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Hawk-5's Royal Maces Go Super

Navy Newsstand

Story Number: NNS040524-14

Release Date: 5/24/2004 11:56:00 PM

By Journalist 3rd Class David Beyea, USS Kitty Hawk Public Affairs

ABOARD USS KITTY HAWK (NNS) -- The "Royal Maces" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 27 left USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) May 6-13 to begin a transition from the F/A-18 Hornet to the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.

"It's going to modernize us," explained Aircrew Survival Equipmentman 1st Class (AW) Jesse Hook, VFA-27's survival equipment shop leading petty officer. "It's the latest and greatest fighter technology for the Navy."

To accomplish the switch to Super Hornets, the Royal Maces will spend four months at Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif., for familiarization training with the newer planes. Although training doesn't begin until June, the squadron is transitioning off Kitty Hawk early.

The early departure was done, "so we can get back and give people some time before we go on deployment again," said Lt. Cmdr. Todd Abrahamson, a VFA-27 pilot.

Enlisted Sailors will go to the Naval Aviation Technical Training Unit in Lemoore, as well as other Super Hornet squadrons, for on-the-job training, and to learn about the new aircraft. Sailors will learn about the new technology on the Super Hornets, such as the joint helmet mounted cueing system, part of the Super Hornet's new display system.

"It's the latest and greatest thing they have as far as aviation goes," said Hook.

VFA-27's pilots will learn to fly and operate them with Fleet Replacement Squadron (VFA) 122.

"We go there from June to August. Then from August through September, we're going to work for our safe-for-flight certification. We're going to bring all those people back, and we're going to start developing a whole squadron again in Lemoore, so we can prove to Command Strike Fighter Wing Pacific that we can operate as a fully functional F/A-18 E/F squadron," said Abrahamson.

"Safe-for-flight is a major qualification in our arena," explained Chief Aviation Machinist's Mate (AW) Glenn Walker, VFA-27's flight deck coordinator. "Basically, it's saying all the maintenance has been performed and it's safe to go up."

With the new knowledge and training, the service members of VFA-27 will take on a new role. Like VFA-102 of the Kitty Hawk Strike Group, the squadron will take on the role of air-to-air refueling, or "tanking."

"The tanking is just an additional role that we'll be picking up. We're still going to have our primary role of air-to-air and air-to-ground capabilities," said Abrahamson. "Now we're going to be more capable in those areas."

"Being a multi-role aircraft, it's bringing more modernized tools so we can take the battle to our enemies at a faster pace," said Walker. "It's like first we're the Flintstones and then we're George Jetson."

Sailors will return to the Kitty Hawk Strike Group in October.



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