Happy Friday, FighterSweep Fans! For this week’s glorious homage to Mach Diamonds and heat haze, we bring you this spectacular image by Scott Dworkin. It features a Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornet from VFA-154 taking off in full afterburner.
This is a nice look at one of the coolest “color” or “CAG Birds” in the Navy’s Strike Fighter Community. The Black Knights, currently assigned to Carrier Air Wing 11 aboard the U.S.S. Nimitz, have a very rich history dating back to 1 July 1946.
Initially based at NAS Floyd Bennett, NY, their first aircraft was the Grumman F6F Hellcat, soon followed by the renowned and feared Vought F4U Corsair. As well as changing aircraft, the squadron moved from New York to NAS Moffett Field, CA.
VF-837 flew a combat cruise in the Korean war, flying off the USS Antietam (CV 36). By this point they had moved having graduated from the Corsairs into the jet age with another Grumman design, the F9F-2 Panther.
After their first cruise the squadron was officially redesignated VF-154 and called the “Black Knights.” By this time, the squadron was flying the jet referred to as the “MiG Master,” the Vought F-8 Crusader.
During Vietnam, the Black Knights transitioned from the Crusader to the McDonnell Douglas F-4B Phantom II, and then later to the F-4J. From their first combat deployment to Southeast Asia in 1965, VF-154 completed six cruises in total, and the last combat tour saw such a high standard from the Black Knights that they were awarded the Clifton Award–recognizing them as the best fighter squadron in the Navy.
VF-154 transitioned from the venerable Phantom to the F-14A beginning in October of 1983, making their first cruise with the Tomcat in 1985 aboard the U.S.S. Constellation. By January of 2003, at the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom, they were flying the oldest Tomcats in the fleet, off of the oldest ship left in the Navy, the U.S.S. Kitty Hawk. In September of that year, the squadron completed two decades of service with The Big Fighter, and embarked on a new path with the Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornet.
In 2005, the Black Knights were ready with the new airframe, and flew more than 1,000 missions in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Over the next two years, VFA-154 employed more than 40,000 pounds of ordnance supporting coalition ground forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In 2011, when the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami devastated the eastern coast of the Japanese mainland, VFA-154 was in position to launch multiple reconnaissance flights over the area affected. Utilizing the advanced sensory capability of the Super Hornet, Black Knight aircraft accurately mapped the devastation and also identified 10 previously un-located groups of survivors.
To this day, the Black Knights lead the charge in providing the Navy’s senior leadership with a very experienced, very capable strike fighter squadron able to adapt to any tactical problem in their path.
(Featured Photo by Scott Dworkin)