In a small room bordering a mega hanger, Marines in olive-drab coveralls bustle around standing-height work stations and computers. A large portion of a wall leading to the hanger bay, is covered in green cranial headsets, each personalized with mottos and patches. In a corner of the room a Guns and Roses melody comes from a radio.
The bustle is typical for Marines with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 365 (Reinforced) avionics shop as they work with civilians from the Aircraft Survival Readiness Team at Marine Corps Air Station New River, Nov. 17, to assess aircraft in preparation for their upcoming deployment with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit.
Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 365 is a reinforced unit, once a unit that only operated with MV-22 Ospreys’, they now incorporate a smaller number of UH-1Y Venoms’, AH-1W Super Cobras’, and CH-53E Super Stallions’.
“A typical day is reviewing the workload, looking over what everybody is working on, and currently, preparing to go on deployment,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jarrod Landreth, the avionics officer with the unit. “Preparing for the deployment involves the guys from the Aircraft Survivability Equipment Readiness Team. They are from the Tactical Aircraft Protection Systems office.”
Avionics Marines play an important role in a squadron because computerized systems are such an intrinsic part of an aircraft
“We troubleshoot and repair all the communication and navigation equipment and weapons systems,” said Sgt. Stephen Wilson, the collateral duty quality assurance representative with the unit. “My billet as the CDQAR, means I go out and do the final inspection of all the maintenance that has been done.”
The Marines maintain aircraft year-round, but in light of the future deployment they collaborate with civilian team members, many former military, on the flight line as they work through a system checklist.
“We’re running through an end-to-end systems check of the aircraft’s countermeasure defense system,” said Jon Ayers, a Navy logistician with the Fleet Support Team. “Essentially we are making sure the missile and radar warning sensor systems and the countermeasure dispensing systems are working properly. This ensures that the pilots and aircrew are going to be safe while they are out doing their missions.”
The civilians from the ASE team represent a higher echelon of specialization and can assess and test an aircraft’s countermeasure defense system for all different platforms of aircraft.
“We’re working through a checklist for the countermeasure’s dispensing system, and what it is doing is making sure that each component in the system is communicating properly,” said Ayers. “We’re also making sure that the switches in the cockpit are working properly, the display systems are working properly, and that the system is able to provide the pilots and the aircrew with the information that they need.”
Ayer uses a test set placed in the dispenser housing to simulate a load of countermeasures. Later, another team member uses a radar gun to simulate a missile or radar threat. Together they ensure that the sensor triggers a response from the mock countermeasure load and also alerts pilots in the cockpit.
“Avionics is vital to a maintenance department because of the number of computers, wires, harnesses, and interface assemblies that are present in the V-22 Osprey,” said Maj. Matthew Kloby, the Aircraft Maintenance officer for VMM-365(REIN). “The avionics shop is larger and much more integral to the operation of the V-22 since every single assembly interfaces in some capacity with an avionics component.”
The unit started out with only MV-22 Ospreys and now they work with multiple aircraft platforms and tailor their assessments to the specifics of each piece of equipment. When the unit deploys, pilots can depend on their aircraft because avionics Marines maintain the systems that keep aircrews flying safely for future missions.
Press release and picture by By Lance Cpl. Victoria Ross, II Marine Expeditionary Force