Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron [VAW-116]
Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron ONE ONE SIX (VAW-116) is one of four Carrier Airborne Early Warning squadrons located on the West coast under the cognizance of Commander, Airborne Early Warning Wings, U.S. Pacific Fleet (COMAEGSPAC).
On April 20, 1967 VAW-116 was conunissioned and received the E-2B aircraft. The "Sun Kings completed three Far-East deployments as part of Attack Carrier Air Wing FIFTEEN and two while attached to Attack Carrier Air Wing NINE. In July 1975, VAW-116 transferred to Attack Carrier Air Wing EIGHT. Concurrently, the west-coast VAW community, including VAW-116, moved from Naval Air Station, North Island to Naval Air Station, Miramar. As a unit of Carrier Air Wing EIGHT, the "Sun Kings" saw duty in the North Atlantic in 1975. In 1976 VAW-116 deployed aboard USS NIMITZ (CVN-68) for a Mediterranean cruise. The squadron transferred to Carrier Air Wing SEVENTEEN embarked on USS FORESTALL (CV-59) in 1977, and deployed to the Mediterranean and North Atlantic in March of 1978.
In 1979/1980 VAW-116 transitioned to the E-2C and made a Western Pacific/Indian Ocean cruise from February 26, 1980 to October 15, 1980 aboard USS CONSTELLATION (CV-64) in support of Iranian Contingency Operations. The squadron was assigned to Carrier Air Wing TWO in July 1981. On April 7, 1982, the squadron embarked in USS RANGER (CV-61) for a Western Pacific/Indian Ocean cruise. Returning in October 1982, the "Sun Kings" remained with Carrier Air Wing TWO aboard the USS KITTY HAWK (CV-63), deploying on January 13,1984. In July of 1987, the "Sun Kings" deployed aboard USS RANGER (CV-61) for a six month Western Pacific/Indian Ocean cruise, during which they provided support for the reflagged Kuwaiti Tanker missions. On February 24, 1989 the squadron deployed aboard USS RANGER (CV-61) for another Western Pacific/Indian Ocean cruise. This deployment included extensive training operations with the Omani and Royal Thai Air Forces.
VAW-116 deployed aboard USS RANGER (CV-61) on December 8, 1990 for a Western Pacific cruise in support of Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm. During Operation Desert Storm the squadron flew 1,364 total flight hours and spent 93 days on station in the Arabian Gulf.
The "Sun Kings" returned 31 January 1993 from a highly successful Western Pacific deployment in support of Operation Southern Watch in Iraq and Operation Restore Hope in Somalia, winning the coveted Battle "E" for 1992. The Battle "E" Award recognized VAW-116 as the most outstanding VAW squadron in the Pacific Fleet marking the third time the "Sun Kings" received this coveted award.
In February of 1993, the "Sun Kings" commenced a transition from the E-2C Group 0 to the E-2C Group II. The Group II weapons system represents a tremendous advancement in avionics, communications, propulsion, airframe and navigation systems.
Ini May of 1993, VAW-116 deployed to the Republic of Panama in support of JTF-4 Special Operations. Upon returning, the "Sun Kings" were awarded the AEW Excellence Award for 1992. This remarkable achievement recognized the Sun Kings as the premier VAW Squadron for the entire E-2C community. In November of 1993, VAW-116 commenced a rigorous work-up cycle at NAS Fallon, Nevada. This cycle included "Rim of the Pacific" (RIMPAC 94), in which Carrier Air Wing Two conducted joint operations with five other nations, and culminated in the "Fleet Ex" exercises during August/September 94. On 10 November 1994 the Squadron embarked in USS CONSTELLATION (CV-64) for its WESTPAC 94/95 cruise. Over the next six months the "Sun Kings" provided vital AEW and Battle Group coverage off the coast of North Korea, and in support of Operation Southern Watch over Iraq.
In June 1995 and February 1996 the "Sun Kings" deployed to conduct surveillance operations at Naval Station Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico, in support of JIATF-E Special Operations. On 1 April 1997 the "Sun Kings" embarked onboard the USS CONSTELLATION for WESTPAC '97. While on WESTPAC VAW-116 provided crucial support of Operation Desert Storm and Iron Magic in the Persian Gulf and participated in Inspired Alert exercise with the Pakistani Air Force. In February and March of 1998, VAW-116 deployed to Naval Station Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico, to conduct counter narcotics missions in support of JIATF-E Special Operations. On 13 July 1998, the "Sun Kings" departed MCAS Miramar, their home of 23 years, and moved to NAWS Point Mugu.
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