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Marines and Navy fly together manned H-1 and unmanned MQ-8C aircraft

Marines and Navy fly together manned H-1 and unmanned MQ-8C aircraft
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.
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Jade Venegas.
Story by Maj. Jorge Hernandez | Communication Directorate

Washington, D.C. – Marines from Marine Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron One (VMX-1) and Navy sailors from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 23 (HSC-23) teamed up fly together manned H-1 and unmanned MQ-8C aircraft, with the objective to conduct tactics development integrating manned-unmanned rotorcraft. The exercise has been realiced at Naval Air Facility El Centro, California on March 10, 2022.

During the exercise, Marines VMX-1’s H-1 (UH-1Y Venom and AH-1Z Viper) helicopters conducted attacks while Marines and Navy sailors operating in the ground control station assisted with the target detection and strike coordination utilizing a MQ-8C Fire Scout.

“This opportunity promotes greater familiarization and concept development of the manned-unmanned teaming that builds confidence and efficiency throughout the Blue-Green Team,” said VMX-1 Commanding Officer Col. Byron Sullivan. “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.”

The services continue to develop manned-unmanned tactics to better align with the 2018 National Defense Strategy and the Commandant’s Planning Guidance. As the exercise in El Centro progressed, the Navy-Marine Corps team became more proficient in planning, communicating, and coordinating effective fires from manned and unmanned rotary-wing aircraft. The proliferation of unmanned rotary wing platforms on U.S. Navy ships makes integration with Marine rotary wing and the MQ-8C a likelihood in the littoral environment.

Marines and Navy fly together manned H-1 and unmanned MQ-8C aircraft
An AH-1Z Viper (front) 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.
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Jade Venegas.

“Adversaries are going to be placed on the horns of a dilemma as we strengthen our naval expeditionary force in leveraging unmanned systems to complement our rotary wing,” said VMX-1 Science and Technology lead Maj. Ben Henry.

The mission of VMX-1 is to conduct operational test and evaluation of Marine Corps aviation platforms and systems.

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