Many people are aware of the job that Marines in the Corps perform and their bravery as infantrymen. But another proud job that Servicemembers perform in the Marine Corps is the Aviation branch. The U.S. Marines have a whole fleet of different aircraft, including KC-130 refueling tankers, AH-1W Attack Cobra Helicopters, F-18 Fighters, and AV-8B Harrier Jump Jets. These and other Marine aircraft are used in a wide variety of missions and launch from military bases and installations based around the world, as well as certain amphibious ships and aircraft carriers. To keep this fleet of aircraft in military readiness for its missions, the Marine Corps rely on its Aviation Support Marines.
Aviation Support is a professional rating that trains Marines in various jobs that are vital to combat and flight operations that the Marine Corps participate in. The jobs in this specialty include:
-Weapons support system technicians.
-Electronics and Aviation electronics.
-Aviation Weather Service Support.
One of the steps to improving its fleet aircraft state of readiness, in 1978 the Marine Corps base at Twentynine Palms, California was revamped. It was re-designated as a combat and air-ground combat support center. Doing this allowed the evaluation and testing of methods and control systems for direct air support and combined arms missions. Marines involved in aviation and aviation support began to cycle through Twentynine Palms for training. This included both ground and air units.
The Marines have an established organization structure for Aviation support. The Marine Corps Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF) has elements in four major areas.
-Ground Combat Aviation and support
A Combat Aviation element may consist of an aircraft wing, more than one aircraft wings, or a helicopter squadron. Jobs in the Marine Corps Aviation area are challenging, and require good physical dexterity and an ability to think clearly and swiftly, and an ability to make sound decisions. The pride and the success of Marine Corps Aviation have been by gritty determination, hard work, and a willingness to revamp areas as new technology becomes available.
The Marine Corps was the first in the U.S. Armed Forces to utilize the British Built AV-8A Harrier. Beginning in 1971 it was produced in the USA by McDonnell Douglas, the Harrier is a VTOL aircraft, vertical takeoff and landing capable. The Marine Corps are also on the cutting edge with the new aircraft, the MV-22 tilt rotor Osprey Aircraft. This is intended to replace the aging but stalwart CH-53A Sea Stallion Helicopter for Marine Corps usage.