VAW-115

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Liberty Bells
VAW-115 insignia.jpg
VAW-115 insignia
Active April 20, 1967 - Present
Country United States of America
Branch United States Navy Seal United States Navy
Type Airborne Early Warning
Part of Carrier Air Wing 5
Garrison/HQ Naval Air Station Atsugi
Nickname(s) "Liberty Bells"
Engagements Vietnam War
Gulf War
Operation Enduring Freedom
Iraq War
Aircraft flown
Electronic
warfare
E-1 Tracer
E-2 Hawkeye

Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 115 (VAW-115), also known as the "Liberty Bells", is a United States Navy squadron based at Naval Air Facility Atsugi that flies the E-2C Hawkeye 2000. They are the Navy's only forward deployed Airborne Early Warning squadron and are the oldest and only original squadron in Carrier Air Wing Five (CVW-5).[1]

Squadron History[edit]

The squadron was originally established on 20 April 1967, flying the E-1B "Willie Fudd" with Attack Carrier Wing Two and deployed on board USS Ranger.[2]

1970s[edit]

VAW-115 joined CVW-5 in 1970 and made two combat deployments to the Gulf of Tonkin between May 1971 and April 1973 on board USS Midway. In September 1973, CVW-5 moved to Yokosuka, Japan as a component of the Forward Deployed Naval Forces, and the only air wing home ported outside the continental United States.[2]

VAW-115 E-2B Hawkeyes performed a command and control role in Operation Frequent Wind, supporting the evacuation of Saigon in April 1975. VAW-115 made eleven deployments to the Indian Ocean and North Arabian Sea, a period which saw such tumultuous events as the Iranian seizure of the American Embassy in Tehran.[2]

1980s[edit]

In 1983, VAW-115 participated in rescue and salvage operations following the Korean Air Lines Flight 007 shootdown. Two years later, the squadron supported Freedom of Navigation operations, both for USS Oldendorf in the Sea of Japan and for Operation Earnest Will, protecting Kuwaiti re-flagged tankers through the Straits of Hormuz. During the 1989-90 deployments with the Midway Battle Group, the squadron and their E-2C Hawkeyes participated in Operation Classic Resolve, supporting the democratic government of the Philippines against a coup attempt.[2]

1990s[edit]

VAW-115 E-2C in flight in 1996

In response to the Iraqi Invasion of Kuwait, VAW-115 deployed to the Persian Gulf in October 1990 as part of Operation Desert Shield. In January 1991, Desert Shield transitioned to Desert Storm and saw VAW-115 flying 179 combat sorties. In August 1991, USS Midway was decommissioned and CVW-5 embarked on USS Independence. During the ensuing years, the squadron deployed to the Persian Gulf four times in support of Operation Southern Watch, enforcing a No-Fly Zone over the skies of southern Iraq. In January 1998, VAW-115 and the Independence Battle Group were called upon to participate in various Persian Gulf contingency operations in support of United Nations sanctions. After transitioning to the E-2C Group II Navigation Upgrade aircraft, VAW-115 cross-decked with CVW-5 to USS Kitty Hawk in mid 1998.[2]

2000s[edit]

VAW-115 E-2C launches from USS Kitty Hawk in 2004

In February 2003, the squadron was once again called to the Persian Gulf to support Operation Southern Watch and flew 46 combat sorties until the commencement of Operation Iraqi Freedom in March 2003. During that operation, the squadron flew 363.8 hours in support of Army and Marine Corps units on the ground.[2]

In the years that followed, VAW-115 participated in exercises such as Valiant Shield, Malabar, and Talisman Saber as well as Exercises Annualex and Keen Sword with the Japanese Air and Maritime Self Defense Forces. VAW-115 took part in joint and multi-national RIMPAC 2008, providing Airborne Battle Space Command and Control to 49 naval vessels, 150 aircraft, and 29 other foreign and U.S. units from 10 participating countries.[2]

2010s[edit]

VAW-115 E-2C is launched from USS George Washington in July 2014

In February 2010 the squadron began reequipping with the E-2C Hawkeye 2000. The improved E-2C Hawkeye 2000 carries advanced capabilities over its predecessor in the areas of detection, processing, identification, communication and navigation.[3]

VAW-115 has achieved 23 years and 46,000 hours of Class-A mishap-free flight hours receiving eight Battle Efficiency "E" awards, seven AEW Excellence awards, and six Safety "S" awards.[2]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "VAW-115 History". www.cnic.navy.mil. Retrieved 2015-11-03. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron VAW-115 Liberty Bells". www.globalsecurity.org. Retrieved 2015-11-03. 
  3. ^ "CVW 5 Continues Capability Upgrades with Arrival of New Hawkeye 2000". www.navy.mil. Retrieved 2015-11-03. 

External links[edit]