MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif. --
A former 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing squadron arrived at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar after travelling thousands of miles across the ocean, July 23.
Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 242, also known as the “Bats,” traveled from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, to support local exercises and train for the next few weeks.
“Southern California is an ideal place to train due to the large number of air-to-ground ranges here,” said Lt. Col. Christopher Pappas, the Bats commanding officer. “The biggest challenge being in Iwakuni, is the difficulty of finding the time and place to use air-to-ground ranges, which are almost nonexistent. We usually have to fly to Okinawa to train with air-to-ground ordnance.”
More than 220 Marines and sailors from the Bats and Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 12, an attached Iwakuni-based squadron, comprise the squadron personnel here.
The squadron aircrew will fly an average of 16 sorties each day as they conduct simulator training, low altitude tactics, close-air support and air-to-air missions.
The squadron left 3rd MAW as part of a Headquarters Marine Corps Aviation Campaign plan initiated in 2006. The F/A-18D “Hornet” presence in the Western Pacific alleviated the stress in the Hornet community that has been rotating through the Iraq Theater.
“I was with the Bats when we left for Japan and it feels like coming home,” said Capt. Patrick M. Kelly, a weapons and sensors officer with the squadron. “I’m really looking forward to training on the ranges here and having the ability to work with the Marines in a variety of units and missions.”
The squadron will fly sorties to different training ranges at sites throughout the region, including MCAS Yuma, Ariz., and Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms. They will participate in Exercises Scorpion Fire and Enhanced Mojave Viper, providing close air support with various units.
Units aboard MCAS Miramar will aid the Bats during their stay by providing equipment and other logistical support.
“The biggest advantage of being here is that we have the parts and supply support to boost us to a higher readiness rate, enabling us to train more,” said Pappas. “In Australia where we train, we are far removed from parts and supplies for our F/A-18s. If an aircraft has maintenance issues it can take a week or more to ship parts and fix the aircraft.”
The squadron plans to leave the station with 1,000 additional flight hours when they depart for the Far East in early September. Until then, the squadron will continue training their aircrew and build upon their skills of close-air support as a squadron reunited with former 3rd MAW brethren.