Marine Corps to Use Fleet Replacement Detachments for Legacy Aircraft
By RICHARD R. BURGESS, Managing Editor
ARLINGTON, Va. — The U.S. Marine Corps plans to deactivate two of its fleet replacement squadrons (FRSs) as the types of aircraft they support decline in numbers. The service will stand up fleet replacement detachments (FRDs) run by operational squadrons to carry on replacement training until the legacy aircraft are retired, according to the 2018 Marine Corps Aviation Plan.
Although the AV-8B Harrier II attack aircraft is scheduled to remain in service through 2026, an AV-8B FRD will stand up in 2022, run by an operational Harrier squadron, Marine Attack Squadron 231 (VMA-231), at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Cherry Point, N.C. That year, the Harrier FRS, Marine Attack Training Squadron 203, will be deactivated. The VMA-231 FRD is planned to train Harrier crews for five years.
Similarly, the Marine Corps’ F/A-18 Hornet FRS, Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 101 at MCAS Miramar, Calif., will be deactivated in 2023 and training for the remaining Hornet crews will be assumed in 2024 by an FRD assigned to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 323, also at Miramar. The FRD is expected to train Hornet crews for six years.
The plan to phase out training for CH-53E Super Stallion heavy helicopter training will be more complex. The CH-53E FRS, Marine Heavy Helicopter Training Squadron 302 (HMHT-302) at MCAS New River, N.C., will begin to shift training in the CH-53K King Stallion in 2020 and by 2022 will have divested its CH-53Es. An operational CH-53E squadron, HMH-466, at Miramar, will be redesignated HMHT-466 in 2021 and become the FRS for the remaining CH-53E units.
In 2028, HMHT-466 will shed its FRS role and return to being HMH-466, an operational CH-53K squadron. That year, a Reserve squadron, HMH-769, will begin to provide refresher training in the CH-53E through 2029.
The fleet transition to the CH-53K is scheduled to be completed by 2032.