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"NIHIL MINOR QUAM OPTIME" - NOTHING LESS THAN THE BEST.

 

     The Yellow Jackets of VAQ-138 are charged with projecting electronic attack dominance anywhere in the world at any time by providing fully combat ready aircraft and personnel. Based in the Pacific Northwest at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, WA, VAQ-138 projects electronic dominance utilizing the new EA-18G Growler.  The Growler is the Navy's premier Electronic Attack asset specializing in the suppression of enemy air defenses though non-kinetic and kinetic means.  Based on the proven F/A-18F Super Hornet, the EA-18G is equipped with two F414-GE-400 turbofan engines, an APG-79 AESA radar, the ALQ-218 receiver system, and forward and aft cockpit Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing Systems.  Additionally, the combat load out for the Growler includes a combination of external fuel tanks, ALQ-99 tactical jamming pods, AIM-120 AMRAAM, and AGM-88 HARM.

     VAQ-138 was commissioned as an operational squadron in February of 1976.  The Yellow Jackets first appeared in the history books flying the EA-6B Prowler aboard USS SARATOGA (CV 60).  With the USS SARATOGA (CV 60) they embarked on two deployments to the Mediterranean Sea where they immediately distinguished themselves as a leader in aviation safety, earning the Chief of Naval Operations Safety Award. The Yellow Jackets then conducted operations with USS RANGER (CV 61) in 1978 before making three deployments to the Mediterranean Sea aboard the USS DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER (CVN 69) and USS JOHN F. KENNEDY (CV 67). The 1980s saw the Yellow Jackets deploy five times aboard the USS NIMITZ (CVN 68) where they conducted presence operations and flew in support of Operations PRAIRIE FIRE and EL DORADO CANYON.

     In 1990 VAQ-138 was embarked aboard the USS CONSTELLATION (CV 64) during her transit from Naval Station San Diego to Philadelphia Naval Shipyard for overhauls. The Yellow Jackets then deployed, once again, with USS NIMITZ (CVN 68) for four WESTPAC Cruises from 1991-1998 where they flew in support of Operations DESERT STORM, PROVIDE COMFORT, and SOUTHERN WATCH. VAQ-138 also deployed in support of Operation ALLIED FORCE, first with the USS JOHN F. KENNEDY (CV 67) in 1998 and then again with the USS JOHN C. STENNIS (CVN 74) in 1999.

     The new millennium saw VAQ-138 deploy twice more aboard CVN 74 in 2000 and 2001/2002 in support of Operations SOUTHERN WATCH and ENDURING FREEDOM.  Following their 2002 deployment the Yellow Jackets joined the USS CARL VINSON (CVN 70) for two deployments in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM in 2003 and 2005, the latter of which was a World Cruise to transition the ship from Naval Station Bremerton to Naval Station Norfolk. In 2006 the Yellow Jackets began operating again with the USS JOHN C. STENNIS (CVN 74), and deployed in support of Operations ENDURING FREEDOM and IRAQI FREEDOM in 2007 before embarking on a WESTPAC cruise in 2009 which was Team Rampage’s final deployment flying the EA-6B Prowler.

      From late 2009 through 2010, VAQ-138 returned to VAQ-129 to facilitate the transition from a sea going EA-6B squadron to an expeditionary EA-18G squadron. After earning their mission ready qualifications in 2011, the Yellow Jackets made their first deployment as an expeditionary squadron to Al-Asad Air Base, Iraq and Al-Jaber, Kuwait in support of Operations IRAQI FREEDOM and NEW DAWN. In 2013 the Yellow Jackets again deployed to the Middle East in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM.

     Late September 2016 marked the completion of the squadron’s six-month deployment to the Pacific Command Area of Responsibility, or PACOM AOR. As a Naval Expeditionary Airborne Electronic Attack Squadron, the Yellow Jackets served as a deterrent to potential adversaries in the 7th Fleet Theater, reassuring allies and partner nations of the United States’ commitment to their defense.

     Primarily operating out of Misawa Air Base in Japan, VAQ-138 was able to relocate at a moment’s notice, participating in exercises and detachments around the PACOM AOR.  Deployment began March 28, 2016 as the Yellow Jackets flew their EA-18G aircraft to Japan, making stops in Hawaii and Wake Island. The squadron quickly got acquainted with Japan as they hit the ground running and flew as many as eight sorties a day.

     In April, VAQ-138 relocated to Kunsan Air Base in the Republic of Korea to participate in Exercise Max Thunder, which was declared a success for the United States and Republic of Korea’s militaries. The exercise allowed for two full weeks of integration of tactics, briefing and flying.  Exercise Max Thunder not only improved proficiency but also showed the squadrons’ ability and willingness to integrate with allies successfully, according to a Navy press release Monday.  In May, the Yellow Jackets returned to Misawa. The time in Japan was spent integrating with the 13th Fighter Squadron; a United States Air Force F-16 squadron based there.

     In June 2016, VAQ-138 headed to the Philippines, marking the first time an EA-18G Growler squadron had detached to this location and tested the prospect of operating out of this part of the globe. The detachment was meant to establish a presence in the region and provide bilateral training to the Philippine Air Force.  VAQ-138 saw more movement in July as they returned to Misawa before airfield construction sent them to Guam. Tropical storms complicated both of these movements but the squadron was successful in relocating without incident. A month on the small island was interrupted by a return to Japan before returning to Guam for exercise Valiant Shield.

     Exercise Valiant Shield incorporated all aspects of the United States Navy and Air Force, giving VAQ-138 an opportunity to integrate and learn crucial lessons that enhance their ability to project power and defend U.S. interests abroad.  As September came to an end, the Yellow Jackets returned one last time to Misawa to pack and conclude the deployment, transferring the responsibilities of the PACOM AOR to VAQ-135.  Tropical storms complicated the return of VAQ-138, but the squadron returned to the United States in Anchorage, Alaska, followed by one more leg down to Whidbey Island, concluding VAQ-138’s PACOM AOR deployment.

     With over 37 years of service, Team Rampage continues to operate at the leading edge of Airborne Electronic Attack, ever adapting to the dynamic nature of electronic warfare as they remain true to their squadron motto – "NIHIL MINOR QUAM OPTIME" - NOTHING LESS THAN THE BEST.

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