Photo Information

Capt. Mark Couvillon taxis an AV-8B Harrier aboard USS Makin Island here Nov. 23. Couvillon serves as a pilot with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Units aviation combat element, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 268 (Reinforced). The unit embarked USS Makin Island, USS New Orleans and USS Pearl Harbor in San Diego Nov. 14 to begin a seven-month deployment to the Western Pacific and Middle East regions.

Photo by Cpl. Gene Allen Ainsworth III

Harriers participate in joint exercise

20 Nov 2011 | Sgt. Elyssa Quesada 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit

AV-8B Harriers, F-15 Eagles and F-22 Raptors participated in a joint air-to-air exercise over Oahu, Hawaii, here Nov. 20-22 during the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s first port visit of its seven-month deployment.

The exercise marked the first time Harriers with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 268 (Reinforced) and Raptors with the Hawaiian Air National Guard’s 19th Fighter Squadron trained together.

Pilots were exposed to different platforms and exercises that complemented each aircrafts’ support, improving overall interoperability, according Capt. John D. Dirk, a Harrier pilot with the Marine squadron. Dirk is a 31-year-old Fort Worth, Texas, native.

The integration training included a large-force exercise that included within visual ranger basic fighter maneuvering.

“The training definitely improved in the air-to-air arena, and the type of realistic training we received increased out air-to-air proficiency and overall capability,” said Marine Harrier pilot Capt. Patrick Wherry, 30, who hails from Seattle.

The squadron is the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s aviation combat element, which embarked USS Makin Island, USS New Orleans and USS Pearl Harbor in San Diego Nov. 14, beginning a deployment to the Western Pacific and Middle East regions.


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11th Marine Expeditionary Unit