VMFA-286, stood up at MCAS El Toro on February 1, 1983. Assigned, to the new Mcdonnell Douglas F/A-18A, the squadron’s first years consisted of primarily of training and preparation. The pilots were tasked with taking this relatively new aircraft and making it their instrument of war. The squadron first saw combat in support of Operation El Dorado Canyon while flying SEAD with A-6 intruders. The squadron was one of the first Marine Corps units to upgrade to the C model hornet in 1988. The squadron’s next call to action was to rapidly deploy to the middle east after Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. Arriving at Al Minhad Airbase, the squadron shared the base with the 388th Tactical Fighter Wing. From the start of Operation Desert Shield to the end of Desert Storm, the squadron flew 700 sorties in the KTO. The squadron participated in Operations Southern and Northern Watch, Operation Allied Force as well as numberous other operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
As a part of VCW13, The Arrowheads train to dominate in the air-to-air and air-to-ground arenas. Due to the wide variety of tasking available for the Hornet, flexibility is an important part of training. Pilots should expect a solid mix of BFM and ACM, intercepts, and standard CAP sorties. In terms of air-to-ground, pilots will train to fulfill tasking, such as striking, BAI, CAS, SEAD/DEAD and TASMO.
Do you have what it takes to be an Arrowhead?
The McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet is a twin-engine, supersonic, all-weather, carrier-capable, multirole combat jet, designed as both a fighter and attack aircraft (hence the F/A designation). Designed by McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing) and Northrop, the F/A-18 was derived from the latter’s YF-17 in the 1970s for use by the United States Navy and Marine Corps. The Hornet is also used by the air forces of several other nations, and since 1986, by the U.S. Navy’s Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels.The F/A-18 has a top speed of Mach 1.8 (1,034 knots, 1,190 mph or 1,915 km/h at 40,000 ft or 12,200 m). It can carry a wide variety of bombs and missiles, including air-to-air and air-to-ground, supplemented by the 20-mm M61 Vulcan cannon. It is powered by two General Electric F404 turbofan engines, which give the aircraft a high thrust-to-weight ratio. The F/A-18 has excellent aerodynamic characteristics, primarily attributed to its leading-edge extensions. The fighter’s primary missions are fighter escort, fleet air defense, suppression of enemy air defenses, air interdiction, close air support, and aerial reconnaissance. Its versatility and reliability have proven it to be a valuable carrier asset, though it has been criticized for its lack of range and payload compared to its earlier contemporaries, such as the Grumman F-14 Tomcat in the fighter and strike fighter role, and the Grumman A-6 Intruder and LTV A-7 Corsair II in the attack role.