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

Holiday MilCom Activity

Location:  Savannah

In between doing household chores today, I turned on the radios to see what there would be to hear during this week between holidays.  I didn’t expect to hear much it has turned out to be a fairly active day, especially in the Warning areas off of the coast.  F-15s from the Florida ANG out of Jacksonville flew several sorties into the Warning Areas as did F/A-18s from VMFA-115 and VMFA(AW)-533 out of MCAS Beaufort.  VMFA(AW)-533 also flew several sorties to the Bulldog MOA in east central Georgia.  I also heard what sounded like a VMFA-312 maintenance check flight (the first time I’ve heard them since they returned from their deployment aboard the USS Truman).

VMFA-115

Last week, I thought that VMFA-115 were not using their usual BLADE callsign when I first heard them back in the air after their return from MCAS Iwakuni. I still can’t say for sure what callsign I heard them using last week, but over the weekend they were once again using BLADE. Squadron frequencies seem to be the same as prior to their MCAS Iwakuni tour:

361.800 – Base
339.500 – Tac 1
225.675 – Tac 2
274.500 – Tac 3

Mac McCormick III, KF4LMT

VMFA-115 Returns From Japan

Story by Lance Cpl. Courtney White

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION, BEAUFORT, S.C. — Approximately 175 Marines and three corpsmen with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 115, also known as the Silver Eagles, along with 60 augments with Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 31, returned to the Air Station after a six-month deployment, March 12.

The Silver Eagles conducted a Western Pacific deployment to Iwakuni, Japan and worked alongside numerous units from the Marine Corps, Air Force and other foreign military allies.

“We did standard operations and conducted ambassador relations with allies,” said Capt. Stewart Wittel, a VMFA-115 pilot. “Also, during the deployment, we were able to conduct inter-service training, large force exercises and the Cobra Gold exercise.”

The inter-service training allowed the Marines and sailors to work with the Royal Thai Air Force and go on mini deployments to Kadena Air Base, Japan and Korat, Thailand.

During the deployment, the Silver Eagles and the Stingers did basic squadron training, increased air crew qualifications and was the first squadron in the Marine Corps to be fully equipped with the F/A-18 Hornets A++.

The F/A-18 Hornet A++ modification is an updated version of the F/A-18 Hornet with the latest and greatest avionic upgrades, according to Capt. James Berard, the VMFA-115 embarkation officer.

“Even though we didn’t train with new equipment, we were able to increase qualifications and successfully train with foreign military on mini deployments,” Berard said.

While the Marines and sailors were deployed, their spouses were able to participate in various activities such as a family holiday lunch, bowling day and, before the Marines returned, they held a “Welcome Home” banner-making party, according to Jimmie Woods, the VMFA-115 family readiness officer.

“Although I had mixed emotions about leaving my wife here during the deployment, she handled it well with the help of the [spouses] working together,” said Lance Cpl. Marcus Power, a VMFA-115 aviations operator. “During the deployment, it was easy to keep in contact and made things easier knowing she was OK.”

It is the job of the unit’s FRO to make sure families are taken care of at all times, including deployments, according to Woods. Family readiness officers are non-deployable, so they can be with service members families and host activities to keep them in touch with their loved ones during challenging times.

“The deployment was, overall, very successful with the Marines being able to complete multiple mini deployments, focus on developing and progressing [in their job fields] and maintain a partnership with Japan,” Berard said.

VMFA-115 Returns from MCAS Yuma

Yesterday, VMFA-115 returned from Exercise Desert Talon 1-08 at MCAS Yuma. They arrived as several flights throughout the afternoon using their normal callsign BLADE. 225.675, Tac 2 was in use and the flights checked in with BLADE BASE on 361.800.

Their return was supported by HOIST 91, a KC-10 from the 305th AMW. HOIST 91 checked in with Beaufort Base Ops on 281.800 to report their offload information.

Marine Corps News posted the following story about the deployment:

Ordnance Marines: getting bombs down range

MCAS YUMA, Ariz. – (December 21, 2007) — Haul, load, connect the wires, rig the lanyards, arm the bomb, check everything and check it again. These are the critical duties of a certain breed of Marine.

The aviation ordnance Marines of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 115 have spent the last two weeks at Exercise Desert Talon 1-08 working as if they were already in Iraq.

“This is as close as we can get to the real thing, so we do things here the way we will when we deploy,” said Gunnery Sgt. Derrick Jones, the noncommissioned officer-in-charge of VMFA-115’s ordnance division.

While here, Marines get a firsthand look at the types of ordnance they will be using while deployed, as well as the experience of working at a fast pace in desert conditions, Jones said.

“The environment here has certain effects on the equipment and jets, just like what we will deal with when deployed,” Jones said. “Learning about these problems here lets us know what to look for over there.”

Throughout their training in Desert Talon, these Marines have been honing their skills, ensuring the success of each bomb sent down range.

“We have to be very efficient,” Jones said. “A mistake by one of us can be detrimental to the pilots and the ground troops we support.”

During Desert Talon, aviation ordnance Marines are trained to work with a sense of urgency while remaining proficient, said Sgt. Jack Hoppes, an ordnance technician with VMFA-115.

“Pilots are taking off and coming back every couple of hours,” said Cpl. Damean Lyon, an ordnance technician with VMFA-115. “As soon as we get the bombs, everybody has to be ready to go.”

“The jets should never be waiting on us, because that means ground units are waiting for much-needed support,” Hoppes said. “The tempo is constantly changing and we have to keep up.”

Getting the proper ordnance deployed quickly and ensuring the bombs will do their job when dropped is the responsibility of every aviation ordnance Marine involved. As long as there are bombs to drop, the ordnance Marines of VMFA-115 will continue to work as hard as it takes to get the proper ordnance delivered, loaded, armed and ready for the mission.

Mac McCormick, KF4LMT
kf4lmt@comcast.net