US Marine Corps HMLA-169 Light Attack Helicopter Squadron breaks distance record

Marines with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 169 executed one of the longest maritime HMLA self-deployment flights in 1st Marine Aircraft Wing history during exercise Tiltrotor/Rotary Wing 2107. TR/RW 2107 is a unilateral exercise at Misawa Air Base, Japan, that demonstrates 1st MAW’s capabilities to maintain combat readiness in a maritime environment. 1st Lt. John Hardin and 1st Lt. Tess LaBossiere, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, report.

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US Marine Corps HMLA 169 Light Attack Helicopter Squadron breaks distance record

Staff Sgt. Gustavo Lopez, a Plane Captain assigned to the “Vipers” of Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 169, guides a UH-1Y Venom as it arrives at Naval Air Facility Misawa.  (Picture source: USMC/Seaman Benjamin Ringers)

“The significance of self-deploying HMLA-169 over 1,200 miles demonstrates our ability to execute Distributed Maritime Operations under the Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations construct,” said Lt. Col. Eric Fleming, Commanding Officer of HMLA-169.

TR/RW 2107 is part of the Aviation Training Relocation Program designed to integrate air capabilities in unfamiliar environments and further develop and refine tactics, techniques, and procedures within EABO operations. Marine Aircraft Group 36, including Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 262 and HMLA-169 are supporting with MV-22 Ospreys, UH-1Y Venoms, AH-1Z Vipers and 300 Marines and Sailors.

For this iteration of TR/RW, the squadrons are conducting a range of training evolutions from close air support to Ground Threat Reaction. CAS is an offensive air support mission that integrates aviation with ground combat efforts; enabling swift and mobile firepower against enemies near friendly forces. GTR is designed to help Marines develop tactical maneuvering techniques.

“This exercise is an excellent example of the capabilities of the H-1s in the Indo-Pacific. It proves that we can range any adversary in the Pacific theater and conduct missions such as command & control, close air support, deep air support, and aerial reconnaissance with expeditionary and distributed sustainment support,” said Fleming.

EABO’s are not tied to any specific piece of terrain. The forward posture and advanced level of readiness mean that 1st MAW can establish expeditionary advanced bases at the time and place of its choosing.