VS-24 Scouts Take S-3B Viking to New Horizons
Story Number: NNS060130-01
Release Date: 1/30/2006 10:47:00 AM
By Journalist 2nd Class Stephens Murphy, USS Theodore Roosevelt Public Affairs
USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT, At sea (NNS) -- During their current deployment with USS Theodore Roosevelt’s (CVN 71) embarked air wing, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8, the “Scouts” of Sea Control Squadron (VS) 24 have taken the capabilities of the S-3B Viking to a new level.
Since late October, in addition to performing their normal missions of conducting in-flight refueling for CVW-8 and surveillance operations for Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group (TRCSG) in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and maritime security operations (MSO), the Scouts have also been flying intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions in support of British-led coalition ground forces of Multinational Division - Southeast (MND-SE), which are conducting operations in the southern part of Iraq. Helicopters flying from Theodore Roosevelt have been conducting similar missions in MND-SE, as well.
MSO set the conditions for security and stability in the maritime environment as well as complement the counter-terrorism and security efforts of regional nations. MSO deny international terrorists use of the maritime environment as a venue for attack or to transport personnel, weapons, or other material.
“Initially HS-3 (Helicopter Squadron 3) was [the first to provide] support in the area, and the British forces were looking for more support from the air wing,” said VS-24 Operations Officer, Lt. Cmdr. Michael Mansisidor. “The long range and endurance of the Viking makes the platform perfect for this mission. We can still do our tanking and other missions here, while being able to support MND-SE with four assets.”
Mansisidor said that along with the new mission came new challenges for VS-24. For the aircrews, the challenge was to learn the geography of Iraq.
“We had to prepare all the air crews for going over the beach and how to talk to the air controllers on the ground,” Mansisidor said. “They would tell us to go and look at certain areas, and initially it wasn’t easy to find these places. It was a huge learning curve because we had never done this before.”
For VS-24’s maintainers, the challenge involves increased monitoring of the Vikings’ surveillance equipment to keep it fine-tuned to produce sharper imagery needed by intelligences forces on the ground.
“We are using our equipment in different ways now and the crew had to step up to the plate for this,” said Chief Aviation Electronics Technician (AW/SW) Jason Kelly, VS-24 AT/AE branch chief.
“It’s different than identifying ships because you can pretty much tell what they are by their antennas, or the location of their masts,” said Aviation Electronics Technician 2nd Class (AW) Alfonso Moroni.
Moroni said keeping the equipment up to speed requires frequent inquiries with the air crews about the performance of the equipment, and also there is more of a need to keep Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance personnel up to date on maintenance requirements.
VS-24 has successfully conducted nearly 150 sorties in support of MND-SE since late October, and will continue to provide support for the duration of the deployment. The squadron’s ability to keep with its normal missions and provide support for MND-SE, allows CVW-8 to maintain maximum sorties in other regions of Iraq with its F-14 Tomcats and F/A-18 Hornets.
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