2014-11-02 Naval aviation is in transition whether one visits MAWTS, Fallon, Eglin or Beaufort.
According to a USN story published October 28, 2014:
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (NNS) — The “Grim Reapers” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 101 returned to Naval Air Station Oceana Oct. 28, bringing with them the future of Naval Aviation.
The F-35C Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter completed its first landing at Oceana, providing Sailors a chance to learn more about the platform.
“The pilots and maintainers are the ones who make the mission possible,” said Capt. Scott Anderson, Commander Naval Air Forces, Fleet Requirements.
“This is their opportunity to see the advanced capabilities of the F-35.”
The F-35 is a single seat, multi-role fighter aircraft designed to eventually replace the F/A-18 Hornet and AV-8B Harrier.
The aircraft was planned with a common design, but three unique service variants capable of performing ground attack, reconnaissance, and air defense missions.
“The combat capabilities and mission systems onboard are second to none,” said Cmdr. John Allison, a VFA-101 pilot with more than 160 flight hours in the F-35.
“The in-flight controls and stealth capabilities provide a huge advantage on the battlefield.”
Although VFA-101 is the Navy’s newest squadron, they already possess a rich heritage.
The original Fighter Squadron (VF) 101 was established in 1942 and flew various aircraft including the F-14 Tomcat.
When the F-14 was retired in 2005, VF-101 was disestablished. Today, the “Grim Reapers” are ushering in a new era with the F-35.
“This is a way to pay homage to the past,” said Allison.
“Carrying on the name gives us a great connection to the F-14 and a great connection to Oceana.”
The F-35C is the carrier variant of the Lockheed Martin built aircraft.
The first aircraft carrier arrested landing is scheduled for next week aboard USS Nimitz (CVN 68) off the California coast.
By 2025, the Navy’s aircraft carrier-based air wings will consist of a mix of F-35C, F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, EA-18G Growlers electronic attack aircraft, E-2D Hawkeye battle management and control aircraft, Unmanned Carrier Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) air vehicles, MH-60R/S helicopters and Carrier Onboard Delivery logistics aircraft.
And in story from the Virginia Daily News, the event at Oceana provided a moment to reflect on the transition among generations of Naval aircraft.
The squadron responsible for training and qualifying air and maintenance crews for the Navy’s newest fighter jet is the reincarnation of a fighter squadron once based at Naval Air Station Oceana.
The Strike Fighter Squadron 101 takes its name and insignia from the Fighter Squadron 101, whose mission was to train crews on the now-retired F-14. That plane was replaced by the F/A-18, which will be supplanted by the new F-35, earning the squadron the nickname the “Grim Reapers.”
Cmdr. John Allison, who leads the squadron now based out of Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, visited Oceana Tuesday with the F-35C Lightning II, the variant used by the Navy. Painted on its tail, the F-35 has an intimidating light gray reaper.
“It’s a way to pay homage to that squadron,” Allison said, “and a nice connection to Naval Air Station Oceana.”
The Grim Reapers have flown in combat missions dating back to 1942 during World War II, according to a Navy statement.
They now serve as trainers for future naval aviators joining the fleet.
The original Grim Reapers were activated on June 3, 1942 as VF-10 at NAS San Diego flying the F4F Wildcat.
The first commanding officer was James H. Flatley, who had just served in the Battle of the Coral Sea.
The Grim Reapers deployed aboard the USS Enterprise (CV-6) to the Southern Pacific in 1942 where they participated in the Battle of Guadalcanal.
After their return to the U.S. and NAS Sand Point they transitioned to the F6F-3 Hellcat and once again deployed to the South Pacific aboard the Enterprise.
During their second combat tour, VF-10 participated in operations in the Marshall Islands, Jaluit, Emirau, the Western Caroline Islands, Hollandia, Truk Lagoon and the Battle of the Philippine Sea (a.k.a the Marianas Turkey Shoot).
The squadron then returned to the States, and transitioned to the F4U Corsair at NAS Atlantic City.
VF-101 returned to the Pacific and took part in strikes against Ryukyu Islands, Kyūshū, Okinawa and the Wake Island.
Finally, VF-10 returned to NAS Alameda where it was deactivated in November 1945.
For the Grim Reapers history see the following: