report by: Harry Morrow
Naval Air Station Oceana was commissioned August 17, 1943. The Chief of Naval Operations approved the designation of NAS Oceana as an all-weather air station on February 16, 1954. With the introduction of jets to the Navy’s arsenal, the isolated location and long runways made Oceana well suited for servicing these type of aircraft . With the introduction of high performance aircraft such as the A-4 Skyhawk, the F-4 Phantom II and the A-6 Intruder, Oceana became home of the world’s most advanced naval aircraft. In 1974, F-14 Tomcats, were assigned to Oceana. NAS Oceana’s primary mission is to train and deploy the Navy’s Atlantic Fleet strike fighter squadrons of F/A-18 Hornets and Super Hornets. Naval Aviators and Naval Flight Officers stationed at NAS Oceana fly approximately 219,000 training operations each year.
The single-seat F/A -18 Hornet is the nation’s first strike-fighter. It was designed for traditional strike applications such as interdiction and close air support without compromising its fighter capabilities. With its excellent fighter and self-defense capabilities, the F/A-18 at the same time increases strike mission survivability. F/A-18 Hornets are currently operating in 37 tactical squadrons from air stations world-wide, and from 10 aircraft carriers. The U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels Flight Demonstration Squadron proudly flies them.Compared to the original F/A-18 A through D models, Super Hornet has longer range, an aerial refueling capability, increased survivability/lethality and improved carrier suitability. [Capability of precision-guided munitions: JDAM (all variants) and JSOW. JASSM in the future] The Super Hornet is powered by two General Electric F414-GE-400 afterburning turbofan engines with 22,000 pounds of thrust each. The F/A-18E/F provides a 40% increase in combat radius, 50% increase in endurance, 25% greater weapons payload, three times more ordnance, and is five times more survivable than the F/A-18 Hornet models.
In addition to the operational squadrons, there are numerous other commands present as “tenant” commands at Oceana. Fleet Readiness Center Mid-Atlantic, formerly known as Aviation Intermediate Maintenance Department (AIMD) Oceana. One of six centers for naval aviation maintenance, FRC provides Intermediate and Depot level maintenance support to the tenant squadrons and SeaOpDet technicians to aircraft carriers homeported on the East Coast. Strike Fighter Wing Atlantic, the command that serves as “Commodore” of all east coast Hornet and Super Hornet squadrons when not forward deployed with their respective carrier air wings.
Strike Fighter Weapons School Atlantic (SFWSL) a Type Weapons School staffed by Strike Fighter Weapons & Tactics (SFWTI) instructors where F/A-18 aircrews go for “graduate level” training in air-to-ground ordnance delivery and air-to-air tactics. Landing Signal Officer School (LSO School), where pilots selected to be LSOs (also known as “paddles”…which is a very old term from the days when the LSO actually signaled to the approaching aircraft with brightly colored paddles) go to learn how to “wave” planes aboard the “boat” (aircrew speak for the aircraft carrier).CVW commands, or Carrier Air Wing Commanders (also called CAG, which is an old term derived from the previous name for these commands, Carrier Air Groups), which are responsible for all squadrons in an air wing when actually on board a carrier or when preparing for overseas deployment. Carrier Air Wings One, Three, Seven, and Eight maintain headquarters at NAS Oceana. Strike Fighter Composite Squadron 12 (VFC-12), a Navy Reserve F/A-18A+ Hornet squadron that provides adversary/aggressor training services to Atlantic Fleet strike fighter squadrons.
Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 56 (VR-56), a Navy Reserve C-40 squadron that provides worldwide operational support airlift for deployable U.S. Navy Fleet units and shore establishment commands. Fleet Area Control and Surveillance Facility Virginia Capes (FACSFAC VACAPES, callsign GIANT KILLER), which is responsible for surveillance, management and sea and air traffic control of the Virginia Capes warning areas for training purposes, as well as surveillance duties in support of Homeland Defense.
Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training Unit Oceana (CNATTU Oceana), which trains Navy and Marine Corps aircraft maintainers on the F/A-18 and operates both A and C schools. Marine Aviation Training Support Group 33, a United States Marine Corps training administration command, primarily supporting USMC aviation student and instructor staff personnel assigned to the F/A-18 Fleet Readiness Squadron, VFA-106. Globalairpower is very proud to get in its ranks a local correspondent in this area. We are sure to get more reports in the future.