Electronic Attack Squadron ONE THREE SIX [VAQ-136]
Electronic Attack Squadron ONE THREE SIX is permanently based out of Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan. The squadron was established at Naval Air Station, Whidbey Island, Oak Harbor, Washington on April 6, 1973. VAQ-136 has the distinction of being the fifth operational Electronic Attack Squadron to employ the EA-6B Prowler, and is also the first Prowler Squadron to be formed with no heritage passed down from a previous Naval Aviation Squadron or unit.
Since their establishment in 1973, the VAQ-136 Gauntlets have integrated rapidly into several Carrier Air Wings. The Gauntlets' first two deployments were with CVW -11 aboard the USS KITTY HAWK (CV 63). In 1977 the Gauntlets joined CVW-7 aboard the USS INDEPENDENCE (CV 62) for a cruise to the Mediterranean, after which the squadron changed to the ICAP version of the EA-6B. After the transition to their new aircraft, the Gauntlets sailed to the Mediterranean again, this time with CVW-5 on the USS SARATOGA (CV 60).
In 1980 the Gauntlets flew across the Pacific Ocean to their new home in Yokosuka, Japan with the USS MIDWAY (CV 41) and Carrier Air Wing FIVE. The 1980's were highlighted by numerous Gauntlet achievements such as: an unprecedented 8300 mile cross-deck deployment to the USS AMERICA (CV 66) in support of Indian Ocean operations in 1983, the record setting 111 day Indian Ocean at sea period in 1984, the transition to ICAP II aircraft in 1986, the cruise to support the Summer Olympics in Seoul, Korea in 1988, and the culmination of a decade of hard work was evidenced by the Gauntlets being awarded the COMNAVAIRPAC Battle Efficiency Award - the "E", and the Safety "S" in 1989. On April 16, 1990, as part of the Cope Thunder exercise, the Gauntlets fired a live High Speed Anti-Radiation Missile (HARM), at an U.S. Air Force radar off the coast of the Philippines. It was the first HARM fired in WESTPAC and the exercise was a great success. The missile completely destroyed its target and foreshadowed things to come in the Gauntlets' future.
On January 16, 1991 the Gauntlets were the first Prowler squadron to fly a strike against Iraq in support of Operation DESERT STORM. During the 43-day war against Iraq, the Gauntlets flew 466.9 hours in combat and fired 28 HARM missiles. The Gauntlets successfully suppressed the enemy's air defenses ensuring that CVW-5 did not lose a single aircraft to enemy fire. The Gauntlets proved that the Prowler is an indispensable part of the Navy's attack team.
A new chapter in Gauntlet history began on August 22, 1991. With the scheduled retirement of the USS MIDWAY (CV 41), the Gauntlets cross-decked with CVW-5 to the United States' new forward deployed carrier, the USS INDEPENDENCE (CV 62) in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, forming the I-5 team. In the spring of 1992, the Gauntlets set out on cruise with the INDEPENDENCE and became the first Prowler squadron to fly in support of Operation SOUTHERN WATCH. For their role in setting up Operation SOUTHERN WATCH, the Gauntlets received the Pacific Fleet Battle "E" award for 1992.
In addition, the Gauntlets received the Radford Award for being the best EA-6B squadron in the Navy, the Association of Old Crows Outstanding Unit Award, and a Meritorious Unit Commendation. In 1993 Team Spirit with Korea, Spring Training in Australia, and ANNUALEX off the coast of Japan filled the early part of the year as the Gauntlets readied themselves for another "long" deployment in the fall. Once again, the Gauntlets sailed to the Arabian Gulf to take up arms over the skies of Iraq in support of Operation Southern Watch. After returning home for a brief stay, the Gauntlets got underway again in the spring of 1994, this time participating in the multi-national RIMPAC exercise. That summer saw the Gauntlets supporting U.S. policy during intense North Korean Contingency Operations. The Gauntlets remained busy through the rest of the year making training detachments to Guam, Korea, and Misawa. This busy schedule resulted in VAQ-136 being named the "Prowler Squadron of the Year for Tactical Excellence" for 1994.
The Gauntlets spent 1995 on the move. Starting with operations in the Yellow Sea, the Gauntlets proceeded south to participate in Exercise Cobra Gold off the coast of Thailand. Fall saw the squadron in the Middle East yet again participating in Operation Southern Watch. Following the successful conclusion of their Arabian Gulf excursion, the Gauntlets were awarded the COMNAVAIRPAC Battle "E", and Safety "S" for 1995.
1996 was a busy year. Starting in February with Yellow Sea operations and a visit to the Philippines, including operations around Taiwan to deter Chinese aggression. The Gauntlets departed on a RIMPAC deployment to both the Philippines and Hawaii. Following a short break, they returned to sea in September, visiting Hong Kong while in the South China Sea. Prior to returning to Yokosuka in mid-November for the holidays, the I-5 team participated in Foal Eagle, a coordinated exercise with South Korea, and ANNUALEX, a combined JMSDF, USAF, USN, and USMC exercise.
Early in 1997 the INDEPENDENCE (CV 62) commenced a four month cruise, transiting to Guam, Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and then Hong Kong, the last U.S. carrier to port there before the reversion to Chinese control. Of course, the Gauntlets were aboard and routinely performed their electronic wizardry in support of such exercises as Tandem Thrust, with the Australians, Merlion, with Malaysia, and Cobra Gold, with the Thai armed forces, returning home in June.
In January 1998 the Gauntlets once more answered their nations call, this time demonstrating the capability of the forward-deployed Naval forces in an emergency no-notice deployment to the Arabian Gulf. Just fifteen days after receiving the order, the Gauntlets went from holiday routine to fully carrier qualified and underway to the Arabian Gulf in support of Operation SOUTHERN WATCH. After forcing Iraq to comply with United Nations weapons inspection teams, the Gauntlets returned home for a brief respite before getting underway again in July, this time to Hawaii for RIMPAC 98 and to cross-deck onto their new home the USS KITTY HAWK (CV 63). Returning to Japan in August 1998, the Gauntlets received the news that they had won the Safety "S" for the first half of calendar year 98. Never willing to slow down the Gauntlets returned to sea once again on the last day of September this time in support of exercise Foal Eagle and Cope North before returning to Japan in mid November to close out another successful year.
In January 1999, VAQ-136 was awarded the 1998 COMNAVAIRPAC Battle "E". This significant award is given to the most combat-ready squadron in the Electronic Attack Community and is a reflection of the hard work and dedication of the Gauntlets. On March 2, 1999, VAQ-136 and the KITTY HAWK Battle group departed Yokosuka, Japan for three months of routine operations and exercises in the Western Pacific. The Gauntlets participated in the multi-national and multi-service exercise Tandem Thrust off the island of Guam. The KITTY HAWK was ordered to the Arabian Gulf as actions in the world became heated, therefore extending the three-month deployment to six months. VAQ-136 began flying sorties in support of Operation SOUTHERN WATCH within 24 hours of arriving to the Arabian Gulf on April 20. Over the following eleven weeks, the Gauntlets flew 115 combat sorties over the skies of Iraq. When the KITTY HAWK pulled into Dubai, UAE, for several days of liberty, the Gauntlets were tasked to provide uninterrupted Electronic Warfare support for coalition aircraft flying from Prince Sultan Air Base (PSAB), Saudi Arabia, for Operation SOUTHERN WATCH. During the short detachment, VAQ-136 demonstrated true professionalism and efficiency as the Gauntlets maintained a 100% sortie completion rate. On June 17, 1999, the KITTY HAWK and CVW5 departed the Arabian Gulf for several port visits to Perth, Australia, and Pattaya, Thailand. This deployment marked the second time the forward-deployed carrier had been to the Arabian Gulf in the previous year. During the Fall, the Gauntlets participated in the annual exercise Foal Eagle and ANNUALEX, with ROK, JMSDF, and US combined forces.
Starting in April 2000, the Gauntlets spent two months at sea flying 184 Sorties for 298.7 hours and 250 traps. During that period VAQ-136 took part in COBRA GOLD, a multi-national exercise including the US and Thailand forces.
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