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VFA-103

VFA-103, the Jolly Rogers, is based at NAS Oceana in Virgina. The Jolly Rogers were redesignated VFA-103, from VF-103, in 2005 to reflect their transition training to the F-18 E/F Super Hornet. They had been previously flying the F-14 Tomcat.

In September 1992 VF-103 began a six month deployment to the Mediterranean Sea on board USS Saratoga (CV-60). The squadron played a significant role during this deployment introducing the F-14 Air to Ground capability to the fleet and participating in the initial Bosnia Operations. During this deployment cycle, VF-103 was awarded back to back Battle E's, two Safety S's and the 1992 Joseph P. Clifton Award for the best Fighter Squadron in the United States Navy.

VF-103 was called Sluggers before it adopted the Jolly Rogers name and symbol in late 1995. The first squadron known as the "Jolly Rogers" was Fighter Squadron 17 (VF-17), established on 01 January 1943. The squadron was one of the first Navy squadrons to fly the Vought F4U Corsair fighter. After VF-17 was disestablished in 1944, many of the original members transferred over to the newly formed VF-84. On 01 April 1960, VF-84 was renamed the Jolly Rogers. VF-84 Jolly Rogers operated until October 1995, when downsizing allowed for only one Tomcat squadron to be aboard each carrier.

Flying the Grumman F-14B Tomcat, it was originally assigned to CVW-17 aboard the USS Enterprise (CVN-65). The first LANTIRN- equipped Tomcat squadron, VF-103, deployed in June 1996 on board Enterprise (CVN 65). The Tomcat is being configured as a potent precision strike-fighter with the incorporation of the Low-Altitude Navigation and Targeting Infrared for Night (LANTIRN) system. With LANTIRN, the Tomcat has an accurate, autonomous designation and targeting capability for the delivery of laser guided bombs. This system is effective during day or night, and at high altitudes. Two F-14B Tomcats from Fighter Squadron (VF) 103, embarked aboard USS Enterprise (CVN 65), used this new technology in training mission to identify simulated targets over Bosnia-Herzegovina. The Tomcats were equipped with the Low Altitude Navigation and Targeting Infrared System for Night (LANTIRN) technology that allows F-14B Tomcats to deliver laser-guided bombs, and also allows them to designate targets for other aircraft's laser-guided bombs. VF-103 crew members and a multi-national tactical air control party used the new system to identify simulated targets. VF-103 was the first Navy squadron to utilize LANTIRN.

As aircraft from Enterprise's air wing returned to the ship in the Adriatic Sea after completing their training missions over Bosnia in July 1996, a surprised F-14B Tomcat pilot and his radar intercept officer wondered why photographers on the flight deck were taking their picture. They soon learned they were a special part of the ship's history after logging the 300,000th arrested gear landing. ABE3 Jeffrey Sayers, one of Air Department's "gear dogs," was operating the Number Two Arresting Gear Engine during the historic landing. The 300,000th trap was made by VF-103 Pilot LT Kris Dorfman of Rome, N.Y., and Radar Intercept Officer LT Nick Dienna of Philadelphia.

In 1997, VF-103 was reassigned to the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) as part of Carrier Air Wing 17, and was forward deployed since 10 June 1998.

While conducting routine flight operations in the eastern Mediterranean Sea 30 July 1998, two F-14 Tomcats from Fighter Squadron (VF) 103 aboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) were involved in a midair collision. Two aviators had to eject from one F-14 aircraft while en route to an emergency landing airfield in Antalya, Turkey. Killed was LCDR Ronald Lee Wise, Jr., 36, the pilot of the aircraft. Injured in the incident was the Radar Intercept Officer (RIO) LT William Richard Kane, 27. The aircraft was participating in routine training when the incident occurred. The second aircraft involved in the collision was recovered safely aboard Dwight D. Eisenhower.

As of May 2000 Fighter Squadron One Zero Three (VF-103), aboard USS George Washington (CVN 73), was conducting training exercises in the Atlantic Ocean. By September 2000 the "Jolly Rogers" Fighter Squadron One Zero Three (VF-103) was deployed to the Arabian Gulf aboard USS George Washington (CVN 73).

On December 12, 2004, VF-103 returned from a six-month deployment aboard the USS John F. Kennedy. During the deployment, VF-103 flew sorties in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. It was also the squadron's last deployment with the F-14 Tomcats. They began transitioning to the F/A-18 Super Hornet in February of 2005 and were redesignated VFA-103.

On February 14, 2006, VFA-103 joined the rest of CVW-7 on board the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower(Ike)(CVN 69) as she went underway for the first time in five years. Team 769 is gearing up for Surge Ready status.


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