significantly over the next couple of years, and to be part of that is very special.”

Operating aboard the air station can bring up certain challenges for visiting squadrons that train on the facility, but that is not the case for VMFT-401.

“It’s not any different operating here,” said Wisdom. “We deploy frequently because we go where the support is needed. We provide support for Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One, Fleet Marine Forces and fleet replacement squadrons.”

The squadron consistently supports Weapons and Tactics Instructor Courses and assists squadrons in air-to-air training.

“Besides WTIs, we also support the Marine Division Tactics Course,” said Wisdom. “Once we are done with this training, we’ll be back here in support of MDTC from January to February.”

MDTC will provide aircrew and controllers with instruction in order to employ tactical jet aircraft in complex air-to-air environments.

“It’s always great to be out here in Beaufort,” said Sheridan. “We get a lot of support and we’re very grateful to everybody here.”

VMFAT-501, the Royal Air Force, and the F-35B: UK Pilots and Maintainers to Arrive in Beaufort

This article from DVIDS is about the U.K. Royal Air Force’s part in F-35B training at MCAS Beaufort, SC. As anyone who’s listened to the F-35s flying out of Beaufort can attest, there are U.K. pilots in the program; this article explains why and points out that more U.K. personnel will be on the way. 

Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501 is slated to receive more pilots and maintainers from the U.K. in the next few months. The incoming personnel will join their countrymen who are working side by side with Marines on improving their capability with the F-35B Lightning II aboard Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort.

There are currently 14 U.K. service members at VMFAT-501. The British operators have been in Beaufort since February 2015, when the Royal Air Force flew three F-35s to Fightertown.

“Day to day, we do a little bit of everything,” said Squadron Ldr. Hugh Nichols, the U.K. senior national representative with VMFAT-501. “From teaching the new pilots, which is our main focus, to generating a syllabus as we look at new capabilities and roles the F-35 can fill, and how we can teach them to the new pilots.”

Expanding their manpower in Beaufort is a step forward for the U.K.’s goal of achieving F-35 capabilities. In 2018, the plan is for U.K.’s F-35 team to achieve initial operating capability in a land-based role and aboard the future HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier in 2020.

“The fact that we can operate from VMFAT-501 for the next couple years means we will be ahead of the game when it comes to developing our own capabilities back on U.K. soil come 2018,” said Lieutenant Commander Beth Kitchen, the U.K. senior engineering officer at VMFAT-501.

The teamwork between the two nations is crucial to the international aspect of the F-35. No one country is solely responsible for its use so diplomacy is important.

“The concept of us working together is that we will all come out at the end of this with a right way of operating the F-35, as opposed to the Marine Corps or U.K. way, to meet a middle ground,” said Nichols.

The international team is fully integrated in the Marine unit, working together to gain proficiency with the brand new jet. Service members will take the knowledge and skills they learn in this training environment and bring it to their operational units.

“We are making sure that the aircraft is maintained and the U.K. is able to develop its own engineering maintenance and air competency in order to independently operate the aircraft,” said Kitchen.

In addition to the new pilots and maintainers arriving at the air station, the Royal Air Force is currently building their own Pilot Training Center. The U.K. plans to eventually purchase and maintain their own F-35s.
“Jets will start to roll off the production line early to mid-next year, and will slowly increase until 2018,” said Nichols.

The U.K. is planning to continue expanding their capabilities at VMFAT-501 for the next few years. The F-35 is the U.K.’s future maritime strike ground attack fighter aircraft.

“I think it’s a huge achievement with how complex the program is, the different services we’ve got, and different languages,” said Nichols. “The fact that we can mesh it all together is outstanding.”

With the expanded capabilities of the U.K. and the continued diligence of the Marines, both sides are able to figure out the most sufficient, safe, and tactical ways to operate the F-35.