Reagan carrier group getting Airborne Early Warning Squadron
By TYLER HLAVAC | STARS AND STRIPES Published: January 5, 2017
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — The USS Ronald Reagan carrier group is getting a new Airborne Early Warning Squadron as the Navy moves closer to relocating Naval Air Station Atsugi units to Iwakuni.
Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 125 (VAW-125) is scheduled to arrive next month at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni to replace the Atsugi-based Airborne Early Warning Squadron 115. It will be assigned to Carrier Air Wing 5, the Reagan’s aviation wing.
The relocation is part of the Navy’s goal of sending all of Atsugi’s fixed-wing aircraft to Iwakuni. The move, directed in May 2006 as part of the U.S.-Japan Roadmap for Realignment, was to be completed in 2014. The phased relocation is now scheduled to begin in the second half of this year, Navy officials said.
Last August, an Atsugi-based Navy EA-18G Growler electronic warfare plane tested its noise levels at Iwakuni in preparation of the move.
The base’s population will double to approximately 10,000 with the arrival of six squadrons from the carrier wing.
VAW-125, from Naval Station Norfolk, Va., will bring upgraded capabilities to the Reagan group. It flies the new E-2D Advanced Hawkeye early warning and control aircraft, the latest variant of the long-running E-2 Hawkeye series.
The E-2D “employs long-range radar and electronic communications capabilities to oversee the battle space and detect threats beyond the sensor range of other friendly units,” said a statement from the Navy, which describes the aircraft as the “digital quarterback” of the fleet.
Hawkeyes are the Navy’s longest serving carrier-based aircraft.
VAW-115 first deployed to the Pacific in 1967 and joined CVW-5 in 1970. The oldest and only original squadron in the carrier wing, it will depart Atsugi this summer for Naval Base Ventura County, Calif.