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VAQ-130 ZAPPERS 2016 Cruise Video is AvGeek Overdose

VAQ-130 ZAPPERS, led by Dragon 1, Commander Brenden "TESS" Stickles (best call sign ever). Photo: Mike Killian (photo pilot Sean VanHatten)

“To win in combat with trained aircrew and combat ready aircraft whenever called upon to support and defend the Constitution of the United States through the military element of power”

Electronic Attack plays a critical role in military aviation warfare, taking out an enemy’s defenses, radar and anything dependent on electronics to operate. These squadrons essentially blind them and take out their ability to attack or defend, before sending in the fighters/bombers and ground crews to clean house.

ZAPPERS over the Pacific Ocean. Photo: Mike Killian (photo pilot Sean VanHatten)

In 1959, the U.S. Navy commissioned its first Electronic Warfare squadron. Originally known as Carrier Early Warning Squadron Thirteen (VAW-13), they flew AD-5Qs and adopted the nickname ZAPPERS.

They were re-designated Electronic Attack Squadron 130 (VAQ-130) nine years later, and supplied support detachments aboard all Pacific and Atlantic aircraft carriers, flying the EAK-3B Skywarrior to provide electronic countermeasures and air-to-air refueling capabilities.

An EA-6B Prowler assigned to VAQ-130 Zappers lands aboard the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) on Dec 8, 2010. This deployment marked the last time the Zappers would fly the EA-6B. Credits: USN

They moved to NAS Whidbey Island, Washington in 1975, located just north of Seattle, now home to all Navy tactical electronic attack squadrons, and transitioned to flying the EA-6B Prowler until late 2010, when they switched to flying the new state of the art EA-18G Growler, a variant of the Super Hornet.

Most recently they have seen action in support of Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq and Syria for 7 months while in both the Mediterranean Sea and the Persian Gulf, and earlier this year released a cool Cruise Video from their OIR Deployment in 2016.

Watch the VAQ-130 ZAPPERS 2016 Cruise Video Above!

VAQ-130 has maintained a vigorous schedule as part of sustainment and the Optimized Fleet Replenishment Program throughout 2017. They completed a Large Force Exercise week with Carrier Air Wing THREE in Oceana, VA at the beginning of March, and during the first two weeks of April detached aboard the USS DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER for their Sustainment Exercise, which involved a deck certification followed by an intense 10 day war game with both Large Force Exercises and Carrier Strike Group Exercises.

This summer they intercepted the total solar eclipse off the coast of Oregon too, but the flight did not go according to plan, because Seattle ATC refused to let them rendezvous with the photo ship, me, even though ATC was well informed ahead of time by multiple people involved in the mission.

VAQ-130 Dragons intercepting a total solar eclipse Aug 21, 2017. Photo: USN

 – The following information provided to the author directly from Chief of the Navy’s office:

Their two-seater, twin-turbofan Growlers integrate the latest electronic attack technology, including the ALQ-218 receiver, ALQ-99 jamming pods, communication countermeasures, satellite communications and features the APG-79 Active Electronically Scanned Array radar.

It’s a variant of the combat-proven F/A-18F Super Hornet Block II, and retains all of the F/A-18E/F’s multi-mission capabilities with its validated design, capable of a wide range of enemy defense suppression missions.

The ZAPPERS of Electronic Attack Squadron VAQ-130, off the coast of Oregon Aug 21, 2017. Photo: Mike Killian

Its vast array of sensors and weapons provides the warfighter with a lethal and survivable weapon system to counter current and emerging threats. They can counter enemy air defenses using both reactive and pre-emptive jamming techniques, and are highly effective in the traditional stand-off jamming mission, but with the speed and agility of a Super Hornet.

Dramatically enhanced situational awareness and uninterrupted communications enables the Growler to achieve a higher degree of integration with ground operations than has been previously achievable.

With its Advanced Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, digital data links and air-to-air missiles, the EA-18G has self-protection capability and is effective for target identification and prosecution.

Its high commonality with the F/A-18E/F, nine available weapon stations and modern avionics also enables cost-effective synergistic growth for both aircraft, setting the stage for continuous capability enhancement.

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Follow Mike Killian on Instagram and Facebook, @MikeKillianPhotography 

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Written by Mike Killian

Mike Killian

Killian is an aerospace photographer and writer, with a primary focus on spaceflight and military and civilian aviation. Over the years his assignments have brought him onboard NASA's space shuttles, in clean rooms with spacecraft destined for other worlds, front row for launches of historic missions and on numerous civilian and military flight assignments.

When not working the California-native enjoys spending time with his family, traveling, storm chasing, producing time-lapses and shooting landscape and night sky imagery, as well as watching planes of course.

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