"One of the main things we've tried to emphasize for the last few years or so are related to electronic warfare, electronic magnetic spectrum and cyber," said Col. James Adams, MAWTS-1 commanding officer. "We expose them to capabilities that we have in the battlespace where in the past we've focused on kinetic effects."
Adams said the changes in his unit are a result of a greater emphasis on Electronic Warfare across the Corps, as well as the service-wide focus on fighting more sophisticated enemies with advanced aviation and anti-air capabilities.
"It's more than just an idea that we talk about, it's actually things we do, live things. We conduct operations and assess their effects," he said.
"In the background, there are information capabilities that are being done. It makes sense because in today's environment, everything's connected, everything is networked," he said.
The increased focus on electronic warfare at MAWTS-1 comes as the Corps adjusts its approach to managing and exploiting the electromagnetic spectrum. The EA-6B Prowler is the service's electronic warfare workhorse but is slated for retirement in 2019. As the Prowler sunsets, the Corps is spreading EW duties across fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters, unmanned aircraft and ground units. Electronic warfare officers will be put into billets outside of the Prowler community and Marines who operate on other platforms will have more of a role in the electronic warfare fight. The Corps has 27 Prowlers and three operational electronic warfare squadrons.
The Corps' 10-year aviation plan says the effort to overhaul this type of warfare will be led by Marine Air Ground Task Force EW, a group charged with finding ways to best use new technologies across platforms.
"It's not just jamming," Adams said. "It's really looking at all the information-related capabilities that are out there, and using those pods with tailored payloads. So if you need some cyber, some intel, or electronic warfare, or electromagnetic spectrum stuff, it (the Intrepid Tiger pod) can be tailorable."
Another change in the Corps - the introduction of Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Forces - has caused changes at MAWTS as well.
Besides the recent focus on electronic warfare, Adams said the squadron is helping the new units develop tactics for their unique mission set.
"It's an emerging capability. The Marine Corps has really emphasized lately a high-profile task force. We essentially continue to help them as mission requirements pop up," Adams said.
MAWTS is also assessing efforts to arm the Osprey with a more powerful machine gun and missiles to increase its firepower.
"Enhanced offensive weapon systems on the MV-22 will provide increased capabilities for the SP-MAGTF-CR and employment options to the combatant commander," the aviation plan states. "The future Marine Expeditionary Force will require an assortment of light-weight precision weapons with scalable lethality. As the MAGTF becomes digitally interoperable, Marine aviation will become more lethal through net-enabled weapons that take advantage of our ability to out-pace our adversaries."