JUNE 23, 2021 – Carrier Air Wing (CVW) Two successfully completed carrier qualifications aboard USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), June 10, after four days of flight deck operations designed to ready the squadrons and carrier for future operations.
Carrier qualifications evaluate a squadron’s proficiency and capacity to accomplish routine missions by launching, executing and recovering in a safe manner both day and night.
“It’s been an opportunity for the air wing and the ship team to become synchronized in our basic mission set, launching and recovering aircraft at sea,” said Capt. Tommy Locke, Jr., commander, Carrier Air Group (CAG).
As CAG, Locke leads CVW-2, providing the eight squadrons of the air wing with guidance and support for mission planning, execution and debriefing. Both CVW-2 and Vinson are part of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) One.
In addition, as a warfare commander, Locke synchronizes with the other warfare commanders of the strike group in support of overall warfighting efforts.
Locke underlined the importance of training together and becoming a cohesive team.
“Each squadron and ship within the strike group completed their unit level training and now we’ve come together and ironed out the command and control between platforms, integrating our capabilities across all units and warfare areas,” said Locke. “The strike group is absolutely ready to respond to conventional or non-conventional threats.”
As the Navy’s most advanced carrier air wing, CVW-2 is leading the charge on introducing and integrating the next generation of aircraft and capabilities to the Fleet. CVW-2 is able to maneuver, assist and deploy over 5,000 nautical miles in less than a week, ready to fight and win through execution of a full range of military missions to defend our homeland, deter aggression and support peace and prosperity throughout the globe.
One of the newest additions to CVW-2 is the F-35C Lightning II with Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 147.
“The F-35C drastically improves the lethality and survivability of the air wing and the entire strike group,” said Cmdr. Jeff Fellows, commanding officer of VFA-147. “The aircraft’s ability to rapidly absorb and distribute time-critical information to other aircraft, surface ships, and joint assets is unparalleled. No other aircraft in the world can match it.”
With a broader wingspan, reinforced landing gear, ruggedized structures, durable coatings and folding wingtips, the F-35C carrier variant is designed to stand up to harsh shipboard conditions while delivering a lethal combination of strike fighter capabilities to the Fleet.
Additional fixed-wing aircraft assigned to CVW-2 are the F/A-18F Super Hornets of VFA-2, the F/A-18E of VFA-113 and VFA-192, the EA-18G Growlers of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 136, and the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 113.
Rotary-wing aircraft assigned to CVW-2 are the MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopters of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 4 and the MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopters of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 78.
To ensure Carl Vinson had the capability and capacity to host the advanced carrier air wing, the U.S. Navy made a myriad of upgrades to the carrier to accommodate both the F-35C and the CMV-22B Osprey of Fleet Logistics Multi-Mission Squadron (VRM) 30. The upgrades keep the carrier and the embarked air wing on the cutting edge of technology, able to dominate the battlespace, project power and maintain freedom of the seas.
As powerful as aircraft and an aircraft carrier are, Cmdr. Tim Osborne, Vinson’s air boss, said they are only as good as the team behind them. Vinson is a floating airport, and just like any airport, it needs people to keep it operating.
“Air department has been training for months and we are ready to execute operations in support of real-world tasking,” said Osborne. “From my officers to the most junior airman getting their hours on the flight deck, these are men and women, coming together for the mission. If it’s night ops or early morning flights, these Sailors are ready to get after it. They’re what makes a carrier the powerhouse that it is.”
With thousands of landings in 2021 alone, and now their carrier qualifications complete, CVW-2 is a lethal, capable, and innovative force enabler with significant operational flexibility should they need to respond to regional situations.
The Carl Vinson strike group is currently underway conducting routine maritime operations in U.S. 3rd Fleet.
An integral part of U.S. Pacific Fleet, U.S. 3rd Fleet operates naval forces in the Indo-Pacific in addition to providing realistic and relevant training necessary to flawlessly execute our Navy’s timeless roles of sea control and power projection.
Story by Lt. Drake Greer
USS Carl Vinson