Fighter Attack Squadron VFA-201 (VFA-201)
Fighter Squadron 201, The Hunters, was commissioned in July 1970 as part of Carrier Air Wing Twenty (CVWR-20) during the reorganization of the Naval Reserve Force. The result was a fully operational fighting force consisting of complete squadrons ready to deploy on immediate assignment to an aircraft carrier in the event of a national emergency.
The Hunters began their distinguished history flying the F-8 Crusader. The F-8 was a supersonic fighter with a variable incidence wing that assisted the pilot during carrier landing. VF-201 flew the F-8 from July 1970 to February 1976 and then transitioned to the F-4 Phantom II. The Hunters flew the F-4/N from 1976 to 1984 and the F-4/S from 1984 to 1986. In December 1986 the Hunters flew their last Phantom, BUNO 155732, to Davis-Monthan AFB, ending an almost eleven-year history with the versatile and venerable F-4 aircraft.
In early 1987 the Hunters accepted their first F-14/A Tomcat, BUNO 158634. Within six months of completing formal transition training, the Hunters hit the road running by carrier qualifying aboard USS FORRESTAL (CV 59). In the ensuing year, VF-201 went on numerous Air Combat Maneuvering (ACM) and Carrier Qualification (CQ) detachments, quickly establishing itself as one of the best F-14 squadrons in the Navy.
In 1993, as a result of the downsizing in the armed forces, the Hunters began providing adversary training to fleet strike fighter squadrons. In early 1994, the Hunters expanded their war fighting capability to include the air-to-ground strike missions. Since accepting the challenging air-to-ground mission, VF-201 has delivered over a million pounds of ordnance. The Hunters also became the first Tomcat squadron to drop mines and participate in a mine readiness inspection. These accomplishments, in combination with the F-14's air-to-air, air-to-ground, Tactical Air Reconnaissance, and adversary missions, provides a good overview of the squadron's versatile capabilities.
In January 1999 the Hunters transitioned to the F/A-18 Hornet and were re-designated VFA-201 to signify its multi-mission capability as a Strike Fighter Squadron. The new moniker represents a myriad of changes that have occurred in conjunction with the Hunters transition to the Hornet. The F/A-18 is the Navy's newest front line multi-mission strike fighter aircraft providing the Naval Air Reserve an expanded war fighting capability with improved integration with the Navy's active duty air wings that will serve the nation well into the new millennium.
The Hunters are the recipients of the 1992/1997 CVWR-20 Golden Wrench Award as the best Air Wing maintenance department; the 1993/1996/1997 Battle Efficiency "E" as the most combat ready fighter squadron in the Naval Air Reserve; and the 1994/1996 CNO Safety "S" award as the safest fighter squadron in the Naval Air Reserve.
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