The origin of MAWTS-1 may be traced to the aftermath of World War II when Marine pilots were first assigned to Navy Composite Squadrons (VCs). These squadrons, operating from shore bases and carriers, were assigned the special weapons delivery mission. In 1952, with the introduction of improved weapons and aircraft, the Marines were reassigned to Marine Special Weapons Delivery Units (SWDUs) on each coast. These units were short lived because their mission was given to attack squadrons in 1953. Special Weapons Training Units (SWTUs) were then formed to provide necessary training to the attack squadrons. During the 1960's, conventional weapons deIivery was added to the curriculum of the SWTUs, but the emphasis on special weapons delivery remained.
In response to their growing mission, the size of the SWTUs was increased, and they were redesignated as Marine Air Weapons Training Units, MAWTULant at Cherry Point, North Carolina, and MAWTUPac at El Toro, California. These units continued to expand throughout the 1960's in types of aircraft assigned and in the development of new curriculum. In 1975, a study group was formed at Headquarters Marine Corps to determine requirements for the enhancement and standardization of aviation training. A series of recommendations, labeled as numbered projects, were made to the head of Marine Aviation and to CMC in early 1976. Project 19 recommended establishment of the Weapons and Tactics Training Program (WTTP) for all of Marine Aviation. The cornerstone of the WTTP was the development of a graduate level Weapons and Tactics Instructor (WTI) Course and the placement of WTI graduates in training billets in every tactical unit in Marine Corps aviation. In late 1976 and early 1977, separate WTI Courses were conducted by MAWTUPac and MAWTULant. Consolidated WTI Courses were subsequently conducted at Marine Corps Air Station, Yuma, Arizona, by a combined MAWTU staff in May 1977 and February 1978.
Due to the overwhelming success of the consolidated WTI Courses, the Commandant of the Marine Corps commissioned Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One at Marine Corps Air Station, Yuma, Arizona, on 1 June 1978.
The WTI Course is a fully integrated course of instruction for highly experienced and fully qualified officers from all aviation communities. Officers from ground combat, combat support, and combat service support also attend the course to ensure appropriate air-ground interface. The WTI course academic syllabus allows the WTI candidate to put classroom lessons to work in the air. Briefing and debriefing techniques and airborne instructional skills are reviewed and tactics and weapons systems employment are evaluated. The course culminates in a fully integrated combined arms exercise encompassing all functions of Marine Corps aviation in support of a national Marine Air Ground Task Force.
Since its commissioning in 1978, MAWTS-1 has conducted two WTI Courses per year, now producing over 300 WTI graduates each year. A separate Aviation Development, Tactics and Evaluation Department (ADT&E) was established in June 1983 to coordinate the MAWTS effort of developing and evaluating tactics and hardware in all functional areas of Marine Corps aviation. In 1988, a Ground Combat Department was established at MAWTS-1 to encourage increased participation during the WTI course by infantry, artillery and armor officers. MAWTS-1 conducts several other embedded courses during WTI to include the Intelligence Officers Course, Aviation Ground Support and Logistic Officers Course, the Rotary Wing Crew Chief and KC-130 Navigator, Loadmaster, Flight Engineer Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course, and the MACCS Enlisted Weapons and Tactics Courses. The advanced curriculum includes the Tactical Air Commanders Course, MEU/SPMAGTF ACE Commanders Course, and the MAWTS-1 Commanders Course. MAWTS-1 personnel conduct a Mobile Training curriculum consisting of the MEU ACE Training Course, the MAGTF Aviation Integration Course, and the Marine Division Tactics Course. MAWTS-1 also maintains close, mutually beneficial liaison with the aviation and tactics schools of the U.S. Navy, Army, Air Force, and several allied nations.
Since its establishment, MAWTS-1 has been staffed by individuals of superior aeronautical and tactical expertise, instructional abilities, and professionalism. From Northern Europe to the Caribbean, the Western Pacific to the Persian Gulf, Somalia and Bosnia, MAWTS-1 has responded to the needs of the Fleet Marine Force. Each MAWTS-1 instructor averages over 90 days every year providing support to FMF units at their home bases or while deployed, including certification, standardization, and supplementary ground and airborne instruction for every aviation squadron in the Corps. The WTI Course is recognized as the most comprehensive graduate level aviation course of instruction in the world today. It is through the dedication and untiring efforts of its personnel that MAWTS-1 has earned its reputation as the vanguard of Marine aviation. MAWTS-1 was awarded the Navy Unit Citation for the period 1982-85. In 1986 and 1995, MAWTS-1 was named Marine Corps Aviation Association Special Category Squadron of the Year and it also received the Meritorious Unit Citation in 1988, 1990, and 1995.