Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron [VAW-120]
Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 120 conducts training for pilots and aircrew as directed by COMNAVAIRLANT and higher authority on E-2C/C-2A aircraft. CARAEWRON 120 has its headquarters at NAS Norfolk. Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron One Hundred Twenty [VAW 120] is the United States Navy's Fleet Replacement Squadron for the E-2C and C-2A aircraft. The squadron's mission is to safely provide the best Pilots, Naval Flight Officers and Aircrewmen to the United States Naval Air Force, while minimizing risk through training and positive leadership.
The history of VAW - 120 goes back to 6 July 1948 when Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron TWO (VAW - 2) was commissioned at NAS Norfolk, Virginia. Shortly after being formed, the squadron moved to NAS Quonset Point, Rhode Island, and was redesignated Composite Squadron TWELVE (VC - 12). In those early days, the squadron successively operated the TBM Avenger, the AF Guardian, and the AD-5W Skyraider. In 1956, the squadron was redesignated Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron TWELVE (VAW -12). With the new name came a new aircraft, the "Guppy" version of the AD Skyraider. In 1961, the WF-2 Tracer, more affectionately known as the E-1B "Willie Fudd," arrived to begin its long tour in AEW service, and the following year the squadron returned to Breezy Point at NAS Norfolk, Virginia.
In July 1966, VAW-12 received the first E-2A Hawkeye, and was supplying detachments utilizing two different aircraft aboard ten Atlantic Fleet aircraft carriers in addition to training personnel for those detachments. With over 200 officers and 800 enlisted personnel, VAW - 12 was reorganized as an Air Wing, and on 1 April 1967, Admiral T.E. Moore, Commander in Chief, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, commissioned Carrier Airborne Early Warning Wing Twelve with six operating squadrons. That same year on 1 July, RVAW - 120 was commissioned as Wing Twelve's training squadron with a formalized training mission.
The squadron received the second generation E-2B Hawkeye aircraft in 1970, followed by the arrival of the E-2C on 31 May 1973. With the delivery of the first Advanced Radar Processing System (ARPS) aircraft in 1978, RVAW 120 trained Naval Flight Officers (NFOs), Flight Technicians and maintenance personnel in both the APS-120 and APS-125 radars. This continued until 1980 when all east coast VAW squadrons completed transition to the APS-125. In 1984, RVAW 120 trained aircrew and maintenance personnel in the APS-125 and APS-138 radars as east and west coasts continued to prepare for full transition to the TRAC A/APS-138 Radar System.
In May 1980, the 2F110 Operational Flight Trainer (OFT) was delivered and ready for use in early May 1981. The OFT is designed to simulate actual in-flight emergencies and train Replacement Pilots to handle such emergencies prior to receiving E-2C training flights. The 15F8B Weapon System Trainer (WST) arrived in October 1984 and was accepted for training on 19 November 1984. This latest arrival provided staff and Replacement NFOs with the latest technology for the Grumman Hawkeye.
In May 1983, RVAW - 120 officially became VAW - 120, Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron ONE HUNDRED TWENTY, reflecting the task load of a fleet squadron and a training squadron. NFO training was moved to a new site in April 1983 where the new 15F8B WST is currently housed. Pilot training was also moved to the new E-2 Training Building in late 1984 for consolidation of the training mission.
In June 1985, VAW - 120 received the first reprocured C-2As delivered to the Navy. This delivery marked the commencement of a long range procurement program designed to greatly enhance the Carrier On-board Delivery (COD) capability for Carrier Battle Groups. The addition of the reprocured C-2A Greyhound brought the added responsibility of creating a new training program for the pilots and aircrewmen of Fleet Logistics Support Squadrons VRC - 30 and VRC - 40 which included the first ever C-2A night carrier qualifications.
VAW 120 received its first E-2C+ (Group I) aircraft in November 1993. This aircraft introduced the enhanced APS-139 radar system and the more powerful and efficient T56-A-427 Allison engine. The E-2C continued its technological growth and in February 1994 the command took custody of its first E-2C (Group II) aircraft. This version of the E-2C introduced the powerful and innovative APS-145 radar and an impressively accurate Global Positioning System (GPS) to aid in navigation. As a result, the Group II curriculum for pilots and NFOs was established to provide training in the new aircraft.
VAW - 120 became the single site Fleet Replacement Squadron (FRS) in September 1994 when VAW - 110, its west coast counterpart, was decommissioned. As a result, VAW - 120 is the sole training site for all E-2C and C-2A aircrew. This consolidation resulted in a dramatic increase in personnel, aircraft and tasking.
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