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  • Writer's pictureFrank Visser

2009 Bombs away at TWI 09-2

Updated: Aug 9, 2018

Twice a year, in the fall and the spring, Marine Corps Air Station Yuma plays host to Marines who come for their Weapons and Tactics Instructor course, also known as WTI. This specialized course provides training in advanced aviation tactics, techniques and procedures across all type of aircraft being used by the United States Marine Corps. Frank Visser visited MCAS Yuma during WTI 09-2

The United States Air Force has its Weapons School at Nellis AFB and the United States Navy Topgun Fighter Weapons School at NAS Fallon. The USMC has developed its own training program, also known as WTI. Because of the good weather conditions in Arizona, MCAS Yuma is the place were students receive this detailed course. Besides the good weather MCAS Yuma is the ideal place because of its nearby ranges.

An F-5N of VMFT-401 "Snipers" acting as an Aggressor returning from a WTI-mission. This squadron is based at MCAS Yuma.

In addition, WTI provides instruction and training in air-to-air and air-ground combat operations. This advanced course at graduate-level is provided only for a select number of fixed-wing, rotary-wing and tilt-rotor pilots. The course also includes other enlisted officers like Forward Air Controllers, artillery, etc. Often full Marine Expeditionary Brigade’s participate in WTI. Then nearly 100 aircraft and 4,500 people are involved in a WTI course.

F/A-18C VFA-94 "Mighty Shrikes". This squadron now flies the F/A-18F.

F/A-18D of VMFA(AW)-242 "Bats".

F/A-18C of VMFA-122 "Werewolves".

During the three and a half weeks of the WTI flight phase, the training progresses in the opposite direction – from specific to generic. It starts in a specific flight phase where student will fly only within their own community while mastering their systems, weapons and tactics, and threats.

KC-130J VMGR-252 "Heavy Haulers"

The second week of flight phase is the common flight phase where rotary wing flies with rotary wing, tactical fixed wing flies with other tactical fixed wing assets and so on. Finally, the generic flight phase culminates with large-force evolutions – fully integrated, complex exercises that integrate multiple aircraft missions and types in support of ground forces. The final week of evolutions is commonly known as the Final Exercise, or FINEX.

EA-6B of VMAQ-2 "Panthers" flying in a digital color scheme.

EA-6B of VMAQ-2 "Panthers" in a normal color scheme.

F/A-18C of VMFA-251 "Thunderbolts".

F/A-18D (ATARS) of VMFA(AW)-225 "Vikings". ATARS stands for Advanced Tactical Airborne Reconnaissance System.

F/-18D of VMFA(AW)-224 "Flying Bengals".

The intent of the WTI course is to create experienced instructors in weapons and tactics within each Marine Corps unit. Every year around 300 graduates complete the course.

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