News | Sept. 7, 2023

CVW-17, Four Squadrons Return Home After Seven-Month Deployment

By Jessica Nilsson

Naval Air Station Lemoore, California, announced the return of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 17 and Strike Fighter Squadrons (VFA) 22, VFA-94, VFA-137 and VFA-146 in June after a nearly seven-month deployment to the Western Pacific with USS Nimitz (CVN 68) Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 11.

CVW-17, nicknamed “Team Quicksand,” and the four squadrons that are attached to it have been away from their home base of Naval Air Station Lemoore since Dec. 5, 2022. During their deployment, they have been engaged by U.S. Seventh Fleet to defend U.S., allied and partner interests in the U.S. Naval Forces Indo-Pacific area of operations.

The air group that would come to be known as CVW-17 was created during World War II on April 1, 1944, in Atlantic City, New Jersey. CVW-17 is currently composed of VFA-22, VFA-94 VFA-137 and VFA-146 flying the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet; Airborne Command and Control Squadron (VAW) 116 flying the E-2C Hawkeye; Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 139 flying the E/A-18G Growler; Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 6 flying the MH-60S Seahawk; and Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 73 flying the MH-60R Seahawk.

VFA-22, or the “Fighting Redcocks,” was originally commissioned as Fighter Squadron 63 at Naval Air Station Norfolk, Virginia, in July 1948, but was re-designated Attack Squadron 22 in July 1959. VFA-22 operates the F/A-18 Super Hornet, which is one of the Navy’s newest and most lethal strike-fighter aircraft.

VFA-94, also known as the “Mighty Shrikes,” was commissioned in 1952 and nicknamed after a small carnivorous bird of prey that impales its victim on sharp thorns. The Mighty Shrikes began flying the F4U Corsair, but now operates the F/A-18 Super Hornet.

VFA-137, or the “Kestrels,” was established in 1985 and is named after the native North American Falcon. It, too, operates the F/A-18 Super Hornet. VFA-137 joined CVW-17 in the spring of 2019.

VFA-146, or the “Blue Diamonds,” was established in 1956. The squadron’s original nickname was the “Blacktails,” which was derived from its assigned color as the sixth squadron of the air group, but just a few years later, the squadron adopted its current nickname. VFA-146 also operates the F/A-18E Super Hornet, one of the most advanced fighter aircraft in the world.

All four squadrons’ capabilities and versatility make them critical assets to the Navy’s mission, and their dedication and commitment to excellence continue to inspire and motivate future generations of naval aviators.

Written by Jessica Nilsson, public affairs specialist with Naval Air Station Lemoore, California.