Monday, January 23, 2023

U.S. Marine Corps showcase ‘combat power’ during impressive elephant walk

Personnel from the U.S. Marine Aircraft Group (MAG) 16, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (MAW), equipped with the CH-53E Super Stallions, MV-22B Ospreys and based at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in California, staged the impressive “Elephant Walk” combat power exercise involving over 40 aircraft on Jul. 14, 2021.

“In a dynamic display of combat power that featured over 40 aircraft in MAG-16’s mass flight, the aircraft showcased the tactical capabilities that 3rd MAW uses to remain lethal and deployable on a moment’s notice,” the Aircraft Group said in a statement.

40 military aircraft lined up in close formation before taking off as part of a readiness exercise conducted to ensure the MAG-16 is able to provide combat power.


The goal of this exercise was to execute a short notice, agile combat execution-style deployment and generation.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Rachaelanne Woodward
Photo by Lance Cpl. Rachaelanne Woodward

“Elephant walk” is a uniquely term that grew out of World War II and became institutional memory in the new U.S. Forces. The term dates back to the time when the Army Air Forces had a large number of bombers, which would regularly generate attacks in excess of 1,000 aircraft from its Numbered Air Forces. It was named Elephant Walk because the nose-to-tail, single-file taxi movements of bombers resembled the nose-to-tail trail of elephants on their way to the next watering hole.

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About this Author

Dylan Malyasov
Defense journalist and commentator. Aviation photographer. Dylan leads Defence Blog's coverage of global military news, focusing on engineering and technology across the U.S. defense industry.