MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. -- Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Training Squadron 1 took another step toward fully capable status with their first class of EA-6B Prowler student pilots taking to the sky for the first time March 27.
VMAQT-1’s mission is to train replacement pilots and aircrew to operate the EA-6B Prowler. The squadron's mission is essential to keeping operational tactical electronic warfare squadrons fully staffed with trained aircrews, according to Lt. Col. Melissa Kelley, the squadron's executive officer.
VMAQT-1 is the first Prowler training squadron in the Marine Corps. The Navy conducted all previous Prowler pilot and aircrew training, according to Kelley.
“(The Navy has) about two operational squadrons left but they do not require more aircrew to fill those squadrons,” said Kelley. “In order to staff Marine Prowler squadrons for the next five years, we had to develop a fleet replacement squadron here at Cherry Point.”
In June of last year, the squadron, previously known as VMAQ-1, transitioned to a training squadron to fill the void left by the Navy's break from the Prowler. The previous training squadron for Marine Prowler naval aviators was located at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash., until the Navy transitioned to the EA-18G Growler, according to Kelley.
“We are training basic aircrew straight out of the training command flight schools where they earned their wings,” said Kelley. "There are several classes behind (the first class) that are still in ground school training.”
VMAQT-1 became a training squadron in June 2013 and welcomed its first batch of newly minted naval aviators in October 2013. The student aviators have been conducting ground training in Prowler simulators at Cherry Point before finally taking off in the pilot's seat for the first time March 27.
Tuesday was the target date for the squadron to reach full operational capability and they met their goal, according to Kelley.
“They are the first students to see our full syllabus and they have provided us with some really good feedback concerning the training,” said Kelley. “We will refine (the syllabus) to make it better for each subsequent class."