Marine All Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 242 Marines prepared and executed simulated bombing runs at an air-to-ground range in Crow Valley, Philippines Oct. 12, 2012.
The F/A-18Ds piloted by VMFA (AW )-242, known as the “Bats,” prepared and received ordnance used in the exercise here. The Marines then made the approximate four-hour trip to the designated range in the Philippines.
“We have planned a division strike into the Philippines on a range called Crow Valley, a large air-to-ground range that has been utilized by the United States forces since Vietnam,” said Capt. Matthew Patera, VMFA (AW )-242 schedule officer.
The Philippines is a region of vital strategic importance to the United States.
“The idea of what we are trying to do is open the door to the Philippines as being a strategic area of operation,” said Patera. “The Bats, being the resident squadron here in Iwakuni, is going to be the squadron to do that, paving the way for us to build relations with the Philippines and further America’s interests in this region. Therefore, what we are going to do is send a strike down there, a multi-element integration of KC-135s and Hornets as well as ground elements down in the Philippines, and drop ordnance inside the range.”
Capt. Adam D. Kassulke, F/A-18D Weapons Systems Officer, who took part in the exercise from his seat in one of the four F/A-18Ds sent, gave further details on the exercise.
“We are leaving out of here, meeting up with three C-130s from Futenma for refueling, and they are going to lead us into the Philippines,” said Kassulke. “Then, we are going to detach from them, head into the Crow Valley range complex, where we are looking for three command and control vehicles in that vicinity and look to destroy those targets. After that we will rally up at Subic Bay, where we are going to remain overnight and meet up with the Philippine Air Force and some of the locals, where we will brief them on our F-18s, then head back home to Iwakuni the next day.”
“We have done this type of training before, not in some time though, and not in the Philippines,” said Patera. “This sort of training is a necessity for our squadron being able to operate tactically in this region.”
The success of the exercise is a direct reflection on the operational capabilities of VMFA (AW )-242 and is a testament to the hard work and determination of each individual Marine and their devotion toward the betterment of their squadron.
Article by Lance Cpl. J. Gage Karwick, Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni