FALLON, Nevada – The Warhawks of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 97 started the Air-to-Surface (A/S) portion of Strike Fighter Advanced Readiness Program (SFARP) at Naval Air Station (NAS) Fallon, Nev., on Monday, Oct. 30.
SFARP is to Naval Aviation what spring training camp is to major league ball clubs. It’s the squadron’s opportunity to build and hone the basics of strike fighter weapons employment. SFARP focuses on squadron level tactical training through lectures, simulators and ultimately tactical flights.
“SFARP is a critical component of the Fleet Readiness Training Program (FRTP). We are able to accomplish the blocking and tackling fundamentals of A/S deliveries with the utilization of the Navy’s premier Air-to-Surface training facilities located at NAS Fallon. This training is the cornerstone upon which further skill sets are built,” said Lt. Cameron Thornberry.
VFA-97 began the SFARP lecture series on Oct. 10. Pilots received world-class instruction from instructors at Strike Fighter Weapons School Pacific (SFWSP) on all aspects of F/A-18 weapons systems and employment. The following week, the Warhawks began the first series of SFARP flights at NAS Lemoore executing both urban close air support and division bombing events.
On Friday, Oct. 27, the Junior Officers of VFA-97 flew 7 F/A-18E Super Hornets from NAS Lemoore to NAS Fallon to take advantage of the unique training opportunities offered by the Fallon Range Training Complex (FRTC). In addition to completing SFARP requirements, Warhawk pilots completed numerous Strike Fighter Weapon Training (SFWT) syllabus events. Through this syllabus, squadron pilots further honed their skills by achieving the qualifications of combat wingman, section lead and division lead.
“SFARP is an excellent opportunity for the Junior Officers to advance in their SFWT training syllabus. Due to the close proximity of the FRTC range complex to Fallon, we are able to maximize our fuel for the tactical portion of the flight. In addition to the increase in training time, the opportunities to drop both high explosive and heavy inert ordnance adds real world training that is not possible at other ranges” said Lt. Jacob Steele.
As the Warhawks continue to dominate the Air-to-Surface training flights and wrap up celebrations of their 50th anniversary, the squadron looks forward to future training opportunities in the Air-to-Air arena early next year. VFA-97 belongs to Carrier Air Wing NINE and is attached to the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS JOHN C. STENNIS (CVN 74).
For more information, visit www.vfa97.navy.mil.