Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron-1 [VMAQ-1]
Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 1 (VMAQ-1) was commissioned on 1 July, 1992 as the result of the reorganization of Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 2 (VMAQ-2). VMAQ-1 was formerly VMAQ-2 Detachment X-ray. The mission of VMAQ-1 is to conduct airborne electronic warfare in support of Fleet Marine Force operations or other units as the Commandant of the Marine Corps directs. This includes suppressing enemy radar and surface to air missiles utilizing electronic jamming and High-Speed Anti-Radiation (HARM) missiles, as well as collecting tactical electronic intelligence in a passive electronic support role.
VMAQ-1 boasts a proud history of service to the Marine Corps through its predecessor squadrons. VMAQ-2 was organized into three 6-8 plane detachments, X-ray, Yankee, and Zulu, which rotated through deployments around the world. From 1975 through the present, VMAQ-2 deployed detachments of EA-6 aircraft on a continuous basis in support of Marine Forces in the Western Pacific and in support of Fleet Commanders on the USS Midway, USS Saratoga, USS Nimitz, and the USS America. In 1986, Detachment Yankee participated in raids against Libya from the USS America. In 1991, VMAQ-2 deployed 12 Prowlers to Southwest Asia in support of Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm, during which the squadron flew nearly 500 combat sorties in a six week period in a suppression of enemy air defense (SEAD) role.
In May of 1992, VMAQ-2 Detachment X-ray deployed to Iwakuni, Japan. On July 1, 1992, VMAQ-2 was split into three separate squadrons, and a fourth active duty squadron was commissioned from the reserves. Detachment X-ray became VMAQ-1, and the squadron adopted as its logo the Banshee, an Irish mythological figure that foreshadows death. The squadron motto became "Tairngreacht Bas", which is Gaelic for "Death Foretold". When the squadron is initially commissioned the Marines attached to that squadron carry on an age-old tradition. That tradition labels those Marines as "Plank Owners" of the squadron. The Plank Owners tradition began when the large ships were initially commissioned. The crew would carve their names in the planks of the ship for all that follow.
The squadron participated in numerous exercises throughout both hemispheres. The Banshees became the first Marine EA-6B squadron to participate in exercise Cope Thunder in its new home in Alaska. VMAQ-1 returned home to Cherry Point, NC in November of 1992. For the next year and a half the Banshees participated in numerous exercises within the United States. In May of 1994, as part of the squadron rotation cycle that is the Marine Prowler squadrons' trademark, VMAQ-1 re-deployed to Iwakuni, Japan for another six months. VMAQ-1 returned home to Cherry Point in November. In March 1995, they supported exercise "Green Flag". In May, 1995, they conducted Early Warning Close Air Support missions in support of Canadian exercise "Resolute Gunner". Then, in June, VMAQ-1 again participated in "Cope Thunder". In September, VMAQ-1 deployed to Aviano, Italy, to provide electronic warfare support of operation "Deny Flight". VMAQ-1 provided Suppression of Enemy Air Defense (SEAD) coverage for NATO and allied tactical aircraft, in theater. The Banshees used electronic jamming, and even employed HARM missiles, against Serbian radar sites in October to accomplish the mission. In December, operation "Deny Flight" officially ended, but VMAQ-1 continued to provide Early Warning support during operation "Decisive Endeavor/Edge" until the end of the deployment in March of 1996.
Upon their return home, the Banshees resumed standard training operations, as well as participating in joint and combined forces exercises, as needed. These exercises included training with the Canadian forces and the AV-8Bs from VMA-542 in exercise "Roving Fire", and "Roving Sands", in June, 1996. In September 1996 the squadron received the prestigious "Squadron of the Year Award".
In June of 1997, the Banshees departed Cherry Point for Incirlik, Turkey to support "Operation Northern Watch" (ONW). The squadron provided Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD) support for ONW missions over Northern Iraq until their return in December, 1997. In April of 1998 they once again took part in operation "Green Flag", an electronic warfare exercise at Nellis Air Force Base (AFB) in Nevada. After their return to Cherry Point in May the squadron participated in a HARM shoot in Puerto Rico and supported urban warfare exercises over Camp LeJeune. In September 1998 the Banshees, once again, received the "Squadron of the Year Award".
VMAQ-1 deployed from December 1998 to July 1999 to Incirlik Air Base, Turkey in support of Operaton Northern Watch.
While its predecessors used a variety of electronic warfare aircraft, including the AD-5QG Skyraider, the EF-10B Skynight and the EA-6A Electric Intruder, VMAQ-1 flies the Improved Capability II version of the EA-6B. As of late 2000, the Banshees of VMAQ-1 were preparing to deploy to other sites outside the United States.
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