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Strike Fighter Squadron One Two Two
VFA-122 insignia.png
VFA-122 Insignia
Active 15 January 1999 - present
Country  United States of America
Branch United States Navy Seal United States Navy
Type Strike Fighter
Role Introduce the Super Hornet to the fleet, train replacement personnel to fly and maintain the aircraft, and transition entire squadrons from "legacy" Hornets and Tomcats
Size 225 staff officers, 1000 enlisted personnel, operate over 100 aircraft
Garrison/HQ Naval Air Station Lemoore CA
Nickname "Flying Eagles"
Motto "Professionalism & Loyalty"
Colors "Blue and Gold"
Mascot Eagle
CDR George M. Wikoff
Aircraft flown
Fighter F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet
F/A-18 Hornet

Strike Fighter Squadron 122 (VFA-122), also known as the "Flying Eagles", are a United States Navy F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and F/A-18 Hornet Fleet Replacement Squadron stationed at Naval Air Station Lemoore.


There have been two distinct Navy squadrons known as the "Flying Eagles". The first was established in 1950 as VC-35, later redesignated VA(AW)-35, and then VA-122. This squadron flew various models of the A-1 Skyraider at NAS San Diego and A-7 Corsair II at NAS Lemoore. In 1971 the Corsair College changed its name to the Flying Eagles, and continued to train pilots and maintainers for 20 years. In May 1991 VA-122 was decommissioned. Often, the new squadron will assume the nickname, insignia, and traditions of the earlier squadrons, but officially, the US Navy does not recognize a direct lineage with disestablished squadrons if a new squadron is formed with the same designation.[1]

In January 1999 a new Flying Eagles squadron was brought to life as Strike Fighter Squadron 122 (VFA-122), the first squadron to operate the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.

On 1 October 2010 VFA-122 was merged with VFA-125 (The Legacy Hornet FRS also stationed at NAS Lemoore). The merger was intended to cut administrative costs and streamline production in anticipation of the 'legacy' F/A-18 Hornet being phased out by the Super Hornet and F-35 Lightning II in the coming years. The 'merged' squadron retained the Flying Eagles insignia while the Rough Raiders of VFA-125 were put into "hibernation" until a later date, when they will reestablish themselves as an F-35 training squadron.


VFA-122 Carrier flight qualifications aboard USS Abraham Lincoln (Aug. 3, 2011)

As the West Coast Hornet and Super Hornet Fleet Replacement Squadron, the Flying Eagles' mission is to train Navy and Marine Corps F/A-18A/B/C/D/E/F Replacement Pilots and Weapon Systems Officers (WSOs) to support fleet commitments. Every 6 weeks a class of between 8-12 newly-winged Navy pilots and Naval Flight Officers begins the 9 month training course in which they learn the basics of air-to-air and air-to-ground missions, culminating in day/night carrier qualification and subsequent assignment to fleet Hornet squadrons. VFA-122's East Coast counterpart is VFA-106 at NAS Oceana. VFA-122 is also responsible for transitioning experienced naval aviators from other aircraft, such as the F-14 Tomcat and S-3 Viking to the Super Hornet. Aircrew returning from non-flying assignments undergo refresher training at VFA-122 prior to returning to the fleet. Additionally, VFA-122 (with the help from the Center of Naval Aviation Technical Training Unit: CNATTTU) trains maintenance personnel and provides replacement aircraft to fleet units. VFA-122 currently has approximately 225 officers, 408 enlisted personnel and operates over 60 aircraft. The squadron often detaches aircraft to Naval Air Station Fallon, Nevada and Naval Air Facility El Centro, California, as well as various aircraft carriers for carrier qualifications (CQ).


On 26 June 2006, squadron pilot Brian R. Deforge, 25, died when his F/A-18 collided with another over Fort Hunter Liggett, north of San Luis Obispo. The other pilot successfully ejected and survived. On 6 April 2011, squadron pilot Matthew I. Lowe, 33, and weapons systems officer Nathan H. Williams, 26, were killed when their F/A-18 crashed half a mile from Lemoore on a routine training mission.[2][3]


  1. ^ http://www.history.navy.mil/faqs/faq6-1.htm
  2. ^ Griswold, Lewis, and Eddie Jimenez, "Two Navy Officers Killed In NAS Lemoore Jet Crash", Fresno Bee, 6 April 2011.
  3. ^ Fuentes, Gidget, "Navy releases names of F/A-18F crash victims", Military Times, 7 April 2011.

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