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|Training Squadron 86|
|Country||United States of America|
|Branch||United States Navy|
|CDR JOHN D. TUTWILER, USN|
VT-86 'SabreHawks' or Training Squadron 86 is an aircraft training squadron of the United States Navy.
Training Squadron 86 is known by several names: TRARON EIGHT SIX, VT-86, or simply the Sabrehawks, a name derived from its history of flying the T-39D/G/N Sabreliner and the TA-4J Skyhawk II. The squadron was commissioned on the 5th of June 1972, under the operational control of Commander, Training Air Wing EIGHT (TRAWING 8) at Naval Air Station Glynco, Georgia. The mission of the new squadron was to conduct advanced Naval Flight Officer (NFO) training, which had previously been overseen by Naval Air Technical Training Center (NATTC) Glynco. The training was in four areas: Radar Intercept Officer, Basic Jet Navigation, Airborne Electronic Warfare and Airborne Tactical Data Systems. Training was conducted in aircraft previously assigned to and supported by NATTC Glynco until February 1973, when the squadron accepted 24 T-39 Sabreliner, 20 A-4C Skyhawk, 2 EC-121K Warning Star, and 12 TS-2A Tracker aircraft and approximately 350 enlisted maintenance and support personnel from NATTC and NAS Glynco. After receiving the aircraft and personnel, the squadron’s mission was expanded to include flight support for Air Intercept Control and Ground Controlled Approach training functions.
Following a decision to close NAS Glynco and deactivate TRAWING 8, a Sabrehawk detachment was established at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida in March 1974. On 1 June 1974, the squadron commenced flight operations at Naval Air Station Pensacola under operational command of Commander, Training Air Wing SIX (TRAWING 6), training Naval Flight Officers for nearly all carrier-based aircraft.
Since its establishment, Training Squadron EIGHT SIX has received numerous awards to include multiple Meritorious Unit Commendations, the Training Effectiveness Award from the Chief of Naval Air Training (CNATRA), the CNATRA Retention Award, the Chief of Naval Operations Safety Award and 26 CNATRA Safety awards for accident-free operations. The squadron later amassed over 310,000 mishap-free flight hours and received the Admiral John H. Towers Safety Award and the Chief of Naval Education and Training (CNET) Shore/Technical Training Excellence Award.
In 1994, Training Squadron EIGHT SIX’s role was expanded to include the training of U.S. Air Force Navigators/Combat Systems Officers (CSO) slated for eventual assignment as Weapon Systems Officers (WSO) in fighter and bomber aircraft. To date, the command has trained over 7,200 Naval Flight Officers for the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps and over 1,400 Navigators/Combat Systems Officers for the U.S. Air Force. The command has also historically provided training to international students. In 1996, VT-86's responsibilities also entailed training international officer students from Saudi Arabia, Italy, Singapore, and Germany; nearly 200 International Military Trainees have earned their wings through VT-86.
Today, VT-86's mission is to provide advanced flight instruction to Student Naval Flight Officers (NFO) destined for strike fighter, bomber and electronic warfare aircraft. The squadron syllabus builds on that training previously received in the primary and intermediate NFO training squadrons, with additional emphasis on systems, instrument and radar navigation, radar intercept and attack, high-speed low-level flight, advanced aerial combat maneuvering and advanced communications.
Upon completion of VT-86's program, newly winged NFOs undergo further training at the respective Fleet Replacement Squadrons (FRS) for their new aircraft before reporting to their first operational Fleet squadron.
VT-86 previously trained NFOs for many well-known retired aircraft such as the F-14 Tomcat, F-4 Phantom II, A-6 Intruder, RA-5C Vigilante, RRF-4B Phantom II, S-3 Viking, ES-3 Shadow, and the A-3 Skywarrior (whose variants included the KA-3, EKA-3, ERA-3, EA-3 and TA-3). In addition, VT-86 previously provided training for the still serving E-2 Hawkeye until that mission was assumed by the E-2 Fleet Replacement Squadrons in the mid-1970s when NAS Glynco closed.
German Air Force (Luftwaffe) and German Navy (Deutsche Marine) Navigators/WSOs go on to fly either the Panavia Tornado Interdictor/Strike (IDS) or Electronic Combat/Reconnaissance (ECR) variants, while some Luftwaffe WSOs will also fly the F-4 Phantom II.
Training squadron EIGHTY-SIX is presently staffed by approximately 80 U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps officers. Additional instructor pilots, instructor NFOs and instructor WSOs augment VT-86 and are sourced from the TRAWING 6 staff, Naval Aviation Schools Command staff, and part-time Navy Reserve pilots and Navy Reserve NFOs embedded in TRAWING 6's and VT-86's respective Reserve Component units. German and Italian Navigator/WSO instructors also support VT-86 training operations, although they are administratively assigned to colocated German Air Force (Luftwaffe) and Italian Air Force training squadrons at NAS Pensacola. With the ever-changing strategy of national defense for the United States and that of its NATO and Allied partners, VT-86 will continue to train Navy, Marine Corps and international officers in preparation for flying the world’s most advanced and complex tactical combat aircraft.
VT-86 celebrated its 25th anniversary of mishap-free flying on April 8, 2002. Since its inception in June 1972, VT-86 has logged more than 332,000 mishap-free flight hours and has the distinction of maintaining the longest documented accident-free period of any active flying squadron in Naval Aviation history. This flight-hour total and cumulative time without mishaps also represents the longest mishap-free safety record in Naval Air Training Command history. Over the years, VT-86 has also earned twenty-seven Chief of Naval Air Training safety awards for accident-free operations and it also won the Admiral John H. Towers Safety Award in 1995.
The 25 years of mishap-free flying 332,000 hours breaks down to more than 1,100 hours per month.
Upon graduation from Basic Student NFO Training at Training Squadron TEN (VT-10) at NAS Pensacola, Navy and certain international students selected to fly large land-based aircraft such as the P-3C Orion, EP-3E Aries or the E-6B Mercury TACAMO aircraft will report to Specialized Undergraduate Navigator Training. After graduation from Intermediate NFO Training at VT-10, those Navy students and international selected to fly the E-2C/D Hawkeye will report to Airborne Early Warning Squadron ONE TWENTY (VAW-120) at Naval Station Norfolk/Chambers Field, Virginia. All other students report to VT-86.
- The squadron's radio callsign is ROKT (Rocket).
Past Aircraft Flown
- Douglas / McDonnell Douglas TA-4J Skyhawk II
- T-47A Citation II
- T-39D Sabreliner
- Lockheed EC-121K Warning Star
- Grumman TS-2A Tracker
- North American Rockwell T-2 Buckeye