U.S. Marine Corps “Legacy Hornets” Perform “Elephant Walk” Ahead of Massive Aircraft Launch Involving +30 F/A-18 Jets

More than 30 F/A-18 Hornets with Marine Aircraft Group (MAG) 11, demonstrate the power and might of Marine Corps aviation as they prepare to take off during a MAG-11 training exercise at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., Feb. 1. MAG-11 conducted this training to exercise their real-world capabilities. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Julian K. Elliott-Drouin)

Long live the Legacy Hornet!

On the very same day the U.S. Navy bid farewell to its last operational “Legacy Hornets” at NAS Oceana, Virginia, the U.S. Marine Corps Marine Aircraft Group (MAG) 11, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (MAW), launched 35 aircraft near simultaneously as part of scheduled training activity at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California.

Shortly after sunrise, 30 F/A-18A+/C/D Hornets belonging to MAG-11 squadrons (VMFA(AW)-225, VMFA-232, VMFA-314, VMFA-323 and VMFAT-101) and 2 KC-130J Hercules (VMGR-352) started their engines and moved to the taxiway; forming a line, known as an “elephant walk,” which stretched nearly a mile.

Four F/A-18 Hornets with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 314, Marine Aircraft Group (MAG) 11, stage during a MAG-11 training exercise that included more than 30 aircraft at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., Feb. 1. MAG-11 conducted this training to exercise its real-world capabilities. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Mark A. Lowe II)

During Elephant Walk exercises military aircraft taxi in close formation or in sequence right before a minimum interval takeoff and, depending on the purpose of the training event they then either take off or taxi back to the apron.

In this case, upon receiving the command to launch, the first four aircraft took off. Within seconds, they were airborne and were immediately followed by the next four aircraft; a process that continued until all the aircraft were airborne.



According to the USMC, more than 30 Hornets took part in the training, even though we can count “just” 30 F/A-18s on the runway at MCAS Miramar, in the photos officially released (maybe additional jets did not take part in the Elephant Walk and took off separately).

In a display of military might and raw power, multiple FA-18 Hornets, from Marine Aircraft Group (MAG) 11, stage in preparation for take off during a MAG-11 training exercise at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., Feb. 1. MAG-11 conducted this training to test its real-world capabilities. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Sarah Ralph)

 

“I directed this event to exercise MAG-11’s real world capability,” said MAG-11’s Commanding Officer, Col. Simon Doran in a public release that went of to say:

The military significance regarding the power and the capability to simultaneously employ so many military aircraft within such a short period leaves little to the imagination, especially considering that MAG-11 is only one of four MAGs serving within 3rd MAW.

Exercises such as this provide realistic, relevant training necessary for 3rd MAW to “Fix, Fly, and Fight” as the Marine Corps’ largest aircraft wing and ensures the unit remains combat-ready, interoperable, deployable on short notice, and lethal when called into action.

With the retirement of the U.S. Navy’s operational Legacy Hornets, F/A-18A+ Hornets (where “+” designates aircraft equipped with AN/APG-73 radars instead of the original AN/APG-65), C and D remain in service with the U.S. Marine Corps as well as some Navy Reserve squadrons, such as VFC-12 from NAS Oceana and VFA-204 from NAS New Orleans Joint Reserve Base. The Blue Angels will also continue flying their Legacy Hornets while transitioning to the Super Hornets.

An F/A-18C Hornet with Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron (VMFAT) 101, Marine Aircraft Group (MAG) 11, takes off as part of a massive launch, that included more than 30 aircraft, during the MAG-11 training exercise at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., Feb. 1. MAG-11 conducted this training to exercise their real-world capabilities. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Julian. K. Elliott-Drouin)

 

About David Cenciotti 3757 Articles
David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written four books.