VMFA-311 Demonstrates Joint Operations with CKF 24-2 > Tyndall Air Force Base > Article Exhibit

VMFA-311 Demonstrates Joint Operations with CKF 24-2 > Tyndall Air Force Base > Article Exhibit

In an era of great power competition, the ability to conduct low-intensity operations without compromising high-intensity readiness remains critical. Tyndall continues to create this readiness and capability internally and in parallel with joint and coalition forces through the use of Checkered Flag, one of the Department of Defense’s largest air-to-air exercises.

U.S. Marines with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 11, Marine Aircraft Wing 3, based at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California, had the opportunity to focus on a variety of training skills required to ensure wartime operational mission readiness and provide rapid-response, decisive combat airpower.

“We’re currently in the process of building up the squadron, so being able to participate with units from other branches, like the Air Force and the Navy, is something you won’t be able to experience at Miramar.” Maj. Timothy Potter, VMFA-311 pilot training officer. “Training opportunities with aircraft ranging from the F-22 Raptor, F-35 Lighting II, F-16 Fighting Falcon, F-15E Strike Eagle, and EA-18G Growler allow us to learn the strengths and weaknesses of each aircraft. We can learn how we can work together for the next battle.”

The benefits of Checkered Flag extend beyond the integration of fourth- and fifth-generation aircraft. Marine Corps teams that maintain and launch these aircraft can test and develop their capabilities and build confidence in multi-platform interoperability.

“Checkered Flag was a great exercise to get into a deployment mindset. It tests our logistics, supply chain and ability to execute missions in a stressful environment,” said Staff Sergeant Joshua Cofield, maintenance controller chief for VMFA-311. “What we did participate in was swap one of our maintenance controllers with a member of the 95th Fighter Squadron.” [Generation] “So now we’re learning how the Air Force does business, and in return the Air Force is learning how we do business. That way, if you go somewhere where there’s an F-35, an Air Force, a Navy, we’re all on the same page, we share equipment, tools, qualifications, experience, etc.”

Aircraft participating in Checkered Flag 24-2 also took part in Weapon Systems Evaluation Program East 24.08, a joint Air Force program that tests the use of air-to-air and air-to-ground live-fire weapons for combat aviators. Combining both exercises conserves resources and provides a unique training battlefield for a variety of aircraft and support personnel across the U.S. military.

“I think the most valuable thing we got was being able to give our junior and even senior pilots a large-scale training experience that was very beneficial,” Potter said. “In the Marine Corps, we don’t get a lot of opportunities to experience large-scale exercises like this, but here, everyone in the squadron gets qualifications, exposure and experience in a variety of ways.”

Through these joint operations and joint exercises, VMFA-311 brings newly acquired skills, experience, and lessons learned back to its home station, effectively providing a combat-ready expeditionary air force ready for immediate global deployment. It is now possible.

“Being able to stand up and act is what makes us Marines,” Cofield said. “It’s important that your ability to pack and move jets, tools, and equipment is tested. It’s easy when you’re within the United States, but when it comes to touring islands in the Pacific, it’s important to test your ability and get the big picture.” It will be essential to have the necessary foresight.”

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