VFA-102


VFA-102

Infobox Military Unit
unit_name= Strike Fighter Squadron 102


caption= VFA-102 Insignia
dates= July 1, 1955-present
country= United States
allegiance=
branch= United States Navy
type= Fighter/Attack
role= Close air support
Air interdiction
Aerial reconnaissance
size=
command_structure= CVW-5
current_commander=
garrison= Naval Air Facility Atsugi
ceremonial_chief=
colonel_of_the_regiment=
nickname= "Diamondbacks"
patron=
motto=
colors=NF
colors=Red and black
march=
mascot=
aircraft_fighter= F2H Banshee F4D Skyray F-4 Phantom F-14 Tomcat F/A-18 Hornet
battles= Vietnam War
Operation Southern Watch
Operation Restore Hope
Operation Enduring Freedom
anniversaries=

Strike Fighter Squadron 102 (VFA-102) is a United States Navy Strike Fighter squadron based at NAF Atsugi. Their call sign is 'Diamondback', tail code is NF, and they fly the F/A-18F Super Hornet.

History

Two distinct squadrons have been designated VF-102. The first VF-102 was established on 1 May 1952 flying the FG-1D and F9F-5. From Nov 1953 to Sep 1954, the squadron completed a world cruise aboard USS Tarawa (CV-40), visiting 10 foreign countries and transiting the Suez and Panama Canals. On 1 July 1955, VF-102 was redesignated VA-36 and moved from NAS Cecil Field to NAS Jacksonville. [DICTIONARY OF AMERICAN NAVAL AVIATION SQUADRONS—Volume I, pg 59]

The second VF-102 was established in 1955, was eventually redesignated as VFA-102, and is the subject of the remainder of this article.

1950s

The second Fighter Squadron 102 (VF-102), was established as VA-36 on July 1, 1955, and was immediately redesignated VF-102 on the same day (at the time, squadron designations were associated with their assigned airwing). The squadron was based at NAS Jacksonville flying the F2H Banshee. The "Diamondbacks" inaugural cruise took place aboard the USS "Randolph" in July 1956. After returning from deployment, the squadron transitioned to the F4D Skyray. In addition to four 20 mm internal cannons, the Skyray carried the new AIM-9 Sidewinder missile.

1960s

After a final cruise with the Skyray on "Forrestal" in 1960, the squadron moved to NAS Oceana, Virginia, and transitioned to the F-4 Phantom. This was the beginning of a 20-year association with the Phantom.

In 1964 and 1966 VF-102 won the COMNAVAIRLANT Battle “E” efficiency awards. Highlights during this period included participation in Operation Sea Orbit on board the USS "Enterprise", and combat operations off Vietnam in 1968.

1970s

In 1975 and 1978, VF-102 conducted cross-deck operations aboard HMS Ark Royal.

1980s

In June 1981 the "Diamondbacks" flew their last Phantom during an Indian Ocean cruise aboard USS "Independence". During the summer of 1981, the squadron transitioned to the F-14 Tomcat. With the new aircraft, the "Diamondbacks" also received a new mission in addition to their traditional fighter role -- photo reconnaissance using the TARPS pod. The "Diamondbacks" deployed aboard USS "America" in the fall of 1982 to participate in the NATO Exercise Northern Wedding that required high temp operations in the heavy seas north of the British Isles, garnering considerable attention from Soviet Tupolev Tu-95 Bear D reconnaissance aircraft. The first Tomcat deployment with Carrier Air Wing One began in 1983 and took "America" through the Suez Canal to the Indian Ocean. Two VF-102 Tomcats, flying a routine TARPS mission over Somalia were fired upon by an SA-2 SAM site and AAA in April 1983. Both aircraft returned without damage.

VF-102 deployed in 1984 with the first KA-93 LOROP camera and ARC-182 Have Quick radios, conducting OPEVAL for both systems at sea. In 1985, "America" participated in the NATO exercise Ocean Safari and again conducted operations in the challenging seas and low visibility conditions near the Arctic Circle and inside Vestfjord, Norway. While operating northwest of Ireland, a VF-102 TARPS aircrew flew an unprecedented 1200nm TARPS mission to locate a Soviet Kynda Class Cruiser transiting the English Channel. In March 1986, the "Diamondbacks" deployed on board "America", headed for the Gulf of Sidra joining USS "Saratoga" and USS "Coral Sea" to challenge the Libyan proclaimed Line of Death. A VF-102 Tomcat was first to be fired on by a Libyan SA-5 and triple-A while flying Combat Air Patrol for Operation Attain Document. A month later VF-102 flew cover for US Navy and US Air Force bombers in Operation El Dorado Canyon.

1990s

In the fall of 1990, the "Diamondbacks" joined the USS "John F. Kennedy" and "Saratoga" in the Red Sea as part of Operation Desert Shield, arriving the day operations were to begin. "America" remained part of the Red Sea Battle Force until directed to join USS "Ranger", USS "Theodore Roosevelt" and USS "Midway" in the Persian Gulf. In the six week campaign, VF-102 logged more than 1400 combat flight hours.

The "Diamondbacks" embarked "America" again in December 1991 for a six-month deployment to the Mediterranean Sea and Persian Gulf.

In early August 1993, the "Diamondbacks" embarked "America" to begin their third Mediterranean deployment in three years. During this deployment the squadron conducted humanitarian operations off the coast of Bosnia-Herzegovina supporting Operation Provide Promise and Operation Deny Flight. In late October the squadron supported Operation Restore Hope off the coast of Mogadishu, Somalia. By Mid-December they were supporting Operation Southern Watch in Iraq.

In June 1994, the "Diamondbacks" returned to NAS Oceana and transitioned to the F-14B aircraft. The Diamondbacks 1995–1996 Mediterranean cruise began with an emergency sortie to the Adriatic Sea to take part in Operation Deliberate Force. They then proceeded to the Persian Gulf in support of "Southern Watch". Placement of U.S. ground forces in Bosnia, led to another "America" emergency sortie back to the Adriatic in December. The Diamondbacks remained in the Adriatic for the remainder of the cruise, logging more than 4,000 hours and over 1,900 traps during the deployment.

With the disestablishment VF-33, VF-102 became "America's" sole F-14 unit, completing its final deployment on February 24, 1996.

Upon "America's" decommissioning in 1996, VF-102 (and the rest of CVW-1) was assigned to USS "George Washington" (CVN-73).

In 1997, the "Diamondbacks" deployed aboard "George Washington". A port visit to Haifa, Israel was cut short late in November as the carrier battle group was ordered to the Persian Gulf in response to Saddam Hussein's barring UN weapon inspectors from carrying out their assigned tasks. As the crises grew "George Washington" joined the USS "Nimitz" and HMS "Invincible". VF-102 returned to Norfolk on March 13, 1998.

In Autumn 1999, VF-102 deployed again to the Persian Gulf in support of Operation Southern Watch over southern Iraq. VF-102 carried out strikes on numerous anti-aircraft and radar sites and conducted numerous TARPS missions.

2000s

On September 19, 2001 in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks, VF-102 began a scheduled deployment to the Arabian Sea as a part of Operation Enduring Freedom and began combat operations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. During that deployment VF-102 flew 5000 combat hours and dropped 680 bombs as well as guiding more than 50,000 pounds of precision guided munitions launched by other aircraft [Tony Holmes (2008). "F-14 Tomcat Units of Operation Enduring Freedom, Osprey Publishing Limited - Chapter Three – Ground War, page 60] [Tony Holmes (2008). "F-14 Tomcat Units of Operation Enduring Freedom, Osprey Publishing Limited - Chapter Two – OEF Begins, page 45] . In addition, as part of the USS "Theodore Roosevelt" Battle Group they were at sea for 159 consecutive days, breaking a 20 year old record. [ [http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3834/is_200210/ai_n9102711 Diamondbacks of VF-102, Wings of Gold] ] .

Following the return from deployment, the squadron moved to NAS Lemoore, California to begin transition training in the F/A-18F. Upon completion, the Diamondbacks again changed homeport to Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan.

VFA-102 deployed to the Pacific Ocean aboard the USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63) in 2005, 2006 and 2007, taking part in several military exercises, including Orange Crush, talisman Saber, Jasex and Valiant Shield.

In March of 2007, VFA-102 was named the Pacific Fleet Battle "E" award winner for the calendar year of 2006. This award recognizes the "Diamondback" supremacy in battle efficiency amongst all F/A-18E/F squadrons in the Pacific Fleet.

In the spring of 2008, VFA-102 embarked "Kitty Hawk" for her final deployment. The air wing is currently assigned to the USS George Washington (CVN-73).

References

External links

* [https://www.atsugi.navy.mil/VFA-102/ VFA-102 Diamondbacks Website]
* [http://www.tomcatalley.com/squadron/vf102his.htm VF-102 History]

= See also =
*Naval aviation
*Modern US Navy carrier air operations
*List of military aircraft of the United States (naval) / List of US Naval aircraft
*United States Naval Aviator
*Military aviation
*List of United States Navy aircraft squadrons
*List of Inactive United States Navy aircraft squadrons


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