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Warlords execute strafing at TBR

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Story by Cpl Ashley Phillips on 05/29/2019
Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501 conducted 25mm GAU-22/A Gatling Gun live fire training aboard Townsend Bombing Range, Georgia, May 22. This was the first time Warlords conducted training with this mountable gun.

"This week is an exciting new chapter at the squadron," said Lt. Col. Adam Levine, the commanding officer of VMFAT-501. "This is the first time the squadron will be employing the GAU-22/A Gatling Gun at Townsend Bombing Range. The end state behind the gun employment at the training squadron is to build familiarity with our students to learn how to employ this weapon system along with the other weapons that the F-35B carries."

The exercise also allowed the ordnance and maintenance Marines the opportunity to mount the gun onto the aircraft and load live rounds into it. This first for the squadron benefits both the pilots and ordnance Marines as they will be interacting with the gun at deployable F-35B squadrons.

"This is very important for both pilots and Marines to get exposure to," said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jason T. Connolly, the ordnance officer in charge with VMFAT-501. "This is something that if they go to any other F-35B squadron in the Marine Corps, they will be doing on a regular basis. It's a necessary introduction."

The pilots flew nearly 82 miles southwest of Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort to TBR. MCAS Beaufort owns and operates TBR so the pilots can complete nearly 100 percent of their training to include strafing and dropping inert ordnance. The pilots flew in pairs one engaged the target while the other flew overhead. They took two overhead passes before firing the gun.

"To be clear, the gun is already used in combat in our operational squadrons, but we finally get to train with it at 501," Levine said. "As a part of our mission to train initial qualification pilots and transition pilots, this air-to-surface training is critical. This will equip them to go out and become a more effective member of their follow on squadrons."


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