Navy to Assign E-2D Squadron to Forward-Deployed Carrier Air Wing
By RICHARD R. BURGESS, Managing Editor
ARLINGTON, Va. — The Navy’s newest radar warning aircraft will equip the Navy’s forward-deployed carrier air wing (CVW) in Japan, the service announced in a Jan. 5 release.
Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 125 (VAW-125) will shift home base from Naval Station Norfolk, Va., to Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, in February. The squadron will bring five E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft to CVW-5, the air wing assigned to the aircraft carrier forward deployed to Japan, USS Ronald Reagan.
The assignment of the E-2D to CVW-5 accords with the Navy’s strategic plan to forward deploy its most modern capabilities in the Western Pacific. The E-2D, built by Northrop Grumman, is equipped with the Lockheed Martin APY-9 active electronically scanned array search radar, an upgraded mission computer and data link, a digital cockpit and the ability for the co-pilot to serve as an extra mission controller.
VAW-125 will replace VAW-115 in the air wing. VAW-115, which flies the older E-2C Hawkeye, is based at Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan, along with the rest of the air wing’s squadrons. The air wing’s four F/A-18E/F Super Hornet strike fighter squadrons and its EA-18G electronic attack squadron will move from Atsugi to Iwakuni beginning late this year as part of a planned shift of the air wing.
VAW-125 was the Navy’s first E-2D fleet squadron and already has completed one deployment on USS Theodore Roosevelt in support of Operation Inherent Resolve combat operations. Two other Norfolk-based squadrons, VAW-121 and VAW-126, also have completed transition to the E-2D. VAW-124 is scheduled to begin transition in March 2018.
VAW-115 has been forward deployed to Japan since the early 1970s, rotating with CVW-5 to the forward-deployed carrier, beginning with USS Midway and through its successors USS Independence, USS Kitty Hawk, USS George Washington and now USS Ronald Reagan. The squadron will move during the summer to the West Coast E-2 base at Naval Air Station Point Mugu, part of Naval Base Ventura County, Calif. The squadron eventually will make the transition to the E-2D.