Naval Air Station Oceana
Report by Vincent Loedeman
Located in the state of Virginia, Naval Air Station Oceana is home for almost 300 F/A-18 Hornets divided in 18 Squadrons flying 6 subtypes. Most Squadrons deploy with Carrier Air Wings (CVW), the flying units based on an aircraft carrier. The station is the sole Master Jet Base on the east coast and is home of all the east coast strike fighter units from the United States Navy. Touchdown Aviation recieved an invitation to visit this base to see current operations at NAS Oceana last May.
On the base there is one training unit VFA-106 East Coast Fleet Replacement Squadron 'Gladiators' which mission is to train new aircrews for the US Navy (USN) and US Marine Corps (USMC). Within a period of 9 months of training they learn basic flying on the F/A-18 Hornet including Air to Air and Air to Ground training. After the training aircrews are going to operational squadron from the USN and USMC to fly the mighty F/A-18 Hornet.
NAS Oceana also has a reserve squadron based to provide adversary training for the other units. This squadron, VFC-12 the 'Fighting Omars', are under command from Naval Reserve Commander. VFC-12 provides support for the Strike Readiness Program which trains operational Hornet squadrons before they are going on deployment. The jets from the Fighting Omars have a nice blue color scheme, to simulate Russian fighters.
During our visit the squadrons from Carrier Air Wing (CVW) Three were working up for their upcoming deployment, CVW 3 consists of 8 Suadrons of which VFA-32, VFA-37, VFA-105 were based at Oceana during our visit. After working up at Oceana CVW 3 depart to NAS Fallon to fly against adversary units based there (see also our 2009 TOPGUN report) prior to their deployment with the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) later this summer.
Another four CVWs have NAS Oceana as their homebase, being CVW 1 (USS Enterprise), CVW 7 (USS Dwigth D. Eisenhower), CVW 8 (USS George H.W. Bush) and CVW 17 (USS Carl Vinson). You can find more about the activities and operations of CVW 7 aboard the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower in our upcoming report.
I would like to thank Alex van der Goot, NAS Oceana base PAO, and all personal of VFA-31 and base operations for the great help and hospitality during our visit.