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US Marine Corps 101st Squadron will no longer train F-18 pilots


The 101st Squadron of the US Marine Corps, famed for over half a century for its prowess in training the American aviation maestros to navigate the F/A-18 Hornet, now belongs to the annals of history. Its official disbandment in line with the United States military’s renovation plans marks the end of an illustrious chapter. 

US Marine Corps 101st Squadron will no longer train F-18 pilots
Video screenshot

Last Friday, VMFAT-101, better known as the Sharpshooters at Miramar, ceased operations as dusk settled. Brig. Gen. Robert Brody, a former hotshot from the Sharpshooters and presently serving as the Assistant Commander of the 3rd Marine Air Wing, paid tribute to the crucial role the 101st Squadron played in honing the Marine Corps’ preparedness and prowess. 

As pointed out by Brody, VMFAT-101 has left a monumental legacy stretching over 50 years. It had an enduring presence within marine circles, serving as a keystone in shaping the military tradition. 

Flying the Barn

Proceedings initiated with a vibrant tradition called “Flying the Barn,” where a squadron of 18 F-18 pilots showcased formation maneuvers to a spectating crowd. The day ended with a sunset ceremony featuring remarks by Brody and fellow Marines, while retired squadron commanders and others from the air wing stood witness. 

In what needs special mention, the squadron freshly took home conspicuous accolades for its impeccable safety history, having logged thousands of hours of incident-free flights. Rotterdam and ceremonies were conducted in honor of the past accolades and honours the squadron earned in various wars and conflicts. 

The F-35 is coming

With the 101st Squadron consigned to history, the focus now shifts to the 323rd Marine Fighter Squadron at Miramar. The squadron will inherit the personnel and aircraft from the 101st and continue to train pilots on the F-18 jets. The transition comes in handy for the Marine Corps squadrons as they transition into the swanky new F-35 fighters. 

In a twist of fate, the F-18 fighter jets, despite being phased out, will continue to grapple for space in the American military armory at least until 2030. As the Defense Department continues to pump money into maintaining the iconic fighter, the Marine Corps heralds its inclusion as a vital supplement to the F-35. 

101st Squadron history

F-18 SH redeployment to Kuwait will be carried out by Boeing
Photo credit: Pixabay

Falling under the command of Marine Aircraft Group 11 [MAG-11] and the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (3rd MAW), the Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 101 [VMFAT-101] was a pivotal F/A-18 Hornet training squadron of the US Marine Corps, having its base at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in California. 

Commissioned as part of Marine Combat Crew Readiness Training Group 10, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing in El Toro, California on January 3, 1969, VMFAT-101 quickly stood out by training naval aviators and flight officers on McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II. By August of that year, the squadron graduated its first batch of fighter aircrews after conducting the inaugural training flight in February. 

Displaying remarkable safety records, the squadron moved base to Yuma, Arizona in 1970. It was awarded the Chief of Naval Operations CNO Aviation Safety Award for Excellence in 1972 for going past 18,300 flight hours without accidents.

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