VAQ-130 Zappers Squadron Patch – Sew On
Electronic Attack Squadron One Three Zero is the oldest electronic warfare squadron in the United States Navy. VAQ-130 adopted the nickname “Zappers” and the Zapper Dragon insignia when the squadron was originally commissioned as Carrier Early Warning Squadron THIRTEEN (VAW-13) flying AD-5Qs in 1959. On 1 October 1968, the command was re-designated VAQ-130 and placed under the operational control of Tactical Electronic Warfare Wing THIRTEEN (VAQW 13). After commissioning, the squadron supplied support detachments aboard all Pacific and Atlantic aircraft carriers. These detachments, flying the EAK-3B Skywarrior aircraft, provided sea and shore based forces with electronic countermeasures (ECM) and air-to-air refueling capabilities.
In March 1975, VAQ-130 was re-stationed at NAS Whidbey Island, Washington and transitioned to the EA-6B “Prowler” aircraft. In June of the same year, VAQ-130 joined Carrier Air Wing EIGHT aboard the USS NIMITZ (CVN 68) for a three and one-half month cruise to the Caribbean and North Atlantic where the Zappers were part of Nuclear Task Group SEVEN FIVE, formed to demonstrate the capability of the nuclear Navy to NATO allies. Because of the limited number of EA-6B squadrons in the Navy at the time, the Zappers, unlike most naval aviation squadrons, were assigned to a variety of carrier air wings and deployed on several different carriers, including the NIMITZ, FORRESTAL, INDEPENDENCE, and KITTY HAWK.
In 1977, VAQ-130 transitioned to the Improved Capability (ICAP) version of the EA-6B, bringing more sophisticated electronic warfare capabilities. In 1978, the squadron received the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Safety “S” Award after six years of mishap free flying.
In 1986, the Zappers completed transition to the Improved Capability II (ICAP II) version of the aircraft, which incorporated the ALQ-99 Tactical Jamming System and integrated the High-Speed Anti-Radiation Missile (HARM). The squadron deployed on an around-the-world cruise as part of Carrier Air Wing NINE aboard the USS KITTY HAWK (CV 63), in July 1987. In August 1987, VAQ-130 joined Carrier Air Wing THREE aboard the USS JOHN F. KENNEDY (CV 67) and deployed on their first Mediterranean cruise from August 1988 to February 1989. In 1988, the Zappers again won the Safety “S” Award.
In January 1990, the Zappers deployed for seven weeks to the Caribbean Sea for WESTLANT ’90, a mini-cruise for drug interdiction support. Later in August 1990, the squadron transitioned to the Block 86 version of ICAP II aircraft and accepted an additional aircraft to become a five-plane squadron. The squadron then immediately deployed on board USS JOHN F. KENNEDY to the Red Sea in support of Operation DESERT SHIELD/DESERT STORM, where it became the first prowler squadron to fire a HARM in combat. Subsequently, VAQ-130 was awarded the CNO Safety “S,” COMNAVAIRLANT Battle “E,” and the Admiral Arthur W. Radford award for 1990.
The Zappers deployed again to the Mediterranean in October 1992 in support of Operation PROVIDE PROMISE and the humanitarian relief efforts in Bosnia-Herzegovina. In June of 1993, the Zappers became the first U.S. Navy combat unit to have women assigned.
In October 1994, the Zappers deployed with Carrier Air Wing THREE aboard the USS EISENHOWER (CVN 69). After a brief stint in the Arabian Sea in support of Operation SOUTHERN WATCH, the Zappers participated in Operation DENY FLIGHT. During that deployment, the Zappers conducted three shore detachments to Aviano AB, Italy, to help provide continuous electronic warfare support to NATO and United Nations aircraft.
In August 1995, the Zappers departed early from an exercise to return to Operation DENY FLIGHT with two aircraft to augment the VAQ-141 Shadowhawks. By the end of August 1995, the Zappers were flying around the clock as part of Operation DELIBERATE FORCE’s SEAD campaign. Due to the scale of the air strikes – the largest in NATO’s history – the remaining Zapper aircraft and personnel were deployed to Aviano in September. After supporting Operations DELIBERATE FORCE and DENY FLIGHT, the Zappers returned to Whidbey Island in October 1995.
The Zappers deployed again with Carrier Air Wing THREE to the Mediterranean in November 1996, this time aboard USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT (CVN 71). After routine operations in the Western Mediterranean, CVW 3 provided support to Operation DELIBERATE GUARD from the Adriatic Sea. They then transited the Suez Canal to support Operation SOUTHERN WATCH. In 1996, VAQ-130 won the COMNAVAIRLANT Battle “E” award and the 1997 Prowler Squadron of the Year Award for Tactical Excellence.
After returning from deployment in May 1997, CVW 3 transitioned to the USS ENTERPRISE (CVN 65). In January 1998, VAQ-130 was officially redesignated as Electronic Attack Squadron ONE THREE ZERO (VAQ-130). The Zappers again earned the 1998 Prowler Squadron of the Year Award for Tactical Excellence, winning that award for the second consecutive year. They also won the Association of Old Crows Outstanding Unit Award for 1998. In November 1998, the Zappers deployed aboard ENTERPRISE for a six-month cruise to the Mediterranean Sea and Arabian Gulf in support of Operations DESERT FOX and SOUTHERN WATCH.
In November 2000, VAQ-130 and CVW 3 deployed aboard USS HARRY S. TRUMAN (CVN 75) on her maiden deployment. After a short stay in the Mediterranean, they arrived in the Arabian Gulf in January 2001 to support Operation SOUTHERN WATCH.
In December 2002, the Zappers again deployed with CVW 3 on board CVN 75, this time in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. During this six-month deployment, the Zappers fired more than 35 HARM missiles in direct support of air strikes, and were awarded the COMNAVAIRLANT Battle “E”, CNO Safety “S” and the Admiral Arthur W. Radford Award for being the top EA-6B squadron in 2003.
The Zappers again deployed in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM on board CVN 75 in October 2004. CVW 3 was the first air wing to participate in the new Fleet Readiness Program (FRP) from beginning to end of an entire deployment cycle. In the summer of 2004, the squadron participated in a “surge” deployment to help validate the FRP. This surge supported Operation MAJESTIC EAGLE off the coast of Morocco. After their return, the Zappers were awarded the 2005 Prowler of the Year Tactical Excellence Award.
In June of 2006, the Zappers left Whidbey Island for a three-month deployment to MCAS Iwakuni, Japan to support PACOM contingency operations. VAQ-130 integrated with MAG-12 squadrons to include VMFA-212, VMA-311 and VFA-97 during Unit Level Training and Large Force Group Strike exercises in Okinawa, Japan. The squadron supported Exercise Ulchi Focus Lens (UFL) with seven aircrew TAD to three separate locations in Japan and South Korea.
In November 2007, the Zappers deployed on CVN 75 once again, making a port call in Naples, Italy en route to the Arabian Gulf. While supporting Operation IRAQI FREEDOM and other U.S. Central Command objectives in the Arabian Gulf, the Zappers made several port calls to Dubai, UAE. On the transit home, the Zappers visited Rhodes, Greece and Marseilles, France before returning to Whidbey Island after seven months. The squadron currently flies the ICAP II Block 89A (Night Vision Device Capable) Prowler aircraft.
In June, 2008 the Zappers completed a 7-month deployment in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM and returned to their home station at NAS Whidbey Island. Shortly thereafter, in September, the Zappers supported VAQ-132 in one of their final detachments as a Prowler squadron for RED FLAG at Nellis AFB. Shortly after, the Zappers completed a carrier qualification detachment supporting VAQ-129 on the USS JOHN C. STENNIS (CVN 74) off the coast of southern California.
VAQ-130 started their arduous work-up cycle in February of 2009 with EWARP in Fallon, NV, followed by two detachments, SFARP and COMTUEX off the east coast on board the USS HARRY S. TRUMAN (CVN 75) in April and June, respectively. From late July to late August 2009, the Zappers executed a detachment to NAS Fallon, NV in preparation for their 2010 deployment. In September 2009 the Zappers traveled to Norfolk, VA, participating in Joint Task Force Exercise (JTFEX) on board USS HARRY S. TRUMAN (CVN 75). The Zappers returned to the USS HARRY S. TRUMAN (CVN 75) on November 21, 2009 to re-qualify five pilots for day and night carrier operations. On December 5, 2009, the Zappers attended a two week Air Wing Fallon SUSTAINEX, conducting large force exercises and designating two squadron members as EA-6B mission commanders.
In May 21, 2010, the Zappers deployed with Carrier Air Wing THREE aboard the USS HARRY S. TRUMAN (CVN 75). The Zappers spent five months on station in the North Arabian Sea supporting Operation ENDURING FREEDOM in the skies of Afghanistan. In October, the USS HARRY S. TRUMAN handed over ENDURING FREEDOM to Carrier Air Wing TWO and the USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN (CVN 72) and transited to the Arabian Gulf to support Operation NEW DAWN. In November, Carrier Air Wing THREE transited back to the Arabian Sea, conducted two weeks of combat operations in support of ENDURING FREEDOM, and then began the transit back to Norfolk, VA on November 23rd, 2010. The Zappers returned home to NAS Whidbey Island on December 20, 2010.
In mid February 2011, the Zappers began sending personnel TAD to NAS Lemoore, CA, and also schools at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island (NASWI) for transition training to the EA-18G “Growler” aircraft. Aircrew from the Zappers began syllabus flight training on March 7, 2011. The Zappers completed their transition to the EA-18G in February 2012 and then obtained their Safety of Flight in 2012.
In July 2013, the Zappers deployed again with Carrier Air Wing THREE aboard the USS HARRY S. TRUMAN (CVN 75), marking the first deployment with the Growler. The Zappers supported Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan for 7 months while in the Gulf of Oman. During that deployment in December 2013 through January 2014, the USS HARRY S. TRUMAN (CVN 75) and CVW-3 participated in a joint exercise with the CHARLES DE GAULLE, the French Navy’s only aircraft carrier conducting joint flight operations. In March 2014, the Zappers departed Fifth Fleet and returned to NAS Whidbey Island on April 17, 2014.