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Airborne Command & Control Squadron (VAW) 113 “Black Eagles”

Squadron History

VAW-113 Aircraft Image

The "Black Eagles" were commissioned as an individual    squadron on April 20, 1967. One week later, VAW-113 deployed to the Western Pacific (WESTPAC), flying the E-2A Hawkeye in support of Vietnam operations from 1967 to 1975.The culmination of these efforts occurred in May 1975, when VAW-113 played a vital role in Operation FREQUENT WIND, a mission to evacuate American forces from South Vietnam.

As tactical innovators in the 1980s, VAW-113 was the first to deploy with the F-14 Tomcat, as well as the F/A-18 Hornet. During that time, they provided substantial input to the development and utilization of these platforms in the 'outer air battle, ''medium range anti-air,' and 'overland' arenas. In 1987, the Black Eagles were recognized for operational excellence in their support of Battle Group Delta and tanker escort operations in the North Arabian Sea/Gulf of Oman. In December of 1988, the Black Eagles returned to the region, monitoring tanker escort operations in support of Operation EARNEST WILL.

During their WESTPAC '90 cruise, VAW-113 deployed to the Gulf of Oman, providing both sea and air cover to Battle Group Delta and allied forces in the Arabian Sea. As one of the first units deployed after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, VAW-113 spent over three months in the Gulf of Oman in support of operation DESERT SHIELD prior to their return to San Diego in December of 1990. In May of 1992, the Black Eagles took part in Exercise ROVING SANDS, the largest integrated air defense event in the continental United States to date. This was the first employment of the cutting edge technology incorporated into the E-2C Hawkeye Group II. Later in 1992, the Black Eagles deployed to Panama in support of the Counter-Narcotic operations of Joint Task Force Four (JTF-4). The actions taken earned them accolades from the Commander of JTF-4, making it one of the most successful E-2C detachments on record.

In 1994, VAW-113 redeployed to WESTPAC onboard the USS CARL VINSON (CVN-70) in support of Operation SOUTHERN WATCH. VAW-113 aircrews acted as Navy Command & Control liaison officers in Saudi Arabia to Joint Task Force Southwest Asia alongside E-3A AWACS and RC-135 RIVET JOINT aircrews. Next, the Black Eagles made a two month detachment to Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico supporting Joint Inter-Agency Task Force (JIATF) East's war on drugs campaign. The same year, the Black Eagles became the first E-2C squadron to graduate a Weapons and Tactics Instructor from the Marine Air Weapons Tactics Squadron (MAWTS) course. Following this feat, VAW-113 made history while participating in the 50th anniversary of the end of WWII held in Pearl Harbor, marked by the deck launch of fourteen WWII era aircraft for the last time.

May 1996, the Black Eagles returned to WESTPAC for deployment, this time in support of both Operation DESERT STRIKE and Operation SOUTHERN WATCH. During this deployment, the squadron was awarded the Battle Efficiency “E” award.

June 1998, VAW-113 deployed aboard the USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN (CVN 72) flying to support of Operation SOUTHERN WATCH. Their tactical prowess throughout the year was recognized by receiving another Battle Efficiency award. Upon ending their cruise, the Black Eagles launched from the Lincoln, flying to their new home at Naval Base Ventura County, NAS Point Mugu, CA.

The squadron began WESTPAC 2000 aboard the USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN in sustained support of Operation SOUTHERN WATCH and the economic sanctions being levied against Iraq. It was this deployment the squadron earned their fifth Battle Efficiency "E" for its outstanding work throughout the year of 2000. The Black Eagles also earned the CNO's Aviation Safety Award for E-2 squadrons and the Rear Admiral Frank Akers Award for Airborne Early Warning Excellence as the best E-2 squadron the Navy had to offer.

In 2003, the squadron deployed to offer continuous support of Operation SOUTHERN WATCH. As their tour came to a close, the carrier was tasked in Australia to return to the Gulf begin Operation IRAQUI FREEDOM, with the Black Eagles at the tip of the spear.

May 2004, VAW-113 deployed onboard the USS JOHN C. STENNIS (CVN 74), conducting airborne command and control to Operation NORTHERN EDGE in early June. One month later, the squadron participated in the Rim of Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC) conducted in Hawaii.

In 2006, the Black Eagles, along with Carrier Air Wing 14 and Carrier Strike Group 7, joined the USS RONALD REAGAN (CVN 76) on its maiden voyage to the WESTPAC region to sustain success of Operation IRAQUI FREEDOM. VAW-113 finished the trip with a 99% combat sortie completion rate. Later that year, during their support of Operation SEA DRAGON III, the Black Eagles paved the way for the Hawkeye community as the first squadron to ever employ the ALQ-217 Electronic Support Measures (ESM) system. As they returned home from deployment, the squadron also participated in the first ever, Exercise VALIANT SHIELD, a joint combat training evolution.

In 2007, the Black Eagles departed again upon the USS RONALD REAGAN for the WESTPAC region. That July, the squadron began workups for the 2008 cruise to support Operation ENDURING FREEDOM in Afghanistan. With a 98% mission completion rate and over 1,400 hours of mishap-free flight time at the end of their deployment, their performance was recognized with another Battle "E" award in early 2009. Later in May 2009, the Black Eagles were once more called to action for Operation ENDURING FREEDOM, continuing their standard of excellence with a 99% mission completion rate, and over 200 sorties successfully flown. Upon their return, over 20 Air Medals were awarded in recognition of the Black Eagle's combat sortie numbers. Rounding the year off, VAW-113 was selected to receive the Battle "E" award for its second year in a row.

The operational tempo did not slow down for VAW-113 at the start of the coming decade. 2010 began with a workup cycle to conduct events in the RIMPAC exercise then to deploy. In 2011, VAW-113 boarded the USS RONALD REAGAN in support of Operation NEW DAWN in Iraq and Operation ENDURING FREEDOM in Afghanistan. During their transit across the Pacific, the squadron was called into action following the devastating 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and Tsunami in Japan. Flying their Hawkeye 2000s, the Black Eagles provided airborne command and control for the relief effort as a part of Operation TOMODACHI. Their valiant effort and tenacity earned the squadron another Battle "E" award from Commander of Naval Air Forces.

Entering the late 2010's, the Black Eagles were involved in two back-to-back WESTPAC deployments, followed closely by RIMPAC 2018. From 2018 into 2019, VAW-113 prepared for the unprecedented transcontinental type/mode/series transition from the E-2C to the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye. Following successful Carrier Qualification on board the JOHN C. STENNIS (CVN 74) in the fall of 2019, the Black Eagles flew their new platform back to Point Mugu, CA. Upon their "Safe for Flight" certification, the Black Eagles became the first E-2D squadron on the west coast, and have since begun exploring the immense capabilities in fleet events.  

The Black Eagles ended 2019 and started 2020 strong by making history with their new platform. VAW-113 supported Exercise RESOLUTE HUNTER, a Maritime ISR course at NAS Fallon and participated in the joint exercise WINTER FURY with USMC and USAF 5th generation assets becoming the first E-2D participation in those events. In the spring of 2020, the squadron held their first air defense conference and coordinated and training in numerous Integrated Fighter Control events with F-18 Hornet variants and F-35 Lightning.

The Black Eagles are now passing their 53th anniversary with over 155,952 hours of Class A mishap free flights.

They have been awarded:

  • One Joint Meritorious Unit Award
  • Six Meritorious Unit Commendation Medals
  • Ten Battle Efficiency "E"s
  • One RADM Frank Akers Award
  • Two Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Naval Aviation Safety Awards
  • Three Navy Unit Citations
  • Two Navy Expeditionary Medals
  • Two South West Asia Service Medals
  • Four Armed Forces Expeditionary Medals
  • Two Sea Service Deployment Medals
  • Three Humanitarian Medal
  • Twelve Vietnam Service Medals

VAW-113 continues to distinguish itself as the premier Airborne Command and Control squadron in the VAW-113 is currently assigned to Carrier Air Wing Two (CVW-2) and attached to the USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70). The Black Eagles are presently training at their home base in California and plan to conduct varies trainings such as Fighter Integrated Training Evolution (FITE) to varies bases such as NAS Fallon, Nevada. VAW-113 is a part of the most advanced carrier air wing in history, the World Famous Black Eagles plan to continue being leaders of the new decade and the best in providing airborne command & control.

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