NEW ORLEANS (NNS) -- The Nightwolves of Carrier Airborne Warning Squadron (VAW) 77 will be formally disestablished during a ceremony aboard Naval Air Station/Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, March 9.
The Nightwolves, a reserve E-2 squadron based at NASJRB New Orleans, have been responsible for various missions within the strategic reserve including counter-narcotics and human trafficking interdiction, disaster response and missile exercise support.
VAW-77 consists of six E-2C Hawkeye aircraft and 112 personnel (72 Full Time Support and 40 Selected Reservists). The squadron's beginnings go back to 1995, when the U.S. Congress created the reserve squadron as a result of the United States' escalating war on illegal drug trafficking.
VAW-77 received four specially modified E-2C Hawkeye airborne early warning aircraft optimized for counter-drug missions. As part of the Navy's post-Cold War role, VAW-77 flight crews patrolled the waters of the Caribbean in joint missions with the U.S. Coast Guard and other drug enforcement agencies in search of illegal aircraft and ships.
Due to budgetary constraints, the Navy decided to decommission VAW-77 in fiscal year 13. While this choice was difficult, it was within the limits of the resources available to the Navy. There will always be the need to balance direct warfighting capability against missions like those assigned to VAW-77.
"Their last flight was Jan. 29," said Lt. Cmdr. Erin Wreski, program manager for Commander Naval Air Force Reserve's (CNAFR) Tactical Support Wing. "Their disestablishment ceremony will be March 9, and the squadron officially closes its doors March 31.
"The squadron's six aircraft will be transferred to other carrier airborne warning squadrons," Wreski said. "And the squadron members will transfer to various other CNAFR squadrons around the country."
The Navy remains committed to missions within the strategic reserve including counter-narcotics and human trafficking interdiction. Navy ships and aircraft have unique capabilities to detect and monitor criminal activities in the maritime domain, especially tracking the movement, by sea and air, of illicit materials intended for the United States.