Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron Three (VMAQ-3) was designated on 1 July 1992, as a product of the reorganization of the Marine Corps' only active duty Electronic Warfare Squadron, VMAQ-2. It became one of four Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadrons in the Fleet Marine Force tasked with conducting airborne electronic warfare in support of Fleet Marine Forces operations. To accomplish its mission, VMAQ- 3's table of organization provides for five Improved Capability version II (ICAP II) EA-6B aircraft, 33 officers and 214 enlisted Marines.
The VMAQ community traces its roots to VMC-2, the original composite squadron in Marine Corps Aviation. VMC-2 was formally commissioned at MCAS Cherry Point on 15 September 1952, evolving from the Airborne Early Warning and Electronic Countermeasures section of the Wing Headquarters Squadron. On 1 December 1955, the squadron was combined with Marine Photographic Squadron 2 (VMJ-2). In July 1975, VMCJ-2 was reorganized into separate electronic warfare and photoreconnaissance squadrons. VMAQ-2, based at MCAS Cherry Point, retained all electronic warfare aircraft, while the photo reconnaissance aircraft became VMFP-3, based at MCAS El Toro, California. VMAQ-2 was organized into three Detachments; XRAY, YANKEE and ZULU to better support the Marine Corps' world wide mission. On July 1, 1992, VMAQ-3 was commissioned and formed from the personnel and aircraft of VMAQ-2 Detachment ZULU.
Some of the aircraft flown by VMAQ-3's tactical electronic warfare predecessors included; the AD-5Q "Skyraider," the EF-10B "Skyknight" and the EA-6A "Electric Intruder." In 1977, the Marine Corps received the first of its EA-6B "Prowlers," the worlds premier tactical electronic warfare platform. Since the activation of VMAQ-3, the "Moon Dogs" have made several deployments to Yuma, Arizona in support of the Weapons and Tactical Instructor (WTI) course and Exercise SCORPION WIND. In February and March of 1993, VMAQ-3 deployed to Bodo, Norway to participate in Exercise BATTLE GRIFFIN '93, a NATO cold weather exercise. In April 1993, the Moon Dogs completed the Marine Corps' first live firing of the High-speed Anti-radiation Missile (HARM) at a seaborne target, utilizing East Coast training areas. From May to November 1993, VMAQ-3 deployed to MCAS Iwakuni, Japan as part of the Marine Corps' Unit Deployment Program. During this deployment the Moon Dogs spent two months at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska in support of Exercise COPE THUNDER 93-3 and 93-4. In May 1994, the Squadron took part in AGILE PROVIDER '94, a major East Coast joint contingency exercise involving all branches of the Armed Forces. The Squadron Deployed to Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada in August 1994 to participate in joint strikes with Air Force units during their RED FLAG exercise. In October 1994, VMAQ-3 received The Association of Old Crows Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron of the Year Award.
VMAQ-3 began integrating with Carrier Airwing One (CVW-1), in December 1994 and deployed to the Mediterranean Sea and Persian Gulf aboard the USS AMERICA (CV-66) in August of 1995. The Squadron saw combat action in operation DELIBERATE FORCE, DENY FLIGHT and DECISIVE ENDEAVOR. Additionally the squadron participated in operation SOUTHERN WATCH in the Persian Gulf. The Moon Dogs continued to set the pace after returning from the Mediterranean, by participating in Exercise COPE THUNDER 96-2 out of Elmendorf AFB, Alaska in May. June 1996, the Moon Dogs found themselves in Maine supporting Exercise MARCOT 96, run by Canadian Maritime Forces Atlantic.
Early 1997 found the Moon Dogs preparing to deploy to Aviano, Italy. From February to August the Moon Dogs conducted air operations over Bosnia in support of Operation DELIBERATE GUARD while also supporting Operation SILVER WAKE, a Non-Combatant Evacuation Operation conducted in Albania.
In 1998, VMAQ-3 continued to set the pace by participating in Exercise RED FLAG at Nellis AFB, NV. In March, the Moon Dogs were sent to Yuma, AZ to take part in WTI 98-1. The pace continued in May when the Moon Dogs led a multi-squadron detachment to Puerto Rico for a High Speed Anti-Radiation Missile shoot. VMAQ-3 began their preparation for deployment in July and August with a Commanding General's Inspection and a MCCRES evaluation. In September, the squadron deployed to Iwakuni, Japan for six months. While deployed the Moon Dogs operated with combined forces during Exercise FOAL EAGLE 98 and MAGTF units during Exercise BEACHCREST 99. The squadron returned to Cherry Point in March 1999.
In October 1999, VMAQ-3 Marines again led the way during their participation in WTI 00-1, in Yuma, AZ were an unprecedented 5 Moon Dogs qualified as weapons and tactics instructors. In December 1999, VMAQ-3 participated in a defensive tactics detachment to Yuma Arizona for the first time since the program had been suspended in 1997. The Moon Dogs deployed to Nellis AFB, to participate in Exercise RED FLAG 00-3 from March to April 2000.
In May 2000, VMAQ-3 participated in 5 concurrent exercises and evolutions; HORNET’S NEST, JOINT HAWK, a universal exciter upgrade test and evaluation exercise in China Lake, CA., a defensive tactics detachment to MCAS Beaufort SC. and a MAGTF demonstration at NASCAR Coca-Cola 600. In July 2000, VMAQ-3 led a multi-squadron 5-day HARM SHOOT training exercise at NAS Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico. And in August 2000, VMAQ-3 won the first annual MAG 14 “Prowler Challenge” trophy for tactical excellence among Marine EA-6B Squadrons.
In October of 2000, the Moon Dogs successfully integrated with Naval assets from VAQ-209 to support the first-ever joint low observable exercise with stealth aircraft during Exercise RED FLAG 01-1 in addition to completing a successful MCCRES during the same period.
In December 2000 to April 2001, VMAQ-3 deployed to Prince Sultan Air Base, Saudi Arabia in support of Operation SOUTHERN WATCH. VMAQ-3 worked with U.S. Navy units flying off CVN 75, the USS Harry S Truman, as well as units from the U.S. Air Force and British Royal Air Force to enforce the United Nations Resolutions and sanctions imposed upon Iraq.
Upon returning from Saudi Arabia, VMAQ-3 began a history setting maintenance period starting in May of 2001 and ending in October 2001. During this period the Squadron’s aircraft were updated from block 82 to block 89A EA6Bs. This upgrade required over fourteen hundred man-hours of work, the transfer of 6 and acceptance of 7 aircraft. With the upgrade, several systems were added to include the USQ-113 version 3, Multi-Mission Advanced Tactical Terminal (MATT) and the Improved Data Modem (IDM).
During July of 2001, VMAQ-3 became the first Prowler Squadron to induct Aircraft into the Integrated Maintenance Concept (IMC). This new and innovative concept is designed to reduce the man-hours required during phase inspections. In November of 2001, VMAQ-3 was presented the Marine Corps Aviation Association’s Royal N. Moore award for being the Electronic Warfare Squadron of the Year 2001.
From October 2001 to February 2002, VMAQ-3 deployed to Incirlik Air Base, Turkey to fly combat missions in the enforcement of United Nations Resolutions and Sanctions imposed upon Iraq by flying in support of Operation NORTHERN WATCH. During this period, VMAQ-3 worked closely with members of the U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Air Force Reserve, U.S. Air National Guard, our British Allies in the Royal British Air Force, and elements of the Turkish Air Force.
Within weeks of VMAQ-3’s return from a unit deployment to Turkey in February, the Moon Dogs supported WTI 02-1, in Yuma, AZ with aircraft, maintainers and aircrew. The squadron again flew out to MCAS Yuma in August and September 2002 to complete a much anticipated defensive tactics and night systems det. VMAQ-3 made one DEFTAC instructor and qualified one pilot and 5 ECMOs in DEFTAC. VMAQ-3 also made 3 NS instructors and qualified 5 pilots and 8 ECMOs in NS.
Early in 2003 the squadron was deployed to Iwakuni, Japan. During this time the squadron participated in Exercise COPE TIGER 03 stationed out of Khorat, Thailand. VMAQ-3 flew approximatedly 30 missions in joint and combined training with Thailand, Singapore, and US Air Forces. VMAQ-3 also accepted the new 2F178 simulator at Iwakuni. During the deployment, VMAQ-3 also participated in Exercise FOAL EAGLE 03. Towards the end of the deployment, the squadron went down to Kadena AFB for a final det before packing up and coming home. While in Kadena, the squadron planned and successfully executed three HARM launches in the W-184 near Okinawa, a combined effort in conjunction with VMFA-212 who launched one of the HARM.
Late 2003 saw the return of the Moon Dogs to Cherry Point. In November the squadron deployed to MCAS Yuma in support of a DEFTAC and NS detachment with VMAQ-4. The squadron qualified 8 DEFTAC aircrew, one DEFTAC instructor, 5 NS aircrew, and 2 NS instructors during this period. In December, VMAQ-3 participated in a Radio BN FEX establishing the first ever TS/SCI EW coordination connectivity with a ground base unit.
The month of January 2004, VMAQ-3 supported CAX 3-04 out of El Centro, CA. Concurrently, the squadron also flew DEFTAC and NS sorties to qualify 3 aircrew in DEFTAC and 4 aircrew in NS. The squadron returned to El Centro in November of 2004 in order to qualify aircrew in NS as well as designate two new NSIs. This det also served as practice for the nearing deployment to Operation ENDURING FREEDOM.
From January to August of 2005 the squadron was deployed to Bagram, Afghanistan in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM. The squadron would see many accomplishments from this deployment. The level of support to the ground forces was unmatched by any previous squadron. VMAQ-3 was awarded a Meritorious Unit Commendation for its OEF performance.
In March of 2006, the squadron deployed to MCAS Yuma, Arizona in support of the spring WTI class and a squadron Deployment for Training (DFT). The det provided the squadron the opportunity to fly DEFTAC missions and to fire live HARM. At the end of this det, the squadron qualified most aircrew in DEFTAC, had all aircrew fire live HARM at least once, designated 9 new WTIs (for all four VMAQs), designated one DEFTACI, and designated two NSIs. This DFT prepared the squadron for its upcoming deployment to support Operation IRAQI FREEDOM (OIF).
From July 2006 to January 2007, the squadron supported OIF. The squadron sustained an optempo 700% greater than the average garrison optempo. VMAQ-3 flew over 3,900 hours in support of ground combat forces.
Between 27 May 2007 and 19 June 2007, VMAQ-3 deployed to Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, in support of Red Flag Alaska 07 -2. Aircrew focused on missions such as Air Interdiction and Armed Reconnaissance and continued all other MCUT events. The squadron was augmented by three VMAQ-4 aircrew for the deployment. Red Flag Alaska was a successful training deployment in that it provided training the squadron in the EA-6B's traditional role of Suppression of Enemy Air Defense (SEAD), as well as exposing aircrew to joint operations with the Air Force during a Large Force Exercise (LFE). The squadron flew 39 sorties and 91.5 hours in support of Red Flag-Alaska.
The responsibility of the Commanding Officer for his command is absolute, except when, and to the extent, relieved there from by competent authority, or as provided otherwise in regulations. The authority of the Commanding Officer is commensurate with his responsibility. While he may, at his discretion and when not contrary to law or regulations, delegate authority to his subordinates for the execution of details, such delegation of authority shall in no way relieve the Commanding Officer of his continued responsibility for the safety, well being, and efficiency of his entire command.