MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif. -- Marines with Marine Helicopter Attack Squadron (HMLA) 267 prepared to deploy to Okinawa, Japan, aboard Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California, Nov. 10.
HMLA-267 is heading to MCAS Futenma for approximately six months in support of III Marine Expeditionary Force as a part of the Unit Deployment Program.
This milestone is significant because it is the first time that the AH-1Z Viper will be forward deployed to the Asia-Pacific region, providing close-air support missions and ground attack coordination previously executed by the AH-1W Super Cobra.
This deployment aligns with the Marine Corps’ H-1 replacement program which exchanges the UH-1N Huey and AH-1W with the updated UH-1Y Venom and AH-1Z.
“The biggest difference in capability between the AH-1Z and the AH-1W is our ability to see three to four times farther out than before which allows us to better identify targets,” said Lt. Col. John Livingston, commanding officer of HMLA-267.
The Viper also offers a four-bladed composite rotor system and a four-bladed tail rotor, which enables it to fly further, faster and smoother than its predecessor.
According to Livingston, during the deployment the squadron will fly a full range of missions to support the Marines of III MEF in their mission “to provide the United States with a forward-deployed force in readiness in the Pacific Theater.”
“The strategic importance of this deployment is presence overseas,” said Livingston. “Beyond that, it is bringing the integration with the Marines of III MEF who haven’t had the same opportunity to train with this equipment as the Marines of I MEF.”
While in Japan, the Marines in the squadron will experience a higher operational tempo due to multiple exercises III MEF participates in throughout the year in countries such as Thailand, the Republic of Korea and the Philippines.
“The morale of the Marines is sky high and the Marines are ready to deploy,” said Livingston. “Marines join the Marine Corps to see the world, and this deployment gives them that opportunity.”