Post WWII Aviation Activity

   After World War II, propeller aircraft were gradually phased out as jet aircraft improved and helicopters were developed for use in amphibious operations. The first Marine jet squadron came in November 1947 when VMF-122 fielded the FH Phantom, and four years later VMF-311 would be the first Marine jet squadron to be used in combat providing close air support for the Marines and soldiers on the ground in December 1950 flying the F9F Panther. HMX-1, the first Marine helicopter squadron, stood up in November 1947. Marine helicopters—VMO-6 flying the HO3S1 helicopter—made their combat debut in August 1950's Battle of Pusan Perimeter. January 1951 saw the activation of HMR-161, the world's first helicopter transport squadron. In February 1957, VMA-214 became the first Marine squadron to be certified for ‘special weapons delivery’: dropping nuclear weapons, several other would receive certification, though eventually all nuclear weapons were turned over to Navy and Air Force responsibility.
   The Korean and Vietnam Wars saw the size of Marine Aviation rebound from its post-WWII lows, emerging as the force that exists today, consisting of four air wings, 20 aircraft groups and 78 flying squadrons. By the end of the Vietnam War, the Marine Air-Ground Task Force had grown dependent on its multi-mission inventory of fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft, which could operate from land or sea bases to support Marines on the ground.
   Marine Aviators deployed to the Middle East for Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, then to Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom. 2006 saw Marine Aviation at its highest operational level since the Vietnam War, flying more than 120,000 combat hours in to support operations in and near Afghanistan and Iraq. Despite their aging aircraft and high operating tempo, Marine Aviation maintained a 74.5-percent mission-capable rate, higher than the 62 percent of the USAF's F-22 Raptor. As of 2010, the aircraft fleet is undergoing another transformation.
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