Information About Us
Strike Fighter Squadron ONE THREE ONE (VFA-131), the WILDCATS, was established at NAS Lemoore, California, on 2 October 1983. The WILDCATS received their first FA-18A Hornet in May 1984. In January 1985, the WILDCATS moved to NAS Cecil Field, Florida, and became “AIRLANT’S First and Finest” FA-18 squadron.
As a part of Carrier Air Wing THIRTEEN (CVW-13), the WILDCATS deployed to the Mediterranean Sea in October 1985 aboard USS CORAL SEA (CV 43) and participated in air strikes against Libya. In 1986, VFA-131 was awarded the AIRLANT Battle “E”, the CNO Aviation Safety “S” (the first AIRLANT Hornet squadron to receive this award), the Silver Anchor for personnel retention excellence, and the CAPT Michael J. Estocin Award for the best FA-18 squadron in the U.S. Navy.
The WILDCATS completed their second Mediterranean deployment aboard USS CORAL SEA (CV 43) in March 1988. In August 1988, VFA-131 embarked aboard USS INDEPENDENCE (CV 62) for a two-month transit via Cape Horn from Norfolk to San Diego. In October 1988, the squadron joined Carrier Air Wing SEVEN (CVW-7) and deployed to the Mediterranean Sea aboard the USS DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER (CVN 69) in March 1990. In August 1990, EISENHOWER and the WILDCATS were among the first U.S. units to respond to the Iraq invasion of Kuwait as part of OPERATION DESERT SHIELD.
In September 1990, the squadron transitioned to FA-18C Lot XIII Night Strike Hornets. One year later, after a rapid turnaround, the squadron again deployed aboard EISENHOWER to the Red Sea and North Arabian Gulf in support of OPERATION DESERT STORM. The deployment concluded with operations above the Arctic Circle in support of Exercise TEAMWORK 92.
In May 1994, the WILDCATS were part of the maiden deployment of the Navy’s newest nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, USS GEORGE WASHINGTON (CVN 73). The WILDCATS flew sorties in support of OPERATION DENY FLIGHT over Bosnia-Herzegovina and OPERATION SOUTHERN WATCH over Southern Iraq. October 1994, the WILDCATS returned to the Arabian Gulf and participated in OPERATION VIGILANT WARRIOR, in response to Iraqi aggression. In November 1994, VFA-131 returned to Cecil Field and again received the CNO Aviation Safety “S” and the CAPT Michael J. Estocin Awards.
In April 1996 the WILDCATS once again deployed aboard WASHINGTON to the Mediterranean, Adriatic, and the Arabian Gulf in support of OPERATIONS DECISIVE ENDEAVOR and SOUTHERN WATCH.
In February 1998, the WILDCATS deployed for the “Around the World”, maiden deployment of USS JOHN C. STENNIS (CVN 74), again supporting OPERATION SOUTHERN WATCH in Iraq. Upon return in December 1998, the WILDCATS relocated from NAS Cecil Field, Florida, to NAS Oceana in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
In 1999 VFA-131 successfully integrated females into the squadron, and deployed in February 2000 to the Mediterranean, Adriatic, and Arabian Gulf aboard EISENHOWER in support of OPERATIONS JOINT GUARDIAN, DELIBERATE FORCE, SOUTHERN WATCH, JUNIPER STALLION and INDIGO ANVIL.
September 11, 2001 had the WILDCATS underway aboard USS JOHN F. KENNEDY (CV 67). Within hours of the terrorist attacks, armed WILDCAT Hornets were conducting air patrols over the nation’s capitol and New York City from USS GEORGE WASHINGTON (CVN 73) in support of OPERATION NOBLE EAGLE.
In February 2002, the WILDCATS deployed to the North Arabian Sea to take part in OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM aboard KENNEDY, flying combat sorties over Afghanistan. The WILDCATS were awarded the 2002 AIRLANT Battle “E”, CNO Safety “S” and Captain Michael J. Estocin Awards.
During the Summer of 2003, VFA-131 executed a complete aircraft swap, upgrading to Lot XIX Hornets and becoming the first FA-18C squadron to receive Link 16 capability (MIDS). From January to July 2004, VFA-131 deployed aboard USS GEORGE WASHINGTON (CVN 73) in support of OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM.
In February 2006, VFA-131 embarked on USS DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER (CVN 69), for Tailored Ship’s Training Availability (TSTA), a series of training evolutions that concluded with a Final Evaluation Period (FEP). In late March 2006 the squadron participated in a Fleet Synthetic Training-Joint (FST-J) exercise with US and coalition forces. FST-J combined the Navy’s Continuous Training Environment, Joint Training and the Experimentation Network infrastructure to provide training to the participating units in their respective homeports around the world.
After completing the “Unit Level Phase” of training, the squadron embarked USS DWUGT D, EISENHOWER (CVN 69) again in April 2006 for Composite Unit Training Exercise 06-02 or COMPTUEX. During this four-week period VFA-131 worked through a series of scenarios generated by Commander, Strike Force Training Atlantic (CSFTL) to test every aspect of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) operations. These evolutions tested the squadron’s capabilities in air defense, dynamic strikes, close air support and long-range strike.
On June 23, VFA-131 returned home after three weeks of intensive training over the desert ranges of Naval Air Station Fallon, Nevada. In mid-July, VFA-131, along with CVW-7, embarked on EISENHOWER with Commander Carrier Strike Group EIGHT (CCSG 8) and Commander Destroyer Squadron 28 (CDS 28) for Joint Task Force Exercise (JTFEX) 06-02 “Operation Bold Step”. More than 16,000 service members from five different countries participated in this multinational exercise that also served as the forward certifying event for the Eisenhower Strike group. Operation Bold Step not only provided VFA-131 with an outstanding opportunity to train with coalition forces in a dynamic environment but also to serve as the lead air wing in a multi-carrier strike force.
The USS Theodore Roosevelt Strike Group (CSG2) and the USS Bataan Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG 4) joined CSG-8 to comprise the Eisenhower Strike Force (ESF). On October 3, the WILDCATS deployed onboard the USS DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER (CVN-69) to the North Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf in support of OPERATION’S ENDURING FREEDOM (OEF) and IRAQI FREEDOM (OIF), respectively.
On November 6, the WILDCATS defined “Ready-On-Arrival” by opening combat operations for CVW-7 by successfully employing ordnance on the first night of support for OEF. A little over a month later, VFA-131 headed north to the Persian Gulf to support coalition troops on the ground in OIF and again was the first to deliver ordnance for the air wing. The squadron capped a long year of work ups and combat operations by spending a well-deserved Christmas holiday in Dubai, UAE.
On 23 May 2007, the WILDCATS successfully completed their eight month deployment aboard IKE (CVN 69) and returned home to Naval Air Station Oceana, VA. They were awarded the Battle "E" for being the best strike fighter squadron on the east coast.
Most recently, the Wildcats weathered through back-to-back deployments aboard USS Dwight D Eisenhower from 2009 to 2010 earning the Safety "S", Maintenance "M", and various other small awards.
In June 2012, the WILDCATS deployed to the Arabian Sea and Arabian Gulf with Carrier Air Wing SEVEN aboard EISENHOWER. The WILDCATS executed combat operations in support of OEF and other regional tasking in the Arabian Sea. The WILDCATS returned home in December 2012 for the holidays, and were awarded the Enlisted Aviation Warfare Specialist (EAWS) Pennant and EISENHOWER Captains Cup Trophy. In February 2013, VFA 131 re-deployed onboard EISENHOWER fo a scheduled four month deployment.
The WILDCATS are slated to deploy again early spring of 2013. The WILDCATS are continuing the long held tradition of being “AIRLANT'S FIRST AND FINEST!”
ONE TEAM, ONE FIGHT!