Improvisational Military Training on California’s Pacific Coast Highway

Photo Credit: James Deboer/The Warzone

Yesterday, Marines just landed an F-35B Joint Strike Fighter on an old 50-foot-wide highway in Southern California, refueled, rearmed, and took back off again, according to the War Zone and Lockheed Martin. At this same improvised forward arming and refueling point, a Marine MV-22 Osprey passed over a torpedo to a waiting Navy MH-60R Seahawk. This was a glimpse of what is to come for future Marine operations in the Pacific.

Winning a war in the Indo-Pacific theatre starts with a playbook, the writing of which falls on the shoulders of the Marine Operational Test Evaluation Squadron 1 (VMX-1).Testing and evaluation of aircraft is their primary function.

Located between train tracks and I-5 near Camp Pendleton, VMX-1 found the perfect place to conduct Obsidian Iceberg 23.1. Known as VSTOL-101 (vertical/short takeoff and landing), the old road used to be part of the Pacific Coast Highway and provided the perfect challenge for rearmament and logistics. The road has power lines and ditches to the west and active train tracks a few yards to the east. The road is no stranger to Marine aviators. It served for many years as a practice landing site for Marine Harriers. VMX-1 resurrected the site for this unique training event which was completed flawlessly.

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