The end of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the Corps' efforts to prepare for a fight against a tech-savvy enemy has prompted caused Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron 1 to put a greater emphasis on electronic warfare.
Two years ago MAWTS-1, a unit that helps develop aviation tactics and deliver spread new techniques to the fleet, formed a small division dedicated to electronic warfare. One year later, that division became the Spectrum Warfare Department. Simultaneously, MAWTS-1 made electronic warfare capabilities a more significant part of the biannual Weapons and Tactics Instructor course.
"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.
The department's work is reflected in the biannual Weapons and Tactics Instructor training, during which a course where seasoned pilots and aircrews learn how to return to their manage a training curriculum and then return to their operational units to help others them learn the Corps' latest tactics. Marine aviation planning documents show that the course has a new, fully -staffed cyberspace and electronic warfare coordination center with support from the Marine Air Control Group, Marine Aircraft Group 14, Marine Corps Forces Cyberspace Command, and other units with roles in electronic warfare.
The Spectrum Warfare Department exposes WTI students to new electronic warfare concepts and tactics, and includes live events. , and Electronic warfare capabilities are a component component in the class's training scenarios, in the class, Adams said.
"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.
Security concerns issues limited the level of detail he could provide, but Adams said WTI students are involved with coordinating attacks, strikes and assault-support operations.
"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.
Adams said other aircraft won't be as heavily involved in electronic warfare missions as the Prowler but they will play a role. For example, an F/A-18 Hornet might carry an Intrepid Tiger II pod that is connected into communication networks, making it accessible to other Marines involved in the mission. These won't have the same capability as the Prowler and its powerful ALQ-99 jammer, but they'll serve a variety of roles, he said.
"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.
So far they've helped hone the way that the MV-22 Osprey and KC-130 Hercules can be used in tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel missions.
"We are right tight in the middle, trying to solve that problem as the mission is being levied on the Marine Corps," Adams said.
The squadron is also working on They've also figuring out how the air combat element in SP-MAGTFs can operate as detachment and s. The recently worked with the Moron, Spain-based SP-MAGTF, Crisis Response - Africa during their Ebola response mission in West Africa. Squadron members They helped figure out how to structure the detachment four Ospreys and two KC-130 used in that mission.
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."