Naval Aviation: Forging a Legacy of Success

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December 9th, 2011 posted by aguerry

The following blog post was written by Vice Adm. Allen Myers, Commander, Naval Air Forces. Holding the awesome responsibility of leading a naval aviation community that operates and maintains more than 3,700 aircraft, Myers reflects on the past year of celebrating 100 years of rich aviation history and looks forward to its promising future.

Vice Admiral MyersVice Admiral Allen Myers

As 2011 draws to a close, I am extremely proud that our centennial year has been a celebration of the innovation, courage and teamwork that are the hallmark of Naval Aviation. From the spectacular kick-off in February at Naval Air Station North Island, to major regional and local celebrations across the country and around the globe. We have honored our heritage, celebrated our success and set a positive glide slope for the future.

Last week, I had the honor of speaking at a wreath-laying ceremony at the Navy Memorial in Washington D.C., honoring those who wear the cloth of our nation and share a passion for flight, as well as those who have served in Naval Aviation throughout the last 100 years, whose initiative, vision and sacrifice brought us the successes we enjoy today, forging our legacy with every flight.

For the past 100 years Naval Aviation has proven beyond a doubt that what was initially thought to be a useful reconnaissance capability is now a critical element of our power projection and national security. Naval Aviation has expanded and enhanced the areas our ships can influence from simple line of sight at the crow’s nest to a radius that increased with each technological advance. From biplanes and monoplanes to turboprops and jets, Naval Aviation has been at the forefront of change and technology, extending that area of influence all the way into the bounds of space.

Each of these advances was made possible by the people who are at the heart of our success – the dedicated aviators, aircrew, engineers, and technicians – the incredible team of Navy and Marine, active, reserve and civilian personnel who ARE Naval Aviation.

They go where their nation asks and they conduct their assigned missions with professionalism and great success. They are forward, ready and flexible as they operate from the sea base. During this centennial year seven of our aircraft carriers have been deployed, from USS Enterprise (CVN 65) who celebrates 50 years of service this year, to our newest carrier on her maiden deployment, USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). Our carriers with their air wings have provided more than a third of the close air support for our service members and coalition partners on the ground in Afghanistan. They have countered piracy and provided reliable presence to support our Allies and influence regional actors, and made history for their contributions in fighting global terrorism, especially USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70).

They have also been a force for good providing relief and humanitarian assistance, perhaps none more noted than USSRonald Reagan (CVN 76). A first responder to the terrible trifecta of earthquake, tsunami and Fukushima Daichi disaster, Reagan demonstrated perfectly the immeasurable value of forward presence and agility, and provided critical relief – more than 200 tons of food, water and other supplies – to our friends in Japan through Operation Tomodachi.

Naval Aviation is a ready, forward force that operates from the sea base and from expeditionary bases around the world. Our rotary wing gives us the reach and flexibility to reclaim pirated vessels, conduct maritime intercept operations, and deliver humanitarian aid. Our helicopters in Kuwait have reliably supported the Naval Air Ambulance Detachment mission and conducted critical medical evacuation and relief for the injured. The “Scorpions” of VAQ-132 completed the first expeditionary EA-18 “Growler” deployment earlier this year that included supporting the NATO mission over Libya. At the same time, our maritime patrol community, which flies the venerable P-3 Orion, gives us the edge for sea control with their persistent eyes on station over maritime chokepoints, as well as over the sands of the Middle East.

So, where do we go from here? As Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said at the 100th Anniversary of Naval Aviation Gala last week, “Even as we adapt to a changing strategic environment, and as we enter a period of fiscal constraint … Naval Aviation will continue to play a vital role in the nation’s defense.”

As we look to the future, Naval Aviation remains focused on warfighting, ready always to operate forward, and we will maintain this focus as we prepare to implement our planned transitions, including the MH-60R/S, P-8 Poseidon, EA-18 Growler, E-2D Advanced Hawkeye, Joint Strike Fighter and the Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carrier now under construction. Ford will bring online the new electro-magnetic aircraft launch system and advanced arresting gear, and by 2018, our carrier flight decks will be home to a family of unmanned systems currently in development.

Although our legacy is built on these technological advances, it has been endowed by the dedicated men and women who ARE Naval Aviation: the aviators, aircrew, engineers, and technicians – the incredible team of Navy and Marine, active, reserve and civilian personnel. They have forged a legacy of success, and I am humbled by these men and women who have a vision for the art of the possible and a drive to discover the unknown. For a century they have been the backbone of Naval Aviation’s achievements, and they will continue to set our glide slope for success in the next century and beyond.

Fight to Fly! Fly to Fight! Fight to Win!

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