Marine squadrons based in Iwakuni conduct live firing of AIM-9X missiles > US Indo-Pacific Command > 2015

MCAS IWAKUNI, Japan — Marine Aircraft Group (MAG) 12 conducted live-fire AIM-9X missiles from the southern coast of Japan to practice their air-to-air warfare capabilities. Fourth-generation F/A-18 Hornets and 5th-generation F-35B Lightning IIs from the group’s fighter squadrons, Marine All Weather Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA(AW)) 533, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 121, and VMFA- 242 respectively, participated in the exercise. It also marked VMFA-242’s first live missile launch since reaching full operational capability in May 2022.

A series of four AIM-9X missile uses were made by the 4th and 5th generation fighters against air targets. The exercise provided an opportunity to increase weapons proficiency and enhance the squadrons’ already formidable combat readiness in an air-to-air environment.

“We are a combat ready group with the appropriate complement of mission commanders, flight leaders and wingmen. We are capable of carrying and employing all authorized munitions at any time and day of the week, whether either in training or in combat. This missile exercise is a demonstration of that capability,” said Major Douglas Kansier, executive officer of VMFA-242.

Behind the pilots and aircraft are ordnance personnel, procedures, weapons tactics instructors and airspace controllers equally essential to the execution of any missile launch.

“To succeed in this type of exercise, everyone must do their part and it is not enough to pull the trigger. It starts with receiving the high-explosive ordnance and coordinating with the air station to transport, handle, load and launch it from the aircraft,” said Capt. Ray Rickenbach, VMFA Weapons Training Officer (AW) -533.

Ordnance personnel from Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 12 and individual squadrons were critical to safely arming ordnance on the aircraft in accordance with Marine Corps ordnance procedures.

“Effective execution relied on thoughtful planning by MAG-12 pilots and weapon system officers from multiple platforms. Last but perhaps most importantly, we needed station air traffic controllers are working together with Japanese air traffic control agencies to ensure the safety of all aircraft throughout the range area and duration of the missile exercise,” Rickenbach said.

MCAS Iwakuni is home to the only forward deployed US F-35 squadrons and provides a unique capability in the Indo-Pacific region. MAG-12 regularly works with international partners and allies, as was recently showcased during the Royal Australian Air Force’s multilateral exercise Pitch Black 2022.

“MAG-12’s unique position and role in the Indo-Pacific region demands our strength as a stationed and forward deployed readiness force. From our ground support and artillery Marines to our pilots and aircraft, we are able to operate synergistically across the full spectrum of joint force and are always ready to act effectively in the event of a crisis or conflict with our partners and allies in the region,” Colonel Derek said. Mr. Brannon, commander of MAG-12.

Under the command of the 1st Marine Air Wing, MAG-12 routinely operates in conjunction with regional U.S. forces as well as local allies and partners to preserve a free and open Indo-Pacific.

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