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Marine fighter pilots training in Great Falls

Pilots are conducting aerial combat maneuver training
Fighter pilot
Marine F5 jet
F18s at MTANG
Posted at 2:41 PM, May 04, 2023

GREAT FALLS — On Thursday, U.S. Marine Corps pilots in F-5 and F-18 jets continued their multi-day joint training exercise with the Montana Air National Guard at the Guard base in Great Falls.

"It's important for us to travel in places like this, obviously, because we have to exercise our logistical component as well and we sometimes just go where the weather's nice, right," said Lt. Col. Michael Webb, the executive officer of Marine Fighter Training Squadron 401.

"The MFT 401 came to Montana this month, really, to support Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 112, the Cowboys, as well as kind of interact with one of our transport squadrons that has been working up here as well," Webb explained. "Typically 4th Marine Aircraft Wing, Marines Forces Reserve, we'll do a detachment several times throughout the year to several locations to exercise the expeditionary warfare capabilities of the Marine Corps as well as the Marines Forces Reserve."

Specifically, this training involved air combat maneuvering training.

Webb said the F-5s are used to help train because they're more cost-effective than fleet aircraft.

marine corps f-18 fighter jets in great falls
US Marine Corps F-18 fighter jets in Great Falls

"Our job is to train fleet aviators in the art of aerial combat and to provide them realistic threat scenarios or adversary red mission scenarios," said Webb.

Montana Air National Guard C-130 pilot Capt. Michael Reichenbach said the training benefits the Guard as well.

"We obviously don't get to fly with fighters very often, other services even less. We're all on the same team over there and we need to be on the same page. When the Marines come up here we can train with them, learn how they operate, and they can learn how we operate," Reichenbach said.

It's a noisy but cool opportunity.

"They're really cool guys. We hang out," Reichenbach said. "Great Falls has been an awesome host for these guys. They feel very welcome and we appreciate (the community's) patience with all the extra jet noise."

The Marines say they may be back in 2024 for more training.


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