Shadowhawks sail into history
As many of the families in Whidbey Island enjoy the end of summer and the final days of beautiful Northwest weather, the Shadowhawks of
Electronic Attack Squadron One Four One (VAQ-141) depart on deployment and into history.
The squadron is the electronic attack arm of Carrier Air Wing Eight (CVW-8) embarked aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71). Sailing
from Norfolk, Va., in early September with its contingent of cruisers, destroyers and supply ships comprising Carrier Strike Group Two, she
will be directly supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
While en route, the Roosevelt is scheduled to be the first nuclear powered aircraft carrier in history to visit the port city of Cape Town, South
Africa. Located on the very Southern tip of Africa, Cape Town has not been visited by any U.S. aircraft carrier since USS Midway visited some
50 years ago on her world tour.
Notorious for rough seas and unfavorable winds, the Cape of Good Hope, where Cape Town is positioned, has presented logistical obstacles
for the mighty Roosevelt but should ultimately not preclude the carrier from making a port call there.
In addition to their historic stop in Africa, the Shadowhawks also celebrate the squadron’s last deployment with the venerable EA-6B Prowler.
VAQ-141 has flown the EA-6B since the squadron was established in 1987. In use since the Vietnam Conflict, the Prowler has proven to be
a reliable, as well as one of the only electronic attack platforms. Originally designed to jam enemy radar systems while escorting the A-6 Intruder
on low altitude bombing missions, the Prowler is now used for both enemy radar and communications jamming. The Shadowhawks will replace
their Prowlers in spring 2009 with the new EA-18G Growler.
Though the Growler’s jamming capabilities share some of the same hardware as the Prowler, software and computer upgrades will make the
EA-18G the world’s most advanced electronic attack aircraft.
Excited to be transitioning to the new aircraft, Lt. Paul Latina said, “What a great opportunity it will be to fly two different aircraft during my
junior officer tour. I can’t wait to get into a pointy nose jet. This is truly an exciting time to be in naval aviation.”
In preparation for deployment, the Shadowhawks underwent an extensive work-up cycle starting in December 2007 with the Roosevelt’s flight
deck certification. Following this, the squadron attended Electronic Attack Advanced Readiness Program in January 2008 to hone their combat
tactics. Tailored Ship’s Training Availability in March 2008 introduced the squadron to cyclic operations aboard the carrier and integration
within the Air Wing.
The work-up cycle continued with Composite Training Unit Exercise where the Shadowhawks practiced large force exercises with other squadrons
in the Air Wing. Concluding the pre-deployment flow, VAQ-141 participated in Air Wing Fallon, in Fallon, Nev., and Joint Task Force Exercise
during June and July where the squadron furthered their ability to work closely with airborne and seaborne assets. JTFEX also saw French Rafale
fighter aircraft trap on the Roosevelt and remain aboard for combined cyclic operations for the first time in history.
© 2008 Sound Publishing, Inc.