26th MEU (SOC) Marines enhance air defense capabilities

3 Dec 2002 | 26th MEU (SOC) Public Affairs Office

The Low Altitude Air Defense (LAAD) section of the Marine Air Control Group (MACG) detachment of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), participated in their annual Stinger missile shoot, Dec. 3, at Onslow Beach.

The purpose of this training was to complete three of the five gun teams annual firing, explained 1st Lt. Brad Chatlos, the LAAD section officer in charge.  The other two gun teams already completed their training for the year.

"Our mission is to provide close-in surface to air weapons fire for the defense of forward combat areas, vital areas and installations against low altitude air attacks [from enemy aircraft]," he added.

The detachment brought three Avenger weapon systems, one man-portable Stinger missile launcher and one command and control vehicle.  The Avenger weapons system is an eight-missile launch pad mounted on the back of a HUMVEE.  While training at Onslow Beach, the focus was on firing the Stinger missiles from the Avengers and the shoulder fired launcher.

The teams also practiced how to fire missiles from the Avengers using a remote control.

Remote control airplanes were used as targets for this evolution.  The gun teams had to concentrate on teamwork in order to track the aircraft and effectively launch missiles to destroy them.

Stinger missiles are able to track and engage aircraft up to an altitude of 10,000 feet and cover a distance of eight kilometers.

Each two-man Stinger team consists of an assistant gunner, who tracks the target aircraft, and a gunner who sights in on the target and fires the missile.

Once the 26th MEU (SOC) deploys, the LAAD section will take on one more task.  They will be integraded along other assets to provide emergency defense for the USS Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group.

After refining their precision shooting and teamwork, the detachment is now ready to answer the 26th MEU (SOC) commanding officer's call for air defense if needed during their upcoming deployment.

To learn more about the 26th MEU (SOC) visit http://www.26meu.usmc.mil for the most up to date information regarding the units training and upcoming deployment.