Savannah – On Wednesday I caught F/A-18Ds from VMFA(AW)-533 departing MCAS Beaufort westbound with tanker support. This afternoon, I came across a DVIDS story that confirmed that it was the squadron leaving on a Unit Deployment Program deployment to the Western Pacific. They departed as FEUD 11-16 and FEUD 21-26 with tanker support for PETRO 61 and PETRO 71 respectively. The first cell, FEUD 1#, was using 352.900 for aerial refueling and the second cell, FEUD 2#, was using 396.200 for aerial refueling. For the mil-spotters, Bu Nos passed for FEUD 2# flight were 164967, 164656, 164872, 164711, 164723, and 164959. I never was able to identify which unit the tankers was from. Here’s the DVIDS story announcing the deployment and giving a heads up on what the unit will be doing while deployed:
Hawks soar to Western Pacific
Story by Cpl. Brendan Roethe
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT, S.C. -Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 533, also known as the Hawks, deployed to the Western Pacific though the Unit Deployment Program, Sept. 3.
The Hawks will be participating in Exercise Valiant Shield, which focuses on joint training among military forces and builds proficiency in sustaining the military’s ability to detect, locate, track and engage units in the air, at sea, and on land, according to the Congressional Research Service.
To prepare for the deployment, Marines worked countless hours throughout the day and night to ensure everything was ready before departing Fightertown.
“This will be my first deployment, but after a year of long work days and continuous training I am confident in my abilities and look forward to seeing what will be in store for not only myself but the squadron during the next six months,” said Lance Cpl. Eric Harte, an air frame mechanic for VMFA(AW)-533. “I’m excited to work with and become closer to the other Marines in my shop, and see more of what the Marine Corps has to offer.”
The UDP provides opportunities for Marines to train and partner with allies and other branches of service in the Pacific theater, and is a cost-effective way to expose U.S.-based Marine units to various training environments.
“Deployments such as this are great for Marines because they give them the expeditious mindset they will need when they are called to support combat operations in adverse environments,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Richard Lopez, the ordnance officer of VMFA(AW)-533. “Operations here tend to be repetitive for many of the Marines. On this deployment they will be able to experience more and bring those experiences back to Beaufort, where they can apply them and make the squadron as a whole operate more efficiently.”