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Photo Information

The monitor feed of an unmanned aerial vehicle commander shows the impact of a Hell Fire missile during training at Avon Park Air Force Range, Fla., Aug. 4, 2014. Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 2 integrated with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 167 to conduct the live fire training during a 10-day field exercise to increase VMU-2’s ability to operate in a deployed environment.

Photo by Cpl. J. R. Heins

VMU-2 refines operational readiness at Avon Park

12 Aug 2014 | Cpl. J. R. Heins 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing

Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 2 conducted training at Avon Park Air Force Range, Fla., July 28 – Aug. 8., working with Marine Special Operations Command and several Air Force fighter wings to refine their interoperability with joint-service ground and air assets.

VMU-2 coordinated with MARSOC and the Air Force’s 75th and 93rd Fighter Wings to perform close air support during the training, according to Capt. Jonathan C. Putney, an unmanned aerial vehicle commander with VMU-2.

“A big training advantage we have at Avon Park is the ability to support live-fire shoots,” said Putney, a Naples, Fla., native. “Working with MARSOC and the Air Force, we are developing our abilities to partner with other Marine units and sister services.”

The exercise also gave each Marine with the squadron a chance to develop and refine mission critical skills, according to Putney.

“The plane captains need to train for launching and recovering the UAVs, as well as refining emergency procedures,” said Putney. “The aircrews got refresher training and gained their qualifications with the UAV’s systems while the mission commanders oversaw and refined their skills as UAV pilots.”

The training at Avon Park gave the squadron’s support personnel, such as data networkers and administrative specialists, a chance to work in a more expeditionary environment than that found at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C., according to Staff Sgt. Kalem Cossette, the cyber chief with the squadron. It is important for Marines to develop the ability to operate successfully with little outside logistical support.

“At Cherry Point there is a lot of support available in the local area,” said Cossette, a Flagler Beach, Fla., native. “This gets us used to operating with very little external support which is usually the case when Marines are deployed.”

2nd Marine Aircraft Wing