Category Archives: Airscoop

Squadron Spotlight

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Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 120 “Greyhawks”

Established: July 6, 1948

Based: Naval Air Station Norfolk, Virginia

Current Commanding Officer: Cmdr. Evan L. Morrison

Mission: E-2 Mission: Airborne Early Warning (AEW), Command and Control (C2.) C-2 Mission: Logistics

Brief History: Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 120 was commissioned on July 6, 1948, as Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 2, flying the TBM Avenger, the AF Guardian and the AD5W Skyraider. In 1956, the squadron was redesignated as VAW-12 and tasked exclusively for Airborne Early Warning. Between 1959 and 1961 a modified version of the E-1B Tracer was introduced to the fleet which housed an airborne radar and was designated the WF-2 or “Willie Fudd.”

By 1966, VAW-12 received the first E-2A Hawkeye and was supplying detachments using two different aircraft aboard 10 Atlantic Fleet aircraft carriers in addition to training personnel for those detachments. As the squadron continued to grow in both personnel and materiel, a decision was made to reorganize the squadron as an Air Wing and on April 1, 1967, VAW-12 officially became Carrier Airborne Early Warning Wing 12. Shortly thereafter, the squadron was renamed as RVAW-120 and became the Atlantic Fleet Replacement Squadron (FRS).

In May 1983, RVAW-120 officially became VAW-120, reflecting the task load of a fleet squadron and a training squadron. Expanding the training mission in June 1985 to incorporate the carrier logistics mission, the first C-2A Greyhound Carrier On-board Delivery (COD) aircraft was delivered to the squadron and a new training program was developed. In 1994 it became the sole training site for all E-2 and C-2 aircrew with the consolidation of the West-Coast FRS (VAW-110) and a new version of E-2C was introduced, the E-2C+ Group II, which incorporated a powerful new radar and Global Positioning System (GPS). Currently, the squadron trains the fleet with the most technologically advanced airborne early warning platform, the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye. With the introduction of this revolutionary new aircraft in 2012, the fleet now employs cutting-edge technology ensuring America not only has an edge on her adversaries but maintains a commanding lead. The VAW-120 Greyhawks continue their proud tradition of providing the world’s finest aircrew for the critical missions of carrier airborne early warning and fleet logistics support.

Aircraft Flown: E-2C Hawkeye, E-2D Advanced Hawkeye, C-2A Greyhound

Number of People in Unit: 653 military personnel; 232 civilian and contractors

Significant Accomplishments:

  • July 1, 1967: RVAW-120 was formed to be the Wing’s formal training squadron
  • May 1983: RVAW-120 became VAW-120
  • June 1985: VAW-120 received the first re-procured C-2As delivered to the Navy
  • November 1993: VAW-120 received its first E-2C+ aircraft
  • Summer of 2012: VAW-120 received the first E-2D Advanced Hawkeye

Squadron Spotlight

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Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 195 ‘Dambusters’

Founded: August 1943
Based: Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan
Current Commanding Officer: Cmdr. Guy “Bus” Snodgrass
Mission: First, to be forward deployed warriors for our nation, and when required, provide superior airpower where it matters, when it matters to achieve our nation’s objectives. Second, to represent the United States of America as forward deployed ambassadors of liberty.
Brief History: VFA-195 was originally commissioned as the “Tigers” of Torpedo Squadron (VT) 19 at Los Alamitos, California, August 1943, flying the Eastern TBM Avenger. The squadron participated in the Battle of Leyte Gulf and in support of the landings on Guam, Palau, Morotai and Leyte. VT-19 was redesignated Attack Squadron (VA) 20A following World War II in November 1946.

In May 1947, VA-20A transitioned to the Douglas AD-1 Skyraider before being redesignated VA-195 in August 1948. While deployed aboard USS Princeton, the squadron provided close air support for U.S. Marines trapped near the Chosin Reservoir. During this period, the squadron earned its new nickname, ‘Dambusters’, when their Douglas AD-4 Skyraiders delivered precise low-level aerial torpedoes against the heavily defended and strategically positioned Hwachon Reservoir dam May 1, 1951. Widely considered as one of the most extraordinary strikes of the war, destruction of the dam flooded the valley below, protecting allied flanks while denying the North Koreans control of the reservoir’s waters for the remainder of the war.

VA-195 transitioned to the jet powered Douglas A-4 Skyhawk in July 1959 and moved to Naval Air Station Lemoore, California, in 1962. In the spring of 1970, VA-195 transitioned to the Vought A-7E Corsair II as part of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 11.

The Dambusters were redesignated Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 195 in April 1985 and transitioned to the F/A-18 Hornet. VFA-195 was subsequently assigned to CVW 5 and officially joined the forward deployed naval forces in Yokosuka, Japan. In 2001, the Dambusters, embarked onboard USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63), flew in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, and in 2003, flew in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. In 2008, the squadron cross-decked to the first nuclear powered aircraft carrier stationed in Japan, USS George Washington (CVN 73). In 2011, the squadron made its first return to the U.S. in 25 years to transition to the F/A-18E Super Hornet. Today the squadron continues to deploy aboard USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), providing formidable forward presence in the Western Pacific.
Aircraft Flown: F/A-18E Super Hornet
Number of People in Unit: 231 military personnel

Significant Accomplishments:
Recent Detachments: Tactical training in Fallon, Nevada, and field carrier landing practice on Iwo To, Japan
Exercises: Talisman Saber 2015; Valiant Shield 2014; Keen Sword 2014
Awarded: Retention Excellence Award, Meritorious Unit Commendation, Medical Blue “M.”

Squadron Spotlight

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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
Significant Accomplishments:

  • 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

F-35B Goes Supersonic

F-35B Goes Supersonic
The F-35B went supersonic for the first time on 10 June. (Lockheed Martin)

On 10 June, the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter short takeoff/vertical landing variant flew faster than the speed of sound for the first time. U.S. Marine Corps pilot Lt. Col. Matt Kelly climbed to 30,000 feet and accelerated to Mach 1.07 (727 miles per hour) in the off-shore supersonic test track near NAS Patuxent River. It was the first in a series of planned supersonic test flights, and was the aircraft’s 30th test flight overall.