MDTC Underway at MCAS Beaufort

Savannah – Yesterday morning’s monitoring indicated that there’s MDTC (Marine Division Tactics Course) underway at MCAS Beaufort. An MDTC usually takes place in January and this year seems to be no different. Flights of MAG-31 F/A-18s using the callsigns LATCH and SALEM (callsigns traditionally used by MDTC flights at MCAS Beaufort) and VMFAT-501 F-5Ns using the callsign VIPER were working in offshore SUAs yesterday morning. I didn’t hear SALEMs, LATCHes, or SNIPERs on Friday, so I’m guessing the MDTC flying started yesterday and will likely continue through the rest of the month.

If you’re interested in listening to the activity, here’s what I heard in use yesterday morning:

MCAS Beaufort Frequencies
292.125 – Beaufort App/Dep
269.125 – Beaufort App/Dep

SEALORD Frequencies
284.500 – SEALORD North Primary
313.700 – SEALORD North Secondary
349.800 – W-137 Discrete
376.900 – W-137 Discrete
385.300 – W-137 Discrete
318.600 – SEALORD Discrete

MAG-31/VMFT-401 Frequencies
283.400 – VMFA-115 Base; LATCH/SALEM flights for Base traffic
304.200 – MAG-31; LATCH/SALEM flights for Base traffic
310.200 – VMFA(AW)-553 Base; LATCH/SALEM flight Base traffic
228.300 – MDTC Air-to-Air (normally VMFA-224 Tac 1)
264.925 – MDTC Air-to-Air (normally VMFT-401 Tac)
274.500 – MDTC Air-to-Air (normally VMFA-115 Tac 3)
336.225 – MDTC Air-to-Air (normally VMFA-115 Tac 3
376.425 – MDTC Air-to-Air (normally VMFA-251 Tac 3)
348.825 – VMFT-401 Air-to-Air (normally VMFA-533 Tac 3)

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:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marine Division Tactics Course at MCAS Beaufort

Savannah – It seems that MAG-31 at MCAS Beaufort is conducting a Marine Division Tactics Course (MDTC) for Group F/A-18 pilots in conjunction with MAWTS-1 and VMFT-401. A prerequisite for personnel attending the Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course at MCAS Yuma, the MDTC provides training in aerial combat for both fighter pilots and intercept controllers. The training is conducted by instructors from MAWTS-1 (Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron 1 and personnel and aircraft from VMFT-401. The giveaway is the set of callsigns used by the F/A-18 flights: KHAKI, LATCH, and SALEM; the only time that these seem to be used are during preparation for and during an MDTC. The F-5Ns from VMFT-401 use their usual callsign of SNIPER. Usually, there are multiple sorties per day with the KHAKIs, LATCHes, and SALEMs going up against the SNIPERs, but today I only heard one set of sorties in the morning (although some SNIPERs did go up against a flight VMFA-115 BLADEs later in the day). The MDTC usually lasts three weeks, with one week of classroom work and two weeks in the air. Based on what I’ve heard, I’m guessing last week was the classroom week and today began the two weeks of work in the air, but we’ll see. Here’s a callsign/frequency list to help out if you want to listen in:

KHAKI – F/A-18, MAG-31
LATCH – F/A-18, MAG-31
SALEM – F/A-18, MAG-31

313.800 – MAG-31 “KAISER Base” (usually VMFA-251 Base)
251.400 – MAG-31 Air-to-Air (probably new VMFA-251 Tac 1)
327.475 – MAG-31 Air-to-Air (usually VMFA-251 Tac 2)
376.425 – MAG-31 Air-to-Air (usually VMFA-251 Tac 3)
290.000 – MAG-31 Air-to-Air (old VMFA-251 Tac 1)

292.125 – Beaufort Approach/Departure
269.125 – Beaufort Approach/Departure

284.500 – SEALORD North Primary
349.800 – W-137 Discrete
376.900 – W-137 Discrete
318.600 – SEALORD Discrete


It’s also worth mentioning that VMFA-112 is also at MCAS Beaufort. In the past, they have also augmented VMFT-401 as Red Air during the more advanced air work during MDTCs. They were using VMFA-115 frequencies today and were doing air-to-ground work at Townsend Range, but as the MDTC goes on, I would expect to start hearing them work as Red Air with the SNIPERs.

283.400 – VMFA-115 Base
225.675 – VMFA-115 Tac 2
361.800 – Old VMFA-115 Base


In other MCAS Beaufort news, ATAC 22, either an ATAC Kfir or Hawker Hunter, arrived at MCAS Beaufort today so we could start hearing ATAC flights doing another round of operating as Red Air for the SWEDEs of  VMFAT-501 as they train new F-35B pilots.

DVIDS Article on Marine Division Tactics Course at MCAS Beaufort

Recently I posted about the Marine Division Tactics Course that has been underway at MCAS Beaufort; this DVIDS article below appeared about it yesterday including the information that the graduation takes place today. Based on monitoring over the last few weeks, VMFA-112 and the 142nd FW assisted in the MDTC as adversaries in addition to VMFT-401.


Fightertown pilots are scheduled to graduate from Marine Division Tactics Course aboard Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, Feb. 3.

The four-week course takes the top tier of Marine Aircraft Group 31 pilots and refines their skills in offensive anti-air warfare and anti-air defense. Six F-18 Hornet pilots and one Weapons Systems Operator will graduate, earning a Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One qualification and a MDTC Instructor patch.

The course is held twice a year aboard MCAS Beaufort for all of MAG-31 F-18 squadrons. Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One instructor pilots, based out of MCAS Yuma, Ariz., instructs and evaluates the MCAS Beaufort pilots. For those pilots who do graduate it provides a stepping stone to go on to the top flight school, Weapons Tactics Instructor course.

“This course is one pre-requisite among others to eventually go on to the WTI course,” said Maj. Timothy Farag, the MAWTS-1 tactical air department head. “This course makes them proficient at air to air tactics.
Upon completion of WTI, they will be experts on both air to air and air to
ground tactics. They will be the overall subject matter experts of the F-18 Hornet.”

Both MDTC and WTI are fast paced, compact courses that test the top
level pilots and turn them into masters of airborne tactics, prepared to meet the needs of a Marine Air Ground Task Force. Because of the sharp learning curve for both courses, the pilots need to be top notch with an aptitude far above their peers.

“The first week of MDTC is dedicated to academics,” said Maj. Benjamin Apple, the operations officer with Marine Fighter Training Squadron 401. “Then the pilots spend a week doing dogfighting within visual range. The
last two weeks are spent doing beyond visual range flights and simulations.”

The week of academics covers complex tactics, briefing and debriefing.
The pilots not only need to excel in their flight time, but also in the debriefing time. Debriefing after a mission is critical, so that the pilots and WSO’s can see exactly what happened and how to improve. The
second week of dogfighting is when Apple’s unit, VMFT-401, comes into the picture.

“We are the Marine Corps’ only adversary squadron,” said Apple. “Often the Marine Corps utilizes civilian defense contractors. What sets us apart is both our aircraft and the fact that we are uniform wearing Marines. Adversary air is something we specialize in and provide to our customers. We study what the enemy does and we know what our pilots should be doing. We provide the anvil on which our Marine pilots sharpen their word.”

The VMFT-401 squadron frequently visits MCAS Beaufort to provide adversary air for the squadrons. During this visit their primary focus was
to support MDTC. After the second week of air to air dogfighting, the pilots start to work up to larger, longer and more complex flying exercises. The exercises start off with a section, comprised of two pilots. Over the final two weeks they work up to a division flying against 10
adversary aircraft.

“We have the pilots train with both offensive and defensive anti-aircraft warfare,” said Farag. “Essentially the pilots will either be attacking a simulated enemy asset or defending against an oncoming adversary force, protecting a friendly asset. The entire time they are flying they are monitored by controllers who watch, record and analyze everything. When the pilots come back and have their debrief they need to know everything that happened during the exercise and learn from it.”

The debrief conducted after the flight is just as important as the flight itself. This is the pilot’s chance to show his control over the situation and most importantly, learn how they can improve. The competition for a seat at MDTC is stiff. Pilots need to be able to execute in flight and show control in the debrief.

“VMFT-401 works as an extension of MAWTS-1 for the duration of the exercise, working hand in hand as the instructor pilots,” said Farag. “As far as organizing and coordinating MDTC, that comes from Marine Aviation Training System Site Beaufort.”

The MATTS Beaufort coordinates and provides, adversary air, space to
conduct briefs, debriefs, and reserves airspace. The MAG-31 provides the
aircraft, assets, and maintainers. All of these components work together to ensure that everything is ready and available to ensure MDTC runs smoothly.

“The need for MDTC is huge,” said Farag. “The Marine Corps Training and Readiness Manual dictates that each squadron requires a certain number
of WTI’s to ensure the Hornet community continues to meet the needs of the Marine Air Ground Task Force.”

The course is scheduled to culminate with a final flight and evaluation followed by a graduation at the Officer’s club aboard Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort Feb. 3. The course is a stride towards becoming a top aviator and subject matter expert within the F-18 Hornet community.

“We are honing pilots in air to air tactics maneuver and air superiority,” said Apple. “This has been a great trip for us. I love coming out to Beaufort and we are happy to be here, take our capabilities and bring
those to the fleet.”


Change in VMFAT-501 Frequencies and MDTC Continues

Savannah – Today is the first day in a little over a week that I’ve been able to play radio and one of the first things I noticed is that VMFAT-501 at MCAS Beaufort has changed frequencies. They’ve been using 315.300, 319.500, and 285.000 as air-to-air frequencies as 299.275 as their Base frequency. After not hearing anything while SWEDE flights were en route to and working at Townsend Range this morning, I put a radio in search mode and found a flight on 326.700. Throughout the rest of the morning, I found SWEDE flights 348.125 and 349.225. Subsequent SWEDE flights used these same three air-to-air frequencies throughout the rest of the afternoon.  I haven’t determined designators for these new air-to-air frequencies yet nor have I been able to ascertain if their Base frequency has changed, but I havne’t heard anything on 299.275 so far today.

The MAG-31 MDTC continues this week, with LATCH and SALEM as the MAG-31 F/A-18s and SNIPER flights as opposition forces along with EAGLE flights of F-15s from the 142nd FW, Oregon ANG.  The 142nd FW is working out of Savannah IAP and their presence could indicate a Sentry Savannah exercise will begin soon as a Sentry Savannah usually takes place around the end of January/beginning of February and the 142nd FW has been a previous participant. The 142nd FW has been using 252.300 at the Savannah CRTC/Air Dominance Center for REDHAWK Ops and 226.750 for air-to-air.