Last week I had the privilege to visit MCAS Yuma, AZ. MCAS Yuma is the home to multiple squadrons of AV-8B Harrier IIs and F-35B Lightning IIs of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron 1 (MAWTS-1), Marine Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron 1 (VMX-1) and Marine Fighter Training Squadron 401 (VMFT-401), an air combat adversary squadron of the 4th Marine Aircraft Wing of the Marine Corps Reserve. It is also the home of the only SAR in the Marine Corps as well as “Marine Corp Working Dogs.”
The dogs are trained for substance location, tracking, and explosive device detection. During festivals and events, they are used as security to do sweeps and to suppress conflicts.
Captain Gabriel Adibe, Director of Communication Strategy and Operations (COMMSTRAT) of Marine Corps Air Station Yuma guided us through the base and gave us valuable information.
Since MCAS Yuma is an active military base most of the visit was ”for our eyes only” and “off the record.” However, we were told that Marine Fighter Training Squadron 401 (VMFT-401) is a United States Marine Corps Reserve fighter squadron flying the F-5N Tiger II. The squadron, known as the “Snipers,” is the only adversary squadron in the Marine Corps, also is the first and only reserve squadron in the Marine Corps tasked to act as the opposing force in simulated air combat.
Also, Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One (MAWTS-1) conducts training for aviation units, most notably the Weapons and Tactics Instructor (WTI) course, during which the population of MCAS Yuma virtually doubles.
Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 211 (VMFA-211), under the command of Marine Aircraft Group 13 (MAG-13) and the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (3rd MAW), is a United States Marine Corps fighter attack squadron, currently consisting of F-35B Lightning II stealth STOVL strike fighter jets, known as the “Wake Island Avengers” and the “Bastion Defenders.”
If you want to visit and experience how US Marines prepare and see their equipment in action, MCAS Yuma Air Show is your opportunity. Visit yamaairshow.com for more information.