VAQ-34

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An ERA-3B Skywarrior aircraft of VAQ-34 lands during the U.S. 3rd Fleet North Pacific Exercise (NORPACEX) at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska (USA), on 8 November 1987. (Click on the image to enlarge it)

VAQ-34, Call sign Flashbacks, was a Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron of the U.S. Navy. It was established on 1 March 1983 at the Pacific Missile Test Center, Point Mugu, California, under the Fleet Electronic Warfare Support Group. The squadron was formed to provide realistic training for ship crews to counter Soviet electronic and cruise-missile threats, and was modeled after its East Coast counterpart, VAQ-33.[1][2]

The squadron's activities included support of major fleet exercises, including training in antiair warfare, electronic countermeasures and electronic counter-counter-measures, electronic surveillance, electronic emissions control, and training in the face of simulated missile attacks.[2]

Establishing the squadron required the reclamation of aircraft and other equipment from various non-traditional sources. A team from Naval Air Station Alameda retrieved four RA-3B Skywarriors from the aircraft boneyard at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona, then did the work to make them acceptable for squadron use. They later converted them to ERA-3Bs to give the squadron the most realistic hostile electronic training possible. Another Skywarrior, this one in better condition, went more directly from the boneyard to the newly-forming squadron. It allowed aircrew and maintenance training to begin while waiting for the ERA-3Bs to be delivered, not to mention serving as an airborne tanker. Six TA-7C Corsair IIs were also transferred to VAQ-34 from other assets in the fleet. They were later converted to EA-7Ls.[2] In 1991, the ERA-3B and EA-7L aircraft were retired or transferred, and the squadron soon acquired eight F/A-18A Hornet strike fighters fitted with missile simulators, threat detectors, jamming equipment, and chaff dispensers.[1]

When Rosemary Bryant Mariner assumed command in 1990, VAQ-34 became the first U.S. Military aviation squadron to be commanded by a woman.[3] In June 1991 it moved to NAS Lemoore, California.[1] In 1993 the Navy transferred the electronic aggressor role to the Navy Reserve, leading to VAQ-34's disestablishment on 5 October 1993.[1]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Burgess, Rick (2007-03-01). "VAQ-34". U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings 133 (3): 94. Retrieved 2014-01-30. 
  2. ^ a b c "VAQ-34 Starting from Scratch". Naval Aviation News: 12. 1984-11-01. Retrieved 2014-01-30. 
  3. ^ Polmar, Norman (2005). The Naval Institute Guide to the Ships and Aircraft of the U.S. Fleet. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press. p. 374. ISBN 978-1-591-14685-8. Retrieved 2014-01-30.