Military


Electronic Attack Squadron [VAQ-135]
"Black Ravens"

Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron (VAQ) 135 flies the Grumman EA-6B Prowler. The Prowler is a four person, tactical jet which conducts all weather, carrier based electronic warfare missions in support of the Carrier Air Wing. The Prowler can detect and analyze enemy radars and communications. The three Electronic Countermeasures Officers (ECMOs) process this information and determine which portion of the enemy's command, communications, and control network to attack. The EA-6B employs the USQ-113 Comm Jammer to disrupt communications and the ALQ-99 Tactical Jamming System to counter enemy radars in a wide range of frequency bands. If the mission requires the destruction of the radar installation, the crew of the Prowler can employ the AGM-88 High Speed Anti-Radiation Missile (HARM). This combined ability to disrupt or destroy an adversary's air defense network makes the EA-6B the premiere tactical electronic warfare platform in the world.

When the Air Force retired its aging fleet of EF-111s. To fill their need for electronic warfare support, the Navy's EA-6B Prowler community commissioned five new squadrons to support joint shore based assets. These new joint Air Force/Navy squadrons are now filling the Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD) role for the Air Force worldwide.

The BLACK RAVENS of Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron ONE THREE FIVE joined the Naval Aviation Community on 15 May 1969, when the squadron was established to provide Carrier Air Wings (CVW) with electronic warfare and air-to-air refueling support. Homeported at NAS Alameda, California, the BLACK RAVENS first flew the Douglas EKA-3B "Skywarrior" and deployed with several air wings of both the Atlantic and Pacific Fleets.

In 1973, VAQ 135 moved to its new homeport of NAS Whidbey Island, Washington and began a transition to their present aircraft, the Grumman EA-6B Prowler. On 19 July 1974, the squadron officially "stood up" as a Prowler squadron in a ceremony held at NAS Whidbey Island.

The BLACK RAVENS first deployed in the EA-6B to the Western Pacific and Indian Oceans from January to September 1976 with CVW 2 aboard USS RANGER (CV 61). Following that deployment, VAQ 135 underwent transition training once again, this time to the Improved Capability (ICAP) Prowler and became the first fleet EA-6B ICAP squadron. The squadron then deployed with CVW 8 aboard USS NIMITZ (CVN 68) from November 1977 to July 1978 to the Mediterranean Sea.

VAQ 135 commenced refresher training in January 1979 with CVW 15 aboard USS KITTY HAWK (CV 63) and deployed to the Western Pacific on May 1979. While deployed, the BLACK RAVENS were awarded the Navy Expeditionary Medal for operations in the Indian Ocean during the Iranian Hostage Crisis. They also received their first Chief of Naval Operations Safety "S" Award and the Meritorious Unit Commendation.

From April to November 1981, the BLACK RAVENS again deployed with CVW 15 aboard KITTY HAWK. VAQ 135 participated in several major exercises throughout the Pacific and Indian Oceans and was awarded a second Navy Expeditionary Medal. In addition, they earned the Humanitarian Service Medal for their participation in the rescue of Vietnamese refugees.

In May 1982, the BLACK RAVENS were assigned to USS AMERICA (CV 66) and CVW 1. After completing work-ups, the BLACK RAVENS received word to transfer back to NIMITZ and deploy to the Mediterranean Sea in November 1982. In 1984, the BLACK RAVENS again found themselves aboard AMERICA with CVW 1, deploying from April until November 1984. There they received their second Chief of Naval Operations Safety "S" Award.

In 1985, the BLACK RAVENS again deployed with CVW 1 aboard AMERICA for the largest NATO Naval Exercise to date, OCEAN SAFARI, for which the squadron received the Meritorious Unit Commendation and their third Chief of Naval Operations Safety "S" Award.

On the morning of January 1, 1986, VAQ 135 was "no-notice" deployed to support Sixth Fleet Battle Group operations in the Mediterranean Sea. Within 48 hours, the BLACK RAVENS had sortied from NAS Whidbey Island, joined their new air wing, (CVW 13), at sea on board USS CORAL SEA (CV 43), and commenced supporting contingency operations underway in the central Mediterranean Sea. For the next five months, with no in-theater supply support, the squadron provided valuable electronic warfare support to U.S. Naval Forces operating off the coast of Libya. The BLACK RAVENS proved to be an essential element in the successful Naval strike action in the Gulf of Sidra in March of 1986 and provided key close-support jamming services in the successful strikes on the Benina/Benghazi airfields in April of that year. As a result, the squadron was awarded two Navy Unit Commendations, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, and the Association of Old Crows Outstanding Unit Award for 1986.

The BLACK RAVENS were reassigned to CVW 11 aboard USS ENTERPRISE (CVN 65) in November 1986. In 1987, VAQ 135 completed work-ups and became the first Prowler squadron to complete the Medium Attack Advanced Readiness Program (MAARP) and revised EA-6B Defensive Air Combat Maneuvering (DACM) syllabus.

In January 1988, VAQ 135 became the first squadron to deploy with five Prowlers. WESTPAC '88 marked the return of the BLACK RAVENS to the Seventh Fleet with ENTERPRISE, providing electronic warfare support to U.S. Naval forces operating in the North Arabian Sea. They were awarded the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medla for their efforts.

In April 1988 VAQ 135 participated in the highly successful action against Iranian naval surface units during Operation PRAYING MANTIS. In the fall of 1988, the BLACK RAVENS transition to the ICAP-II version of the Prowler, acquiring the ability to fire the High Speed Anti-radiation Missile (HARM).

In September 1989, VAQ 135 deployed aboard ENTERPRISE for an around-the-world cruise, taking part in PACEX, the largest naval exercise since World War II. In November 1989, the squadron participated in Operation JUST CAUSE in defense of the Philippine government, resulting in the squadron being awarded the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal.

In September 1990, the BLACK RAVENS sailed with USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN (CVN 72) for her two month maiden voyage around Cape Horn. In May 1991, the BLACK RAVENS deployed to the Western Pacific aboard LINCOLN and participated in Operation FIERY VIGIL, the evacuation of Air Force and Navy personnel from Subic Bay, Philippines. Later, while on station in the Persian Gulf, the BLACK RAVENS took part in the final stages of Operation DESERT STORM, as well as BEACON FLASH exercises with Oman and annual exercise operations with the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Forces. In February 1992, the BLACK RAVENS were presented with their first Pacific Fleet Air Forces (AIRPAC) Safety "S" award in recognition of the squadrons outstanding safety record of over 12 years and 21,000 hours mishap free.

On 14 August 1993, VAQ 135 shot its first HARM (high speed anti-radiation missile) in the skies over the desert of China Lake in California. On June 15, 1993 the BLACK RAVENS deployed on WESTPAC '93 with their new offensive capability. Once stationed in the Persian Gulf, the squadron participated in Operation SOUTHERN WATCH, enforcing the Iraqi southern no-fly zone. There they shot two HARM missiles to protect airwing aircraft from Iraqi surface-to-air missiles. They also flew numerous sorties in support of Operation RESTORE HOPE, while the LINCOLN was stationed off the coast of Somalia, resulted in the awarding of the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal. In November 1993, the BLACK RAVENS celebrated yet another safety milestone, fourteen years mishap free, just prior to returning home to NAS Whidbey Island from WESTPAC '93.

VAQ 135 departed for WESTPAC '95 left in April, 1995 on board the LINCOLN. The first exercise was working with the Pakistani Air Force for Operation INSPIRED ALERT. The remainer of the deployment was patrolling the Persian Gulf as members of Operation SOUTHERN WATCH. In July, 1995 the BLACK RAVENS worked with the Saudi Air and Naval forces in Operation NAUTICAL ARTIST before returning from deployment in October 1995.

Just a few weeks after returning, the BLACK RAVENS and CVW-11 went back to their old ship, the KITTY HAWK, and recommenced training for their next deployment. Deploying in October, 1996, the BLACK RAVENS once again flew in support of Operations SOUTHERN WATCH and INSPIRED ALERT. They were awarded the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for their sustained superior efforts.

Upon their return from WESTPAC in April 1997, VAQ 135 spent the summer participating in the Joint Exercise, RED FLAG, and the Multi-National Exercise, MAPLE FLAG. In September 1997, VAQ 135 and CVW-11 joined the USS CARL VINSON team creating a potent strike capability.

The squadron returned from WESTPAC in May 1999. During their deployment the squadron supported coalition strikes over Iraq during operation DESERT FOX and SOUTHERN WATCH. In September 1999, the BLACK RAVENS participated in the Joint Exercise SPIRIT HAWK, followed by RED FLAG in January 2000. Both exercises were in preparation for the BLACK RAVEN's deployment to Incirlik, Turkey.

On 1 May 2000, the BLACK RAVENS flew 4 aircraft across the Atlantic Ocean to Incirlik Air Force Base, Turkey. The RAVENS flew in support of Operation Northern Watch, the defense of the Iraq northern no-fly zone. The squadron filled the Expeditionary roll for the summer months flying alongside the men and women of the United States and British Air Forces. The RAVENS returned 01 August 2000 for a short stand down period before beginning the next work up cycle.




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