View Full Version : Cowboys come to the Far East

06-24-04, 07:56 AM
Cowboys come to the Far East
Submitted by: MCB Camp Butler
Story Identification #: 200462322333
Story by Lance Cpl. Martin R. Harris

KADENA AIR BASE, OKINAWA, Japan —(June 12, 2004) -- Marine Fighter Attack Squadron-112, a reserve unit from 4th Marine Aircraft Wing, arrived here June 12 on their three-month deployment to the Far East region.

The F/A-18A+ Hornet fighter-attack squadron, which hails from Naval Air Station/Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Texas, consists of 133 enlisted Marines, three maintenance officers and 18 pilots.

The mission during the deployment is to support 1st Marine Aircraft Wing due to increased operational tempo in the Global War on Terrorism and to support the U.S. military presence in Asia, said Lt. Col. Steven M. Roepke, squadron executive officer. The Squadron is the first reserve Marine fighter attack squadron to be deployed as a unit since World War II, Roepke explained.

“This is huge for our unit, the Marine Corps always prides itself in being able to get the job done,” Roepke said. “This just shows the confidence the Corps has in its reserve units to come out here just like an active duty unit would to train and fight if needed.”

While in Japan, the squadron will train with Air Force F-15 Eagle and F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter pilots, as well as Japanese pilots flying F-4 Phantom fighters.

“We’ll be doing air-to-air simulations as well as air-to-ground, and we’ll also be dropping live ordnance on the island target ranges,” said Maj. Christopher Koelzer, an F/A-18A+ pilot. “While we are here, we will be training with our AIM-9X (Sidewinder Missle), which is an improved version of our infrared missile.”

The main challenge for the squadron on the deployment is the vast change in terrain and location, Koelzer said. Flying around the mountains of Japan, forests of Korea, and islands of Guam and Australia is something new for the squadron.

“It’s a great opportunity for our pilots to learn the terrain and get experience, as well as for our Marines to experience new and different cultures,” Koelzer explained.

The squadron uses an older version of aircraft than what is used by active duty squadrons.

They fly the F/A-18A+ Hornet, which is a modified version of the original Hornet, Roepke said.

The modifications made to the F/A-18A Hornet include a new radar system that improves the range at which the aircraft can detect enemy aircraft, said Maj. Dan Moore, an F/A-18+ Hornet pilot. Additionally, the aircraft can now carry the AIM-120, which is an active radar missile.

“Because of the new missiles, we can essentially launch and leave the missiles,” Moore said. “We can launch this missile (and) lock on the target for only a small amount of time.

Then we can break the radar lock and turn around while the missile continues on by itself to the target.”

Through the new modifications the jets now also have global positioning satellite capabilities, Moore said. The fighters use this capability to easily track weapons and other aircraft.

The new enhancements make the “A+” as modern as any of those off the production line, said Roepke. He said now there is an added confidence in their technology and combat capabilities.

After completing their mission in Japan, the squadron is scheduled to deploy to Australia for Exercise Southern Frontier followed by Exercise Jungle Shield in Guam.


KADENA AIR BASE, OKINAWA, Japan — An F/A-18A+ Hornet fighter jet, which is part of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron-112, sits parked at Kadena Air Base June 12. VMFA-112 spent a month getting the Hornets ready to make the journey. Photo by: Lance Cpl. Martin R. Harris