MCAS Yuma-Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course

I would like to welcome our new assistant Editor Steven Valinski from AZ. He will be covering our AZ spotting . This is his 1st article on the action Arizona Style.

Chief Editor  Dave Chng

Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course

Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course, commonly known as WTI, is a twice-annual USMC training program conducted at MCAS Yuma. Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One (MAWTS1) conducts this training to provide realistic combat experiences for USMC aviators and their support groups. This training is a combination of classroom and field training aimed at providing the closest experience to real combat strategy, tactics, and execution. Simply put, after putting in some classroom time and planning strategies, USMC aviators, and their support teams, get to “blow stuff up”.

WTI 1-14, was the first WTI exercise of the new fiscal year. I had an opportunity to spend some time outside MCAS in in an attempt to photograph aircraft as they departed and arrived at MCAS Yuma. This season’s WTI had a lot of rotary aircraft participating. AH-1’s, UH-1’s, CH-53’s, and MV-22’s were commonplace. Fixed-wing aircraft included: F/A-18’s, EA-6’s, AV-8’s, F-5’s and C-130’s. Some private contractors were hired to provide support and adversary aircraft. These aircraft included: a pair of Alpha Jets, a pair of Hawker Hunters, an L-39, and a Mi-24 Hind. Local non-WTI traffic includes F-35B’s. Other traffic included CH-46’s.

MCAS Yuma is a fairly photographer-friendly place provided photographers are respectful and do not aim their lens towards the base. The quality of the photography taken at MCAS, like many bases, is very sensitive to the position of the sun. Midday shooting can be challenging with the harsh desert sun.  The best time to shoot is after 3pm, and, fortunately, during WTI, there is a lot of activity in the late afternoon.

The next WTI will, most likely, be sometime in April 2014. I encourage all aviation photographers to take advantage of the opportunity to see a substantial volume of military aircraft flying. I was disappointed at the low number of American aviation photographers present during WTI. There were many foreign photographers there that make it a point to come out during WTI to catch the action regularly. Globally, these are tough times for military aviation photographers. Budgets, or a lack thereof, have reduced the number of hours being flown substantially in many countries.  WTI provides an opportunity for aviation photographers to see a decent variety of aircraft, flying at a steady volume. For me, it was a great experience.


 Pictures by Steven Valinski
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6 thoughts on “MCAS Yuma-Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course”

  1. Steve..All I can say is wow!!! You must have good spotting with Yannick for the WTI…. with that kind of traffic I need to be there next year…. DaveC

  2. Welcome aboard Steve! Told you Dave, Steve always comes up with superb stuff. Makes me wanna move to AZ, lol. Hey theres a thought, might look into that, i kinda liked Phoenix while i was there. AWesome stuff bud.

  3. I second Bryan’s welcome aboard, Steve. Good informative article backed up with great images. Looks like you pretty much saw every airframe the USMC flies, plus the addition of ATACs Hunter. Guess he was flying “Red Air”. Nice catch on that.

    I look forward to many more of your blogs and pics.

    PS: Sure wish we had those beautiful dry skies to shoot in around the Houston area, LOL.

  4. Thank you guys! I will try to cover as much of Arizona military aviation as I can. I recently had surgery, so the recovery period is going to slow me down quite a bit. I am looking forward to visiting Texas in the near future and meeting all of you!

    1. Welcome bud! Take care, its the recovery time after surgery thats always the hardest part, lol. You and bill need to plan a trip up here to one day. Better yet, you have a lot more down there, we all need to plan a trip down to AZ.

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