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Pilots with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron (HMLA) 169 prepares an AH-1Z Cobra flight simulator for operations during Virtual Flag aboard Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton, Calif., May 18. Virtual Flag is the flagship event for the U.S. Air Force Distributed Missions Operations Center of Excellence (DMOC) and is a quarterly exercise among military branches using various aircraft and mechanized simulators across the country. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Brian Marion/Released)

Photo by Sgt. Brian Marion

3rd MAW squadrons participate in Virtual Flag

8 Jun 2016 | Sgt. Brian Marion 10th Marine Regiment

Various units within 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing participated in Virtual Flag aboard Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton, California, May 17 to 20.

Virtual Flag is the flagship event for the U.S. Air Force Distributed Missions Operations Center of Excellence (DMOC) and is a quarterly exercise among military branches using various aircraft and mechanized simulators across the country.

“Virtual Flag is run by the Air Force, and they’ve invited us to take part this time,” said Capt. Jonathan Lorraine, future operations officer for Marine Aircraft Group (MAG) 39. “We are exercising an operational plan in a Marine Expeditionary Unit construct.”

For the exercise, the Marines were responsible for a certain location within the simulation where they were in charge of ship-to-shore operations, conducting close air support, forward arming and refueling, combat resupplies and casualty evacuation scenarios.

“We’ve had some really great successes so far,” said Lorraine. “We’ve integrated with actual Air Force pilots sitting in their simulators throughout the United States.”

Although the Marines conducted the training through simulations, it enabled them to practice battlefield maneuvers with other squadrons and military branches.

“We’ve got [Air Force] MQ-9 [Reaper drone] pilots, F-15 pilots, Air Force [joint terminal attack controllers], and we have all the simulators here at MAG-39,” said Lorraine. “All these players are linked together and are able to talk to each other in real-time to coordinate actions on the objective area. We no longer work in a vacuum in any objective area we go into, so anytime we are able to train with other services, it increases our ability to work effectively inside the objective area.”


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