Strike Fighter Squadron EIGHT THREE [VFA-83]
The Rampagers of Strike Fighter Squadron EIGHT THREE fly and maintain the F/A-18C Hornet. With other aircraft and men of Air Wing SEVENTEEN, the squadron's 12 F/A-18 Hornets, the 24 officers and 172 enlisted men who fly and maintain them comprise the combat air arm central to the striking power of the modern Battle Group.
Strike Fighter Squadron EIGHT THREE, originally Naval Reserve Fighter Squadron 916, was called into active duty at NAS Squantum, Massachusetts in April 1950. Shortly thereafter, VF-916 moved to NAS Oceana as part of Air Group Eight. As a fighter squadron, VF-916 flew the F-4U Corsair, the F-8F Bearcat, the F9F-5 Panther and the F-7U Cutlass from the decks of USS SAIPAN, USS MIDWAY and USS CORAL SEA.
In 1955, the squadron was re-designated Light Attack Squadron EIGHT THREE and in 1957 received its first A-4 Skyhawks. During the Skyhawk years, the Rampagers operated from the decks of USS ESSEX, USS FORRESTAL, USS SARATOGA, USS SHANGRI-LA and USS JOHN F. KENNEDY. In 1961 and 1962, VA-83 won the COMNAVAIRLANT Battle Efficiency "E" Pennant.
In 1966, the squadron moved to NAS Cecil Field, FL. As part of Air Wing ONE, VA-83 was the last squadron to fly A-4's aboard USS JOHN F. KENNEDY. Later that same year, the Skyhawks were traded in for new A-7 Corsairs. In January 1971, VA-83 deployed with Air Wing SEVENTEEN in USS FORRESTAL, compiling a perfect safety record and distinguishing itself by being one of the first squadrons to fly the A-7E on deployment. In 1973, the squadron won its third CNO Aviation Safety Award and in March 1974 commenced its 14th Mediterranean deployment. During this deployment, the Rampagers helped provide U.S. Naval presence in response to the Cyprus crisis and completed more than ten months at sea. During deployment in 1975, VA-83 completed its 25th year as an active squadron, surpassed 20,000 accident free flight hours and earned another CNO Safety Award.
Between 1975 and 1982, the squadron made three deployments, including extensive operations with NATO allies in the North Atlantic. Aboard USS FORRESTAL for the last time, beginning in March 1982, the squadron supported American peacekeeping forces in Lebanon during and after the PEACE FOR GALILEE Operation. After a shakedown cruise aboard USS SARATOGA in May 1983, the squadron deployed for the 20th time to the Mediterranean Sea. The 1985-86 deployment was highlighted by the successful execution of the ACHILLE LAURO Operation, a two-month patrol in the Indian Ocean and combat "Line of Death" operations off Libya.
The squadron left Cecil Field on 5 June 1987 for its 22nd Mediterranean and final Corsair deployment. Upon return to Cecil Field in November, preparations began to receive 12 new F/A-18C Hornets and on 1 March 1988 the squadron was re-designated Strike Fighter Squadron EIGHT THREE. In the summer of 1990, the squadron deployed to the Red Sea, employing its Hornets aboard USS SARATOGA (CV 60) in Operation DESERT SHIELD/ STORM. During 43 days of combat operations, the squadron flew 427 long-range strike missions over Iraq and Kuwait and was awarded the 1990 COMNAVAIRLANT Battle Efficiency "E" Pennant and the 1991 CNO Aviation Safety Award.
In May 1992 the squadron deployed to the Mediterranean aboard USS SARATOGA (CV 60). The 1992 deployment was marked by extensive Adriatic Sea operations in support of United Nations relief efforts in the former Yugoslavia. In March 1993, the squadron embarked aboard USS CONSTELLATION (CV 64) for a shakedown cruise following an extended overhaul period. In December 1993 the Rampagers completed a compressed turnaround training cycle, and, in January 1994 began the final USS SARATOGA (CV 60) deployment. Like the previous one, this deployment was marked by extensive Adriatic Sea operations and the first ever F/A-18 detachment to Jordan. During this deployment, the squadron was awarded its sixth CNO Aviation Safety Award. In June 1996 the Rampagers deployed to the Mediterranean and Adriatic Seas and Persian Gulf onboard USS ENTERPRISE (CVN 65) in support of Operation DECISIVE ENDEAVOR and Operation SOUTHERN WATCH. VFA-83 was awarded both the 1996 COMNAVAIRLANT Battle Efficiency "E" pennant and CNO Michael J. Estocin Award, declaring the Rampagers as the best F/A-18 squadron in the United States Navy.
In January 1997, the squadron began transitioning to state of the art LOT XIX and XX aircraft. These final production F/A-18C's continue to serve as the stepping stone to the future and the Super Hornet. During an extremely condensed turnaround training cycle for their 1998 deployment aboard USS DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER (CVN 69), the Rampagers were recognized as the U.S. Naval Air Force, Atlantic Fleet nominee, and eventual first runner-up, small command for the Department of Defense Phoenix Award given for maintenance excellence. The squadron deployed to both the Mediterranean Sea and Persian Gulf during the summer. The Rampagers participated in Operations DELIBERATE FORCE and SOUTHERN WATCH.
Following a very successful deployment, VFA-83 executed a homeport change to NAS Oceana, VA in April 1998.
Strike Fighter Squadron Eight Three deployed onboard USS GEORGE WASHINGTON (CVN-73) from June to December 2000.
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