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

Weekend Radio – 20/21 August 2016

Savannah – I haven’t had the opportunity to play radio recently, but this weekend I had a lot of fun receiving and transmitting. On the scanning side, it was a fairly active MilAir weekend and on the amateur radio side of things, it was International Lighthouse Lightship Weekend (ILLW) so the airwaves were a target rich environment on my weekend off.

The North American QSO Party took place on Saturday so I delayed my amateur radio activity to Sunday. For one thing I’m not really interested in contesting, but the main reason was that I wanted to hunt lighthouses during ILLW and I figured that the QSO Party would make it difficult to find and work them with the mobile station. The decision to wait turned out to be a good one. While it isn’t unusual for a few fighters from MCAS Beaufort to work out of Savannah on the weekends, this weekend saw 8 at Savannah IAP flying sorties offshore. Four also worked out of Charleston, SC flying sorties into the area offshore of Savannah. TBOLT 51-54 (F/A-18C, VMFA-251) and BENGAL 41-44 (F/A-18D, VMFA-224) flew out of Savannah against SNIPER 11-14 (F-5, VMFT-401) flying out of Charleston in various combinations. At times, there were 8-12 fighters in W-137 on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon! In addition to the F/A-18s, a gaggle of T-6As from the 14th FW were at Savannah IAP as MAFIA ## and VALOR ##.

The G5RV for the home amateur radio station came out of its tree during a recent thunderstorm, so even at home in Savannah, I’m now limited to the mobile station for HF, so late on Sunday morning I fired up the mobile station and went hunting for lighthouses as a “stationary mobile.” Like the Museum Ship weekend, the ILLW is a great way to blend my interests in radio and history. Before it got hot and humid (and I decided to retreat to the air conditioning indoors), I came across four lighthouses around the Great Lakes and New England on 20 Meters and worked a non-lighthouse station, TI2CC in Costa Rica on 17 Meters.

  1. W9CQO – Kevich Light (US 0193) in Grafton, WI, activated by the Ozaukee Radio Club, Op: Tom
  2. W1PBR – Pemaquid Point Light (US 0124) in Bristol, ME, activated by the Pen Bay Amateur Radio Club
  3. KC8VC – Peninsula Point Light (US 0209) in Bay de Noc, MI, activated by the Mich-A-Con Amateur Radio Club, Op: Skip
  4. WN8HCV – Pointe Aux Barques Light, USA 0105) in Port Hope, MI, activated by the Robinson Township Contest Club, Op: Greg

By the way, in another mix of radio and history, Bill, K4WP will be operating from Fort Pulaski near Savannah on Thursday, 25 August as part of National Parks on the Air for the 100th Anniversary of the National Park Service. 25 August is the 100th Anniversary of the National Park Service, so there should be a lot of NPOTA activity. I won’t be in town to take part in the activation at Fort Pulaski, but I will be getting on the air from the mobile down in Brunswick hunting for some NPOTA stations. If you’re in or near Savannah on Thursday, do try to stop by Fort Pulaski if you can, it will be a big day with free admission and many activities, demonstrations, and programs.

Exercise Palmetto Fire in Coastal Georgia

Savannah – Over the last couple of days, I’ve heard a good bit of activity from MCAS Beaufort jets operating over Fort Stewart. A little bit of listening and research indicates that it is an exercise named “Palmetto Fire” that began on 27 July and will last to 7 August. According to the DVIDS article below, it is a joint service exercise that “involves tactical reinforcements of aircraft for the 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion and the 15th Air Support Operations Squadron.”  I was out of town and missed much of the activity, but over the last two days I’ve heard aircraft from VMFA(AW)-224 and VMFAT-501 from MCAS Beaufort, VFC-12 from NAS Oceana, and possibly HSM-48 from NS Mayport.


292.125 – Beaufort Approach/Departure

353.775 – Savannah Approach/Departure
371.875 – Savannah Approach/Departure

282.200 – Jacksonville ARTCC Jekyll Low
363.200 – Jacksonville ARTCC Allendale/Savannah Low

228.400 – Townsend Range/Coastal MOAs
127.350 – Marne Radio (Fort Stewart)
279.625 – Marne Radio (Fort Stewart)
271.100 – Fort Stewart Range
349.300 – Fort Stewart Range?

305.800 – VMFA(AW)-224 Base
250.300 – VMFA(AW)-224 Tac 1
258.900 – VMFA(AW)-224 Tac 2
299.275 – VMFAT-501 Base
315.300 – VMFAT-501 Tac 1
319.500 – VMFAT-501 Tac 2

303.000 – HSM-48?


BENGAL – F/A-18D, VMFA(AW)-224
SWEDE – F-35B, VMFAT-501
AMBUSH – F/A-18, VFC-12
VENOM – MH-60R?, HSM-48?

Palmetto Fire Brings the Heat

BEAUFORT, S.C. – Integrated training exercises pull pieces from all branches of the military to create a working force like no other. Exercise Palmetto Fire is a joint service exercise that was took place at the Townsend Bombing Range and Fort Stewart Army Base in Georgia, July 27 – Aug. 7.

“The exercise incorporates Marine Corps, Air Force, and Navy aircraft,” said Capt. Brian Radler the Air Officer with 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion.

Palmetto Fire is an air-to-ground exercise that involves tactical reinforcements of aircraft for the 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion and the 15th Air Support Operations Squadron.

“The exercise is hosted by [Marine Aircraft Group] 31 with the mission of training and upgrading the aircrew Marines of [Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadrons] 533 and 224 as forward air controllers,” said Capt. Jason Whitaker, the weapons systems training officer for VMFA-224. “The ground troops can utilize this exercise to learn and rehearse information back and forth amongst the pilots in the air.”

Units along the east coast will participate in the exercise, from Marine Corps Air Station New River, NC, down to Mayport Naval Station, Fla.

“We will utilize mortars, fixed wing aircraft, and rotary aircraft,” said Whitaker.

The forward air control will provide the ground troops a with better visual and extra support in the case of a real life situation. With the exercise taking place in close proximity to the Air Station, it is possible for the aircraft to carry ordnance from the Air Station to the bombing range.

“For the guys on the deck and the ones executing forward air control, they will go out on the battlefield and find targets that need to be prosecuted with indirect fire assets,” said Whitaker. “Then, either mortars, artillery or aviation ordnance will be used to destroy, suppress, or neutralize the targets on the field.”

It’s been eight years since MAG- 31 has executed a large-scale exercise utilizing live ordnance. Training with ordnance allows the Marines to familiarize themselves with the process and become more proficient in their military occupation specialty.

“We are loading inert ordnance on the jets, giving the ordnance Marines an opportunity to work with the simulated bombs,” said Whitaker. “We don’t often get the opportunity to work with or load ordnance, but it’s beneficial to both the ordnance Marines and the aircrew. It’s a great opportunity.”

All units played their role in the joint training exercise, and will be more prepared to execute successful future missions when the call is made.

VMFA(AW)-224 F/A-18D Crashes Offshore of SC

I caught the tail end of the SAR after eating dinner and before going to Church this evening. At the time I wasn’t sure if it was a fighter, but I knew that it was not a drill. 282.800, SAR Common was being used and 413.000, CG 410 was being used. There were also related comms on 313.800, VMFA-251 Base and 156.800, Marine VHF Ch. 16. F/A-18Cs from VMFA-251 and Coast Guard 6542 were working the SAR; as I walked in the room, the TBOLTs from VMFA-251 and 6542 were en route to MCAS Beaufort and Sector Charleston was broadcasting on Ch. 16 that two persons had been recovered.

Mac McCormick III, KF4LMT