Photo Information

U.S. Marine Corps Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron (VMU) 3, Marine Aircraft Group 24, launches an MQ-9A on Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay, June 21, 2023. VMU-3, safely and successfully test and fly its first MQ-9A remotely piloted aircraft to meet the Naval Air Systems Command safety certification process. The Safe-For-Flight Operations Certification (SFFOC) is the final crucial milestone in VMU-3’s transition from the RQ-21A to the MQ-9A. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Christian Tofteroo).

Photo by Cpl. Christian Tofteroo

VMU-3 Takes Off – MQ-9A Certified Safe for Flight

21 Jun 2023 | 2nd Lt. Hannah Venables 1st Marine Aircraft Wing

Today Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 3 (VMU-3) safely and successfully tested and flew its first MQ-9A remotely piloted aircraft. The squadron is now certified to independently operate the MQ-9A. VMU-3 received its first two MQ-9A remotely piloted aircraft at the end of April 2023. Since then, VMU-3 has worked tirelessly to assemble and prepare the aircraft for the rigorous Naval Air Systems Command safety certification process.

The Safe-For-Flight Operations Certification (SFFOC) is the final crucial milestone in VMU-3’s transition from the RQ-21A to the MQ-9A. The SFFOC process ensures the squadron has essential qualified personnel, sound infrastructure and administrative, safety, operational and maintenance programs in place to safely employ the remotely piloted aircraft.

“VMU-3 is excited to field such an impressive capability that we have all been diligently preparing for well over a year,” said a VMU-3 squadron representative. The arrival of the new aircraft postures VMU-3 to better support a wide range of operations in the Indo-Pacific region. “Each section that makes up the VMU-3 squadron have all had an integral part in making this happen. It is truly a full force effort from our entire team,” the squadron representative added. The squadron will now focus on developing tactics, techniques and procedures for employing the aircraft to support the joint force, allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific region.

The squadron is expecting to showcase the MQ-9A later this summer. The event will feature a ready-to-fly MQ-9A and commemorate the squadron.