ABOARD USS KITTY HAWK, At Sea (NNS) -- As many watch wartime world events unfold, a virtual mobile airport patrols the waters of the Arabian Gulf, launching aircraft night and day in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5 are working together and using many different types of aircraft to accomplish operational air missions.
F-14A Tomcats, F/A-18C Hornets, S-3B Vikings, EA-6B Prowlers, E-2C Hawkeyes, C-2A Greyhounds, and SH-60F Seahawks operate from the flight deck of Kitty Hawk.
The F-14 Tomcat is two-person fighter aircraft with variable-sweep wings to help with the aircraft's maneuverability. It is capable of flying faster than Mach 2. The Tomcat's crew can track up to 24 targets at a time with the use of its AWG-9 radar and attack six targets with Phoenix missiles.
"The thing about the Tomcat that makes it unique is that it is extremely effective both from air-to-ground and air-to-air," said Lt. j.g. Greg "Marv" Kauser, pilot and public affairs officer for Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 154. "It's a great jet to fly. It's a lot of fun."
F/A-18 Hornets are America's first strike-fighter. The F/A 18C is a single-seat, all weather aircraft and serves as both a fighter and attack aircraft. Hornets can carry up to 17,000 pounds of weapons, including Sparrow III and Sidewinder missiles.
"I've always been a Hornet pilot, said Lt. Shawn "Friday" Hall, a pilot with VFA-27. "The reason I chose Hornets way back in flight school is because it's the premier fighter of the Navy," he added. "It's a jack-of-all-trades."
S-3B Vikings are four-person, multimission aircraft. They are capable of defending carrier battle groups against surface and undersea threats. The Viking's crew can target and attack with Harpoon anti-ship and anti-submarine missiles. Vikings are also used for in-flight refueling, according to Lt j.g. Michael "Smiley" Miller, a pilot with Sea Control Squadron 21.
EA-6B Prowlers are four-person aircraft used for electronic warfare support. The Prowler's crew can confuse enemy radar and radio equipment through the use of the aircraft's sensitive receivers and high-power electronic radar jammers.
E-2C Hawkeyes are five-person aircraft used to provide air intercept information, attack mission data and air traffic control instructions. Hawkeyes are also used in search and rescue assistance.
"They are self-defense for the ship and self-defense for the squadrons," said Master Chief Aviation Boatswain's Mate Joe Nieto, Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 115 maintenance master chief petty officer. "The squadrons will not launch without them."
CVW-5 needs parts in order to make repairs to aircraft. That is where C-2A Greyhound aircraft come into play.
Greyhounds, also referred to as carrier on board delivery, or CODs, are used to transport people, parts, supplies and mail.
"If we don't have a Greyhound for CVW-5, sooner or later, we will run out of parts for all the airplanes on board," said Senior Chief Aviation Machinist's Mate Eleazer Madrid, Flight Logistic Support Squadron 30, Detachment 5 leading chief petty officer.
In addition to the fixed-wing aircraft aboard Kitty Hawk, there is a squadron of helicopters that help with air wing mission.
SH-60F Seahawk helicopters are three-person crew aircraft used to provide close-in undersea warfare support and search-and-rescue missions. Seahawks are also used for personnel transfer and are equipped with a dipping sonar probe and two MK-46 torpedoes.
"We are the most versatile of all the squadrons, because we have the most mission areas," said Lt. Joseph "Coco" Espirtu, a pilot and public affairs officer for Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron 14.
"We are the first ones off the deck and the last ones to land," he added.
America's oldest active warship, Kitty Hawk with embarked CVW-5 currently operates with coalition forces in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the multinational coalition effort to liberate the Iraqi people, eliminate Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and end the regime of Saddam Hussein.
For related news, visit the USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cv63.