Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron-2 [VMU-2]
Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 2 was formed in June 1984 as Detachment T, Target Acquisition Battery, 10th Marine Regiment, 2d Marine Division, Fleet Marine Forces, Atlantic, thus becoming the first Remotely Piloted Vehicle (RPV) unit within the Marine Corps and the U.S. Armed Forces.
On 22 august 1984, the detachment reorganized, and was redesignated, as the 1st Remotely Piloted Vehicle Platoon, Headquarters Battalion, and 2d Marine Division. During November 1984, Marines traveled to Israel and began indoctrination training on the Mastiff RPV system. Upon completion of contractor training, the RPV Platoon accepted the first two Mastiff air vehicles, 1st RPV Platoon accepted the first two Mastiff air vehicles, control stations, and associated ground support equipment.
From June to November 1986, 1st RPV Platoon was assigned to the 13th Marine Amphibious Unit embarked aboard USS Tarawa for operations in the Western Pacific. In December 1986, the 1st RPV Platoon was reorganized and redesignated as the 2d Remotely Piloted Vehicle Company, Headquarters Battalion, and 2d Marine Division. On 4 May 1987, 2d RPV Company transitioned to the Pioneer Option I Unmanned Aerial Vehicle system. During May 1987, 2d RPV Company was awarded the Navy Unit Commendation for its numerous contributions to the fielding of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles within the Marine Corps
Throughout the next three years, the Company continued training on the Pioneer System and deployed within the continental United States in support of several Marine Corps exercises. In October 1988, PV's were incorporated into the Surveillance, Reconnaissance and Intelligence Group (SRIG) concept as an independent company under the group command. Accordingly, 2d RPV Company was reorganized under 2d SRIG. During March 1990, 2d RPV Company received the Pioneer Option II air vehicle. Appointed as the first UAV unit to field this latest upgrade, the company embarked aboard the USS Nassau and conducted the first shipboard trial operations of the Pioneer Option II air vehicle.
In August 1990, the 2d RPV Company was reassigned to the 4th Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB) and embarked to Southwest Asia in support of Operation Desert Shield. The company remained embarked with the 4th MEB until November 1990. Thereafter, the company was ordered ashore and reassigned to the 1st Surveillance, Reconnaissance and Intelligence Group, I Marine Expeditionary Force. During this period, the company flew in support of Exercise Cruel Challenge. During January 1991, the company deployed to Al Jubail, Saudi Arabia in direct support of the 2d Marine Division and later relocated to Al Mishab to conduct missions in support of Operation Desert Storm. From 15 February to 3 March 1991, direct support of Operation Desert Storm was conducted from Al Qurah. Second RPV Company began retrograde operations and returned to Camp Lejeune, NC on 20 March 1991. During Operation Desert Shield/Storm, 2d RPV Company flew a total of 69 sorties and 226 flight hours. Of these, 55 sorties and 192 flight hours were combat. No Pioneer air vehicles were lost as a result of enemy action.
During May 1991, a detachment from 2d RPV Company was formed to participate in Operation Provide Comfort and the Kurdish relief effort in northern Iraq. These Marines deployed utilizing the interim Close-Range Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, EXDRONE, and provided surveillance information during the conduct of the operation. The detachment returned to Camp Lejeune, NC on 31 May 1991. For the remainder of 1991, the company provided support to various elements of II Marine Expeditionary Force.
In July 1992, 2d Remotely Piloted Vehicle Company was redesignated as the 2d Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Company. During February 1994, the company was re-equipped with the Pioneer Option II Plus air vehicle. On 15 January 1996, 2d UAV Company was reorganized under marine Aviation sponsorship and redesignated as Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 2 (VMU-2) under Marine Aircraft Group 14, 2d marine Aircraft Wing. Today, the Marines of VMU 2 continue to provide the II Marine Expeditionary Force with the only tactical aerial reconnaissance system that possesses a near-real time capability.
VMU-2 operates the RQ-2A Pioneer Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. The Pioneer is an unmanned reconnaissance aircraft that can perform several different missions including imagery support, reconnaissance and surveillance, and target acquisition. With the help of two different pilots, a tracking and communication unit, a portable control station and a ground control station, the Pioneer can fly as far as 150 nautical miles to capture important data for any type of mission. Equipped with either a day or night camera, the Pioneer takes video pictures of the terrain and relays it back to a remote receiving station where it is deciphered by trained eyes.
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