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A KC-130J Hercules flown by pilots with Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron (VMGR) 352 “Raiders” flies over mountainous terrain during low-level tactical navigation training outside of Yuma, Ariz., July 24. The training allowed pilots to earn qualifications, known as codes, under the instruction of a flight commander.

Photo by Cpl. Christopher Johns

Raider pilots take low-altitude training head on

25 Jul 2014 | Cpl. Christopher Johns

Pilots with Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron (VMGR) 352 “Raiders” performed low-level tactical navigation training with the KC-130J Hercules outside of Yuma, Ariz., July 24.

The flight simulated navigating through terrain at a lower altitude than normal to avoid enemy radar. The training allowed pilots to earn qualifications, known as codes, under the instruction of a flight commander.

“It’s exciting because we’re practicing what we would be doing if we were to deploy,” said 1st Lt. Alisa Sieber, co-pilot with VMGR-352 and a San Diego native. “It’s a huge adrenaline rush.”

During the training, the Raiders fly low and use terrain such as mountains, hills, valleys or trees to simulate evading detection by enemy radar systems.

“We were at about 500 feet from the ground during the training,” said Sieber. “If the airplanes were flying higher in the sky it would be pretty easy to detect.”

Radar systems work by sending radio waves, like an echo, in different directions. When that echo hits an object, it returns to the radar system and provides a picture of the object’s location and other information about it.
 
“This way, we’re actually kind of hidden in the ground clutter,” said Sieber. “If Marines on the ground need supplies or something else dropped off to them, we can get them what they need flying like this.”

The co-pilots can continue learning and become fully qualified to complete the technique under many conditions now that they have successfully completed their first low-level tactical navigation flight.


3rd Marine Aircraft Wing