VFA-97 Warhawks will receive their first F-35C from March 2020.
According to Scramble Magazine Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 97 “Warhawks” at Naval Air Station (NAS) Lemoore, California will be the next US Navy Strike Fighter Squadron to transition from the F/A-18 Super Hornet to the F-35C.
Noteworthy most of VFA-97 F/A-18Es left the squadron for VFA-137 Kestrels.
The Warhawks are expecting their first F-35C from March 2020. After most of the F/A-18E Super Hornets of VFA-97 went to VFA-137, the Warhawks in return received a couple of former VFA-137 F/A-18Es (most probably an older Block number) to keep VFA-97 pilots current. Moreover, since the squadron has no operational task now, they have volunteered to act as an adversary unit for their fellow squadrons.
This is a very first for the F/A-18E community as until now only Legacy Hornet units have fulfilled this job.
VFA-97 transitioned to the F/A-18E Super Hornet from the F/A-18C Legacy Hornet in the summer of 2013.
VFA-97’s 2016 WESTPAC deployment was the 29th deployment for the Warhawks, as well as their first in the F/A-18E Super Hornet. Their return to the Indo-Asia-Pacific region was one of historical importance, as CVW-9 and the USS JOHN C STENNIS played a crucial role in freedom of navigation and Pacific presence operations in the heavily contested waters of the South China Sea. VFA-97 also participated in the multinational exercises FOAL EAGLE, BALAKATAN, MALABAR, and RIMPAC, significantly strengthening the relationships between the United States and its allies in the Pacific region.
In 2019, the Warhawks returned to NAS Lemoore from an around the world deployment that included operations in 3rd Fleet, 7th Fleet, 5th Fleet, 6th Fleet and 2nd Fleet. The squadron supported combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq/Syria as part of Operations Freedom Sentinel / Resolute Support and Inherent Resolve / Deliberate Resolve.
Photo credit: U.S. Navy