MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. --
Eight AV-8B Harriers and approximately 150 Marines from Marine Attack Squadron 311 and Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 13 departed the Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma, Ariz., Jan. 6, 2010, for a seven-month deployment supporting the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, based in Japan.
The Harriers flew to Japan stopping at Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii and then Wake Island. A contracted commercial passenger airplane transported the majority of Marines, sailors and the squadron’s gear to Japan Saturday.
While the 31st MEU, the Tomcats plan to participate in multinational exercises, such as Cobra Gold in Thailand and Talisman Saber in Australia.
Cobra Gold is designed to improve U.S. relations with Thailand and provide unique training opportunities.
Talisman Saber is conducted twice a year in Australia between U.S. and Australian forces. The exercise focuses on operational warfighting in advanced scenarios that encompass ground, air and sea environments.
The squadron will be assigned to the USS Essex and may be tasked with humanitarian support and disaster relief in the Pacific if necessary.
The remainder of VMA-311 is also scheduled to deploy, joining the 15th MEU aboard the USS Peleliu, setting sail from San Diego in May.
The squadron previously returned from separate six-month deployments to Al Asad Air Base, Iraq in October 2008 and aboard the Peleliu in November 2008.