Electronic Attack Squadron [VAQ-133]
One of four Expeditionary Squadrons, the mission of VAQ-133 is to provide United States and its allied aircraft protection from hostile air defenses by denying those hostile forces use of the electromagnetic spectrum. Using both on board and off board sensors to locate and target radar installations, Wizard aircrew then employ the weapon systems of the EA-6B Prowler to deny the enemy accurate information about friendly forces. Operating primarily out of land based airfields, the Wizards conduct Naval and joint operations from anywhere in the world. By continuing to explore the boundaries of electronic warfare, VAQ-133 exemplifies the squadron motto of "Push It Up.
Electronic Attack Squadron 133 (VAQ-133) was established 4 March 1969 at NAS Alameda,California, with the primary mission of detecting and jamming hostile electronic signals.The squadron first flew the EKA-3B "Skywarrior" which was equipped with then sophisticated electronic receivers and jamming equipment as well as a tanker package for in-flight refueling.
In August 1969, and again in November 1970 the squadron departed for combat deployment to Southeast Asia aboard USS CONSTELLATION (CV-64) and USS KITTY HAWK (CV-63). After a short de-activation in August 1971, VAQ-133 moved to Naval Air Station Whidbey Island,Washington, transitioned to the EA-6B "Prowler" and adopted "Wizard" as the squadron call sign.
In January 1974, VAQ-133 departed Norfolk, Virginia aboard USS AMERICA (CV-66). This marked the first ever Prowler deployment to the Mediterranean Sea and the first deployment of the new expanded capability (EXCAP) version of the EA-6B. Both the COMNAVAIRPAC Battle Efficiency and CNO Aviation Safety Awards for 1974 were presented to the Wizards for their outstanding operational performance and exemplary safety record.
In 1975 the Wizards spent very little time at Whidbey Island, completing four months of pre-deployment training on the east coast in preparation for USS JOHN F. KENNEDY's (CV-67) June deployment to the Mediterranean. Once deployed, the Wizards broke every flight hour record for the EA-6B community and earned both the COMNAVAIRPAC Battle Efficiency Award and CNO Aviation Safety Award for the second consecutive year. They received their third CNO Aviation Safety Award the following year.
Between November 1979 and October 1981, VAQ-133 deployed to the Mediterranean Sea aboard USS FORRESTAL (CV-59) and USS AMERICA (CV-66), respectively. Aboard FORRESTAL, the Wizards logged an unprecedented 1,000 flight hours in 85 operational days. Their deployment on board AMERICA marked VAQ-133's sixth deployment to the Mediterranean, during which USS AMERICA became the first super carrier to transit the Suez Canal, and subsequently assumed her duties on "Gonzo Station" in the Indian Ocean.The squadron was awarded the 1981 CNO Aviation Safety Award, its fifth Safety "S" in its twelve year history. In February 1982, the Wizards conducted refresher training aboard USS ENTERPRISE (CVN-65), and set sail in September aboard the "Big E" for their first WESTPAC deployment as a Prowler Squadron.
In 1984, VAQ-133 again deployed aboard ENTERPRISE and participated in two of the largest naval exercises ever, RIMPAC 84, with over eighty allied ships, and FLEETEX 85-1, with five carrier task forces in two oceans. The squadron returned home December 1984 and transitioned to the Improved Capability II (ICAP II) version of the EA-6B.
The Wizards set sail a third time aboard ENTERPRISE to the Indian Ocean in January 1986. This seven month deployment took the Wizards and "Big E" to all four fleets. On "World Cruise 86," The Wizards were the first WESTPAC squadron to deploy with ICAP II Prowlers.
In September 1987 and May 1989, VAQ-133 deployed to the Mediterranean Sea aboard USS CORAL SEA (CV 43); the latter was CORAL SEA's final deployment. The Wizards won the Battle Readiness competition (BRC) in 1987 for being the most tactically proficient Prowler squadron, logging more than 2,000 flight hours..
The Wizards then joined Carrier Air Wing SIX aboard USS FORRESTAL (CV 59) and started work ups in December 1990. After being assigned as the alert carrier for Operation Desert Storm, FORRESTAL deployed with the Wizards to the Mediterranean Sea in May 1991. The Wizards flew 39 sorties over Northern Iraq in support of Operation Provide Comfort. They returned home from the FORRESTAL'S final cruise in December 1991.
Since their original inception, the Wizards received the following awards: CNO Aviation Safety Award for 1970, 1974, 1975, 1976, and 1981; the Battle "E" for 1974 and 1975; the "Top Hook" in 1975, 1977, 1983 and 1984; and the COMMATVAQWINGPAC Tactical Excellence Award for 1989 and 1990. Additionally, VAQ-133 won the wing's Battle Readiness Competition in 1987 and 1988, and has received numerous expeditionary, service and campaign medals and ribbons.
The Wizard's record of operational excellence provided the nation with front line electronic warfare defense for 23 years. On 24 April 1992, the "magic" of the Wizards was temporarily put to rest during a disestablishment ceremony. To mark the somber occasion, a tombstone was erected in front of the Commissioned Officers' Mess Open at NAS Whidbey Island to signify the passing of VAQ-133. It contained the prophetic inscription: "The magic never dies."
On 4 April 1996, the Wizards were "resurrected" as the second of four new expeditionary squadrons intended to provide joint electronic combat support for the Department of Defense. Rounding out the standard complement of aircrew assigned to the squadron are five Air Force aircrew.
Soon after their establishment, the Wizards began work ups with training detachments to Cold Lake Canada, China Lake California, Eglin Air Force Base Florida and culminated with Red Flag Exercise 97-I in Nellis AFB Nevada. They also completed four carrier qualification detachments and a successful AGM-88 High Speed Anit-Radiation Missile (HARM) firing at Pt. Mugu, California within three months of the squadron Re-establishment.
In January of 1997, only nine months after they "rose from the ground," the Wizards deployed for six months to Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, where they were assigned to Marine Aircraft Group 12. While in Japan, VAQ-133 redeployed to Kunsan, Korea and Amberley, Australia. Their aggressive pursuit of electronic attack excellence won them the COMNAVAIRPAC Battle Efficiency Award for an expeditionary squadron. In 1998 the Wizards deployed to Incirlik Turkey for six months, flying combat missions over northern Iraq with the Combined Task Force in support of Operation Northern Watch.
VAQ-133 arrived in Prince Sultan Airbase, Saudi Arabia in March 1999 to support Operation Southern Watch. There had been several improvements made to the facilities, in which deployed service members live and work. The country is, for the most part, completely covered in sand. When the wind picks up it takes the sand with it. Even when the wind isn't blowing, the sand gets kicked into the air by walking, driving and other daily activities. This sand gets into everything. Trying to keep it out of some of the delicate moving parts of the Prowler takes attention to detail. That sand can contaminate the hydraulic fluid or oil and cause some serious problems on a flight. An aggressive training schedule prepared the squadron for combat operations in Operation Southern Watch. As advance liaison to Saudi Arabia was also responsible for reestablishing the strike planning process to include Prowlers after a 10 month absence in PSAB. Over 95,000 pounds of equipment was deployed halfway around the world from Whidbey Island to Saudi Arabia. The Squadron engineered the complete installation of the first permanent network TEAMS planning system, multi-mission advanced tactical terminal, standard tactical receiver equipment display, and Gale Light ELINT system in theater. This allows Prowler aircrews to receive electronic intelligence data that will enhance the combat capability for VAQ-133 and all future Prowler squadrons in support of OSW.
VAQ-133 returned to Incirlik Air Base, Turkey at the end of January 2001. VAQ-133 personnel arrived on three different flights. Thirty personnel arrived with the advance team to helped set up admin and maintenance spaces while Wizard aircrews integrated with those of VAQ-128 to fly missions over Northern Iraq. The main body made a number of stopes en route before touching down at Incirlik Air Base on 27 January, bringing the total number of VAQ-133 personnel in country to 170. Personnel who had been on VAQ-133's 1998 Incirlik deployment remarked on the myriad of changes that had occurred on base.
The 210 Sailors of Electronic Attack Squadron 133 arrived aboard the Station July 14, 2003 to replace the outgoing Marines of Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 3 who departed from the Station on July 28, 2003 to return home to Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C.
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