Today Strike Fighter Squadron 101 (VFA-101) Grim Reapers pass the lead to VFA-125 Rough Raiders as the Fleet Replacement Squadron (FRS) for the F-35C. The squadron deactivated after more than seven years of service, bringing the F-35C Lightning II online for the U.S. Navy.
However this is not the end of their story…their legacy lives on at Naval Air Station (NAS) Lemoore and in the Fleet as the U.S. Navy continues to focus on fully integrating the Lightning II into the strike fighter community.
The U.S. Navy announced on Sep. 10, 2018 it plans to deactivate (VFA) 101 Grim Reapers at Eglin Air Force Base (AFB).
According to the service the deactivation will co-locate the FRS production of pilots directly into the operational squadrons scheduled for transition to the F-35C and meet testing and evaluation requirements for initial operating capability of VFA-147 as the first F-35C deployer in FY21. The move of VFA-101 personnel and aircraft also supports Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center (NAWDC) advanced training at NAS Fallon (NV).
After having been reestablished in May 2012, VFA-101 was officially reconstituted on Oct. 1, 2013 when the rollout ceremony for the delivery to the U.S. Navy of its first F-35C Lightning II was held at Eglin AFB by the 33rd Fighter Wing, the joint USAF – U.S. Navy – USMC F-35 training unit. With the delivery of the first F-35C, the Grim Reapers became the Lightning II Fleet FRS, a role already played in the past by the then Fighter Squadron 101 (VF-101) for iconic aircraft such as the F-4 Phantom and the F-14 Tomcat, before the squadron was disbanded in 2005.
“Mow Em Down!”
Photo credit: U.S. Navy
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