VFA-161, nicknamed the Chargers, was a Strike Fighter Squadron of the U.S. Navy. It was established at NAS Cecil Field as Fighter Squadron VF-161 on 1 September 1960. It moved to NAS Miramar on 19 September 1961, and to Naval Station Yokosuka, Japan. On 1 April 1988, the squadron was redesignated VFA-161. It was disestablished in 1987.
The squadron operated the following aircraft, with the dates received as shown: McDonnell F3H Demon (1960); McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II variants F-4B (1964), F-4N (1973), F-4J (1977), and F-4S (1981); and McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet (1986).
Embarked on USS Oriskany (CV-34) in November 1963, the squadron operated in the South China Sea during a crisis in South Vietnam and the coup that overthrew President Ngo Dinh Diem. on 13 June 1966, one of the squadron's aircraft shot down a North Vietnamese MiG-17, using a Sidewinder missile. In March, 1968, embarked on USS Coral Sea (CVA-43), the squadron operated on station off the coast of Korea following the capture of USS Pueblo (AGER-2).
From May to October 1972, the squadron participated in heavy air strikes against targets in North Vietnam to interdict the flow of supplies and to reduce North Vietnam's ability to continue the war effort in South Vietnam. During May, squadron aircraft shot down three MiG-17s. On 12 January 1973, squadron aviators shot down another. It was the last MiG to be shot down during the Vietnam War. In April and May 1975, squadron aircraft participated in Operation Frequent Wind, the evacuation of American personnel from Saigon, South Vietnam, as the country fell to the communists.
In 1976, embarked in USS Midway (CV 41), the squadron conducted flight operations near the Korean peninsula following the killing of U.S. military personnel in the Korean DMZ by North Koreans. In 1979, Midway, with VF-161 embarked, deployed to the Gulf of Aden to relieve USS Constellation (CV 64) and maintain a U.S. carrier presence following the outbreak of fighting between North and South Yemen and the fall of the Shah of Iran. Following the Iranian seizure of the American Embassy in Teheran and the taking of American hostages on 4 November 1979, Midway, with VF-161 embarked, proceeded to the Gulf of Oman and remained on station until relieved in early February 1980. From May-June of that year, Midway, with VF-161 embarked, operated off the coast of Korea due to the civil unrest in South Korea and the massacre of several hundred people in the town of Kwangju. In December 1981 due to tensions in Korea the squadron operated from Midway off the coast of Korea until the tensions subsided.
From May to October 1986, the squadron relocated to NAS Lemoore for transition training in the F/A-18 Hornet and redesignation as a Strike Fighter Squadron. VF-161 was one of only two F-4 fighter squadrons to be assigned the VFA designation.
From October 1986 to Jun 1987, Following the transfer of the squadron from CVW-5, and awaiting transfer to a newly established air wing, the squadron was in an inactive status at NAS Lemoore. It was disestablished in 1987.
- Grossnick, Roy A. (1995). Dictionary of American Naval Aviation Squadrons, Volume 1, Chapter 7, Section 4: Strike Fighter Squadron Histories for VFA-151 to VFA-195. Washington, D.C.: Naval Historical Center, Department of the Navy. Retrieved 2014-02-05.
- Polmar, Norman (2005). The Naval Institute Guide to the Ships and Aircraft of the U.S. Fleet. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press. p. 376. ISBN 978-1-591-14685-8. Retrieved 2014-02-05.