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HistoryVQ-11 HistoryHistory

Circa 2000

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Reserve aggresor squadron deactivated at NAS Brunswick, Maine - Sea Power, Jun 2000 by BURGESS, Richard R. rburgess@navyleague.org..." [27MAR2005]

A unique Naval Air Reserve squadron has been deactivated at NAS Brunswick, Maine. The demise of Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron 11 (VQ-11) after only less than three years of service leaves the Navy without a dedicated aggressor squadron to train ships to counter hostile electronic threats.

The Naval Air Reserve's first and only VQ squadron, VQ-11-established in July 1997-was not a reconnaissance squadron in fact. Its two EP-3J Orion aircraft, which previously were operated by Reserve VP-66 from NAS Willow Grove, Pennsylvania, were used to simulate hostile electronic-warfare threats by jamming radars and communications during exercises.

The EP-3Js were modified from P-3Bs during the early 1990s by Chrysler Technologies Airborne Systems (now Raytheon) in Waco, Texas, and were initially operated by activeduty squadron VAQ-33 until the electronic warfare training role was transferred to the Naval Air Reserve. The EP-3J's mission suite included the USQ-113 communications intrusion, deception, and jamming equipment, an ALQ-170 missile-seeker simulator, an AST-6 radar signal simulator, a ULQ21 noise/deception jammer pod, and chaff dispenser pods.

The squadron's capability was reduced when one of its two EP-3Js was severely damaged on the ground by a fire in 1998 and never returned to service. The second EP-3J was retired in late 1999 as the squadron prepared for deactivation, effective 31 March 2000.

Circa 1997

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: Squadron ThumbnailCameraVQ-11 Patch "..."Banana Man" FE patch was made to clean up the image they already had before I left VQ-11 for my civilian career.- Circa 1997..." Contributed by OSBORN, AT1 (AW/NAC) Stephen gapoz@cfl.rr.com [09FEB2008]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: Squadron ThumbnailCameraVQ-11 Patch "...I made up for the EP-3J crew in VQ-11 - Circa 1997..." Contributed by OSBORN, AT1 (AW/NAC) Stephen gapoz@cfl.rr.com [09FEB2008]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Squadron Awards..." Contributed by Mahlon K. Miller mkwsmiller@cox.net [23APR2001]

  • CNO Letter of Commendation
    01 Jul 97 - 30 Sep 99

    HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "01JUL97---Air Reconnaissance Squadron ELEVEN (VQ-11) stood up on 1 July 1997 following five years of operations as a component of other Navy units, training the fleet in the electronic warfare environment. VQ-ll's two EP-3J aircraft were originally assigned to Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron THIRTY-THREE (VAQ-33) at Naval Air Station Key West, Florida in March 1992. Upon VAQ-33's disestablishment in October 1993, the aircraft were transferred to Patrol Squadron SIXTY-SIX (VP-66) at Naval Air Station Willow Grove, Pennsylvania. While at NAS Willow Grove, this unique mission prospered due to greater fleet awareness of the aircraft and the ever-changing electronic warfare environment. The increased demand for EP-3J services necessitated the establishment of a command dedicated solely to the mission. Subsequently, in May 1997 personnel began transferring to Naval Air Station Brunswick, Maine to prepare for the arrival of the "Bandits" of VQ-ll. With a variety of onboard sensors and wing pod emitters, the EP-3J is capable of performing a wide range of communications intrusion, deception, and jamming· scenarios. Other components allow the crews to simulate hostile aircraft radar and anti-ship missile threats. Additionally, the EP-3J can dispense chaff to deceive friendly radar systems. Receiving numerous accolades for fleet commanders, the EP-3J has proven to be an invaluable asset during detachments to SECOND and THIRD Fleet Battle Groups preparing for deployments overseas. Major · exercises supported include RIMPAC, TRANSITEX, JTFEX, and others operating off the coasts of Virginia, Florida, and California. The EP-3J has participated in operations overseas as well, including UNITAS, an annual exercise with the military forces of South America. The "Bandits" will be supporting UNITAS 97 from September through November 1997..." "The Patroller VOL.30, NO.29" Contributed by Ed Zawacki ezawacki@gwi.net

    HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...VQ-11 History..." http://www.geocities.com/Area51/Station/6297/vq11.html [27MAR2005]

    Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron Eleven (VQ-11) was officially established on August 2, 1997 during a ceremony held on board NAS Brunswick, Maine. Although the establishment ceremony was held at that time, the squadron was actually operating from July 1, 1997, and some of its personnel had even begun setting up shop in Brunswick as early as April. The squadron was established as a component of the Naval Air Reserve Force, and reported directly to Commander, Reserve Patrol Wing Atlantic. VQ-11 operated two EP-3J "Electric Orion" aircraft as well as one P-3C Orion later on.

    VQ-11's mission was to provide electronic warfare and command and control warfare training to U.S. Navy battle groups preparing for overseas deployment. This program was conceived as a way of training fleet EW operators to properly detect, classify, and react to hostile threats, and was necessitated by tragic events involving the USS Stark2 and USS Vincennes3 during the 1980s. The mission was accomplished utilizing the EP-3J "Electric Orion" aircraft, a modified P-3B previously used as an anti-submarine warfare aircraft. With a variety of onboard sensors and wing pod emitters, the EP-3J was capable of performing a wide range of communications intrusion, deception, and jamming scenarios. Other components allowed the aircrew to simulate a variety of hostile aircraft radar and anti-ship missile systems. The EP-3J could also dispense chaff to deceive radar systems. The usual crew compliment was three pilots, two flight engineers, three naval flight officers, one sensor operator, a radio operator, and an In-flight Technician.

    Prior to VQ-11's establishment, this mission had been performed by other naval units. The only two EP-3J aircraft that ever existed were originally assigned to Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron Thirty-Three (VAQ-33) at NAS Key West, Florida. Upon VAQ-33's disestablishment in October 1993, the aircraft were transferred to Patrol Squadron Sixty-Six (VP-66) at NAS JRB Willow Grove, Pennsylvania. While at Willow Grove, the EP-3J mission prospered due to greater awareness of the aircraft and increased demand from the fleet. This demand led to the need for a command dedicated solely to the mission.

    When the decision was first made to stand up a new squadron in the summer of 1997, Patrol Squadron Eleven (VP-11) at NAS Brunswick, Maine was in the throes of standing down to disestablish as a result of a recommendation by the 1995 Base Realignment and Closure Commission. As a tribute to the "Proud Pegasus," the new squadron was designated VQ-115. At VP-66, personnel were asked to participate in selecting a squadron insignia. The winning entry was designed by AT1 Stephen Osborne who was assigned to the EP-3J UIC and flew the aircraft as an In-flight Technician. It was derived from the lethal connotation of a skull adorned with a bandit hat and bandana from western lore. In the background, crossed lightning bolts signified the electronic nature of the mission. Together they represented the deadly threat posed by electronic warfare. The name "Bandit" was explained to me at the time as having been derived from the name of a dog owned by the new squadron's prospective skipper, CDR Al Labeouf.

    In VQ-11's short history, the squadron sent detachments around the world in support of Battle Group exercises, Command and Control exercises, Joint Task Force Exercises, and UNITAS. The "Bandits" started detachment operations even before their official standup in the summer of 1997. They provided Electronic Warfare Services to four different carrier battle groups while operating out of NAS Oceana, Virginia; NAS Jacksonville, Florida; and NAS North Island, San Diego, California. During this up-tempo period, not only did the Bandits have to deal with the process of standup without the benefit of already having all the necessary publications, instructions, and equipment in place, but also with setting up in work spaces that were much less than adequate. The old Hangar Three on NAS Brunswick, Maine was in serious need of restoration and the Bandits set up shop in a little "trailer park" provided by the contractor in one corner of the hangar deck, while the contractor worked around them and the aircraft! It always seemed a relief to get away on detachment for a while, and somewhat safer, too. This point was made startlingly real to us when atmospheric lead levels were found to be higher than government standards during a sandblasting operation by the contractor to remove old paint from the hangar doors. The episode prompted an all-hands meeting and the unanimous vote to request other spaces to work out of for the remainder of the renovation work. Unfortunately, the squadron was forced to split up at this point, with the Maintenance Department working out of trailers outside of Hangar Two on the flight line, and the rest of the Squadron (Ops, Training, Safety/NATOPS, and Admin) working in spaces topside in Hangar Four. Naturally, interdepartmental communication became more difficult, but the squadron adapted, as always.

    Later that year, VQ-11 participated in UNITAS, a Joint Training Exercise with the Naval Forces of Chile, Argentina, and Brazil, flying 217 flight hours during the two month detachment. In the first few months of 1998, the squadron provided Command and Control training and Joint Task Force Exercise support to Carrier Battle Group elements while operating from Borinquen, Puerto Rico and North Island, California. The Bandits also supported Operation Strong Resolve from Naval Station Rota, Spain, and provided Electronic Warfare interoperability training to the Air Force's 552nd Air Control Wing at Tinker Air force Base, Oklahoma.

    But despite the successes and the fun we were having, the Bandits' existence was doomed from the start. The EP-3J aircraft were old. Indeed, both of them had already undergone extensive inspections to have their service lives extended before they had even departed Willow Grove for their new home at Brunswick. Never loaded with money in the first place, the Reserve Force was at a loss as how to replace the airplanes when their time came, and all inquiries to higher authority evidently resulted in one response: Just keep flying the old warhorses as long as possible. But possibility was extremely limited. The end was seemingly as close as the end of the current service life extension and next major overhaul inspection. And while some scrambled to find a way for the mission to continue, events began to conspire against them. In April of 1998, while preparations for an upcoming detachment were underway, the cockpit oxygen system on LP-745 suffered a catastrophic failure that resulted in a fire which quickly consumed the front end of the aircraft. Although the base fire department responded quickly, the damage was already done. The aircraft was determined to be unsalvageable, and the squadron began an arduous standdown while a mishap investigation ensued. It would be eight long months before the Bandits went on the road again.

    Although it was not the reason for VQ-11's ultimate demise, the fire aboard LP-745 did seal the decision to discontinue squadron operations at the end of Fiscal Year 19999. The demands for Fleet training services were impossible to support with just one aged EP-3J and no one wanted to spend money on reconfiguring younger airplanes with the electronics necessary for the Electronic Warfare training mission. The cost of running the kind of detachment operations that had become a way of life for the Bandits was a strain on the Naval Air Reserve Force and Reserve Patrol Wing in particular, which earned its bread and butter with the P-3C ASW aircraft. And although the Regular Navy fleet forces were the direct beneficiaries of VQ-11's mission, standard military politics and fiscal distribution practises prohibited a shift of money from the Fleet to the Reserves for the purpose of maintaining it. So the budget for Fiscal Year 2000 did not include funding for the EP-3J mission.

    Finally in December 1998, VQ-11 began providing fleet support again, first operating twice out of NS Roosevelt Roads, PR and then moving on to detachment sites at Pope Air Force Base in North Carolina; North Island, California; Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii; NS Roosevelt Roads, PR again; and NAF Andrews, Maryland near Washington, D.C. The squadron's final detachment supported the USS Stennis (CVN-74) battle group in August 1999, operating from North Island. On September 12, 1999 the final flight of LP-719, the last and only EP-3J, was flown to the AMARC facility at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in the Arizona desert. Stripped of all its electronic gear, it will rest "in mothballs" until it is eventually scrapped or sold to a foreign military service. LP-999, the squadron's only P-3C aircraft, which was used solely for pilot training and detachment logistics support, was transferred to SDLM10 at NAS Jacksonville, Florida in November, and thus ended Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron Eleven's short, yet illustrious, operational career.

    During the squadron's brief existence, the Bandits operated on three continents, in five countries, and thirteen detachment sites, and flew over 900 hours on 174 operational sorties. Additional pilot and crew proficiency training resulted in a total of over 2,000 flight hours. The dedication of VQ-11's sailors and the wide range of talent and expertise which they brought to bear on the task of preparing the Fleet to go into harm's way was of vital interest to the national defense from 1997 through 1999. May God bless our shipmates in the Fleet and protect them from the harm which it is their duty to confront...

    Circa Unknown
    Can you identify the Month and or Year?

    HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: News Article"During a ceremony held Saturday, August 2, Naval Air Station, Brunswick says "hello" to the "Bandits" of Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron ELEVEN, the base's newest squadron when two crewmen unveiled the squadron logo for all to see. The squadron's first commanding officer is Cdr. Alan LaBeouf...It was also a sad day for NASB when the base said farewell to the "Proud Pegasus" of VP-11. Commander David Williams, the last Commanding Officer of VP-11 lowered the squadron commissioning pennant to mark the formal disestablishment of the squadron. During the ceremony, held in Hangar ONE, guest speaker Admiral John R. Ryan, Commander of Maritime Patrol Aviation forcer in the Mediterranean and a former commanding officer of Patrol Squadron ELEVEN discussed the distinguished history of VP-11 and the bright future of Navy P-3 aviation..." "The Patroller VOL.30, NO.30" Contributed by Ed Zawacki ezawacki@gwi.net

    "VQ-11 Summary Page"