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.