US Navy Air Wings, Squadrons and Equipment

In the last two years US Navy Air Wings have changed in structure quite substantially, the A-6E Intruder is now all but gone from Fleet service (official disestablishment of the last two squadrons is in February 1997) with each Air Wing gaining an extra squadron of F/A-18 Hornets to make up for the loss. The extra F/A-18 units have come from several sources, some are USMC units, some are brand new squadrons, others are A-6 squadrons which are in the process of transitioning to the F/A-18. Until the old A-6 units have finished converting most Air Wings are actually lacking their third F/A-18 unit, squadrons being shifted round to ensure that deploying air wings do have the required three F/A-18 squadrons.

The other major change to Air Wings has been the loss of their second F-14 unit, now all but two Air Wings have only one squadron of 14 F-14 Tomcats, rather than the old standard of two squadrons, each with 10 aircraft. The two exceptions to the rule, look likely to remain with two squadrons, presumably to provide extra precision attack aircraft.

Each plane in a squadron is assigned a unique number, a 'modex', this is painted on the nose and other areas of the plane allowing easy visual identification of each plane on the crowded and noisy carrier deck. generally each squadron in an Air Wing will have a series of x00-x15 assigned to it, although specialist aircraft such as the ES-3A do not always follow this pattern. At present it seems that the third F/A-18 squadrons are taking the 200 series, which used to be the domain of the second Tomcat squadron, as opposed to the 500 series, which were assigned to the A-6 squadron.

Each Air Wing has a unique tailcode assigned to it, which all aircraft in the Wing carry. Thus as aircraft are moved between wings their tailcode will vary.

The ES-3A is only operated by two squadrons, VQ-6 for the Atlantic Fleet and VQ-5 for the Pacific. Due to it's highly specialised role ES-3A's are only attatched to an Air Wing for the duration of the cruise. Detatchments usually consist of two aircraft.

Atlantic Fleet Air Wings

CVW-1, Tailcode 'AB'

VF-102 DiamondbacksF-14B, LANTIRN and TARPS100-122 (108-109 and 117-119 not used)
VMFA-251 ThunderboltsF/A-18C(N)200+
VFA-82 MaraudersF/A-18C(N)300-315 (308-309 not used)
VFA-86 SidewindersF/A-18C(N)400-415 (408-409 not used)
VAW-123 ScrewtopsE-2C Group II600-603
HS-11 DragonslayersSH-60F/HH-60H610-613 (SH-60F) 614-616 (HH-60H)
VMAQ-3 Moon DogsEA-6B 620-624
VS-32 MaulersS-3B700-707
VQ-6 Black Ravens Det ?ES-3A761-762

CVW-3, Tailcode 'AC'

VF-32 SwordsmenF-14B, LANTIRN and TARPS 100-123 + 132 (108-109 and 118-122 not used)
VMFA-312 CheckerboardsF/A-18C(N)200-213 (208-209 not used)
VFA-37 BullsF/A-18C(N)300-314 (308-309 not used)
VFA-105 GunslingersF/A-18C(N)400-413 (408-409 not used)
VAW-126 Seahawks E-2C600-606 (605 not used)
HS-7 Big DippersSH-60F/HH-60H610-613 (SH-60F) 614-615 (HH-60H)
VAQ-130 ZappersEA-6B620-623
VS-22 CheckmatesS-3B700-710 (708-709 not used)

CVW-7, Tailcode 'AG'

VF-143 Pukin' DogsF-14B, TARPS & LANTIRN100-116 (108-109 not used)
VF-11 Red RippersF-14B, LANTIRN & TARPS200+
VFA-136 WarhawksF/A-18C(N)300-312 (308-309 not used)
VFA-131 Wildcats F/A-18C(N)400-412 (408-409 not used)
VAW-121 BluetailsE-2C600-603
HS-5 Night DippersSH-60F/HH-60H610-613 (SH-60F) 614-616 (HH-60H)
VAQ-140 PatriotsEA-6B620-624
VS-31 Top CatsS-3B700-705
VQ-6 Black Ravens Det ?ES-3A760+

CVW-8, Tailcode 'AJ'

VF-41 Black AcesF-14A TARPS & LANTIRN100-120 (108-109 and 117-119 not used)
VF-14 TophattersF-14A LANTIRN & TARPS200-215 (202, 208-209 not used)
VFA-15 ValionsF/A-18C(N)300-314 (308-309 not used)
VFA-87 Golden WarriorsF/A-18C(N)400-415 (408-409 not used)
VAW-124 Bear Aces E-2C600-604
HS-3 TridentsSH-60F/HH-60H610-613+617 (SH-60F) 613-614 (HH-60H)
VAQ-141 ShadowhawksEA-6B620-623
VS-24 ScoutsS-3B700-707

CVW-17, Tailcode 'AA'

VF-103 SluggersF-14B, LANTIRN and TARPS100+
VFA-34 Blue BlastersF/A-18C200+
VFA-83 RampagersF/A-18C(N)300-314 (308-309 not used)
VFA-81 SunlinersF/A-18C400-412 (408-409 not used)
VAW-125 TigertailsE-2C600-604
HS-15 Red Lions SH-60F/HH-60H610-615 (SH-60F) 616-617 (HH-60H)
VAQ-132 Scorpions EA-6B620-624
VS-30 Diamondcutters S-3B700-705
VQ-6 Black Ravens Det ?ES-3A760-761

Pacific Fleet Air Wings

CVW-2, Tailcode 'NE'

VF-2 Bounty HuntersF-14D, LANTIRN and TARPS100-116 (108-109, 113 not used)
VMFA-323 Death RattlersF/A-18C(N)200-214 (208-209 not used)
VFA-151 VigilantesF/A-18C(N)300-313 (308-309 not used)
VFA-137 Kestrals F/A-18C(N)400-414 (408-409 not used)
VAW-116 Sun Kings E-2C Group II600-603
HS-2 Golden FalconsSH-60F/HH-60H610-616 (SH-60F) 613-614 (HH-60H)
VAQ-131 LancersEA-6B 620-624
VS-38 Red GriffinsS-3B700-707
VQ-5 Sea Shadows ES-3A760-761

CVW-5, Tailcode 'NF'

VF-154 Black KnightsF-14A, TARPS & LANTIRN100-116 (108-109 not used)
VFA-27 ChargersF/A-18C(N)200-214 (208-209 not used)
VFA-192 Golden DragonsF/A-18C300-312 (306, 308-309 not used)
VFA-195 DambustersF/A-18C400-412 (408-409 not used)
VAW-115 SentinelsE-2C600-604
HS-14 ChargersSH-60F/HH-60H610-617
VAQ-136 GauntletsEA-6B620-624
VS-21 Fighting RedtailsS-3B700-707
VQ-5 Sea Shadows Det ?ES-3A760-761

CVW-9, Tailcode 'NG'

VF-211 Fighting CheckmatesF-14A, LANTIRN and TARPS100-116 (108-109 not used)
VMFA-314 Black KnightsF/A-18C(N)200+
VFA-146 Blue DiamondsF/A-18C(N)300-312 (308-309 not used)
VFA-147 ArgonautsF/A-18C(N)400-412 (408-409 not used)
VAW-112 Golden Hawks E-2C Group II600-603
HS-8 Eight BallersSH-60F/HH-60H610-617 (615 not used)
VAQ-138 YellowjacketsEA-6B620-624
VS-33 ScrewbirdsS-3B700-706
VQ-5 Sea Shadows Det CES-3A750-751

CVW-11, Tailcode 'NH'

VF-213 Black LionsF-14D, TARPS & LANTIRN100-115 (108-109 not used)
VFA-97 WarhawksF/A-18A200-214 (208-209, 213 not used)
VFA-22 Fighting RedcocksF/A-18C(N)300-314 (308-309, 313 not used)
VFA-94 Mighty ShrikesF/A-18C(N)400-413 (408-409 not used)
VAW-117 WallbangersE-2C Group II600-603
HS-6 IndiansSH-60F/HH-60H610-613 (SH-60F) 614-615 (HH-60H)
VAQ-135 Black RavensEA-6B620-624
VS-29 Screaming DragonfiresS-3B700-707
VQ-5 Sea Shadows Det ?ES-3A760-761

CVW-14, Tailcode 'NK'

VF-31 TomcattersF-14D, TARPS & LANTIRN100+
VFA-115 Black EaglesF/A-18C200-211 (208-209 not used)
VFA-113 StingersF/A-18C(N)300-311 (308-309 not used)
VFA-25 Fist of the FleetF/A-18C(N)400-412 (408-409 not used)
VAW-113 Black Hawks E-2C600-603
HS-4 Black KnightsSH-60F/HH-60H610-616
VAQ-139 CougarsEA-6B620-624
VS-35 Blue WolvesS-3B700-705
VQ-5 Sea Shadows Det ?ES-3A760-761

US Naval Reserve Air Wing

The Reserve Air Wing differs significantly in structure from the other air wings. Whilst it has a 'core' structure much like most wings, featuring a F-14 squadron, 2 F/A-18 squadrons, an EA-6B squadron and an E-2C squadron it has also picked up several extra units over the last few years, due to reorganisation of Navy assets following the end of the Cold War. These include VAW-77, which was created for drug interdiction duties, and the two reserve adversary squadrons, VFC-12 and VFC-13, which have picked up the duties of the previous active duty adversary squadrons, VF-43, VF-45 and VF-126, all now disestablished. The Reserve Air Wing is unique in that it has no S-3 squadron, but during exercises or in time of war an active squadron would join the Wing.

CVWR-20, Tailcode 'AF'

VF-201 HuntersF-14A, TARPS and LANTIRN100-120 (108-109, 114 and 118-119 not used)
VFA-203 Blue DolphinsF/A-18A300-320 (308-309, 312-314 and 318-319 not used)
VFA-204 River RattlersF/A-18A400-415 (408-409 not used)
VAW-78 Fighting EscargotsE-2C600-603
HS-75 Emerald KnightsSh-60F/HH-60H610+
VAQ-209 Star WarriorsEA-6B620-624
VAW-77 Night WolvesE-2C00-03
VFC-12 Fighting OmarsF/A-18A/B00-15 (08-08 not used)
VFC-13 SaintsF-5E/F00-25, F-5E (08-09 and 18-19 not used ) 30-32, F-5F

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