Photo: American Harriers await training on the tac ramp on September 15, 2021 at 4 Wing Cold Lake – Photo Submitted
The sight and sound of Harrier aircraft have filled the skies over 4 Wing recently as members of the United States Marine Corps train with the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF).
230 members and 10 aircraft from Marine Attack Squadron 231, also known as VMA-231 or the “Ace of Spades” Squadron, are on-base training with 4 Wing-based squadrons as well as 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron out of CFB Edmonton and members of Canadian Special Operations Forces Command.
Captain Jonathan Roman with VMA-231 describes what his group is looking to accomplish in their time here as “(making) ourselves a better, more qualified unit.”
“We’re up here to do air to air as well as air to ground training, so working in the ranges and working with the local units. The air to surface is happening in the range, dropping ammunition and ordinance on the targets that 4 OSS has provided for us. Then the air to air is happening with the Alpha Jets as well as 401 Squadron to do some air to air employment training.”
VMA-231 is based out of Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point in Eastern North Carolina. Roman says the ability to team up with members of the RCAF for training as well as a change-of-scenery makes the training worthwhile.
“Anytime we have an opportunity to do training, with a different unit in different places, that is beneficial from a pilot standpoint. To just an overall unit standpoint, there’s something a little different, it always adds an extra layer to the training that helps out at every moment. So you’re more reactive, it’s more dynamic. It’s not the same thing you’re used to every day.”
“When you’re back at home, and you’re finding the same spot every time you kind of know where to look and where to do things. But up here with that extra layer of planning and dynamic aspect of it, that’s always helpful for us to continue thinking and learning.”
Roman says so far working with the RCAF members at 4 Wing has been excellent.
“(It’s been) nothing but a pleasure. I came up on the short trip we had up here to kind of evaluate the feasibility of bringing the whole unit up here. From the emails that started there until us touching out here, every day everyone has been very cordial, very accommodating. Anything we ask, it’s almost like ‘Yeah, and what else can we do?’.”
Being based in warmer climates, Roman did admit one aspect of training in Cold Lake did take some getting used to.
“We left and it was about 85 (degrees Fahrenheit) with about 80 percent humidity, which is quite different than being in the 40’s. But in all honesty, it’s beautiful weather you guys have up here.”
The Marines are scheduled to be at 4 Wing until October 14th.