The carrier air wing is intended to project power ashore, on short notice, against a wide range of strategic, operational, and tactical targets in the face of sophisticated air defense systems, during day and night, in all weather conditions. It conducts coordinated Tactical Air (TACAIR) strikes from multiple axes to achieve tactical surprise and destroy limited target sets, employing organic air-to-air refueling as necessary. Following augmentation to 62 strike/fighter aircraft, the CVW is required to be able to generate up to 170 total initial crisis response tactical aviation (including close air support (CAS), air superiority, airborne early warning, surface search coordination, and organic tanking) sorties per day for surge operations, to generate up to 140 strike and/or close air support sorties per day for surge operations over a 3- to 5-day period, and up to 90 strike and/or close air support sorties per day for sustained operations. During the March 1997 NATO exercise INVITEX 97-1, USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) airwing (CVW-3) launched 189 sorties over an 18 hour period called a "crisis flex." Some of the sorties simulated enemy aircraft attempting to target U.S. forces. Other aircraft sought out enemy surface units and an enemy SCUD facility.
Squadron aircraft are deployed to an advanced base either as a complete squadron or a detachment. Pre-deployment operations for the Carrier Air Wing includes training deployments as well as Carrier Qualification (CQ) periods, and Operational Readiness Evaluations (ORE). Everything done by our air wings while CONUS-based is managed with a goal of achieving top readiness at deployment, with prioritization given to units closest to their deployment time in the cycle. CONUS-based units are allowed to degrade to 65-75 percent of combat ready, or "C3-C4."
Field Carrier Landing Practice (FCLP) is typically an intense aircraft evolution and is viewed by Departmentof the Navy as an unusual operating condition. FCLP operations are usually conducted at night with several aircraft in the pattern at low altitude.
Field Mirror Landing Practice (FMLP) operations are required before a pilot can be deemed "combat ready," and thus qualified to fly carrier operations. The operations must be practiced both during the daytime and at night. Since a pilot is only deemed to be qualified for 3 months after flying FMLPs, a squadron will usually fly FMLPs just prior to being assigned to duty on a carrier. When FMLP operations are being conducted there can be as many as six aircraft in the air at once (up to four aircraft if the practice is at night). The planes make about 10 practice landings and loops and then must refuel. While one group of planes is refueling, another is in the air. The aircraft are spaced about 30 seconds apart. When flying FMLPs, the pilots keep the wing flaps down during the entire operation (in what is known as a "dirty" configuration) at 80-85 percent of full power. Since flying in a "dirty" configuration requires that more thrust be employed than would otherwise be needed, the noise is consequently much greater than if the plane was flying a normal pattern.
In addition to Carrier Air Wings, other wing-level formations serve as the Type Wing Commander for assigned squadrons, providing direct operational, training, maintenance and administrative support, with some wings also serving as tactical operational formations. Administrative commanders, such as Type Wing commanders, are responsible for the aircraft material readiness, administration, training, and inspection of squadrons under their command. Operational commanders, such as Carrier Wing commanders, are responsible for the operational readiness, inspection, and overall performance of squadrons under their command.
The Type Wing exercises control of training over assigned squadrons and recommends training requirements and methods to ensure optimum material readiness of squadrons. The Type Wing commanders are responsible for material readiness which includes aircraft configuration management and material condition, operating target accounting, training, and special programs for activities under their command. Type Wing Maintenance Officers are responsible to the Type Wing Commander in all matters pertaining to aircraft maintenance.
Maintenance tasks divided into the number of levels required so common standards can be applied to the many and varied aircraft maintenance activities of the military establishment. They are increments of which all maintenance activities are composed. JOINT PUB-1-02 defines the three levels as depot, intermediate, and organizational.
D-LEVEL MAINTENANCE - Maintenance done on material requiring major rework or a complete rebuild of parts, assemblies, subassemblies, and end items, including the manufacture, modification, testing, and reclamation of parts as required. D-level maintenance serves to support lower levels of maintenance by providing technical assistance and performing maintenance beyond the responsibility of O-level and I-level maintenance. D-level maintenance provides stocks of serviceable equipment by using more extensive facilities for repair than are available in lower level maintenance activities.
I-LEVEL MAINTENANCE - Maintenance which is the responsibility of, and is performed by, designated maintenance activities for direct support of using organizations. Its phases normally consist of calibration, repair or replacement of damaged or unserviceable parts, components, or assemblies; the emergency manufacture of nonavailable parts; and the provision of technical assistance to using organizations.
O-LEVEL MAINTENANCE - Maintenance which is the responsibility of, and is performed by, a using organization on its assigned equipment. Its phases normally consist of inspecting, servicing, lubricating, adjusting, and replacing parts, minor assemblies, and subassemblies.
Thus, Commander Strike Fighter Wing, is responsible for the readiness training of the strike fighter squadrons deploying on aircraft carriers. The Commander is responsible for all aspects of training, manning, maintenance, and logistics support for all units under his command, to to provide combat ready strike fighter squadrons trained to conduct carrier-based, all weather, attack, fighter and support missions as required by the fleet tactical commander. Commander, Strike Fighter Wing maintains close liaison with Commander Naval Air Forces and embarked Air Wing commanders in the execution of this mission.
On 1 November 1942 patrol wings were redesignated fleet air wings to permit patrol aviation to be utilized within the task force principle, to include a variety of commands necessary to accomplish a particular objective or mission. Hence, the practice of assigning a standard number of squadrons to each wing was changed to provide for the assignment of any and all types of aircraft required by the wing to perform its mission in a particular area. In 1973, all active fleet air wings had their designations changed back to patrol wings to reflect the organizational changes that were taking place in the fleet. The Patrol Wings were redesignated as Patrol and Reconnaissance Wings on 01 June 1999.
The operational deployment of patrol squadrons to overseas bases is different than the deployment of squadrons assigned to a carrier air group/carrier air wing. Squadrons assigned to a carrier air wing remain under the administrative and operational control of its assigned air wing while based at its home port or during a deployment overseas aboard a carrier. When a patrol squadron deploys overseas it normally comes under the operational control of a different patrol wing or another upper echelon command. The patrol squadron's assigned patrol wing does not deploy with the squadron. This has been the normal operating procedure for deploying patrol squadrons since the end of World War II.
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