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Carrier Air Wing Three


Carrier Air Wing Three

Carrier Air Wing Three

CVW-3 Insignia
Active 1 July 1938 - Present
Country  United States of America
Branch United States Navy
Type Carrier Air Wing
Part of Carrier Strike Group Ten
Garrison/HQ NAS Oceana
USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75)
Nickname "Battle Axe"
Tail Code AC
Engagements World War II
Korean War
Vietnam War
Operation Desert Shield
Operation Desert Storm
Operation Desert Fox
Operation Enduring Freedom
Operation Iraqi Freedom
Decorations Presidential Unit Citation
Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal (6)
United Nations Service Medal
Korean Service Medal (2)
Navy Unit Commendation (2)
China Service Medal
Meritorious Unit Commendation
Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal

Carrier Air Wing Three (CVW-3), known as the "Battle Axe", is a United States Navy aircraft carrier air wing based at Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia. The wing was created on 1 July 1938 and has seen service in World War II, Korea, the Cuban Missile Crisis, Vietnam, Lebanon, against Libya, and since September 11, 2001. As of 2012, the air wing is routinely embarked aboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) as part of Carrier Strike Group Ten.[1][2] Captain Sara A. Joyner, USN, became the first woman to lead a U.S. Navy carrier air wing when she took command of Carrier Air Wing Three on 7 January 2013.[3]


"To conduct carrier air warfare operations and assist in the planning, control, coordination and integration of seven air wing squadrons in support of carrier air warfare including; Interception and destruction of enemy aircraft and missiles in all-weather conditions to establish and maintain local air superiority. All-weather offensive air-to-surface attacks, Detection, localization, and destruction of enemy ships and submarines to establish and maintain local sea control. Aerial photographic, sighting, and electronic intelligence for naval and joint operations. Airborne early warning service to fleet forces and shore warning nets. Airborne electronic countermeasures. In-flight refueling operations to extend the range and the endurance of air wing aircraft and Search and rescue operations."

Subordinate units

CVW-3 consists of 8 Squadrons[4]

Code Insignia Squadron Nickname Assigned Aircraft
VMFA-312 Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 312 Checkerboards F/A-18C Hornet
VFA-32 40px Strike Fighter Squadron 32 Fighting Swordsmen F/A-18F Super Hornet
VFA-37 Strike Fighter Squadron 37 Ragin Bulls F/A-18C Hornet
VFA-105 Strike Fighter Squadron 105 Gunslingers F/A-18E Super Hornet
VAW-126 40px Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 126 Seahawks E-2C Hawkeye
VAQ-130 40px Electronic Attack Squadron 130 Zappers EA-18G Growler
VRC-40 40px Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 40 Det. 1 Rawhides C-2A Greyhound
HSC-7 Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 7 Dusty Dogs MH-60S Knighthawk
HSM-74 40px Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 74 Swamp Foxes MH-60R Seahawk



The air wing was commissioned on 1 July 1938 and during World War II was assigned to the first carrier to bear the name (USS Saratoga (CV-3)). The wing was deployed on Saratoga until the ship was torpedoed in January 1942. Part of the wing was then deployed aboard USS Yorktown (CV-5) and helped cripple the Japanese carrier Soryu during the battle of Midway. The wing was also involved in the first carrier strikes against Tokyo.[5]

Korean War

The air wing was assigned to the USS Leyte (CV-32) in 1950 when she transited the Panama Canal en route to Korean War operations. The Wing flew in support of the Pusan Perimeter, the invasion on Wonsanand, and strikes on Hungnam Salient and Yalu River Bridges. The wing accumulated over 11,000 operational hours flying against the North Korean and Chinese Communist Forces.[5]

Missile Crisis

During refresher training in the Caribbean Sea in December 1962, CVW-3 was on station during the Cuban Missile Crisis"".[5]

At end of the 1960s the air wing took on Reserve Squadrons during the USS Pueblo incident. CVW-3 squadrons embarked with the Royal Navy's 892 Naval Air Squadron for two weeks, and flew in response to a number of events in the Mediterranean including; hijackings, internal fighting in Jordan, and the death of Egyptian President Nasser.[5]


In the early 1970s CVW-3 began the task of testing the new CV Concept, to incorporating the missions of attack squadrons and anti-submarine submarine squadrons. After completing their missions successfully the CV Concept was validated and implemented. In 1972, CVW-3 was given 60 hours notice before deploying around South Africa en route to Vietnam. Operations there saw CVW-3 provide strike and support sorties in South Vietnam, Alpha strikes, AAW missions, and reconnaissance missions over North Vietnam. The wings first kill came on 21 June when an F-4J Phantom II downed a MIG-21. Dropping over 14,000 tons of ordnance, CVW-3 spent 175 days on the line engaged in combat operations against North Vietnam.[5]


CVW-3 was assigned to the USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67), in 1981 and participated in air strikes against Lebanon in support of United States Marines stationed there.


In January 1989, two CVW-3 F-14 Tomcats shot down two hostile Libyan MIG-23 fighters over international waters in the Central Mediterranean. In August 1990, CVW-3 and JFK departed on a no-notice Mediterranean/Red Sea deployment in support of Operation Desert Shield, and air crews later flew combat sorties in association with Operation Desert Storm against Iraq.

In 1994-95, CVW-3 made a single deployment aboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) to the Mediterranean Sea. For the next deployment in 1996-97, the wing transferred to USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71). The wing concluded a successful 24th Mediterranean Sea/Persian Gulf deployment aboard the USS Enterprise (CVN-65), in 1998-99. During this time, the wing aircraft participated in Operation Desert Fox, a four day strike campaign against Iraq in December 1998.[5]

Global War on Terror

In 2000, CVW-3, was assigned to USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) on her maiden deployment. The early months of 2001 saw the air wing operating in the Persian Gulf, conducting Response Options strikes, to include the largest strike over Iraq since Operation Desert Fox, in support of Operations Southern Wact and Maritime Interception Operations. This was the longest period any carrier had spent in the Gulf since Operation Desert Storm. The Air Wing completed its 25th deployment and returned home on 23 May 2001.[5]

On 5 December 2002, CVW-3 departed for its 26th deployment to the Mediterranean, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and on 20 March 2003, CVW-3 participated in Operation Iraqi Freedom, taking part in defensive counter air missions in Western Iraq, launching aircraft off the coast of Egypt in the South Eastern Mediterranean.[5] CVW-3 made four deployments aboard Harry S. Truman to the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean between 2004 and 2010.

First female CAG

On 7 January 2013, Captain Sara A. Joyner, USN, took command of Carrier Air Wing Three, becoming the first woman to lead a U.S. Navy carrier air wing as well as the air wing's 57th CAG. Before assuming command of CVW-3, Joyner had served as its deputy commander.[3][6]

CVW-3 began its current deployment to the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet on 22 July 2013.[7]

Current force

Fixed-wing aircraft

Rotary wing aircraft

See also


External links

  • U.S. Navy, Official CVW-3 site
  •, Carrier Air Wing Three

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