The US Marine Corps’ (USMC’s) Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 362 (VMM-362) ‘Ugly Angels’ has been declared fully operational capable and is now ready to support operations as part of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (MAW).
The certification was officially declared on February 28, but the USMC announced that the squadron had achieved this milestone on March 30. The unit has since been involved in training and attaining readiness objectives whilst conducting precautionary measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 from its base at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California.
Having been declared fully operationally capable means that the squadron is fully staffed, equipped and trained. VMM-362 has now been fully integrated into the Marine Aircraft Group 16 under the 3rd MAW.
Lt Col Matthew McSorely, commanding officer of the ‘Ugly Angels’, said: “We launched a report saying the squadron was ready-to-go, and I am extremely proud of all of the hard work and effort the Marines put into building this squadron from the ground up… Now we can represent the MAW with absolute confidence as a fully operational squadron. The training we have completed up to this point will allow us to support the ground forces’ mission without reservations.”
The ‘Ugly Angels’ was first activated by the USMC in April 1952, operating as a Sikorsky UH-34D Seahorse unit under the designation of Marine Helicopter Transport Squadron 362 (HMR-362), based from MCAS Santa Ana in California. In 1969, the ‘Ugly Angels’ transitioned to the Sikorsky CH-53 Sea Stallion and were redesignated as Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 362 (HMH-362), operating from MCAS New River, North Carolina. The unit was deactivated in 2012 and was reactivated to operate the Bell Boeing MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor in August 2018.
VMM-362’s transition to operating the MV-22B is part of the USMC’s modernisation process. Although the unit will continue to provide medium-lift assault support to ground and naval forces, the aircraft boasts an increased range and speed in comparison to the squadron’s previous aircraft, the CH-53D.