Carrier Air Wing EIGHT

History

The mission of Carrier Air Wing EIGHT (CVW-8) is to conduct offensive and defensive air operations against land and sea targets, as directed by higher authority, while also providing Carrier Strike Group defense.  Currently assigned to Commander, Carrier Strike Group TWO, CVW-8 employs a mix of sophisticated aircraft to perform strike warfare, amphibious warfare, electronic warfare, airborne early warning, airborne command and control, sea control, air refueling, antisubmarine warfare and combat search and rescue missions.  

 

The Air Wing consists of eight squadrons, two detachments, 72 aircraft and over 2,200 personnel.  The strike and amphibious warfare missions are fulfilled by Strike Fighter Squadrons THIRTY ONE (VFA-31) and TWO ONE THREE (VFA-213) flying the F/A-18E and F/A-18F "SUPER HORNET” and Strike Fighter Squadrons FIFTEEN (VFA-15) and EIGHTY SEVEN (VFA-87) flying the F/A-18C "HORNET."  The electronic warfare mission is performed by Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron ONE HUNDRED FORTY-ONE (VAQ-141) flying the EA-6B “PROWLER.”  The airborne early warning and command and control missions are the responsibility of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron ONE HUNDRED TWENTY FOUR (VAW-124) flying the E-2C "HAWKEYE.”  Sea Control and organic air refueling is the responsibility of Sea Control Squadron TWENTY FOUR (VS-24) flying the S-3B "VIKING."   Antisubmarine warfare and combat search and rescue is the domain of Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron THREE (HS-3) flying the H-60 “SEAHAWK” helicopter.   Detachments from Carrier Onboard Delivery Squadron FORTY (VRC-40) flying the C-2A “GREYHOUND” and Helicopter Support Squadron Light FORTY FOUR (HSL-44) flying the H-60 “SEAHAWK” helicopter provide carrier onboard delivery logistics support along with anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare support.   

CVW-8 began operations on 1 June 1943 from the Naval Air Station Norfolk, Virginia and was initially assigned to USS INTREPID.  CVW-8 was decommissioned in 1945 following World War II, recommissioned for a short period and decommissioned again in 1949.  CVW-8 was recommissioned in April 1951 and has been in continuous operation since that date.  

 

CVW-8 has been assigned to the Atlantic Fleet and has made deployments in support of the FIRST, SECOND, FIFTH, SIXTH and SEVENTH Fleets.  The Air Wing has embarked in: USS INTREPID, USS BUNKER HILL, USS CORAL SEA, USS LAKE CHAMPLAIN, USS FORRESTAL, USS SHANGRI-LA, USS AMERICA, USS CARL VINSON, USS NIMITZ, USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN, USS JOHN F. KENNEDY, USS JOHN C. STENNIS, USS ENTERPRISE and USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT.

During World War II, CVW-8 distinguished itself in combat in the Pacific, winning five Battle Stars and the Presidential Unit Citation for heroic combat action while embarked in USS BUNKER HILL.  CVW-8 was the first Carrier Air Wing composed of reserve squadrons to transition from propeller to jet aircraft.  In 1959, CVW-8 aircraft provided an aerial demonstration to celebrate the opening of the Saint Lawrence Seaway .  During 1960 and 1961, CVW-8 accumulated over 49,000 flight hours and 20,000 carrier arrested landings without a mishap while assigned to the FIRST and SEVENTH Fleets.  In 1970, while embarked in USS SHANGRI-LA, CVW-8 was awarded the Meritorious Unit Commendation for combat operations in Southeast Asia .  Following a Mediterranean Cruise in 1971, CVW-8 embarked in USS AMERICA and deployed to and conducted combat operations in Southeast Asia from June 1972 to March 1973.  After an extended Mediterranean deployment in 1974 while embarked in USS AMERICA, CVW-8 embarked in USS NIMITZ for her maiden deployment in 1975.  

Between June 1976 and May 1980, CVW-8 embarked in USS NIMITZ for three Mediterranean deployments.  During their third Mediterranean deployment and in response to the Iranian hostage crisis and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan , the NIMITZ / CVW-8 Team left Naples , Italy in January 1980 and sailed around the Cape of Good Hope into the Indian Ocean .  Established at "GONZO STATION," the USS NIMITZ / CVW-8 team supported the Iranian hostage rescue attempt while remaining at-sea for more than 140 consecutive days.  Returning to the United States in May 1980, CVW-8 embarked once again in USS NIMITZ for the North Atlantic NATO exercise "TEAMWORK 80" from August to November 1980.  CVW-8 embarked in USS NIMITZ in April 1981 for Caribbean operations, followed by another SIXTH Fleet Mediterranean deployment.  It was during this deployment that two CVW-8 F-14's from Fighter Squadron FORTY-ONE engaged and destroyed two Libyan SU-22 aircraft following an unprovoked air-to-air missile attack over the international waters of the Gulf of Sidra .  

Returning to Norfolk , Virginia , CVW-8 embarked in the Navy's newest carrier, USS CARL VINSON for her maiden voyage in March 1982.  CVW-8 squadrons returned to USS NIMITZ later in 1982 for Carrier Refresher Training followed by Caribbean operations and an extended Mediterranean deployment from November 1982 to May 1983 which included air operations in support of the multi-national force in Beirut , Lebanon .  

In March 1985, CVW-8 embarked again in USS NIMITZ for a Mediterranean deployment which included participation in several exercises including DISTANT HAMMER, POOP DECK, and BRIGHT STAR.  During this deployment, USS NIMITZ and CVW-8 were stationed off the coast of Beirut , Lebanon for 69 consecutive days during the terrorist hijacking of a TWA airliner.  The prompt response and threat of contingency strike operations by the USS NIMITZ / CVW-8 team helped coerce the Iranian-backed terrorists into releasing their hostages.

 

In 1986, CVW-8 became the first East Coast Air Wing to transition to the Senior Air Wing Commander or "SUPER CAG" concept.  In August 1986, CVW-8 embarked in USS NIMITZ to the North Atlantic Ocean for Battle Group Training and a NATO exercise.  This two-month deployment took NIMITZ and CVW-8 above the Arctic Circle to Vestfjord , Norway where CVW-8 participated in NATO Exercise NORTHERN WEDDING / NORTHERN ENGAGEMENT with port calls to Wilhelmshaven , West Germany and Brest , France .

In December 1986, CVW-8 embarked in USS NIMITZ for the last time and deployed to the Mediterranean Sea .  At the end of this deployment the USS NIMITZ / CVW-8 team sailed around the tip of South America as the carrier changed its homeport from Norfolk , Virginia to Everett , Washington .  In June 1987, CVW-8 aircraft launched for the last time from USS NIMITZ while off the coast of San Diego , California to return to their respective homeports.

 

In August 1988, CVW-8 embarked in USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT for TEAMWORK 88, the largest multi-national exercise of the decade and operated in the North Atlantic with port calls in Vestfjord , Norway and Wilhelmshaven , West Germany .  In December 1988, CVW-8 embarked in USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT for a Mediterranean deployment where they participated in 10 NATO exercises including DRAGON HAMMER, NATIONAL WEEK, and JUNIPER STALLION.  CVW-8 distinguished itself during this deployment by flying over 22,000 flight hours and 10,000 sorties without a mishap.  

 

Following the August 1990 invasion of Kuwait by Iraqi armor and infantry forces, CVW-8 rapidly prepared for possible combat operations. In four short months, intense training enabled the USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT / CVW-8 team to deploy on 28 December to join five other U.S. Carrier Battle Groups in the largest display of sea power since World War II for Operation DESERT STORM. 

After participating in combat operations in Iraq in support of Operations DESERT STORM and PROVIDE COMFORT, CVW-8 returned home on 28 June 1991 for a brief stand down.  During the winter of 1991, CVW-8 provided opposition forces from NAS Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico in support of Carrier Battle Group training.  In July 1992, CVW-8 was the first Air Wing to receive and incorporate a Marine Corps F/A-18C squadron, the “CHECKERBOARDS” of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron THREE TWELVE (VMFA-312).  In December 1992, the USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT / CVW-8 team operated for the very first time in Naval Aviation history as a Special Marine Air / Ground Task Force.

 

CVW-8 embarked in USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT in March 1993 and participated in Operations PROVIDE PROMISE and DENY FLIGHT in support of NATO sanctions in Bosnia-Herzegovina.  In June 1993, the USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT / CVW-8 team passed through the Suez Canal for Red Sea duty in support of Operation SOUTHERN WATCH over Iraq .  CVW-8 returned to the Adriatic Sea in July 1993 to continue NATO operational tasking until returning to Norfolk , Virginia in September 1993.

 

CVW-8 embarked again in USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT in March 1995 and operated in the Mediterranean Sea, North Red Sea, Arabian Gulf and Adriatic Sea .  CVW-8 responded to threats from Iraq by conducting joint operations with the Royal Jordanian Air Force and also enforced No-Fly Zones over Bosnia-Herzegovina as part of Operation DENY FLIGHT.  On 29 August 1995, CVW-8 commenced air-to-ground offensive operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina during Operation DELIBERATE FORCE to include the first ever Navy combat use of the GBU-24 2,000 pound laser-guided penetrator bomb and the first combat use of the F-14 “TOMCAT” to deliver air-to-ground ordnance.  The USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT / CVW-8 team returned home on 22 September 1995 and on 1 November 1995, CVW-8 was reassigned under the operational control of the KENNEDY Battle Group, forming the team of USS JOHN F. KENNEDY and CVW-8.

 

In February 1996, CVW-8 embarked in USS JOHN C. STENNIS for a Joint Fleet Exercise.  This was followed by deployed operations to the North Atlantic while embarked in USS JOHN F. KENNEDY with port calls to Dublin , Ireland and Portsmouth , England .

 

In April 1997, CVW-8 embarked in USS JOHN F. KENNEDY for a Mediterranean Sea / Persian Gulf deployment.  During this deployment, CVW-8 participated in numerous exercises and detachments including INFINITE ACCLAIM, BEACON FLASH and INVITEX.  During INVITEX the Air Wing completed over 350 sorties including 203 sorties in a single day of surge operations.  This deployment also included operations over Bosnia-Herzegovina in support of Operation DELIBERATE GUARD and over Iraq in support of Operation SOUTHERN WATCH. 

 

CVW-8 was once again reassigned and embarked in USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT in January 1999.  The USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT / CVW-8 team participated in Operation ALLIED FORCE and conducted 55 consecutive days of combat operations over Bosnia-Herzegovina flying over 4,300 sorties and 10,000 flight hours while dropping over 800 tons of ordnance.  The Air Wing instituted new and innovative tactics utilizing cooperative targeting between the F-14’s employing the LANTIRN precision targeting system and Forward Air Controllers (Airborne) and FA-18C’s delivering laser Maverick weapons in a high threat environment.  CVW-8 was also the first Air Wing to employ the Joint Standoff Weapon.  The THEODORE ROOSEVELT / CVW-8 team also transited the Suez Canal during this deployment and proceeded to the Arabian Gulf to fly over 2,600 missions over Iraq in support of Operation SOUTHERN WATCH.  The Air Wing returned from this deployment on 22 September and was reassigned to the ENTERPRISE Battle Group on 1 November 1999.  

 

In 2001, CVW-8 embarked in USS ENTERPRSE and completed a six and one half month deployment culminating in the initial strikes of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM in Afghanistan .  The deployment began with detachments in Tunisia , Corsica, and Israel , as well as half-dozen port-visits throughout the Mediterranean .  During the second half of the deployment, the Air Wing flew in support of Operation SOUTHERN WATCH expending over 29,000 pounds of ordnance against Iraqi targets.  The USS ENTERPRISE / CVW-8 team were wrapping up operations in the FIFTH Fleet area of operations on 11 September 2001, remained on station and eventually flew 16 days of combat operations over Afghanistan to include 680 sorties that delivered over 770,000 pounds of precision guided munitions during the initial stages of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM.

 

On 19 February 2002, the Air Wing was reassigned back to the ROOSEVELT Battle Group.  In July 2002, CVW-8 began accelerated work-up operations leading to a combat deployment in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM.  In October 2002, CVW-8 integrated Strike Fighter Squadron TWO HUNDRED ONE (VFA-201), a reserve Navy FA-18A+ squadron, and embarked in USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT in January of 2002 for Caribbean training operations.  The THEODORE ROOSEVELT / CVW-8 team deployed to the Mediterranean Sea in March, at the conclusion of Caribbean training operations, and participated in combat operations in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM flying over 1,000 sorties and 5,000 hours that delivered over 1,000,000 pounds of precision-guided weapons.  The USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT / CVW-8 team returned from deployment in May 2003 and was chosen as the test platform for the Chief of Naval Operations Fleet Response Plan initiative. 

 

In March 2004, CVW-8 began workups and on 1 September 2005, CVW-8 embarked again in USS THEORDORE ROOSEVELT for an extended deployment in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM and Maritime Security Operations in the Arabian Gulf .  The Air Wing safely executed 16,000 sorties and 38,980 flight hours, achieved an unprecedented 97.3% sortie completion rate, and expended over 61,000 pounds of ordnance during this deployment.  In response to time-sensitive targeting and operational requirements, the Air Wing provided forward deployed support from Al Asad Air Base, Iraq and Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait to coalition ground forces.  The superior efforts of the CVW-8 and USS THEODORE ROOSEVLT team were recognized by award of the “JIG DOG” Ramage Award for the best performance by an integrated unit, and the Admiral James H. Flatley Award for Safety Excellence.  This was the last deployment of the F-14 “TOMCAT” as Fighter Squadrons THIRTY ONE (VF-31) and TWO THIRTEEN (VF-213), the Navy’s final two F-14 squadrons, began transitioning to the FA-18E/F “SUPER HORNET” shortly after their return.  On 11 March 2006, the USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT / CVW-8 team returned to their homeport of Norfolk , Virginia , where they stand ready to answer the call to serve.