VFA-125 Squadron Augment Unit
The Fleet Replacement Squadron (FRS) Det NARCEN Lemoore, also known as the Squadron Augment Unit (SAU) was established on October 1, 1995. VFA-125's SAU was "stood up" after VFA-303 was disestablished. Reservists who had been drilling at 303 were left without a training squadron. In October 1995 VFA-125's SAU had its first drill weekend, which consisted of 6 TARs and 10 reservists.
The mission of the Unit is to provide contributory support to VFA-125 through FA-18 maintenance and production and flight instruction with Reserve personnel to increase FRS throughput of FA-18 pilots. Operating out of common spaces in Hanger One, 13 officers and 54 enlisted personnel are integrated into every aspect of squadron operations. Twelve aviators provide instruction in all facets of FA-18 pilot training and 1 Warrant Officer and 54 enlisted personnel provide maintenance production.
The SAU personnel, together with the 450 active duty people serving with the squadron, do the upkeep and repairs on 45 F/A-18 Hornets. The squadron's primary mission is training fleet replacement pilots, and nearly 100 student pilots cycle through VFA-125 each year. Reserve pilots are also able to keep their qualifications current.
The 29 Temporary Active Reservists (TARs) of the squadron's Selective Augmentation Unit are the foundations of the integration. The TARs work side-by-side with active-duty personnel throughout the week. Although considered reservists, TARs are more like their active duty counterparts. Instead of active-duty personnel reporting to supervise on drill weekends, TARs assist the 25 select reservists of VFA-125's reserve detachment in all facets of flight operations and aircraft maintenance. VFA-125 is the first fleet readiness squadron (FRS) to have drill weekends conducted exclusively by reservists and TARs
Drill Weekend is held once monthly. During this time the Unit conducts autonomous squadron scheduled and unscheduled FA-18 maintenance and flight operations training Hornet replacement pilots. High operations tempo periods during the month are targeted for Drill Weekend to reduced the number of days which Regular Navy personnel must work through the weekend, improving squadron morale. A minimum two weeks of Annual Training are also conducted by SELRES' every fiscal year. Members provide increased manpower during squadron detachments and high tempo local operation. Unit personnel participate in Strike, Fighter Weapons, and Carrier Qualification (CQ) detachments on a regular basis. SELRES officers have acted as the Officer-In-Charge aboard ship for Carrier Quals, and the Unit has provided weekend beach det coverage with NAS Lemoore as the emergencey divert field for carrier operations. A TAR officer also currently holds the full time position of Operations Officer for the squadron.
In addition to supporting VFA-125, Unit pilots have attended professional courses such as the Strike Leader Training Syllabus (SLATS) and participated in major exercises such as Operation Cope Thunder, augmenting fleet squadron manning and bringing added expertise as strike planners and Strike Fighter pilots.
In January 1999 the VFA-125 Reserve Squadron Augment Unit stationed at NAS Lemoore, CA made augment unit history. The SAU successfully completed 33 sorties over two days, including 12 bombing sorties as part of their Fleet Contributory Support. In one day, eight F/A-18 Hornets took off from NAS Lemoore and dropped six bombs each in the Fallon range complex, refueled at NAS Fallon and proceeded to drop six more bombs before returning to base. This was the first time Selected Reservists (SELRES) from an augment unit loaded and dropped ordnance during a drill weekend. In fiscal 1998, VFA-125 met their pilot throughput goals and completed 106 sorties with F/A-18 aviators for the fleet by recording 16,720 flight hours. In assisting in this effort, the SAU provided 9,600 mandays of contributory support to the Rough Raiders of VFA-125. The mission proved to be a valuable training exercise for SELRES members with ordnance personnel from Naval Weapons Center China Lake Reserve Unit 0176 onboard to assist in loading MK-76 and BDU-48 inert practice bombs.
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