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NEWS | Feb. 10, 2017

Vikings Conduct Live Ordnance Training at Cope North

By Cpl. Nathan Wicks Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan

ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- U.S. Marines with Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 225 participated in live-ordnance firing during exercise Cope North at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Feb. 9, 2017.

Cope North is a multi-national, bilateral training event including the U.S. Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps, Royal Australian Air Force and Japan Air Self-Defense Force.

The Marines loaded live air intercept missile – 120 advanced medium-range air-to-air missiles (AIM-120 AMRAAM) to F/A-18D Hornets to be fired at decoys down range.

“Today we went out and fired some AIM-120 AMRAAM,” said U.S. Marine Corps Maj. John Koepke, pilot and quality assurance officer with VMFA (AW)-225. “It’s the active missile that’s going to be inherit to the F-18D all together so it builds our overall skill set and keeps up the proficiency as we execute during the unit deployment program.”
Marines from all shops benefitted from this training as it was a rare opportunity for them, if not their first, to handle and load live munitions.

“The maintainers and ordnance crew load live ordnance very rarely,” said U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Bryan Boer, pilot and embarkation officer with VMFA (AW)-225. “This helps build their proficiency as well as ours and gets us all familiar with the real weapon itself. This allows us to experience the weapon and bring that knowledge back to pass on to the rest of the air crew.”

Koepke said this training is essential because it allows the Marines to be put into a realistic scenario affording them the opportunity to train how they would fight.

“The reason this is important is because the way we train is the way we’ll execute,” said Koepke. “One of the great things about the Hornet is that we can simulate all sorts of weapons. However, when you actually have the opportunity to go out and deploy, it adds that realistic factor and enhancing overall capabilities making us better as pilots, as an air crew and betters the squadron as a whole because now we’re doing the real thing as opposed to simply simulating it. This gives it that realistic aspect making everyone better as a result.”

Koepke said the Marines succeeded in handling, loading and firing the live ordnance allowing the participants to walk away more knowledgeable, prepared and overall proficient.

“For the overall mission it all comes back to proficiency,” said Koepke. “With limited flight hours, the ability to go out and employ live ordnance is going to ensure the overall proficiency of everyone involved.”

The Marines of VMFA (AW)-225 are scheduled to continue training with live ordnance as they move forward with the exercise.
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