||This article may require cleanup to meet Wikipedia's quality standards. (May 2011)|
|Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 116|
|Active||20 April 1967 - Present|
|Country||United States of America|
|Branch||United States Navy|
|Type||Airborne Early Warning (VAW)|
|Role||Airborne Early Warning
Airborne Battle Management
Command and Control
|Part of||Carrier Air Wing 17|
|Garrison/HQ||Naval Base Ventura County|
|Colors||Maroon and Gold|
|Engagements||Operation Iraqi Freedom
Operation Enduring Freedom
|CDR Dan Harwood|
VAW-116 is a US Navy Command and Control Squadron that deploys aboard USS Carl Vinson as part of Carrier Air Wing Seventeen. VAW-116 flies the E-2C Hawkeye 2000 aircraft. The VAW-116 Commanding Officer is Commander Dan Harwood. The "Sun Kings" of VAW-116 are stationed at Naval Base Ventura County Point Mugu, California. VAW-116 is under the cognizance of Commander, Airborne Command Control and Logistics Wing (COMACCLOGWING). In 2008, the Sun Kings deployed with Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2 aboard USS Abraham Lincoln to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations to support maritime security operations (MSO) and Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
On April 20, 1967 VAW-116 was commissioned and received the E-2B aircraft. The "Sun Kings" completed three Far-East deployments as part of Attack Carrier Air Wing FIFTEEN and two while attached to Attack Carrier Air Wing NINE. In July 1975, VAW-116 transferred to Attack Carrier Air Wing EIGHT. Concurrently, the west-coast VAW community, including VAW-116, moved from Naval Air Station, North Island to Naval Air Station, Miramar. Reassigned to Carrier Air Wing EIGHT, the Sun Kings saw duty in the North Atlantic in 1975. In 1976 VAW-116 embarked on USS NIMITZ (CVN 68) for a Mediterranean deployment. The squadron transferred to Carrier Air Wing SEVENTEEN embarked on USS FORESTALL (CV 59) in 1977, and deployed to the Mediterranean and North Atlantic in March 1978. During 1979-1980, VAW-116 transitioned to the E-2C and made a Western Pacific/Indian Ocean deployment from February 26, 1980 to October 15, 1980 aboard USS CONSTELLATION (CV 64) in support of Iranian Contingency Operations. The squadron was assigned to Carrier Air Wing TWO in July 1981. On April 7, 1982, the squadron embarked on USS RANGER (CV 61) for a Western Pacific/Indian Ocean deployment. Returning in October 1982, the Sun Kings remained with Carrier Air Wing TWO aboard USS KITTY HAWK (CV 63), deploying on January 13, 1984. In July 1987, the Sun Kings deployed aboard USS RANGER (CV 61) for a six month Western Pacific/Indian Ocean deployment providing support for the re-flagged Kuwaiti Tanker missions. On February 24, 1989 the squadron deployed aboard USS RANGER (CV 61) to the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean, supporting operations with the Omani and Royal Thai Air Forces. VAW-116 sailed aboard USS RANGER (CV 61) on December 8, 1990 to the Western Pacific in support of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. During Operation Desert Storm the squadron flew 1,364 total flight hours and spent 93 days on station in the Persian Gulf. The Sun Kings returned on January 31, 1993, from a highly successful Western Pacific deployment in support of Operation Southern Watch in Iraq and Operation Restore Hope in Somalia, winning the coveted Battle Efficiency "E" Award for 1992. In February 1993, the Sun Kings commenced a transition from the E-2C Group 0 to the E-2C Group II aircraft. The Group II weapons system represented a tremendous advancement in avionics, communications, propulsion, and navigation systems. In May 1993, VAW-116 deployed to the Republic of Panama in support of JTF-4 Joint Task Force Four Operations. Upon returning, the Sun Kings were awarded the AEW Excellence Award for 1992. This remarkable achievement recognized the Sun Kings as the premier VAW Squadron for the entire E-2C community. In November 1993, VAW-116 commenced a rigorous work up cycle at NAS Fallon, Nevada. This cycle included "Rim of the Pacific" (RIMPAC 94), in which Carrier Air Wing Two conducted joint operations with five other nations, and culminated in Fleet exercises during August/September 1994. On 10 November 1994 the Squadron embarked on USS CONSTELLATION (CV 64) on a Western Pacific and Persian Gulf deployment. The Sun Kings provided vital AEW and Battle Group coverage off the coast of North Korea and supported Operation Southern Watch over Iraq. In June 1995 and February 1996, the Sun Kings deployed to conduct surveillance operations at Naval Station Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico, in support of Joint Inter-agency Task Force East (JIATF-EAST). On 1 April 1997, the squadron embarked on USS CONSTELLATION (CV 64) for a Western Pacific and Persian Gulf deployment. During the six month deployment the squadron provided vital surveillance of Iraq in support of the United Nations’ “No Fly Zone” as part of Operation Southern Watch. In addition, the squadron participated in military exercises with the Pakistani Air Force. In February and March 1998 the squadron again deployed to Naval Station Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico, to conduct counter narcotics surveillance operations in support of JIATF-EAST. On 18 June 1999 the Squadron embarked on USS CONSTELLATION (CV 64) for a Western Pacific/Persian Gulf deployment. During the next six months VAW-116 provided surveillance of Iraq in support of Operation SOUTHERN WATCH. After this successful deployment the squadron was awarded the 1999 Chief of Naval Operations Safety "S". In January 2000, the squadron deployed again to conduct surveillance operations at Naval Station Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico in Support of JIATF-EAST. The Sun Kings deployed aboard USS CONSTELLATION (CV 64) to the Western Pacific and Persian Gulf from 15 March 2001 to 15 September 2001, providing airborne early warning for Operation SOUTHERN WATCH over Iraq. The Sun Kings deployed to Naval Air Station Norfolk, Virginia in support of Operation Noble Eagle. During this operation, the Sun Kings assisted in providing continual airborne early warning coverage over the East Coast as a result of the 11 September 2001 Terrorist Attacks.
VAW-116 embarked on USS Constellation (CV-64) to the Western Pacific and Persian Gulf on October 2002. The Sun Kings flew extensive Airborne Battlefield Command and Control missions in support of the U.S. Army V Corps’ and the U.S. Marine Corps II MEF’s invasion of Iraq and advance on Baghdad during the initial weeks of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The squadron was proud to be a part of Connie’s final deployment in support of Operations Southern Watch and Iraqi Freedom.
In November 2003, the Sun Kings initiated a transition to the E-2C Hawkeye 2000 airframe. VAW-116 completed the transition in August 2004 with delivery of the squadron’s fourth and final aircraft. The Sun Kings embarked on USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) in October 2004, to execute a surge deployment to the Western Pacific. They completed Integrated Warfare Training in the vicinity of Hawaii before transiting west.
Their deployment was extended when the Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group was called to assist in Operation Unified Assistance in Banda Aceh, Indonesia as a result of the earthquakes and tsunamis that struck the area. The Sun Kings aided in effort by sending Sailors ashore to distribute much needed food and medical aid to the wounded disaster victims.
The squadron returned to sea in March 2006 on a Western Pacific deployment in support of exercises Foal Eagle, Valiant Shield, and RIMPAC. Upon their return from deployment in 2006, the Sun Kings upgraded their aircraft with the eight-bladed New Propeller 2000 system (NP2K). This upgrade was completed in March 2007, just after the squadron returned from detachment to Fallon, NV. In May 2007, the Sun Kings completed NP2K carrier qualification aboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) off the Virginia Coast. In March 2008, the Sun Kings embarked on a seven month deployment with Carrier Air Wing TWO aboard USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) to the U.S. Fifth Fleet Area of Responsibility where they flew 266 combat missions in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom in Iraq and Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.
In March 2008, the Sun Kings embarked with Carrier Air Wing TWO aboard USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) for deployment to the U.S. Fifth Fleet Area of Responsibility. They participated in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom and provided critical tanker and airspace management for strike and support aircraft. During the deployment, the squadron earned the CVW-2 Deployment Top Hook award and the Chief’s Mess was presented the Broadsword Award for the best CPO Mess in CVW-2. They returned home in October 2008.
The Sun Kings once again deployed with Carrier Air Wing Two aboard USS Abraham Lincoln on September 11, 2010 for a 6 month cruise to the 5th Fleet Area of Operations. The Sun Kings supported Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation New Dawn in Iraq until they returned home in March 2011. In April and May of 2011 the Sun King's transitioned to the E-2C CNS/ATM Hawkeye 2000 all glass cockpit variant of the E-2C. In December 2011 Carrier Air Wing Two and the Sun Kings once again deployed on the USS Abraham Lincoln for an 8 month around the world deployment to the 5th Area of Operations in direct support of Operation Enduring Freedom. On July 17, 2012, VAW-116 and the USS Abraham Lincoln transited through the Suez Canal on their way home to the United States; the deployment concluded on August 3, 2012 when the Sun Kings flew 4 aircraft from USS Abraham Lincoln off the Virginia coast back to NAS PT Mugu, California.
In October 2012 VAW-116 joined Carrier Air Wing 17 as a member of Carrier Strike Group 1 attached to USS Carl Vinson.
VAW-116 became "semi-famous" in 2006 for its remake of the "Pump It" music video, by The Black Eyed Peas. The video originated as a project on board ship to fight off boredom and to boost morale, but stemmed into what is almost a full fledged production and a free recruiting ad for the Navy. Pump It has recorded over 4,000,000 views on YouTube. The crew have since recorded two more video remakes - Outkast's video "Hey Ya," which included every single member of the Sun Kings and "Move Along" - both of which have recorded over a million viewers. "Pump It" and "Hey Ya" have been shown on national television, and news stations in other countries.
The VAW-116 insignia consists of a solid maroon circle behind a white and gold sun with a fasces in the center, above a gold banner with "VAW-116" written on it in maroon.
- VAW-116 Official Homepage
- CVW-2 Squadrons
- Naval Base Ventura County
- COMACCLOGWING Website
- Air Power Demonstration Photo and Caption
- Kaplenk, A (2008). "VAW-116 Earns Air Medals for Combat Operations in Fifth Fleet", 8/19/1.
- Fuentes, G (2007). "Homegrown Navy videos sparking online records", Navy Times, Feb 21, 2007
- "Pump It" on YouTube.com
- "Hey Ya" on Youtube.com
- VAW-116 Official Website
- Pump It Music Video
- Carrier Air Wing TWO
- Commander, Airborne Command Control and Logistics Wing
- Air & Space Article "Detect and Direct", featuring the VAW-116 Sun Kings
- Navy Picture of Air Power Demonstration