USMC and US Navy perform simultaneous manned and unmanned operations

The USMC’s Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron One (VMX-1) and the US Navy’s Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 23 (HSC-23) teamed up to conduct development in integrating manned and unmanned rotary-wing aircraft at Naval Air Facility El Centro, California, on March 10.

Throughout the exercise, UH-1Y Venoms and AH-1Z Vipers from VMX-1 conducted attacks whilst a HSC-23 MQ-8C Fire Scout assisted with the target detection and strike coordination via its sailors operating at the ground station.

USMC AND USN
An AH-1Z Viper (top) with Marine Operational and Test Evaluation Squadron 1 (VMX-1), and an MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned helicopter assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 23 (HSC-23), conduct Strike Coordination and Reconnaissance Training near El Centro, California, March 10, 2022. The purpose of this exercise was to provide familiarization and concept development of manned-unmanned teaming. USMC/ Lance Cpl Jade Venegas

Both the USMC and US Navy are running these development tests to better align with the national defence strategy and commandant’s planning guidance of 2018. As the exercise progressed, members of both services became more efficient in planning and coordinating effective fires from both manned and un-manned rotary-wing platforms.

Commanding Officer of VMX-1, Col. Byron Sullivan said: “This opportunity promotes greater familiarisation and concept development of the manned-unmanned teaming that builds confidence and efficiency.

“Our partnership plays an integral part of the Commandant and [Chief of Naval Operation]’s vision to embrace the future of warfare and turn it into our advantage on the battlefield,” Sullivan concluded.

USMC AND USN
US Marines from Marine Operational and Test Evaluation Squadron 1 (VMX-1), observe Strike Coordination and Reconnaissance Training from inside a UH-1Y Venom near El Centro, California, March 10, 2022. USMC/  Lance Cpl. Jade Venegas