MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. — Marines and civilians held a celebration marking the first day of the now fully operational EA-6B Prowler simulator at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C., Feb. 22.
The 2F-185 Weapon System Trainer was first owned by the Navy, whom decided in 2006, that the $16 million simulator was no longer needed.
That same year the Marine Corps decided to adopt the simulator and “yanked it from the jaws of the Defense Reutilization and Management Office,” said Barry Fetzer, Deputy Director of 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing’s Aviation Training Systems. DRMO is an organization that disposes of surplus military equipment.
Fetzer said the Marine Corps was keeping the Prowler aircraft for at least another decade and needed the enhanced training capabilities the Weapons System Trainer could offer.
Lt. Gen. John G. Castellaw, Deputy Commandant of Marine Corps Aviation in 2007, started the process of moving the simulator to MCAS Cherry Point.
Fetzer said after Castellaw signed the memo the Marines went to work.
“In a matter of a few months, they got the required headquarters endorsements to take possession of and relocate the 2F-185,” Fetzer said.
The Marine Corps was able to relocate the simulator to a temporary storage facility in California where it received a much needed technology upgrade.
In 2009 the simulator was moved in several hundred pieces, some weighing several tons, to MCAS Cherry Point.
Fetzer said, because of the superb cooperation between Naval Air Systems Command Aircraft Program Office, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, and MCAS Cherry Point personnel, a plan was developed and executed to bring the new simulator to MCAS Cherry Point.
After the simulator was moved to its current location on MCAS Cherry Point it was reassembled, received further upgrades and tested to make sure it operates like the actual aircraft.
“It is an effective and relevant training system,” Fetzer said. It is a training system that will stay with the Marines until the end of the venerable Prowler aircraft itself.
It took a lot of persistence and dedication to achieve this now almost seven year plan said Lt. Col. Ryan Rideout, Director of 2nd MAW Aviation Training Systems.
“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence,” said Rideout quoting former President of the United States Calvin Coolidge. “Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”
Rideout went on to say, “The story of this Weapon System Trainer being here now, in this place, under Marine Corps leadership and management, and ready to train Marine Corps electronic attack warriors, is a story of teamwork and persistence worthy of being told and celebrated.”