Strike Fighter Wing, U.S. Atlantic Fleet (COMSTRKFIGHTWINGLANT)
Commander, Strike Fighter Wing, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, was established in 1970 and until 1999 was headquartered at NAS Cecil Field in Hangar 67. The wing reports directly to Commander, Naval Air Force, Atlantic Fleet in Norfolk, Va.
The Commodore, with a staff averaging 50 officers, enlisted personnel and civilians, is responsible for the shore based operations, administration, training, inspections and readiness of SFWL, which consists of more than 3,000 officers and enlisted men and women. Under the Commodore's direction and supervision, the squadrons complete the maximum training possible within the time allotted while they are shore based. This enables them to return to their respective carrier air wing commanders, fully prepared for every challenge of naval aviation duty while embarked on their assigned aircraft carriers.
Strike Fighter Wing, U.S. Atlantic Fleet exercises administrative and operational command over one fleet replacement squadron (VFA 106) and managerial command over ten F/A-18 squadrons. An adversary squadron based at Key West (VF 45) was decommissioned in March 1996. VFA 106 "Gladiators", the east coast's F/A-18 Fleet Replacement Squadron for aviators and maintenance personnel, was commissioned in 1984 to facilitate the transition of the east coast A-7 squadrons to the new Hornet. The ten Atlantic Fleet Strike-Fighter squadrons each squadron normally consists of 12 aircraft, 22 officers and approximately 190 enlisted men. Normally two of the fleet squadrons are deployed aboard each aircraft carrier in either the Mediterranean Sea or Indian Ocean. At any given time, there are two to four fleet squadrons on weapons deployments or at sea undergoing pre-deployment workups. The remainder of the squadrons can be found at Cecil Field pursuing some shore-based phases of their own turnaround training cycles.
On the West Coast there are fourteen Hornet squadrons, all stationed at NAS Lemoore. On the East Coast, there are ten squadrons at NAS Oceana. VFA-86 and VFA-82 were stationed at NAS Cecil Field, but were relocated to MCAS Beaufort, SC in 2000. NAS Cecil Field was the largest military base in the Jacksonville area. Including nearly 2,500 acres at OLF Whitehouse, the Cecil Field complex consisted of 22,939 acres; in addition, the base leases another 8,379 acres. As directed by Congress in BRAC 1993 and BRAC 1995, NAS Cecil Field ceased Navy air operations in late 1999 with full Navy operational closure in mid-2000. The Department of the Navy decided to realign two F/A-18 fleet squadrons (24 aircraft and 500 military personnel) to Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Beaufort, South Carolina, and nine F/A-18 fleet squadrons and the Fleet Replacement Squadron (FRS) (156 aircraft and 3,700 military and civilian personnel) to Naval Air Station (NAS) Oceana, Virginia.
Normally two of the fleet squadrons are deployed aboard each aircraft carrier in either the Mediterranean Sea or Indian Ocean. At any given time, there are two to four fleet squadrons on weapons deployments or at sea undergoing pre-deployment workups. The remainder of the squadrons can be found pursuing some shore-based phases of their own turnaround training cycles.
Introduction of the F/A-18 E/F aircraft on the East Coast of the United States is projected to begin in 2004 for completion by 2008. To minimize the impact on the operational mission, older model F/A-18 and F-14 squadrons would transition to an F/A-18 E/F squadron upon return from deployment. Typically, aircraft squadrons are deployed to a carrier for approximately 6 months through the year. When the squadrons are not deployed, they are stationed at their home airfield, and perform a sequence of training exercises to prepare for carrier deployment. Each aircraft squadron rotates through this training and deployment cycle, which would allow for full introduction of the F/A-18 E/F aircraft over a four-year period.
By the end of 2008, five F/A-18 E squadrons and five F/A-18 F squadrons would operate on aircraft carriers in the Atlantic Fleet area of responsibility. In addition, the Navy will introduce one Fleet Replacement Squadron (FRS) used to train replacement aircrew for the fleet squadrons. Personnel currently supporting the earlier model F/A-18 and F-14 squadrons would also likely transition over to the new F/A-18 E/F squadrons.
Introduction of the F/A-18 E/F squadrons in the Atlantic Fleet area of responsibility requires that the F/A-18 E/F squadrons be homebased. The Navy is currently undertaking a screening process of East Coast installations to develop reasonable F/A-18 E/F siting alternatives. To date, four Navy/Marine Corps air stations have been identified as potential receiving sites: Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Beaufort, South Carolina; MCAS Cherry Point, North Carolina; Naval Air Station (NAS) Oceana, Virginia; and NAS Meridian, Mississippi. Other site alternatives are still being considered. The Navy's preferred alternative is to site all the Atlantic Fleet F/A-18 E/F squadrons at one location; however splitting the squadrons between two bases is not precluded.
When squadrons are stationed at their home airfield, they practice flight operations at their home airfield and nearby training areas, as well as specially scheduled training at other airfields, and at-sea exercises with the carrier. Aircraft stationed at NAS Oceana, Virginia train at Naval Auxiliary Landing Field (NALF) Fentress, in Chesapeake, Virginia. The closest target ranges for aircraft stationed at either NAS Oceana or MCAS Station Cherry Point are located in Dare, Pamlico and Carteret counties, North Carolina, while aircraft stationed at MCAS Beaufort use the Townsend Training Range located in McIntosh County, Georgia.
The locations of the number and type of aircraft operations associated with these sorties, and the new construction and/or renovation of operational, maintenance, training and personnel support facilities, is part of the proposed action. However, these requirements will differ depending on the alternative locations for siting the F/A-18 E/F aircraft squadrons, and will be determined through the EIS process.
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