Fighter Squadron Composite Twelve (VFC-12)
The "Fighting Omars" of Fighter Squadron Composite Twelve (VFC-12) is currently the Naval Reserve's premier adversary squadron providing threat tactics training to all Navy Fighter and Strike Fighter squadrons. A vital element in ensuring combat readiness to deploying squadrons, VFC-12 maintains its vigilance as the "Threat Experts" by providing graduate level threat air simulations and in-depth threat lectures.
The VFC-12 "Fighting Omars" mission is to provide tactical Dissimilar Air Combat Training for US Navy, Marine Corps and other aviation units when tasked. The Omar configured F/A-18 "Hornet" has the one-to-one thrust to weight ratio on "Bogey CAP" (combat air patrol) and the exceptional tactical performance present in today's threat arena. Donning both a Kola peninsula and desert deceptive paint scheme, VFC-12 F/A-18s actually take on the appearance of MiG-29 Fulcrums and provides 4th generation adversary air-to-air threat presentations that our forces may encounter. All the adversary training VFC-12 provides to the fleet is vital to the Navy's combat readiness and capacity to project power from the sea; but nowhere is it more essential than in the Strike Fighter Advanced Readiness Program (SFARP). The intense and realistic training aircrew receive during this 3 week exercise hone the air-to-air skills of a squadron preparing for a six month carrier battle group deployment. The "walk before you run" approach re-enforces the tactical undergraduate level of training received during their initial F-14/F/A-18 instruction but rapidly progresses to graduate level training on the latest fleet tactics.
The fleet support VFC-12 provides is best illustrated in the Strike Fighter Advanced Readiness Program (SFARP). This intense three week training exercise allow Strike Fighter aircrew to hone their war fighting skills against a creditable adversary prior to deploying in face of real threats. In FY97, the Fighting Omars conducted 7 SFARPs locally and with detachments to NAS Fallon flying 975 sorties and 1,346 flight hours. In addition to the Strike Fighter Advanced Readiness program, VFC-12 supports the F-14 and F/A-18 Fleet Replacement Squadrons locally and with detachments to NAS Key West. In total, VFC-12 flew 2,122 sorties and 2897.6 hours in direct adversary support in FY97. To maintain the robust professional fleet support, the squadron also flew 493 hours of indirect support for a total of 3,390 hours in FY97.
The unique challenge of VFC-12's mission has made the Fighting Omars one of the most if not the most sought after aviation duty assignments in the Navy. Because of this distinction, only the best of the best fly as adversary instructor pilots in VFC-12. The squadron is made up of all "Cruise Veteran" F-14 or F/A-18 pilots hand picked for their tactical aerial acumen and are graduates of the Navy Fighter Weapons School (TOPGUN). Although highly skilled and qualified in the art of aerial combat, all newly assigned pilots must complete a thorough flight and academic syllabus. This in-depth syllabus not only hones their tactical abilities but develops their teaching skills as adversary instructor pilots. As the "threat experts" they not only have to be an authority on the latest Fleet Strike Fighter tactics, but the current threat tactics as well. It takes skill and discipline to properly simulate the capabilities and tactics of potential adversaries; often having to restrict the full capabilities of the Hornet from the standpoint of aerodynamic performance and weapon systems. The syllabus qualifies an Instructor Under Training (IUT) through a series of Level classifications from Level I to Level IV with upgrades from each level only after the successful completion of Standardization Check Flights. Only upon attainment of a Level IV qualification can a pilot lead the complex graduate level missions in the Strike Fighter Advanced Readiness Program. On the average, it takes about twelve months to attain this qualification.
The "Fighting Omars" of Fighter Squadron Composite Twelve (VFC-12) represent NAS Oceana's only Naval Reserve squadron. The key element to the VFC-12's success is its people. Composed of selected reservists, full time reservists (TARS) and active duty personnel, the "Omar Team" flying the F/A-18 Hornet has a unique synergy which remains focused on providing the Fleet the best and most professional support available in the world.
Fighter Squadron Composite Twelve was originally commissioned VC-12 on 6 October 1943, at NAS Sand Point, Seattle, Washington. The squadron operated the F-4F "Wildcat" and TBM-1 "Avenger" aboard USS CARD (CVE-11) in WESTPAC until 1944 when the ship was reassigned to Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia. VC-12 saw action against German U-boats in 24 engagements in 1944, and was decommissioned 07 June 1945. On 6 July 1948, Carrier Air Early Warning Squadron TWO was commissioned at NAS Norfolk, Virginia. The squadron was re-designated Fleet Composite Squadron Twelve on 1 September 1948. VC-12 operated TBN "Avengers" from most of the Atlantic Fleet carriers active at the time. The squadron continued to distinguish itself in battles aboard the USS Bon Homme Richard in the Korean theater of operations. VC-12 was again decommissioned on 29 September 1953.
On 1 September 1973, at NAF Detroit, Michigan, VC-12 was re-commissioned as the first reserve Fleet Composite Squadron in Naval history. In 1975, VC-12 moved to its current location at NAS Oceana, Virginia. Flying the A-4 "Super Fox" VC-12 was re-designated Fighter Squadron Composite Twelve (VFC-12) in 1988 to more accurately describe the squadron's mission of Dissimilar Air Combat Training (DACT).
In 1994, the squadron transitioned to the F/A-18 "Hornet" and assumed the leadership role for the successful transition to an all Reserve Navy Adversary program. Although the twin engine supersonic "Hornet" fulfills both fighter and attack missions for the Navy, in VFC-12, they are distinctly painted to provide a realistic threat simulator and enhance dissimilar air combat training. Because of its maneuverability and superior weapons system, the "Hornet" makes an extremely lethal adversary capable of simulating the most sophisticated fourth generation threat aircraft. This ability distinguishes VFC-12 as the only dedicated fourth generation adversary squadron in the Navy today.
VFC-12 was awarded the Chief of Naval Operations Aviation Safety Award in 1978, 1980, 1981, 1992 and 1998. VFC-12 was awarded the Noel Davis Trophy for squadron readiness for 1980, 1984, 1985, 1995 and 1998. In January 1989, the "Fighting Omars" received a Meritorious Unit Commendation for sustained superior performance from 1 April 1987 to 31 March 1988. In 1998, VFC-12 was awarded the Battle "E", Noel Davis award for recognition as the best squadron in category for Carrier Air Wing Twenty. Also in 1998, Commander Naval Air Reserve Force recognized VFC-12 with an Aviation Safety Citation for achieving another year of Class A mishap free flying conducting what has historically been the most dynamic and demanding of all flying - Air Combat Maneuvering.
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