We Loves Us Some Tomcats and It Shows- For More Than 90 Minutes!
Here at Avgeekery.com we’re always looking for content that our readers (and viewers) will appreciate. Therefore, we bring you this great look at Fighter Squadron ONE ZERO TWO (VF-102) Diamondbacks as seen during their 1999-2000 “Millennium Cruise” deployment with Carrier Air Wing ONE (CVW-1) aboard the carrier USS John F Kennedy (CVA-67). The video, all 90 minutes of it, was uploaded to YouTube by shadow7577. Enjoy- and stick around for the rest of the story after you get an eye and earful of Tomcats.
Carrier Air Wing ONE Arriving
CVW-1’s deployment aboard the JFK commenced on 22 September 1999 and concluded on 19 March 2000. During this deployment CVW-1 consisted of VF-102 Diamondbacks flying the Grumman F-14B Tomcat, VFA-82 Marauders, VFA-86 Sidewinders, and VMFA-251 Thunderbolts, all flying the McDonnell Douglas (Boeing) F/A-18C Hornet, along with VS-32 Maulers flying the Lockheed S-3B Viking, VAW-123 Screwtops flying the Grumman E-2C Hawkeye, VAQ-137 Rooks flying the Grumman EA-6B Prowler, and HS-11 Dragonslayers flying the Sikorsky HH-60H Rescue Hawk and SH-60F Ocean Hawk (Seahawk) helicopters.
The Diamondbacks and Tomcats
VF-102 began flying the F-14A Tomcat in 1981. Their jets were Tactical Airborne Reconnaissance Pod System (TARPS) capable. VF-102’s first deployment with CVW-1 was aboard the Kitty Hawk-class aircraft carrier USS America (CVA-66) in 1983. During the remainder of the 1980s VF-102 deployed several more times aboard the America and flew cover for the strike aircraft hitting Libya during Operation El Dorado Canyon. They were also underway in the Red Sea for Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm during the early 1990s.
After another Mediterranean Sea deployment in 1993, VF-102 transitioned to the GE F-110-powered F-14B-model Tomcat in 1994. Several more deployments to the Med, Adriatic, and Middle East saw the Diamondbacks getting the most out of the additional power their Turkey Bravos possessed. In 1993 CVW-1’s other fighter Squadron, VF-33 Starfighters, was disestablished. VF-102 then became the only F-14-equipped (and TARPS-capable) squadron in CVW-1. Not long after their Millenium Cruise aboard the Kennedy and their return to Naval Air Station (NAS) Oceana, 9/11 happened.
Setting Records and Making a Mess
VF-102 began a scheduled deployment to the Arabian Sea on 19 September 2001 as a part of Operation Enduring Freedom and soon began combat operations. The Diamondbacks flew some of the first Forward Air Control (Airborne) sorties flown in F-14s, eventually racking up 3,346 combat hours while dropping 645 bombs of their own, and guiding more than 50,000 pounds of precision guided munitions launched by other aircraft to their targets. In so doing VF-102 dropped more ordnance and flew more combat hours than any other F-14 unit during the war in both 2001 and 2002. VF-102 was at sea for 159 consecutive days during this deployment- a record that had stood for more than 20 years. After their 2001-2002 OEF deployment VF-102 became VFA-102, transitioning to the Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornet.
Millennium Cruise Members
During their “Millennium Cruise” deployment, Carrier Group SIX (CARGRU6) consisted of the Kitty Hawk-class aircraft carrier USS John F Kennedy (CVA-67), The Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser USS Monterey (CG-61), the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers USS McFaul (DDG-74), USS Carney (DDG-64), and USS The Sullivans (DDG-68), the Spruance-class destroyers USS Spruance (DD-963) and USS John Hancock (DD-981), the Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided missile frigates USS Underwood (FFG-36) and USS Taylor (FFG-50), the Los Angeles-class attack submarines USS Jacksonville (SSN-699) and USS Scranton (SSN-756), and the Sacramento-class fast combat support ship USS Seattle (AOE-3).