|Strike Fighter Squadron One Two Five|
|Active||11 April 1958 - 1977
13 November 1980 - 1 October 2010
|Country||United States of America|
|Branch||United States Navy|
|Type||Fighter / Attack|
|Garrison/HQ||Naval Air Station Lemoore CA|
|Decorations||CNO Aviation Safety Award|
Strike Fighter Squadron 125 (VFA-125), also known as the "Rough Raiders", was a United States Navy strike fighter squadron based at Naval Air Station Lemoore, California. The "Rough Raiders" were a Fleet Replacement Squadron flying the F/A-18 Hornet.
There have been three distinct squadrons known as the Rough Raiders. The first began as Reserve Attack Squadron FIFTY FIVE E (VA-55E), most likely established in 1946 but remaining in an inactive status until redesignated Reserve Attack Squadron NINE HUNDRED TWENTY THREE (VA-923) in January 1950. This squadron was redesignated VA-125 on 4 February 1953 and was disestablished on 10 April 1958.
The second squadron, originally known as the Skylanchers was established as Attack Squadron TWENTY SIX (VA-26) on 30 June 1956. This squadron became a Replacement Air Group was redesignated as VA-125 Rough Raiders on 11 April 1958 (the day after the first VA-125 was disestablished) flying the F9F Cougar from NAS Moffett Field. In July 1961, the squadron moved to Reeves Field, NAS Lemoore, California. From that point until the fall of 1969, the squadron flew all models of the A-4 Skyhawk, sending over 2,000 replacement pilots and 12,000 maintenance personnel to the Pacific Fleet. During this period, the squadron had over 100 A-4's and 1,400 officers and enlisted personnel assigned, making it the largest aviation squadron in the Navy. In September 1969, the "Rough Raiders" received their first A-7 Corsair II. The squadron trained more than 700 A-7 A/B/C replacement pilots and 5,500 maintenance personnel. The end of the Vietnam air war caused a reduction in force which eventually led to the disestablishment of the squadron on 1 October 1977.
The current VFA-125 "Rough Raiders" were established on 13 November 1980 at NAS Lemoore, California, becoming the Navy's first F/A-18 squadron. Often, a new squadron will assume the nickname, insignia, and traditions of 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. VFA-125 received its first aircraft in April 1981, and by March 1985, had amassed over 30,000 mishap-free flight hours in the Hornet.
On 1 October 2010, VFA-125 was disestablished as an F/A-18 Fleet Replacement Squadron, and its aircraft and personnel were incorporated into VFA-122. It is planned that VFA-125 will be reestablish as an F-35 Lightning II training squadron in the future.
Today, the "Rough Raiders" trained pilots to fill F/A-18 billets throughout the Navy and Marine Corps. Flight training was supplemented by the latest state-of-the-art computer flight simulators and computer based academic instruction to enhance understanding and performance in the Hornet. In addition the squadron routinely conducted strike and fighter detachments to NAF El Centro, California and NAS Fallon, Nevada, as well as aboard carriers in both the Pacific and Atlantic Fleets.
Every 6 weeks a class of between 8-12 newly-winged Navy pilots began the 9 month training course in which they learned 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 -125 averaged 1,500 flight hours monthly and trained approximately 120 pilots each year. Pilots from the United States Navy, the United States Marine Corps, the Royal Air Force, the Canadian Forces, the Spanish Air Force, the Royal Australian Air Force, the Hellenic Air Force, the Kuwait Air Force, and Finnish Air Force have been trained at VFA-125. By May 1996, VFA-125 had amassed over 70,000 mishap-free flight hours in the Hornet, and was recognized for this milestone with the CNO Aviation Safety Award. By January 1998 the Rough Raiders were the first Fleet Readiness Squadron to surpass 100,000 mishap free flight hours. VFA-125 was also responsible for transitioning experienced naval aviators from other aircraft, such as the F-14 Tomcat and S-3 Viking, to the Hornet. Aircrew returning from non-flying assignments underwent refresher training at VFA-125 prior to returning to the fleet. Additionally, VFA-125 (with the help from the Center of Naval Aviation Technical Training Unit: CNATTTU) trained maintenance personnel and provides replacement aircraft to fleet units. VFA-125's East Coast counterpart was VFA-106 at NAS Oceana. Additionally, VMFAT-101 at MCAS Miramar also trains Navy and Marine Hornet operators.
On 1 October 2010 VFA-122 was merged with VFA-125. The merger was intended to cut administrative costs and streamline training in anticipation of the F/A-18C Hornet being replaced by the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and F-35 Lightning II in the coming years. The 'merged' squadron retained the VFA-122 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.
- Naval aviation
- Modern US Navy carrier air operations
- List of military aircraft of the United States (naval) / List of US Naval aircraft
- United States Naval Aviator
- United States Marine Corps Aviation
- Military aviation
- List of United States Navy aircraft squadrons
- List of Inactive United States Navy aircraft squadrons