VFA-97 — the Warhawks — reached that status Feb. 18, 2022 a few days after VFA-147, the first fleet F-35C squadron, returned on board USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) from the first F-35C deployment.
VFA-97, which began transition to the F-35C in February 2021, had operated the F/A-18E Super Hornet strike fighter since 2013, when it had upgraded from the F/A-18C version.
According to VFA-97 official website, the Warhawks of Strike Fighter Squadron NINE SEVEN were commissioned on Jun. 1, 1967 and assigned to Carrier Air Wing FOURTEEN (CVW 14). On May 28, 1968, they departed San Diego, California embarked on USS Constellation (CV-64) for the squadron’s first WESTPAC deployment.
Beginning in June 1968, WARHAWK pilots proved themselves in combat while flying the A-7E Corsair on strikes against targets in Vietnam. From June 1971 to July 1990, the mighty WARHAWKS deployed aboard USS Enterprise (CVN 65), USS Coral Sea (CV-43), and USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), completing 14 deployments, and were the first squadron to reach five years and over 25,000 hours of mishap-free flying in the A-7E.
In 1991, the WARHAWKS transitioned to the F/A-18 Hornet. Since then, the Warhawks deployed aboard USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63) with Carrier Air Wing FIFTEEN, USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) and USS Nimitz (CVN-68) with Carrier Air Wing ELEVEN, and USS John C Stennis (CVN-74) with Carrier Air Wing NINE.
Photo credit: Dylan Nguyen Own work via Wikipedia