PACIFIC OCEAN --
Ordnance technicians with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 268 (Reinforced) loaded and tested advanced medium-range air-to-air missiles, or AMRAMMs, on AV-8B Harriers aboard USS Makin Island here Dec. 8.
The squadron’s deployment with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit is the first operational pairing of the missile with a Marine Corps Harrier unit.
The 350-pound radar-guided missile allows Harriers to engage targets at longer distances, according to Chief Warrant Officer 2 Sean Okusko, the squadron’s aviation ordnance officer.
“The beyond visual range air-to-air missile can be used in offensive and defensive roles against enemy aircraft and support Marine air-ground task force objectives,” said Capt. John Dirk, the squadron’s training officer.
The Marines and sailors who loaded and conducted checks have made the ship and the MEU a more capable force, according to Okusko, 32, who hails from Sheffield, Iowa.
“This morning’s evolution went very well,” said Okusko. “The Marines were able to accomplish the task in about two and a half hours. The teamwork and coordination, not just with the ordnance Marines but with the Navy as well, was seamless.”
This is also the first time the AMRAAMs have been deployed on an amphibious-class ship, according to Dirk, 31, who hails from Fort Worth, Texas.
The squadron serves as the aviation combat element for the MEU, which embarked USS Makin Island, USS New Orleans and USS Pearl Harbor in San Diego Nov. 14, beginning a seven-month deployment to the Western Pacific and Middle East regions.