Strike Fighter Squadron 83, originally Naval Reserve Fighter Squadron 916, was called into active duty at NAS Squantum, Massachusetts, in April 1950. Shortly thereafter, VF-916 moved to NAS Oceana as part of Air Group Eight. As a fighter squadron, VF-916 flew the F-4U “Corsair," the F-8F “Bearcat,” the F9F-5 “Panther,” and the F-7U “Cutlass” from the decks of USS SAIPAN, USS MIDWAY, and USS CORAL SEA. In 1955, the squadron was re-designated Light Attack Squadron 83 and in 1957 received its first A-4 “Skyhawks." During the “Skyhawk” years, the RAMPAGERS operated from the decks of USS ESSEX, USS FORRESTAL, USS SARATOGA, USS SHANGRI-LA, and USS JOHN F. KENNEDY. In 1961 and 1962, VA-83 won the Battle Efficiency “E” Pennant.
In 1966, the squadron moved to NAS Cecil Field. As part of Air Wing ONE, VA-83 was the last squadron to fly A-4’s aboard USS JOHN F. KENNEDY. Later that same year, the “Skyhawks” were traded in for the new A-7 “Corsairs." In January 1971, VA-83 deployed with Air Wing SEVENTEEN on USS FORRESTAL, compiling a perfect safety record and distinguishing itself by being one of the first squadrons to fly the A-7E on deployment. In 1973, the squadron won its third CNO Aviation Safety Award and in March 1974 commenced its fourteenth Mediterranean deployment. During this deployment, the RAMPAGERS helped provide U.S. Naval presence in response to the Cyprus crisis and completed more than ten months at sea. During deployment in 1975, VA-83 completed its twenty-fifth year as an active squadron, surpassed 20,000 accident free flight hours and earned another CNO Safety Award. Between 1975 and 1982, the squadron made three deployments, including extensive operations with NATO allies in the North Atlantic. Aboard USS FORRESTAL for the last time beginning in March 1982, the squadron supported American peacekeeping forces in Lebanon, during and after OPERATION PEACE FOR GALILEE. In 1983, VA-83 began operations aboard USS SARATOGA. The 1985-86 deployment was highlighted by Rampager participation in the successful execution of OPERATION ACHILLE LAURO. The squadron left Cecil Field on 05 June 1987 for its twenty-second Mediterranean, and final “Corsair,” deployment. Upon return to Cecil Field in November, the RAMPAGERS received twelve new F/A-18C “Hornets” and on March 1, 1988 the squadron was re-designated Strike Fighter Squadron 83.
In the summer of 1990, the squadron deployed to the Red Sea, employing its Hornets aboard USS SARATOGA in OPERATIONS DESERT SHIELD / DESERT STORM. During 43 days of combat operations, the squadron flew 427 long-range strike missions over Iraq and Kuwait. VFA-83 was awarded the 1990 COMNAVAIRLANT Battle Efficiency “E” Pennant and the 1991 CNO Aviation Safety Award. In May 1992, the squadron deployed to the Mediterranean aboard USS SARATOGA. The 1992 deployment was marked by extensive Adriatic Sea operations in support of United Nations relief efforts in the former Yugoslavia. In March 1993, the squadron embarked aboard USS CONSTELLATION for a shakedown cruise following an extended overhaul period. In December 1993, the RAMPAGERS completed a compressed turnaround training cycle, and in January 1994 began the final USS SARATOGA deployment. Like the previous one, this deployment was marked by extensive Adriatic Sea operations and the first ever F/A-18 detachment to Jordan. During this deployment, the squadron was awarded its sixth CNO Aviation Safety Award. .
In June 1996, the RAMPAGERS deployed to the Mediterranean and Adriatic Seas and Persian Gulf onboard the USS ENTERPRISE in support of OPERATION DECISIVE ENDEAVOR and OPERATION SOUTHERN WATCH. VFA-83 was awarded both the 1996 COMNAVAIRLANT Battle Efficiency “E” pennant and the CNO Michael J. Estocin Award, declaring the RAMPAGERS as the best F/A-18 squadron in the United States Navy. In January of 1997, the squadron transitioned to state of the art LOT XIX and XX aircraft. These final production F/A-18 C’s continue to serve the fleet as stepping-stones to the future and the Super Hornet. While participating in an extremely condensed turnaround training cycle for their deployment aboard USS DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER, the RAMPAGERS were recognized as the U.S. Naval Air Force, Atlantic Fleet nominee and eventual first runner-up, small command for the Department of the Defense Phoenix Award given for maintenance excellence. In April 1999, VFA-83 moved to its current home of NAS Oceana. On 21 June 1999, Carrier Air Wing SEVENTEEN (CVW-17) and the RAMPAGERS began their first deployment with USS GEORGE WASHINGTON. VFA-83 flew missions over Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo, helping to enforce the NATO and UN mandate in that war-torn region. Several weeks later, the RAMPAGERS found themselves flying OPERATION SOUTHERN WATCH patrols in response to Iraqi aggression. In mid-August, two Rampager pilots became the first CVW-17 personnel to successfully deliver JDAM and SLAM-ER in combat. VFA-83 capped off the deployment with the “Top Hook” award for cruise.
Immediately after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, CVW-17 deployed aboard USS GEORGE WASHINGTON off the coast of New York City in support of OPERATION NOBLE EAGLE. The RAMPAGERS next deployed in July 2002, again aboard the USS GEORGE WASHINGTON. In a few short weeks the carrier arrived in the Northern Arabian Sea in support of OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM. Less than one week after departing the Arabian Sea, CVW-17 switched gears and began OPERATION SOUTHERN WATCH patrols. With over two months of highly successful flying under her belt, the “G.W.” steamed west in support of OPERATION MED SHARK. The remaining three months of this landmark deployment were spent conducting numerous Joint and Combined exercises in the Mediterranean Sea. .
In the period between March and May 2003, the squadron completed two detachments aboard USS STENNIS and USS ENTERPRISE. In June, VFA-83 traded in their LOT XIX Hornets for twelve LOT XIII Hornets in a trade with VFA-131. Shortly thereafter, the RAMPAGERS traveled to Otis ANG on Cape Cod, completing 144 sorties in only two weeks and honing crucial Joint Operations and Dissimilar Air Combat skills with F-15C Eagles. VFA-83 also participated in the USS RONALD REAGAN’s shakedown cruise in September and then began preparations for the next deployment. In 7 June 2004, the RAMPAGERS deployed aboard USS JOHN F. KENNEDY. After participating in a two-week multi-national Summer Pulse 04 exercise in the Atlantic Ocean, the JKF steamed across the Atlantic to the Mediterranean Sea and made a quick port visit in Malta. From there JFK transited the Suez Canal and Red Sea to the Arabian Gulf to relieve the USS GEORGE WASHINGTON. Within a week of arriving the RAMPAGERS found themselves flying combat missions in support of OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM. In November, the RAMPAGERS flew combat missions in support of OPERATION PHANTOM FURY which provided direct support to ground troops in Fallujah and Mosul. The RAMPAGERS were one of the first squadrons to successfully deliver the GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM). On 13 December 2004, the squadron returned to Naval Air Station Oceana for some well-deserved rest.
In July 2005, the RAMPAGERS were re-assigned to Carrier Air Wing SEVEN (CVW-7) attached to the USS DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER (CVN 69). VFA-83 completed SFARP, TSTA, COMPTUEX, and AIR WING Fallon in preparation for an upcoming deployment. In March 2006, the squadron was awarded the Commander, Fleet Forces Command “Golden Anchor” award for retention excellence and its eighth Chief of Naval Operations Aviation Safety Award.
During 2006, VFA 83 started the workup cycle to prepare for cruise in October 2006. During workups, the squadron detached to Fallon, Nevada, Point Mugu, California, and USS DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER. While aboard the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower with the rest of Carrier Air Wing SEVEN, the RAMPAGERS participated in Operation ENDURING FREEDOM and Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. In 2007, the RAMPAGERS completed a challenging and lengthy combat deployment to the Middle East and returned to a rigorous post-deployment surge period. During deployment, the squadron led all CVW-7 squadrons in operational mission completion. After their return home, the RAMPAGERS deployed again to support the USS HARRY S. TRUMAN during a Joint Task Force Exercise. In September, the squadron assisted the newly refurbished USS GEORGE WASHINGTON in achieving her flight deck certification, and CDR Koyama took charge of the RAMPAGERS as the new Commanding Officer. The RAMPAGERS began 2008 embarked on USS GEORGE WASHINGTON in support of TSTA (Tailored Ships Training Availability). In April, the RAMPAGERS detached to Tyndall AFB in Panama City, FL for air-to-air training with the USAF 43rd Fighter Squadron. On May 19, 2008 CDR Olin relieved CDR Koyama as Commanding Officer of Strike Fighter Squadron EIGHT THREE. In June 2008, the RAMPAGERS began the first stage of workups known as SFARP (Strike Fighter Advanced Readiness Program). The squadron spent two weeks supporting an Army Bridgade in the Ft. Irwin Training Complex. Training included UCAS (urban CAS), convoy escorts, and surveillance with the use of Remotely Operated Video Enhanced Receivers (ROVER). In September, the squadron participated in TSTA aboard their own USS DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER followed by Air Wing Fallon in late October. 2009 marked a very busy year for the RAMPAGERS. The squadron once again found itself deployed onboard the USS DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER in support of combat operations from February to June. During cruise, the squadron provided unmatched close air support for coalition forces on the ground by providing 363 combat missions. Near the end of cruise, CDR Kartvedt relieved CDR Olin as Commanding Officer. The squadron excelled in the carrier environment, earning TOP HOOK for the 2009 deployment. VFA-83 also served as the primary liaison unit for a 3-day joint operation with the French Navy in July 2009 off the coast of Brittany, France. During this exercise, CVW-7 and CVN 69 hosted French aviators aboard the carrier, and CVW-7 squadrons conducted joint flight operations with Super-E, Rafale, and Hawkeye aircraft from the French Navy. After a highly successful cruise with memorable port visits the RAMPAGERS returned home for a short break. After just a few short months, the squadron participated in COMPTUEX to prepare for a surge deployment back to the Middle East aboard USS DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER. 2009 was capped off with the RAMPAGERS earning the 2009 Battle “E,” and the 2009 Michael J. Estocin Award. 2010 brought another successful deployment in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM aboard USS DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER. From January to the end of July, the RAMPAGERS proved yet again their prowress in combat by supporting coalition troops on the ground. During cruise, the entire airwing showed unmatched professionalism by prividing 100% combat support with zero collateral damage incidents. In addition, the RAMPAGERS were able to provide more sorties than they were tasked to execute, resulting in a combat sortie completion rate of over 100 percent. The squadron is planning a detachment to NAS Key West in Novemeber for air-to-air training.