October 3, 2023

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Marine Corps Program 2nd Adversary Squadron

Provided in the Fiscal Yr 2022 Maritime Corps Aviation Plan is an intention to build a next squadron to deliver dissimilar air overcome instruction for fighter models. The unit, Marine Fighter Instruction Squadron (VMFT) 402, will activate at MCAS Beaufort in South Carolina in 2023 to supply adversary belongings for East Coast Marine squadrons, with initial operating capability slated for 2024.

The development is element of a prepare to deal with a perceived shortfall in U.S. Marine Corps adversary training and also modernization of the fleet, which at the moment employs the Northrop F-5N (single-seat) and F-5F (two-seat) Tiger II aircraft drawn from stocks obtained from the Swiss air pressure in the late 2000s. The solitary present Marine adversary device is VMFT-401 “Snipers” at MCAS Yuma, Arizona, which started functions with leased IAI F-21A Kfirs in 1987. It transitioned to the Northrop F-5E/F Tiger II in 1989 and subsequently acquired the updated F-5N/F.

VMFT-401 is about to changeover to the F-5N+ and F-5F+. Underneath the Avionics Reconfiguration and Tactical Improvement/Modernization for Stock Standardization (ARTEMIS) program, the Navy is upgrading its F-5s with modernized cockpit and avionics, overhauled airframes and engines, and the addition of basic safety and dependability capabilities, although addressing obsolescence difficulties.

The initial F-5N+ arrived at NAS Patuxent River in September for screening. Operate is getting performed by Tactical Air Guidance, which also operates its individual fleet of upgraded F-5Es on contracted “Red Air” get the job done. The enterprise is supporting a Block Upgrade plan that is anticipated to combine the Tactical Combat Teaching Technique (TCTS) II in the in close proximity to potential, with this technique permitting the injection of synthetic adversaries.

The prototype F-5N+ conversion is noticed immediately after its arrival at Patuxent River for trials in September 2021. (Photograph: Naval Air Units Command)

Initially, ARTEMIS will protect the 16 F-5Es and 6 F-5Fs just lately bought from Switzerland and held in storage because their acquisition. On the other hand, it is anticipated to be extended to the 40-plus fleet of F-5N/Fs presently in provider with Navy and Marine Corps adversary squadrons. This fleet consists of 3 so-referred to as “Frankentiger” two-seaters, which were developed by mating the rear conclusion of single-seat F-5Es with two-seat F-5F cockpit sections. VMFT-401 will be between the early recipients of the F-5N+/F+, and VMFT-402 is also because of to commence operations with this variant.

In the meantime, the Navy’s adversary units are undergoing improvements as the final of the “legacy” F/A-18 Hornets are withdrawn. Fleet Composite Squadron (VFC) 13 “Fighting Saints” at NAS Fallon, Nevada, been given its initial ex-U.S. Air Drive Lockheed Martin F-16C Block 32 in late April. These are replacing F-5N/Fs that, in switch, are remaining passed on to VFA-204 “River Rattlers” at NAS/JRB New Orleans, Louisiana, to switch Hornets. In the process, the squadron will redesignate as VFC-204.

This procedure will leave VFC-12 “Fighting Omars” at NAS Oceana, Virginia, and the Naval Air Warfare Growth Centre (NAWDC) at Fallon as the last operators of the “legacy” Hornet. The NAWDC is predicted to receive F-16C Block 32s and F-16D Block 25s later on this calendar year. VFC-12 is slated to receive early-production F/A-18E/F Block I Tremendous Hornets, though regardless of whether sufficient figures develop into obtainable to accomplish this is uncertain, and more F-16s may be transferred from the Air Drive.