We supported Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron, Marine Aircraft Group, Marine Aircraft Wing during the training, which ensured pilots and landing support specialists are able to communicate and transport gear from one location to another. The training provided valuable flight practice hours for pilots as well as field training.
“Helicopter support team missions give us the opportunity to attach a payload beneath an aircraft, whether it be a vehicle or other payload within a sling configuration for transport from one location to another, possibly to avoid terrain that would otherwise not be trafficable.
External lifts involve Marines utilising an apex, a metal ring that connects a cargo load to the bottom of an aircraft for air transportation.
“The main two aircraft we complete the helicopter support team mission set with are the CH-53E Super Stallion and MV-22B Osprey. “Those are the Marine Corps’ heavy lift assets for rotary wing aircraft. These are the assets we rehearse with to prepare for real world scenarios.”
To connect the cargo load to the underside of the aircraft, up to four Marines, battle hurricane-force winds from the aircraft rotor wash to connect the apex to an electrified dangling hook.
“Under an MV-22B Osprey is pretty rough stuff. We don’t think we ever experienced anything like it before joining the Marine Corps and started doing our military occupational specialty.
You’re fighting for your feet the entire time you’re out there.”
"You can practice and practice and practice as much as you want, but when it comes to flying the aircraft, whether it's in a train or combat scenario, you have to have the ability to execute.”
"Not to say that all of us are perfect, because we are not by any means perfect at all times. We're always going to have minor errors here and there, but our goal is to limit the impact and frequency of errors every time you go out there."
"It made us realise as brand-new pilots, that even though the qualification will be wingman, that doesn't mean I can stay in my own little safe bubble.
The biggest takeaway from months of training is the importance of being flexible and "adapt as-you-go" while prioritising the task at hand in flight.
"Really, you have to have an ability to ask yourself. 'What are my priorities? What do I need to be doing at this moment with my hands?' You kind of have to figure out based on what's going on around you, whether I should be focusing on an air-to-air gameplan, should I be looking for surface-to-air missiles? Or supporting another force out there," he said.
Training course began with months of classroom basics to identify how each system works and then ground simulator training, including "hours and hours of learning" how pilots should handle emergency situations.
Then the pilots took to the sky for the first time. Flights progressed from learning basic air-to-air maneuvers, to air-to-ground weapons drops, to suppression of enemy air defenses -- or seeking out enemy surface-to-air missiles and "destroying them.”
"You're no longer just learning a basic mission or skill, you're put into a larger scenario with more aircraft and where you're having to do both air-to-air and air-to-ground.”
The pilots tested their weapons bullseye skills. They dropped both inert and live laser-guided munitions," during air-to-ground exercises.
It's about "learning different airspeed limitations, and simulated air-to-air missile launches.
Toward the end of the course, the pilots use their range for surface-to-air threat training.
Around that same time, training scenarios got harder, similar to what pilots can expect at big exercises.
"To get to that level was pretty incredible, when you look back to the first day in the classroom to the exercise training.
"That flexibility, task prioritisation and execution are hands down the three most critical things that force you to figure out, 'What should you be doing how should you be doing it, and why?”
“At first we didn't fully understand what the aircraft could bring to the table, but that changed when the trainee pilots integrated with the squadron."
Some of us went straight from pilot training to exercise, so it's quite a quantum leap in terms of understanding mission systems, weapons systems and integration”
"It was meant to push us to a point where we didn't understand what was going on many times in an effort to push you harder than you needed to be pushed.”
"We know we have some stuff planned for the future -- theater security packages -- but I can't really speak to that.”
"We do expect to busy, and we do expect to be on the move quite a bit."
Flying "only appeals to some people. we wanted to fly, and this was a great way to do that.”
"It's long days, it's busy days … it's not an easy job. But it's rewarding. We found ourselfs in an organisation where pilots have the ability to impact the world on a global, strategic level.
“That’s pretty rewarding.”
“Marine Corps Expeditionary Missions in High Demand for Joint Fighting Scenarios to Ensure Overmatch and Quickly Adapt to New Threats.”
Marine expeditionary force is leading contact and blunt-force provider in the world, built with speed, agility and lethality in mind. Recently, amphibious assault ships were quick to respond to an urgent combatant commander requirement with an embarked Marine Expeditionary Unit MEU F-35B detachment.
Naval expeditionary forces are the major power in littoral operations. No matter the mission or crisis operation—from support to full combat power projection—expeditionary forces provide the complete force package in any scalable operation.
Expeditionary operations need to remain prepared to transition into major combat operations. Across the full range of military operations, amphibious ships are a key contributor, ready to conduct prompt and sustained combat operations from the sea and essential to the Marine Corps' statutory mission to "seize and defend advanced naval bases.”
In any crisis expeditionary forces are prepared to fight in uncertain environments. If required during contingency response operations, amphibious ships and their associated Marine air ground task force MAGTFs will "fight fast" in hostile environments as part of the initial-contact and surge layers that bring capability and capacity into the battlespace.
On short notice, amphibious ships can reconfigure and be ready to provide the joint force commander with a lethal force capability. All amphibious warships, ranging from amphibious assault LHD/LHA, amphibious transport dock LPD and dock landing LSD ships, can provide a package of wide ranging options.
From a ready seaport for landing craft; flight deck for either fixed-wing or rotary aircraft or a highly capable command and control platform; expeditionary ships are ready, responsive, survivable, lethal and agile for any crisis.
Landing Platform/Dock LPDs have proven in the last decade it can meet a wide range of combatant commander mission requirements. From serving as a flagship for an expeditionary strike group commander to acting as a forward staging base for special operations forces, this platform has proven critical in every phase of the fleet commander’s mission planning.
With the LPD flight II, an amphibious ready group with an embarked MAGTF will be even more maneuverable, flexible, survivable, and lethal in a future battlespace.
In the past deployed expeditionary forces required a defensive shield from an Aegis cruiser or destroyer for force protection. Today’s MAGTF and all future amphibious forces will have “fifth generation” offensive and defensive capabilities to operate in any contested battlespace.
Amphibious ships will realize major upgrades in command and control with the installation of the Enterprise Air Surveillance Radar EASR on LHA ships and both flight I and flight II LPDs. This radar takes advantage of the highly scalable design and mature technologies of the AN/SPY-6[V] air and missile defense radar AMDR to be installed on flight-III destroyers, giving amphibious ships a significant air-search upgrade while reducing overall cost.
In addition, LHDs and LHAs will be outfitted with the Evolved Seasparrow Missile ESSM block II, which incorporates a new dual-mode active and semiactive radar seeker. This will facilitate an expanded flight envelope for achieving advanced manoeuvre for force protection measures.
To confront the emerging threat in electromagnetic EM warfare the Navy has invested in the Surface Electronic Warfare Improvement Program SEWIP. This upgrade provides rapid solutions and will enable amphibious warships to fight and win in the EM warfare domain. SEWIP block II provides electronic support and will be outfitted on all current amphibious ships. SEWIP block III adds an electronic attack capability and will be installed on the LHA/D mix and LPD flight II.
A major enhancement to fleet operations in standoff electronic warfare detection will be established with the Advanced Offboard Electronic Warfare AOEW program. This antiship missile-defense electronic warfare pod will be carried on both the MH-60R and MH-60S helicopters, which when flown from amphibious ships will significantly extend the expeditionary commander’s defensive—and possibly offensive—electronical warfare capability.
Several years ago, the Navy gave the Marine Corps an enlarged aviation platform to deploy significant numbers of F-35Bs. The first two new LHAs were built without well decks. Even though these warships provide geographic combatant commanders with a supplemental force multiplier in the air warfare domain, all future amphibious ships also will have a well deck able to deploy forces by landing craft.
Today’s expeditionary forces are some of the most capable warships in the world . What makes amphibious ships superior is not only the ability to combine sea-space maneuverability with the flexible strike capability of the embarked MAGTF, but also the ability to protect that embarked force with defensive capabilities and battle-damage resiliency. This is the true measure of being able to “fight to get to the fight.”
The MAGTF is specifically designed to meet mission-oriented requirements of amphibious missions and expeditionary operations. It addresses the needs for interoperability and mutual support with other elements of the fleet. The MAGTF is formed following building block concept, ie the joint force/fleet commanders operational requirement or mission is assessed and type units are drawn from a Marine division, or aircraft wing. It is placed under the command of one commander to form an air-ground team that will accomplish the mission.
Logistic self-sufficiency is a primary consideration when planning expeditionary operations because Marine air-ground task force MAGTFs are organised to conduct operations under tough conditions. Marine forces and MAGTF commanders provide operational logistics capabilities necessary for conducting expeditionary operations, while tactical logistics are provided by MAGTF commanders and their subordinates. This expeditionary or temporary operations support will be withdrawn after the mission is accomplished.
MAGTF logistics capabilities and accompanying supplies enable it, depending on size, to self-sustain its operations while external resupply channels are organised and established. Marine Corps manoevre practices demand that a MAGTF maintain battlefield flexibility, organisational adaptability, and the ability to react to the changing operational situation.
MAGTF inherent self-sustainment and rapid deployability capabilities allow it to reconstitute itself rapidly and permit rapid withdrawal from a completed operation and immediate re-embarkation for follow-on missions.
Successful deployment, sustainment, employment, and redeployment of a MAGTF are the result of well-coordinated logistics support activities conducted at the strategic, operational, and tactical levels.
Organisation of forces, and materiel support responsibilities are the foundation of effective Marine Corps logistics. The organisation of forces, materiel support, and assigned logistics responsibilities are structured with one goal—to support MAGTF operations with sound logistics. They provide logistics troops with the capabilities to respond quickly to changing support requirements.
Deployment support is defined as the support provided to a MAGTF that allows the efficient and effective movement of forces from their origins to ports of embarkation and on to ports of debarkation and final destination. Deployment support assists the MAGTF commander in marshaling, staging, embarking, and deploying the command