Electronic Attack Squadron [VAQ-140]
Electronic Attack Squadron 140. VAQ-140 flies the Navy's premier tactical electronic warfare aircraft - the EA-6B Prowler, and is based at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington. The Patriots of VAQ-140 completed their sixteenth year of service in 2001. The Patriots continue to maintain a Class Alpha mishap-free record since their establishment in 1985.
The Patriots' history began on 1 October 1985, when the Chief of Naval Operations directed the squadron's commissioning. Shortly thereafter, the Patriots were tasked with the test and evaluation of the AGM-88 High Speed Anti-Radiation Missile (HARM) for use on the EA-6B. The success of this test and evaluation period led to the introduction of the HARM into the Prowler community. The Patriots were the first Prowler squadron to deploy with HARM.
Attached to Carrier Air Wing SEVEN (CVW-7), VAQ-140 made its first deployment aboard USS JOHN F. KENNEDY (CV 67) in August of 1986. In April 1987, the Patriots and CVW-7 cross-decked to the USS DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER (CVN 69), deploying to the Mediterranean Sea from February to August 1988. The Patriots departed for their third Mediterranean deployment on 8 March 1990. Near the end of this cruise, the USS DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER was ordered into the Red Sea in response to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. The USS DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER and her Battle Group were the first allied units to arrive in theater for the beginning of Operation DESERT SHIELD.
On 26 September 1991, the squadron deployed for the fourth time, back to the Middle East via the Mediterranean Sea, in support of Operation DESERT STORM and Operation SOUTHERN WATCH.
In September 1992, the Patriots and CVW-7 transferred to the newly commissioned USS GEORGE WASHINGTON (CVN 73). On 20 May 1994, the Patriots and CVW-7 steamed with the USS GEORGE WASHINGTON Battle Group for the English Channel to take part in the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the D-Day Invasion of Normandy. The Patriots and along with the rest of the battle group then took station in the Adriatic Sea in support of Operations DENY FLIGHT and SHARP GUARD during the crisis in Bosnia. Transiting the Suez Canal and the Red Sea, the Patriots flew in Operation SOUTHERN WATCH over Iraq before returning home. The Patriots were awarded the 1994 Battle "E" for excellence for their actions over Bosnia and Iraq.
In January 1996, CVW-7 deployed again to the Adriatic in support of Operation JOINT ENDEAVOR in Bosnia. Again transiting the Suez Canal, the Patriots flew in support of Operation SOUTHERN WATCH over Iraq returning to Whidbey Island in July 1996.
The Patriots and CVW-7 transferred to the Navy's newest carrier, the USS JOHN C. STENNIS (CVN 74) in August 1996. Initial carrier qualifications were conducted in October, and in November the Patriots conducted their fourth successful HARM firing. During this time all four squadron aircraft completed the Electronic Flight Instrumentation System (EFIS) modification. VAQ-140 spent 1997 conducting work-ups with CVW-7 in anticipation of deploying aboard the USS JOHN C. STENNIS. The firing of two HARM using the Improved Data Modem to pass targeting information between platforms, a first in the Prowler community, highlighted the year.
In February 1998, the Patriots embarked in the USS JOHN C. STENNIS on her around-the-world maiden voyage. Spending 131 consecutive days in the Northern Arabian Gulf, the Patriots flew countless missions in support of Operation SOUTHERN WATCH. Showing increasing American resolve, the USS JOHN C. STENNIS left Norfolk, VA. On Feb. 26th and steamed at more than thirty knots across the Atlantic and through the Mediterranean Sea. Slowing only long enough to conduct flight operations and to transit the Suez Canal, the STENNIS set a speed record arriving in the Gulf less than two weeks after leaving its homeport. Following a quick turnover with the "ROOKS" of VAQ-137 the PATRIOTS and Air Wing SEVEN began patrolling the southern "No Fly Zone" over Iraq in support of Operation Southern Watch (OSW).
In early May, the PATRIOTS 'turned-to' and led several CVW-7 strike packages into Iraq. When not in direct support of OSW the PATRIOTS were aggressively achieving other unit-level training objectives. The PATRIOTS supported the battle group by providing counter-targeting and anti-ship missile defense capabilities. In addition, close air support missions on the Udairi Range in Kuwait were flown with CVW-7 assets to demonstrate interoperability with USAF and Army ground units on the front lines. The PATRIOTS aggressively pursued their Prowler Weapons and Tactics Program (PWPT) qualifications by sending every pilot and ECMO through the academic and cockpit portions of the Basic Air Maneuvering (BAM) and High Value Air Asset (HVAA) evolutions.
During the record setting 132 days in the Arabian Gulf, the PATRIOTS made three port calls to the U.A.E. and two in Manama, Bahrain. Each visit gave the squadron a chance to relax a little and escape from the steadily increasing heat and humidity of the Gulf. Between port visits, invigorating Gulf swim calls, and a visit from the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders, the PATRIOTS flew 150 missions over Iraq and are credited with a perfect 100% OSW sortie completion rate, a testament to the hard charging maintenance department. On July 18th, Team7/74 retreated from the hostile climate of the Middle East and continued on its way around the world. Ports of call on the return home included Perth, Australia and Hobart, Tasmania.
The Patriots returned from cruise in July 1998 for a stand down period. 1999, however, would prove to be busy and demanding. The squadron rang in the New Year participating in a RED FLAG Exercise at Nellis AFB, Nevada from late January to Mid-February. In March with war at hand in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the squadron was deployed to Aviano AB, Italy as part of the 31st Air Expeditionary Wing participating in combat operations over the Balkans.
Deployed in early 1999 to support Operation Allied Force, as Electronic Attack Wing, Aviano, VAQs 209, 138 and 140 developed a maintenance effort to maintain 14 Prowlers to meet an around-the-clock flight schedule. Together, they achieved a 100-percent mission completion rate flying over 640 sorties throughout the conflict. These three squadrons were part of the more than one-third of the EA-6B inventory dedicated to the operation.
Operation ALLIED FORCE demanded much of on the entire Prowler community and of the Patriots in particular. In April VAQ-140 assumed tactical command of Electronic Attack Wing Aviano, comprising more than 100 aircrew and over 300 support personnel from twelve commands. The wing flew 740 combat missions, logging more than 3300 flight hours. The squadron flew over 300 dedicated strikes into the heart of Serbia during this conflict. At the end of the campaign, Electronic Attack Wing Aviano had fired 177 AGM-88 HARM to effectively suppress and destroy Serbian air defense systems. The squadron was awarded the Navy Unit Commendation Medal for its superior performance during Operation ALLIED FORCE. Patriot aviators were awarded 80 Strike/Flight medals and have been nominated for 60 individual awards for valor in the face of enemy fire.
In August the Patriots joined CVW-7 for the Air Wing detachment to Fallon, Nevada and commenced work-ups for USS DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER's Millennium Cruise 2000. VAQ-140 embarked in USS DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER on 18 February 2000 for a six-month Mediterranean/Persian Gulf deployment. Highlights from that cruise included flights in support of Operation JOINT GUARDIAN over Bosnia and in the Adriatic; flights with the Israeli Air Force in support of Operation JUNIPER STALLION; and a training detachment to Munich for Elite 2000, a German Air Force sponsored NATO electronic warfare exercise.
The tempo of the cruise reached a fever pitch in the Persian Gulf, however, where the Patriots continued the prosecution of Operation SOUTHERN WATCH, a decade after its inauguration. VAQ-140 led the charge in this chapter of the campaign, participating in every single combat mission that launched from the deck of the USS DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER, 40 in total. The squadron returned home from their eighth deployment in August 2000.
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