Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron SIX [VQ-6]
A 26 August 1999 ceremony at NAS Jacksonville, Fla., marked the deactivation (officially 30 September) of Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron 6 after eight years of service. Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron SIX was established on 5 August 1991 based at NAS Cecil Field in Jacksonville, FL, to provide real-time signals intelligence to tactical commanders for air, surface and ground operations. Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron Six [VQ-6] assumed the carrier-based reconnaissance role that was previously performed by the EA-3B. Like the S-3B, the ES-3A also served as an aerial tanker. VQ-6 was equipped with eight ES-3As and formed four detachments with two aircraft each.
VQ 6 was under the administrative control of Commander, Sea Control Wing, U.S. Atlantic Fleet. In 1998, the squadron moved from Cecil Field to NAS Jacksonville as NAS Cecil Field prepared for closure. The VQ-6 Black Ravens flew the ES-3A "Shadow," a modified S-3A "Viking, performing carrier-based tactical electronic reconnaissance in support of the battle group commander.
The eight ES-3A's were deployed in four detachments of two aircraft each to support the five Atlantic Fleet Airwings. Each detachment was under the charge of a LCDR Officer in Charge (OIC) and consists of 10 officers and forty enlisted personnel. The first Atlantic Fleet ES-3A deployment was on the USS SARATOGA (CV-60) with Detachment ALFA in January 1994 with the final culminating on the USS ENTERPRISE (CVN-65) also by Detachment ALPHA. There was a detachment on cruise every day since their maiden deployment.
The Black Ravens deployed their first detachment, Det Alpha, in January 1994 aboard Saratoga (CV 60), with then-Lt. Cdr. Bergey as officer in charge. Over the next five years, the Black Ravens' four detachments made a total of 13 major deployments to the Mediterranean and the Arabian Gulf, on board Enterprise (CVN 65), America (CV 66), John F. Kennedy (CV 67), Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), George Washington (CVN 73) and John C. Stennis (CVN 74).
From the start of NATO operations over Bosnia, the Black Ravens' ES-3As were heavily engaged and highly valued in electronic reconnaissance, including support for the carrier-launched strikes from Theodore Roosevelt and America in August and September 1995, respectively.
The VQ-6 detachments on carriers in the Arabian Gulf flew missions in support of Operation Southern Watch, enforcing the no-fly zone over southern Iraq. The squadron's last detachment, Det Alpha, on board Enterprise provided signals intelligence (SIGINT) and tanking support for Operation Desert Fox, the December 1998 air strikes against Iraq.
In 1998 the Navy made a budget decision to remove the ES-3A from its inventory. This was due to the expense of upgrading the aircraft's mission suite to maintain joint interconnectivity with other SIGINT platforms, relying instead on land-based aircraft such as the EP-3E Aries II. On 10 August 1999 VQ-6 retired the Navy's last two ES-3As to the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center, Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., for preservation in a war reserve status.
|ALFA||17||USS SARATOGA||Jan 1994 - Jun 1994|
|BRAVO||7||USS WASHINGTON||Jun 1994 - Nov 1994|
|CHARLIE||3||USS EISENHOWER||Nov 1994 - Apr 1995|
|DELTA||8||USS ROOSEVELT||Apr 1995 - Sep 1995|
|ALFA||1||USS AMERICA||Sep 1995 - Feb 1996|
|BRAVO||7||USS WASHINGTON||Jan 1996 - Jul 1996|
|CHARLIE||17||USS ENTERPRISE||Jul 1996 - Dec 1996|
|DELTA||3||USS ROOSEVELT||Dec 1996 - May 1997|
|ALFA||8||USS KENNEDY||Apr 1997 - Oct 1997|
|BRAVO||1||USS WASHINGTON||Oct 1997 - Apr 1998|
|CHARLIE||7||USS STENNIS||Feb 1998 - Aug 1998|
|DELTA||17||USS EISENHOWER||Jun 1998 - Dec 1998|
|ALFA||3||USS ENTERPRISE||Nov 1998 - May 1999|
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