The Golden Hawks of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 112 have spent the last month supporting Operation Enduring Freedom in the North Arabian Sea.
Based at Naval Base Ventura County, Point Mugu, the squadron is deployed on the USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74) and is expected to remain there for the next eight to 10 months in support of Fifth Fleet objectives in the Gulf region.
Just six months ago, VAW-112 was in the same location, supporting U.S. ground troops in Afghanistan. During that deployment, the Golden Hawks closed out Operation New Dawn by flying the last naval aircraft from Iraq on Dec. 18, 2011, effectively ending combat operations after 21 years in Iraq.
During their one-and-a-half-month transit west, VAW-112 visited ports in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, and Phuket, Thailand. After conducting diplomatic missions and receiving a little rest and relaxation, the Golden Hawks were again ready to support Operation Enduring Freedom.
To prepare for this mission set, the squadron’s maintenance department has been working around the clock to get their four E-2C Hawkeye aircraft ready. Despite aircraft transfers, long working hours and their accelerated turnaround schedule, the Golden Hawks were able to launch and support 100 percent of their mission sorties.
Often called “quarterback of the skies,” the E-2C Hawkeye plays a crucial role in airborne and surface detection at ranges far exceeding any other platform — surface or airborne. While the F/A-18 Hornets and EA-6B Prowlers provide close air support to U.S. troops in Afghanistan, the E-2C works to provide surface and air early warning detection for the carrier strike group by ensuring that the airspace and sea lanes are safe.
In addition to supporting Operation Enduring Freedom, the USS Stennis Carrier Strike Group is also supporting the U.S. Navy’s mission of forward presence in a region that has seen historic levels of tension and uncertainty during recent months. VAW-112 is an integral part of this critical mission and is instrumental in providing security for U.S. assets and regional partners.