Carrier Air Wing Two (CVW-2)
Carrier Air Wing Two (CVW-2). prior to being asigned to the Lincoln Strike Group was embarked on USS Constellation. The air wing brings together nearly 2,600 officers and enlisted men and women, maintaining and flying the most technologically advanced aircraft in the world. Approximately 75 aircraft make up the air wing: three strike/fighter F-18 squadrons; one fighter F-14 squadron; one multi-mission sea control S-3 squadron; one airborne electronic warfare EA-6 squadron; one airborne early warning and control E-2 squadron; one helicopter HSL-47 detachment and; and one logistics support C-2 COD detachment.
The air wing is the aircraft carrier's primary offensive and defensive weapon, allowing it to dominate the air space surrounding the ship and to project its awesome power ashore. The air wing is aboard during all major overseas deployments and for operational training conducted in waters near the U.S. When not embarked on Constellation, the squadrons are stationed at their various home air stations throughout the U.S. West Coast.
Carrier Air Wing TWO's motto, "For Liberty, We Fight" is appropriate for a military organization that has served the cause of liberty since the end of World War II. Established 1 May 1945 as CVBG-74, the new "Battle Air Group" originally comprised 96 F4U-4/FG-1D Corsairs and 46 SBW-4E Helldivers. Redesignated CVBG-1 on 15 November 1946, the first true deployment took the Air Group to the Mediterranean Sea from October 1947 to March 1948. Renamed CVG-2 in 1948, the Air Group saw action during the Korean War in support of the Inchon invasion, the bombing of Seoul, securing the Kimpo airfield, as well as leading four Carrier Air Groups on a long-range strike coordinated with USAF jets against the Suiho Dam.
In 1961, the first A4D-2 Skyhawks came aboard while patrolling the Formosa Straits during tensions between Taiwan and Mainland China. In late 1963, the Air Group's first deployment with F-4 Phantoms began, and on 20 December the Air Wing was redesignated Attack Carrier Air Wing TWO (CVW-2).
The first of seven combat deployments to Southeast Asia began in 1965. Air Wing TWO was credited with the first three confirmed Mig-17 kills over North Vietnam. In July 1966, the Air Wing marked its first all-Phantom deployment and E-2A Hawkeyes joined the team. Coordinated carrier operations in the Gulf of Tonkin earned the Air Wing the Navy Unit Commendation in February 1967.
CVW-2 began a long affiliation with USS RANGER (CVA-61) during the 1967-68 deployment. New A-7A Corsairs and A-6A Intruders made CVW-2 the first all jet Attack Carrier Air Wing. CVW-2 spent thirty days of the deployment in the Sea of Japan reacting to North Korea's seizure of USS PUEBLO (AGER-2), earning the Air Wing the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal and Meritorious Unit Commendation. During its last Vietnam deployment, which began in December 1972, CVW-2 introduced laser-guided bombs (LGBs) to Navy combat operations with great success. Strikes by VA-145 destroyed fourteen of fifteen targeted bridges within three hours. CVW-2 made its first peacetime deployment in over twelve years in 1974. CVW-2 was then redesignated Carrier Air Wing TWO as part of the CV concept. In 1979, anti-submarine combat units joined the team with VS-38 flying S-3A Vikings and HS-14 in SH-3D Sea Kings. VF-1 and VF-2 flying the F-14A Tomcat were assigned for the September 1980 deployment, four months of which were spent in the Indian Ocean and Arabian Gulf awaiting the release of the U.S. hostages in Iran. The Air Wing made its tenth straight deployment aboard RANGER in 1982 before reassignment to USS KITTY HAWK (CV 63).
CVW-2 returned to RANGER in 1987, largely composed of Grumman aircraft. The "Grumman Air Wing" deployed to the Western Pacific/Indian Ocean in July 1987 flying many "Earnest Will" escort missions into the Persian Gulf. CVW-2 also flew in support of U.S. military assaults on oil platforms used as staging bases for Iranian militia attacking tankers in the Gulf. From February to August 1989, RANGER/CVW-2 conducted normal patrol operations in the Western Pacific/Indian Ocean. Following that deployment, VMA(AW)-121 left CVW-2 and was replaced by VA-155.
On 8 December 1990, Carrier Air Wing TWO embarked in RANGER for deployment to the Indian Ocean in support of OPERATION DESERT SHIELD. As tasked by the National Command Authority, the RANGER/CVW-2 team transited the Strait of Hormuz into the Arabian Gulf on 15 January 1991 to arrive by the United Nations deadline for the removal of all Iraqi military forces from Kuwait. At 0400 17 January, thirty-six hours after arriving on station, CVW-2 launched coordinated night strikes against Iraq in support of OPERATION DESERT STORM. For the next 75 hours, CVW-2 continuously flew strike operations against Iraqi military targets. Over the course of the next 43 days, Carrier Air Wing TWO implemented the Navy's strategy in the Arabian Gulf - controlling the sea lanes, protecting the Coalition's right flank, and taking the fight to the enemy. The "Grumman Air Wing" was well suited as the Navy's primary night Air Wing, with 75 percent of their 10,500 hours flown at night. Air Wing TWO amassed over 140 multi-aircraft strikes and 30 Surface Combat Air Patrol flights before returning to San Diego on 8 June 1991.
On 1 August 1992 CVW-2 embarked in RANGER for her "final ride" to the Arabian Gulf, during which they supported OPERATION SOUTHERN WATCH enforcing United Nations Resolutions. On 3 December 1992, RANGER/CVW-2 left the Gulf and steamed south to the coast of Somalia. CVW-2 aircraft where the first to fly in support of OPERATION RESTORE HOPE, providing air coverage for ground forces and controlling all air traffic into Mogadishu. The "final ride" on RANGER ended on 30 January 1993.
1993 was a year of transition. VA-145, VA-155, and VF-1 were all disestablished and VFA-137 and VFA-151 flying McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C (Lot XV) Hornets were assigned. CVW-2 brought its new home, the USS CONSTELLATION (CV-64), 'around the horn' from Mayport, Florida to San Diego. VF-2 transitioned to the F-14D Super Tomcat, and VS-38 upgraded to the S-3B. HS-14 was replaced by HS-2 flying SH-60F Seahawk helicopters. In October, the Marine Corps once again joined Air Wing TWO as VMFA-323 became its third Hornet squadron. This restructuring has made Carrier Air Wing TWO the model for the Air Wing of the future.
Fully trained with the first 50 Strike Fighter Air Wing configuration, CVW-2 embarked in CONSTELLATION on 10 November 1994 bound for the Western Pacific and Arabian Gulf. During this deployment, CVW-2 played a major role in several joint and bilateral exercises including Beachcrest '94, Nautical Artist, Neon Arrow, Eager Archer, and Beacon Flash, while fulfilling U.S national policy objectives in support of OPERATION SOUTHERN WATCH. Flying over 18,800 hours, the warfighting capability, innovative tactics and concepts of operations demonstrated by CVW-2 validated the Navy's new Air Wing configuration and gave new meaning to the concept of global power. The CVW2/CONSTELLATION team returned to San Diego on 10 May 1995.
Interdeployment training demonstrated CVW-2's wide-ranging influence with numerous detachments spread out from Fairbanks, Alaska to Aviano AB, Italy supporting OPERATIONS DENY FLIGHT and DECISIVE EDGE, as well as counter narcotics operations in support of Joint Integrated Airborne Task Force (East). Short duration detachments were conducted to Seattle aboard USS KITTY HAWK and to Vancouver, British Columbia, Mazatlan, Mexico and San Francisco aboard USS CONSTELLATION. CVW-2 provided opposition force services for three deploying task groups, as well as augmenting a simulated Joint Force Air Component Commander Staff during Joint Task Force Exercises 95-1 and 96-1. Components of CVW-2 deployed to Comox, British Columbia to participate in MARCOT 95 with Canadian forces, and to Valparaiso, Chile for TEAM WORK SOUTH with the Chilian Navy. After serving as the Red Joint Force Air Component Commander during ROVING SANDS 96, the largest joint/combined military exercise in the world, CVW-2 continued interdeployment training.
On 1 April 1997, CVW-2, embarked in CONSTELLATION, deployed to the Western Pacific and Arabian Gulf. CVW-2 successfully conducted high tempo operations in the Arabian Gulf for over 10 weeks, including more than 4,400 sorties while in Fifth Fleet's Area of Responsibility. Operations included joint-combined exercises with forces from allied countries in the region. In addition to flying training missions, CVW-2 flew 1,460 sorties in support of OPERATION SOUTHERN WATCH, enforcing the no-fly zone over Southern Iraq. After departing the Arabian Gulf, CVW-2 completed a joint-combined exercise with military forces from Pakistan and returned to San Diego on 1 October 1997.
Carrier Air Wing TWO's subsequent activity was reminiscent of the 1997 deployment. On 18 June 1999, CVW-2 and the CONSTELLATION again departed for the Western Pacific and Arabian Gulf. In transit between San Diego and Hawaii, the CONSTELLATION Battle Group completed the Joint Task Force Exercise. Normally a pre-deployment event, JTFEX was completed underway in compliance with the new Battle Group Inter-Deployment Training Cycle reduction initiative. After port calls in Pusan Korea, Yokosuka Japan, Singapore and Kelang Malaysia, the Air Wing began flight operations in support of OPERATION SOUTHERN WATCH, operating jointly with the U.S. Air Force and other Coalition forces.
1 April 1997, 18 June 1999 and 16 March 2001 marked the beginnings of Western Pacific and Arabian Gulf deployments for CVW-2 and the CONSTELLATION. Throughout these combined 18 months of deployed time, CVW-2 has successfully conducted a total of over 33 weeks of high tempo operations in the Arabian Gulf, including more than 13,000 sorties while in Fifth Fleet's Area of Responsibility. Operations during the last three deployments have included joint-combined exercises with forces from allied countries in the Arabian Gulf region, as well as exercises with Saudi Arabian, Qatari, Kuwait, and Bahrain. In addition to flying training missions, CVW-2 has flown over 3,500 sorties in support of OPERATION SOUTHERN WATCH, enforcing the no-fly zone over Southern Iraq. Port calls during the past three deployments have included stops in Sydney and Perth, Australia; Manama, Bahrain; Jebel Ali, United Arab Emirates; Singapore; Kelang, Malaysia, Hong Kong, China; Pusan, Korea; Yokosuka, Japan, and Hawaii.
CVW-2 expects to return to the U.S. in September, following the current 2001 deployment and is anticipating deploying onboard the CONSTELLATION for her final cruise early 2003.