out to the operating forces, to revising the TTPs as needed, and documenting the changes in response to
feedback from the fleet.
The third mission involves the
squadron in government-funded
science and technology projects
associated with Marine aviation that
are being conducted by organizations such as the Defense Advanced
Research Projects Agency and the
Office of Naval Research, which
takes it far into the future, he said.
The current squadron, which
calls itself the “Argonauts” after
the legendary Greek adventurers,
evolved from VMX- 22, which had
the primary missions of doing the
operational testing and developing
the training curriculum for the
MV- 22 Osprey tiltrotor as it came
out of developmental testing.
The renamed VMX- 1 now has
responsibility for the Osprey, the AH- 1 attack helicopters, the UH- 1 utility choppers, the CH-53E heavy-lift helo and its emerging replacement, the CH-53K,
the F- 35 strike fighter and the MQ-21A Blackjack
unmanned aerial system. It also is preparing to fly
two K-MAX rotary-wing unmanned logistics aircraft,
expects to add a pilot trained in the AV-8B Harrier,
which is being replaced by the F-35B, and, in the future,
will get the KC-130J aerial tanker and transport, now
handled by the Navy’s VX- 1, Lawson said. The legacy
F/A-18s will remain with VX- 9 until replaced by F-35s,
The squadron also is responsible for aviation-related
ground systems, and recently conducted evaluations
of the new Ground/Air Task Oriented Radar system
and the expanding Common Aviation Command and
Although its headquarters and most of its 400
personnel are at Yuma, the squadron is “quad-sited,”
Lawson said, with its personnel working with the
multiservice, multinational F- 35 team at Edwards Air
Force Base (AFB), Calif.; an operational test director
and others at Sikorsky’s CH-53K plant in West Palm
Beach, Fla.; and 70 personnel at New River MCAS,
N.C., working with the CH-53Es.
Marine F- 35 operational testing is expected to consolidate at VMX- 1 in Yuma in 2019, Lawson said.
As the Marines’ F-35Bs prepare for their first opera-
tional deployment next year, the VMX- 1 team recently
conducted two tests of the Lightning II’s combat capa-
bilities, dropping precision-guided bombs on the Yuma
ranges and then doing both air-to-ground and air-to-air
operations at Eglin AFB, Fla., Lawson said.
A Marine Corps press release said that during the Eglin
tests one of the F-35s dropped a 500-pound laser-guided
bomb while simultaneously firing an AIM-120 anti-aircraft missile against a flying drone. Both weapons successfully guided to their targets, the release said.
The squadron’s MV- 22 personnel recently took several Ospreys to the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson to
assess how the tiltrotors would fit into routine carrier
operations, in support of the Navy’s plan to use modified MV-22s to replace the C-2s in the carrier onboard
Lawson said the two big benefits the Navy saw from
those tests were “you can fly the Ospreys at night,
which they currently don’t do with the Greyhounds,
and they didn’t need to go to full flight quarters when
you land the Osprey, which you do with the C- 2.”
In a recent Seapower interview, Davis set an ambitious
goal of making every one of his tactical aircraft a sensor
and a shooter so they all can be part of an integrated fight.
Lawson said when he was flying with Marine
Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One (MAWTS-
1), which is next door to VMX- 1 at Yuma, it started
“the effort for interoperability, sensor-shooter integration, not just inside the Marine Corps but across
the joint force.” Because the current fights “are very
dynamic” and a “lot of non-standard participants” are
involved, “we’re trying to figure out better ways to get
time-sensitive, very critical information to the folks
who are closest to that decision point,” he said.
An F-35B Lightning II with Marine Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron One
fires an AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile during U.S. Marine
Corps F-35B operational tests at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., Aug 25.