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HMLA-169 Goes the Distance

A man in uniform uses hand signals to communicate with a helicopter in flight.

MISAWA, Japan (July 15, 2021) – Staff Sgt. Gustavo Lopez, a Plane Captain assigned to the “Vipers” of Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron (HMLA) 169, guides an UH-1Y Venom as it arrives at Naval Air Facility (NAF) Misawa. HMLA-169 is at NAF Misawa to conduct Tilt Rotor/Rotary Wing (TR-RW) training exercises and reduce the training activity impact on Okinawa. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Benjamin Ringers)

a helicopter hovers above pavement

MISAWA, Japan (July 15, 2021) – A UH-1Y Venom, assigned to the “Vipers” of Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron (HMLA) 169, prepares to land at Naval Air Facility (NAF) Misawa. HMLA-169 is at NAF Misawa to conduct Tilt Rotor/Rotary Wing (TR-RW) training exercises and reduce the training activity impact on Okinawa. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Benjamin Ringers)

two helicopters fly above an airfield

MISAWA, Japan (July 15, 2021) – Two UH-1Y Venoms, assigned to the “Vipers” of Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron (HMLA) 169, prepare to land at Naval Air Facility (NAF) Misawa. HMLA-169 is at NAF Misawa to conduct Tilt Rotor/Rotary Wing (TR-RW) training exercises and reduce the training activity impact on Okinawa. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Benjamin Ringers)

two people in uniform stand on pavement under a hovering helicopter

MISAWA, Japan (July 15, 2021) – Staff Sgt. Gustavo Lopez, a Plane Captain assigned to the “Vipers” of Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron (HMLA) 169, guides an AH-1Z Cobra as it arrives at Naval Air Facility (NAF) Misawa. HMLA-169 is at NAF Misawa to conduct Tilt Rotor/Rotary Wing (TR-RW) training exercises and reduce the training activity impact on Okinawa. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Benjamin Ringers)

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan --

Marines with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron (HMLA) 169 executed one of the longest maritime HMLA self-deployment flights in 1st Marine Aircraft Wing history during exercise Tiltrotor/Rotary Wing (TR/RW) 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.

“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 (EABO) construct,” said LtCol 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 (MAG) 36, to include Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 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 (CAS) to Ground Threat Reaction (GTR). 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 means that 1st MAW can establish expeditionary advanced bases at the time and place of its choosing.

1st MAW trains continuously in challenging and realistic environments and scenarios. The TR/RW events provide an opportunity for 1st MAW to train in different environments and benefit from the advanced training ranges and capabilities in mainland Japan.

For more information on this subject, please contact 1st MAW Communication Strategy and Operations at 1MAWCOMMSTRAT@usmc.mil.