2016 Event Review

CVW-3 Photo Shoot, February 10, 2016

Location: NAS Fallon, NV
Admission:Closed to the general public, credentialed media only
Parking: Free, on site
Value: Excellent
Rating out of 10: Not an airshow

VFA-32 "Swordsmen" flying the F/A-18F Super Hornet

Carrier Air Wing Three (CVW-3) "Battle Axe", normally stationed at NAS Oceana, is currently deployed aboard the aircraft carrier Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69). CVW-3 consists of VFA-32 "Swordsmen" flying the F/A-18F Super Hornet, VFA-105 "Gunslingers" flying the F/A-18E Super Hornet, VFA-131 "Wildcats" flying the F/A-18C Hornet, VFA-86 "Sidewinders" flying the F/A-18E Super Hornets, VAQ-130 "Zappers" flying the EA-18G Growler, VAW-123 "Screwtops" flying the E-2C Hawkeye, VAW-126 "Seahawks" flying the E-2D Hawkeye, HSM-74 "Swamp Foxes" and HSC-7 "Dusty Dogs" flying the MH-60R/S Seahawk. Prior to its deployment CVW-3 spent several weeks working up at Naval Air Station Fallon. NAS Fallon, home of the Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center (NAWDC, formerly Naval Strike Air Warfare Center or NSAWC), is the only facility where an entire carrier air wing can conduct comprehensive training while integrating every element of the wing into realistic battle scenarios. During carrier air wing training, units are able to make use of the more than 6.5 million acres of the Fallon Range Training Complex (FRTC) and be challenged by Navy Aggressor units. The ultimate goal of NAWDC is to ensure that excellence in training will lead to victory in battle. We were fortunate to be invited to attend an on-base photo opportunity arranged through the Public Affairs Office.

Air wing training involves strike planning and execution in a dynamic, scenario-driven environment. Opposition is provided by Navy Aggressor squadrons flying dissimilar aircraft to provide a more realistic simulated wartime setting. The locally-based VFC-13 "Saints" flies F-5E Tiger IIs and NAWDC flies F-16C/D Vipers. NAWDC also flies F/A-18 Hornets in the Aggressor role. In addition to witnessing launches and recoveries, we were also given a tour of the flightline where we were able to see and photograph a number of additional aircraft. We also saw F/A-18F Super Hornets from the following squadrons making use of the FRTC:

VFA-11 "Red Rippers"

VFA-22 "Fighting Redcocks"

VFA-154 "Black Knights"

VFA-211 "Fighting Checkmates"

VFA-122 "Flying Eagles"

would like to thank Zip Upham of the NAS Fallon Public Affairs Office for his support in arranging the visit and all of his assistance during our visit.


Report and photography by Norman A. Graf for

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