The Red Rippers were commissioned in 1927 as VF-5S in the earliest days of Naval Aviation and are proud to be the Navy’s oldest continuously active fighter squadron. The Rippers began their distinguished heritage in Hampton Roads, Virginia flying the Curtis F6C-3 HAWK. They served in both theaters of World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and in Operations PROVIDE COMFORT, SOUTHERN WATCH, OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM, and OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM. From the decks of the USS LANGLEY (CV-1), America's first carrier, to the USS HARRY S. TRUMAN (CVN-75), the Red Rippers have been indelibly written into the history of Naval Aviation.
Prior to WWII, the Rippers flew a number of propeller aircraft including the Boeing F3B-1 and F4B-1, and the Grumman FF-1 and F3F-1, and held the following squadron designations: VF-5S, VB-1B, VF-5, and VF-4.
During WWII, the Rippers (then known as VF-41) supported the allied invasion of North Africa, downing sixteen enemy aircraft in the Grumman F4F-3 WILDCAT. They also conducted the first air strikes against German forces in Norway in September 1943. The Red Rippers (re-designated VF-A) transferred to the Pacific theater in 1944, operating from USS BUNKER HILL and USS ESSEX. The squadron additionally flew the first air strikes against Tokyo in the Grumman F6F HELLCAT.
In 1948, the Rippers became Fighter Squadron ELEVEN (VF-11), and leapt into the jet age flying the McDonnell F2-1 BANSHEE. They flew the BANSHEE during the Korean War from USS KEARSARGE, and later transitioned to the Chane-Vought F-8 CRUSADER aboard USS ROOSEVELT, helping quell unrest in the Dominican Republic. In 1965, the Rippers moved to Naval Air Station Oceana flying the F-4B PHANTOM II and saw action against North Vietnam in 1967 aboard USS FORRESTAL (CV-59).
The Rippers transitioned to the F-14A TOMCAT in 1980 and made their first TOMCAT cruise aboard USS JOHN F. KENNEDY (CV-67) in 1982. On 30 May 1991, the Rippers made their final deployment with Carrier Air Wing SIX, flying from the flight deck of USS FORRESTAL in support of Operation PROVIDE COMFORT in Northern Iraq.
On 12 July 1992, the Rippers joined Carrier Air Wing FOURTEEN at Naval Air Station Miramar and transitioned to the F-14D. In February 1994, the Rippers deployed on the first “Super TOMCAT” cruise aboard USS CARL VINSON (CVN-70) in support of Operation SOUTHERN WATCH. The Rippers completed a second cruise onboard VINSON in 1996, supporting combat operations against Iraq during Operation DESERT STRIKE.
December 1996 marked the Rippers return to NAS Oceana, a transition to the F-14B, and service with Carrier Air Wing SEVEN. The Rippers deployed aboard USS JOHN C. STENNIS (CVN-74) on her maiden deployment. This deployment was an around-the-world cruise providing support for Operation SOUTHERN WATCH.
In February 2000, the Rippers completed a highly successful deployment on board USS DWIGHT D EISENHOWER (CVN-69) providing support to operations in both Kosovo and Iraq. The Rippers additionally became the first squadron to drop ordnance in combat from the deck of the EISENHOWER.
On September 11, 2001 in response to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and in Pennsylvania, Fighter Squadron ELEVEN was called to action to provide homeland and coastal defense. In February of 2002 the Rippers deployed aboard USS JOHN F KENNEDY (CV-67) in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM. The squadron played an instrumental role in the Global War on Terrorism by providing airborne support for coalition troops.
In the summer of 2004, the Rippers returned from a six-month deployment to the Arabian Gulf where they flew combat missions in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM from the flight deck of USS GEORGE WASHINGTON (CVN-73). This marked VF-11’s final deployment in the Grumman F-14 TOMCAT, and in 2005, the Rippers began a new chapter in their history when they transitioned to the FA-18F Super Hornet.
On November 5, 2007 the Rippers embarked on their first combat deployment flying the “Rhino” aboard the USS HARRY S. TRUMAN (CVN-75) as a member of Carrier Air Wing THREE. During this deployment the Rippers continued their long history of superior tactical employment, by leading the air wing in ordnance released in support of the troops on the ground in Iraq as part of OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM. While deployed they released 40 tons ordnance and flew over 1,800 sorties totaling more than 5,070 embarked hours. The Red Rippers joined Carrier Air Wing ONE on September 30, 2008, and today, the squadron continues to exercise the full gamut of strike-fighter day and night missions, to included Air Superiority, Strike, Maritime Superiority, Forward Air Control (Airborne) and Combat Search and Rescue.
After over eighty years of continuous service with 26 different fighter aircraft and aboard 25 different aircraft carriers, The World Famous Red Rippers carry on their proud tradition as the Navy's oldest continuously active fighter squadron.