PACIFIC OCEAN (NNS) -- As Super Hornets launch from USS Nimitz (CVN-68) during an exercise over the waters of Southern California, they are met over the horizon by adversaries hell bent on taking them out. As the Blue Force attempts to maneuver into a position of dominance, the advancing adversaries attempt to deny their objective. Meet the “Fighting Omars”- one of the Navy Reserve adversary squadrons responsible for training strike fighter squadrons during Composite Training Unit Exercises (COMPTUEXs).
COMPTUEX is the last critical evaluation a Carrier Strike Group must (CSG) complete prior to receiving deployment certification. The exercise enables all components of the CSG to synchronize and perfect coordinated responses to any combat scenario.
Fighter Squadron Composite 12 (VFC-12) is a Reserve fighter squadron based at Naval Air Station (NAS) Oceana that reports to Commander, Tactical Support Wing (TSW), one of three Type Wings within Commander, Naval Air Force Reserve (CNAFR). VFC-12, along with TSW’s three other VFC and VFA squadrons, are the Navy’s only professional airborne adversary support squadrons. These four squadrons train Fleet and Fleet Replacement Squadrons to respond to any airborne threat as they prepare to deploy. VFC-12 also provides all of the Navy’s Legacy Hornet transition training (F/A-18 A-D) for pilots heading to the Test community, the Blue Angels, VFC-12, VFA-204, or the Naval Aviation Warfare Development Center (NAWDC).
VFC-12 flew 73 sorties totaling more than 100 hours in support of Carrier Air Wing 17 during the COMPTUEX for Nimitz Carrier Strike Group (CSG). During the training evolution, with a notional threat nation, Nimitz CSG responded to all phases of an escalating war. Early warning radar operators tracked air contacts in the vicinity of the Battle Group to decide when and where to deploy the Air Wing. Once potential adversaries met established threat criteria, the Air Wing launched its aircraft to intercept and escort the potentially hostile aircraft. If adversaries showed hostile intent or commit hostile acts, the Air Wing, along with all of the Sailors of the Nimitz CSG, defended the Strike Group and completed simulated retaliatory strikes against the notional threat nation.
While on detachment at NAS North Island, Naval Aviation leadership visited the flight line and emphasized the value of the contributions VFC-12 Sailors provide to the Navy’s mission. Commander, Naval Air Forces, Vice Adm. DeWolfe Miller, along with Commander, Naval Air Force Reserve, Rear Adm. Scott Jones, both visited and flew with members of the squadron during COMPTUEX. During the visit,Jones remarked, “I join Miller in emphasizing the critical capability VFC-12 brings to the fight. Our respective flights with VFC-12 reflect the impact squadrons across CNAFR have on maintaining a ready, capable, and lethal Fleet. We are Naval Aviation!”
“I am proud of every Sailor and Aviator who ensures these critical training evolutions are a success – from our Aviators to our maintainers – on whose commitment to excellence, we rely,” said Cmdr. Matt Runzel, VFC-12 commanding officer. “We offer sustained, critical adversary support to prepare the Fleet to succeed in the mission-sets required of them during any contigency operation while on deployment.” The Skipper went on to say, "We could not have completed our support of the Nimitz CSG without the hard work and flexibility of the VR [Fleet Logistics Support] community. VR Sailors are quiet professionals who work tirelessly to support every Navy mission." Navy Reserve VR aircraft transported 19 pilots and 117 support personnel from VFC-12 to and from the exercise, along with numerous Active Component personnel attached to the Nimitz CSG from northwest Washington and central California.
Thanks to the hard work of the Nimitz CSG, various SOCAL support staffs, and the combined efforts of multiple CNAFR squadrons, the COMPTUEX was a success. Going forward, CNAFR will continue to provide the highest quality professional adversary support and rapid, flexible, and resilient on-demand global airlift in support of Navy requirements…it is what we do!