Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 131 ‘Wildcats’
Founded: Oct. 2, 1983
Based: Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia
Current Commanding Officer: Cmdr. Matthew A. Barker
Mission:To strike enemy targets, from the sea, in support of national objectives
Brief History: The VFA-131 Wildcats were commissioned Oct. 2, 1983, at Naval Air Station (NAS) Lemoore, California, and received its first F/A-18A Hornet in May 1984.
In January 1984, the squadron moved to NAS Cecil Field, Florida, becoming Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic’s (AIRLANT) first F/A-18 squadron, earning the motto “AIRLANT’s First and Finest.”
As part of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 13, the squadron deployed to the Mediterranean Sea aboard USS Coral Sea (CV 43) before participating in Freedom of Navigation exercises in the Gulf of Sidra. In April 1986, VFA-131 provided air-to-surface Shrike missile and high-speed anti-radiation missile (HARM) strikes against Libyan surface-to-air missile sites in Benghazi, the first use of the F/A-18 Hornet in combat.
In October 1988, the Wildcats transferred from CVW 13 to CVW 7, and they deployed in August 1990 aboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) to the Arabian Gulf as part of Operation Desert Shield. Upon return, the squadron transitioned to the F/A-18C Night Strike Hornet before redeploying in support of Operation Desert Storm.
From 1994 to 1998, the Wildcats continued to deploy to the Arabian Gulf in support of Operation Southern Watch and Operation Vigilant Warrior.
In December 1998, the squadron relocated to NAS Oceana becoming the first F/A-18 Hornet squadron based there.
During the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, VFA-131 was aboard USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67) off the Virginia Capes. Within hours of the attack, Wildcat F/A-18 Hornets were conducting air patrols over Washington, D.C., and New York City as part of Operation Noble Eagle. From February 2002 through July 2013, the squadron deployed seven times in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, including back-to-back tours in 2012 and 2013.
In 2014, the squadron received their fourth Commander, Naval Air Forces Atlantic Battle “E” award for their outstanding performance during consecutive deployments in 2012-2013. The Wildcats transferred from CVW 7 to CVW 3 in November 2014.
Currently, the Wildcats have more than 112,000 Class “A” mishap-free flight hours, a 27-year milestone in work since December 1987.
Aircraft flown:F/A-18A/C Hornet
Number of people in unit: 204
- Transferred from NAS Lemoore to NAS Cecil Field to become AIRLANT’s first F/A-18 Hornet squadron
- First use of F/A-18 in combat conducting HARM strikes against Libyan surface-to-air missile sites
- Reassigned from CVW 13 to CVW 7
- Deployed aboard Eisenhower in support of Desert Shield and Desert Storm
- Transitioned from F/A-18A Hornets to F/A-18C Night Strike Hornets
- Back-to-back deployments aboard Eisenhower in 2012-2013
- Achieved 110,000 class “A” mishap-free hours Feb. 21, 2014
- Reassigned from CVW 7 to CVW 3