Over the last year, the U.S. Marine Corps’ (USMC) Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 1 (VMU-1) blazed a trail of firsts and was awarded the 2018 Marine Corps Aviation Association Unmanned Aircraft Squadron of the Year.
A major component of the squadron’s accomplishments included use of the MQ-9A Reaper Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS), which to date has flown over 4,800 flight hours of direct support reconnaissance over a 12 month period. The multi-sensor reconnaissance equipped MQ-9A UAS produced by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) has provided crucial support to USMC’s forward operations on the battlefield, as well as serving as a proof of concept for the Deputy Commandant’s Marine Aviation Plan.
Building the Marine Corps’ Group 5 UAS community, this initiative will help inform the Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF) UAS Expeditionary (MUX) program while also meeting the 38th Commandant’s Planning Guidance to expand unmanned capabilities.
VMU-1 has been utilizing leased MQ-9A Reaper aircraft to fulfill an urgent needs request for persistent Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) in the Afghanistan theater since September 2018. “We congratulate the Officers and Marines of VMU-1 for their superb performance this year, winning the John I. Hudson Award as the Marine Unmanned Aircraft Squadron of the Year,” said David R Alexander, president, GA-ASI. “GA-ASI looks forward to working with VMU-1 as the USMC transitions its Company Owned/Company Operated (COCO) MQ-9A contract to a Government Owned/Government Operated (GOGO) contract in the coming year.”
The GOGO capability fulfills the Commandant’s directive for USMC Group 5 persistent ISR capability with strike and will achieve IOC in 2020. VMU-1 will be the test bed and incubator to provide crucial information, lessons learned, requirements, and tactics, techniques, and procedures that will aid in the USMC efforts for a successful acquisition and fielding of MUX.