Marine Corps Air Station Yuma or MCAS Yuma is situated in Arizona at the border to California and Mexico. It was build relatively close to the city of Yuma which has a population of about 100.000!
USMC F-5 Tiger II 761541 of VMFT-401 approaching Rwy 03L.
Falcon 7X operated by Honywell lined up on Rwy 17
The Airfield has four runways. The largest one is RWY 03L/21R with 13300ft(4054m) whereas the parallel RWY 03R/21L is 9241ft (2817m) long. These two runways are mainly used by the military. The other two runways are almost exclusively used by civilian air traffic. RWY 08/26 is 6146ft (1873m) long and is the one used by airline traffic. The shortest one is Rwy 17/35 with 5711ft (1741m).
The military has its facilities south of the runway system and three huge aprons have been build in the past. A good part of the concrete area is covered by sun shelters to protect men and aircraft from the brutal Arizona sun.
MCAS Yuma is home to Marine Aircraft Group 13 and is one of the largest bases of the US Marine Corps. MAG13 consists of four squadrons. Marine Attack Squadron or VMA-211 „Wake Islands Avengers“, VMA -214 „Black Sheep“ and VMA-311 „Tomcats“ fly the AV-8B Harrier. The Harrier is still the workhorse of the USMC and capable of operating from the amphibious assault ships. This is one of the reasons squadrons from YUMA are often deployed away from their homebase! The AV-8B will continue to fly at Yuma for several years but will eventually be replaced by the new F-35B Lightning II.
AV-8B Harrier No.165567 of VMA-311 „Tomcats“
AV-8B No.165587 of VMA-311
The future of MCAS Yuma and the USMC has already begun with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron VMFA-121 „Green Nights“. This is the first squadron operating the F-35B and during our visit a lot of activity could be observed.
F-35B Lighning II No.168732 of VMFA-121
F-35B Lighning II No.168725 of VMFA-121
A very interesting squadron is Marine Fighter Training Squadron 401 or VMFT-401 known as „Snipers“. This squadron flys the Northrop F-5 Tiger II in an adversary role and is under the command of MAG-41 located at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth . Interesting to note is that a part of the airplanes are former Swiss Air Force aircraft which have been bought back and overhauled by the US.
F-5N of VMFT-401 departing Rwy 03L
F-5N No.761541 on final Rwy03L
F-5 No.761589 departing Rwy 03L
Throughout the day day a number of interesting visitors could be seen. Among them a Belgian Air Force C-130, VMGR-352 KC-130J from MAG-11 in Miramar and a large number VFMAT-101 F/A-18s.
BAF C-130H CH-12
A nice addition was „Fat Albert“ which arrived from nearby NAF El Centro for the 2014 diplay season training. Note less than six training flights could be seen on that day.
Taking pictures at Yuma is not always an easy task. Depending on wind direction and daytime it can be challenging and a long lens is recommended. Please note that because of the new F-35s a visit by local law enforcement is likely. As at any other military base keep away from the fence a little bit and you will be fine taking pictures.