Among the many new items we’ve received over the past month or so, are two Northrop F-5 Freedom fighters operated by the USMC under the guise of the VMFT-401 “Snipers”. These aircraft are used to emulate several Russian adversarial aircraft and help teach pilots how to evade, engage and hopefully destroy an agile enemy aircraft under varying conditions.
Marine Fighter Training Squadron 401 (VMFT-401) is a United States Marine Corps Reserve fighter squadron flying the F-5N Tiger II. Known as the “Snipers”, the squadron is the only adversary squadron in the Marine Corps, also is the first and only reserve squadron in the Marine Corps tasked to act as the opposing force in simulated air combat. They are based at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma and fall under the command of the 4th Marine Aircraft Wing and Marine Aircraft Group 41. VMFT-401 is a non-deployable unit.
Marine Fighter Training Squadron 401 (VMFT-401) was activated on March 18, 1986 at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona. In June 1987 the squadron received a number of Israeli F-21A Kfirs and during that year logged more than 4,000 hours of flight time during 16 major exercises. In 1989, they transitioned to the F-5E Tiger II which they still use.
The squadron was recognized by the Commandant of the Marine Corps for flying more than 50,000 mishap-free flight hours. They broke the 50,000 hour mark in early July 2010 having not had a mishap since October 1995. At an average of 45 minutes per flight, 50,000 hours equates to nearly 70,000 mishap free sorties.
Shown here are USMC Northrop F-5F Tiger II Fighter – VMFT-401 “Snipers,” 25th Anniversary, Yuma NAS, Arizona, August 2011 (HA3324) and USMC Northrop F-5F Tiger II Fighter – VMFT-401 “Snipers,” Yuma NAS, Arizona, June 2006 (HA3325).