VF-11 Squadron History

VF-11 Squadron Patch

VF-11 Insignia Courtesy of Darryl Shaw

VF-11 Red Rippers
Base:NAS Oceana

VF-11 WebSite

VF-11 converted from the F-4 Phantom to the F-14A in 1980. The squadron, while having the same insignia and tradition as the original Red Rippers, cannot claim their lineage as the original Red Rippers were disestablished on 15th of February 1959, one day before the present VF-11 stood up. Squadron markings consist of a boar's head above a dark blue shield on which is a thunderbolt and two circles.
VF-11's combat debut occurred on the 4th of December 1984. The squadron flew combat air patrols over a US Navy strike force. The strike was in response to Syrian anti-aircraft fire directed at VF- 31 Tomcats the previous day. Unfortunately two of the twenty-eight strong attacking force were shot down in the course of the raid. However neither of these were from VF-11, the losses being one A-7E from VA-?? (USS Independence) and one A-6E from VA-75. The A-7E pilot was rescued, but one member of the A-6E crew died on impact, while the other was held prisoner by the Syrians for a year, then released.
After cruises on Kennedy the squadron shifted air wings and carriers, joining CVW-6 on board USS Forrestal (CV-59), staying with this carrier until December 1991 when Forrestal replaced USS Lexington (AVT-16) to become the training carrier. VF-11 then moved from NAS Oceana to NAS Miramar, picking up F-14D's in the process. At present the squadron is assigned aboard USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) with CVW- 14. While many of the Navy's F-14 squadrons have been disestablished VF-11 is to escape the axe, instead it has been decided that CVW-14 will remain with two F-14 squadrons onboard for the time being.
In 1994 VF-11 added another upgrade to the F-14, giving it the capability to use NVG's (Night Vision Goggles). These literally allow pilots to see in the dark, replacing instrument flying with a clear (but green tinted) view of the world around them. While having their limitations, NVG's provide a big leap in night time capability, especially in roles such as precision night bombing, forward air control and combat search and rescue, where accuracy and being able to correctly identify the target are essential.
The NVG's are mounted onto the pilot's helmet and flip up out of view when not needed. As NVG's multiply available light hundreds of times changes had to be made to the F-14's internal and instrument lighting, which if left at their normal level would blind pilots wearing NVG's. Thus VF-11 developed a set of filters and lenses to fit over F-14 cockpit instruments and controls to allow the flight crew to change between normal and NVG lighting.
Unusually the VF-11 NVG system was developed in house by the squadron, rather than first being tested by Naval test and evaluation squadrons. This has saved much time and money over normal methods. Up until 1996 the squadron only had one modified Tomcat, but by the time the squadron deploys to the western Pacific it will have 6 aircraft with the NVG system installed. Long term Navy plans envisage the system being fitted to all F-14's, providing an excellent complement to the LANTIRN night vision and targeting system that is now in use with all VF squadrons.
VF-11, as with all Pacific fleet F-14 squadrons, moved to NAS Oceana. This happened after their 1996 cuise onboard the Vinson was completed, with both VF-11 and VF-31 arriving at Oceana in the first two months of 1997.
Soon after arriving at NAS Oceana VF-11 started to convert from the F-14D Tomcat to the less capable F-14B. This move was necessary due to the limited numbers of F-14D airframes in the fleet, which has made it impossible to support 3 active squadrons, the RAG and various test units. VF-11 had completed conversion by May 1997 and has also acquired a number of LANTIRN modified airframes. After receiving the modified aircraft the Red Rippers began intensive work-ups for their 1998 cruise, which features three firsts:-their first cruise as part of CVW-7, their first cruise with the F-14B and their first cruise with the LANTIRN upgraded F-14. This is also the first operational deployment of USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74), the Navy's newest aircraft carrier. Having departed Norfolk on the 26th February 1998 USS Stennis crossed the Atlantic, Mediterranean and took up station in the Persian Gulf, relieving the USS George Washington. Since leaving the Gulf the carrier and airwing has traveled across the Pacific, visiting Perth, Australia in early August. Next stop was Pearl Harbor, Hawaii before arriving in the carrier's new home of North Island at the end of August.
Markings for VF-11 aircraft have been fairly low key, generally featuring the squadron insignia as represented on the patch at the top of this article. At times the boar's head has been included while at other times it is absent. In general, while assigned the F-14A, VF-11's markings took the form represented in the image below. A few cruises featured the 'AE' tailcode on the inside of the tails, while most saw it on the outside.

Image Courtesy of Torsten Anft
When VF-11 transitioned to the F-14D its markings became even more low-vis, now the squadron insignia is generally in dark grey, without the boar's head, while the present tailcode of 'NK' is carried on the inside of the vertical fins. However the squadron, as with all Navy squadrons, is allowed to paint two aircraft in "display" markings and these feature VF-11's markings in full colour.

BuNo. (Type)Modex (06/96)Modex (04/97)
159595 (F-14D)NK 110N.P.
159603 (F-14D)NK 107N.P.
161158 (F-14D)NK 111N.P.
161166 (F-14D)NK 106N.P.
161419 (F-14B)N.P.AG 206
162691 (F-14B)N.P.AG 200
162692 (F-14B)N.P.AG 201
163410 (F-14B)N.P.AG 205
163418 (F-14D)NK 102N.P.
163900 (F-14D)NK 105N.P.
163904 (F-14D)NK 100N.P.
164341 (F-14D)NK 101N.P.
164345 (F-14D)NK 103N.P.
164347 (F-14D)NK 104N.P.

VF-11 do not regularly use the codes #08=#09, nor #12-#14. If you can provide any newer serial information, for this or any squadron, it would be greatuly appreicated.

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