|Unit Name:||Carrier Airborne Command and Control Squadron One One Seven|
|Dates:||July 1, 1974 - present|
|Branch:||United States Navy|
|Type:||Airborne early warning|
|Command Structure:||Carrier Air Wing 11|
|Current Commander:||CDR Brian L. Morgan|
|Garrison:||NAS Point Mugu|
|Battles:||Operation Praying Mantis|
Operation Fiery Vigil
Operation Restore Hope
Operation Southern Watch
Operation Desert Fox
Operation Enduring Freedom
Operation Iraqi Freedom
The Carrier Airborne Command and Control Squadron One One Seven (VAW-117) are a United States Navy airborne early warning (AEW) squadron. Nicknamed The Wallbangers, they fly the E-2 Hawkeye. The squadron is based out of Naval Air Station Point Mugu, California and deploy as part of Carrier Air Wing 11 onboard the USS Nimitz (CVN-68).
The World Famous “Wallbangers” of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron One Hundred Seventeen (VAW-117) are home ported in NBVC Pt. Mugu, California. The Wallbangers fly the Navy’s only carrier-based command and control platform, the E-2C Hawkeye.
The squadron was established at NAS North Island, CA on 01 July 1974, as part of Fighter Early Warning Wing, U.S. Pacific Fleet. The squadron received its first E-2B aircraft in October 1974 and in Oct of 1975; they deployed to the Mediterranean Sea onboard the USS INDEPENDENCE (CV-62). The squadron made its first Western Pacific (WESTPAC) deployment with Carrier Air Wing TWO onboard the USS RANGER (CV-61) in February 1979.
Over the past 30 years, the Wallbangers have constantly found themselves at the tip of the spear. During the 1988 WESTPAC onboard the USS ENTERPRISE, VAW-117 played a key role in Operation PRAYING MANTIS during which an Iranian ship was destroyed. In addition, the Wallbangers excelled in providing command and control during the attacks on oil platforms and small ships.
Years later, the Wallbangers were still maintaining their rapid operational pace. The onset of Operation DESERT SHIELD/DESERT STORM led to the most accelerated turn around training cycle ever. Onboard the USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN’s maiden WESTPAC Voyage in May 1991, VAW-117 assisted in the evacuation of dependents from the Philippines after the eruption of Mount Pinatubo during “Operation FIERY VIGIL.” The Wallbangers were awarded the Joint Meritorious Unit Award for their efforts in assisting in the evacuation.
The Wallbangers have made several advancements in the past few years. In 1999, they were selected to provide operational testing for the Navy’s newest AEW upgrade, the MCU/ACIS (Mission Computer Upgrade/ Advance Computer Information System). This new computer system in the E-2 has given them a distinct advantage in their command and control capabilities.
In July 2001, the Wallbangers were the first squadron to deploy with the new MCU/ACIS system. WESTPAC 2001-02 onboard the USS CARL VINSON (CVN-70) proved to be a rewarding deployment for the Wallbangers. After the terrorist bombings of Sept. 11th, 2001, the Wallbangers and CARRIER AIR WING 11 were among the first aircraft to lead in the strikes on Afghanistan as part of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM. The Wallbangers flew an unprecedented amount of combat sorties in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM.
The extensive radar and communication equipment on board the E-2C Hawkeye allowed the Wallbangers to become a vital part of our nation’s anti-terrorist operations. The Wallbangers continuously provided battle space management over Pakistan and southern Afghanistan, ensuring the safety of all airborne assets and deconfliction with commercial airways. They served as an information-clearing house, providing a communications relay between command authorities on the ground and tactical aircraft airborne.
What began as an operation that consisted mainly of carrier-based naval air assets evolved into a multi-service and multi-faceted, joint operation. The Wallbangers were crucial in ensuring the smooth integration of aircraft from Navy, Air Force, and allied nations.
They continue to aggressively spearhead the Hawkeye community with ongoing modifications and upgrades. The Bangers were the first fleet squadron to receive the HE2K aircraft and among the first to receive the new NP2000 eight-blade propeller upgrade. In addition, they are also the first fleet Hawkeye squadron to receive the Cooperative Engagement Capability system (CEC). CEC is the Navy’s new and most comprehensive data link system and once fully operational, will drastically improved the battle group’s situational awareness and self-defense capabilities.
In April 2007 the Wallbangers deployed on WESTPAC 2007. The squadron flew 101 sorties and 227 hours in direct support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM and Operation IRAQ FREEDOM. They also took part in several exercises including Valiant Shield and Malabar.
In January 2008 the Wallbangers deployed on a four month surge to the Western Pacific, where they took part in Exercise Foal Eagle 08. During the course of the cruise the Wallbangers demonstrated their superior aviation skills earning the CVW-11 Top Hook Award for the first time in nearly eight years.
The Hawkeye is designed for airborne early warning. It is a 5-seat, twin-turboprop, all-weather aircraft. From an altitude of several miles above the Earth, the Hawkeye looks beyond the horizon and over obstacles to deny the enemy their most valuable asset… surprise. This keen-eyed sentinel gives the air defense system at least 30 minutes of warning: time to detect and classify the threat and deploy fighter aircraft or surface missiles for optimum effect. Equipped with the latest state-of-the-art systems, the Hawkeye provides fully automatic detection and tracking over land and water with simultaneous surveillance of air and surface traffic.
The Hawkeye provides radar coverage for every facet of battle group defense. Though it can operate independently, it normally functions as an extension of existing air defense systems. All data obtained aboard the plane can be relayed to surface command posts for display and decision-making. The E-2C Hawkeye, particularly with the new improvements in the Hawkeye 2000, has allowed the Wallbangers to give air defense commanders the most complete, up-to-the-minute picture possible of theater operations.
There are approximately 190 enlisted and officer personnel that encompass the Wallbanger team. While their backgrounds vary, they have come together to form a mighty, war-fighting squadron that is known for its safety and excellence in all walks of the aviation community. VAW-117 has embraced with enthusiasm the opportunity to pave the way for the future of the VAW community and will continue in it’s strive for excellence as it prepares for its deployment in 2008. On February 5, 2009, CDR Valerie Overstreet relieved CDR Brian Morgan as Commanding Officer.