Naval Aircraft Fundamentals
109.1 State the primary mission of the following aviation communities:
Note: In squadron designations, the rules for meanings of letters is only general since squadron types have renamed themselves without changing designators. H stands for Helicopter (frequently referred to as Rotary Wing). V stands for Fixed Wing. The secondary position (as in the P in VP) as a general rule stand for:
A - Attack
AQ - Electronic Attack (formerly known as Tactical Electronic Warfare)
AW - Airborne Early Warning
C - Cargo (renamed to Combat Support for funding purposes following Desert
C - Composite (VC)
F - Fighter
L - Light as in HAL (Helicopter Attack, Light), VA(L) (Fixed wing Attack, Light
A-4s and A-7s) and HSL (Helicopter Antisubmarine, Light)
M - Mine Counter Measures or
M - Marine Corps (will have a third designator at least such as VMFA, or
M - Medium lift (in conjunction with Marine Corps M) (HMM – Helicopter,
Marine, Medium lift)
O - Observation as in VMO
P - Patrol (us!)
Q - Electronic, Special (VQ)
R - Logistics Support (from Re-supply?)
RC - Carrier Logistics Support (from Logistics Support Composite)
S - Anti Submarine as in HS and HSL or
S - Sea Control - S-3 squadrons (another post Desert Storm name change)
(formerly known as Fixed wing ASW) or
S - Special - as in HCS (Helicopter Combat Support, Special)
T - Trainer
X - Research and Development
VXE- Antarctic Research Support disestablished 1999
VXN- Permanent Test bed Research disestablished 1997
1. HC- Helicopter Combat Support - Rotary Wing (Aircraft: H-1, H-3, CH-46D, CH-53D/E)
2. HCS- Helicopter Combat Support Special Squadron- Rotary Wing (Aircraft: HH-60H)
3. HM- Helicopter Mine Countermeasures - Rotary Wing (Aircraft: CH/MH/RH-53E)
4. HS- Helicopter Antisubmarine - Rotary Wing (Aircraft: SH-60F, HH-60H)
5. HSL- Helicopter Antisubmarine Light (Aircraft: SH-60B)
6. HT- Helicopter Training (Aircraft: TH-57)
7. VAQ- Tactical Electronic Attack - Fixed Wing (Aircraft: EA-6B)
8. VAW- Carrier Airborne Early Warning - Fixed Wing (Aircraft: E-2C)
9. VC- Fleet Composite - Fixed Wing (Aircraft: F-5E, F-14, TA-4E, T-38, UH-3A, CH-53E, VP-3A)
10. VF- Fighter - Fixed Wing (Aircraft: F-14)
11. VFA- Strike Fighter - Fixed Wing (Aircraft: F/A-18). (Actually, it stands for Fighter Attack but the pilots did not appreciate being called Fighter Attack Guys)
12. VMFA- Marine Strike Fighter - Fixed Wing (Aircraft: F/A-18)
13. VP- Patrol - Fixed Wing (Aircraft: P-3C)
14. VQ- Fleet Air Reconnaissance - Fixed Wing (Aircraft: EP-3, E-6) VQ-1 & -2 fly EP-3s, VQ-3 & -4 fly E-6s. VQ-5, -6, & -11 decommissioned.
15. VR- Logistics Support - Fixed Wing (Aircraft: C-9, C-20, TC-39, C-130)
16. VRC- Carrier Logistics Support - Fixed Wing (Aircraft: C-2, US-3A)
17. VS- Sea Control - Fixed Wing (Aircraft: S-3)
18. VT- Training - Fixed Wing (Aircraft: T-2, TA-4, TC-12, T-34, T-44, T-45)
19. VX/VXE - Air Test and Evaluation - Fixed Wing (Aircraft: A4M/T, TA-4J, A-6, AV-8, F/A-18A/B, S-3A/B, P-3A/C, UH-1N, AH-1J/T/W,SH-2F, SH-3H, SH-60B/F, OV-10A/D) VXE-6 - Antarctic Development- Fixed Wing (Aircraft: LC-130 and LH-1H). Decommissioned.
109.2 Identify the mission of the following naval aircraft:
As per NAVAIR 00-110A Appendix A
Aircraft Designation Symbols
N E C – 121 K Suffix
Status Prefix Symbol Design Number
Modified Mission Symbol Basic Mission or Type Symbol
Every aircraft designed for the military receives an aircraft designation. The minimum designation is a Basic Mission Symbol and a Design Number. Helicopters and V/STOL aircraft will have a Mission Symbol, then a Type Symbol, then the Design Number such as AV-8 and SH-60. The Suffix indicated major variations in the particular design that do not change the mission like F-14A and F-14D. The suffix may be followed by other acronyms that indicate modification of the baseline model, for example - P-3C UIII AIP. Some aircraft receive such extensive changes that they receive a Modified Mission Symbol. It is possible for an aircraft to have multiple Modified Mission Symbols as in EKA-3 but it is more common to drop the former Modified Mission Symbol and refer to the aircraft as EA-3. Some aircraft will have a Status Prefix Symbol. These always have at least a Basic Mission Symbol.
The only Type Symbols are
H - Helicopter
V - V/STOL (Vertical/Short Take Off and Landing)
All other aircraft are considered fixed wing.
The Basic and Modified Mission Symbols are:
A - Attack – aircraft designed or modified for ground or sea attack missions.(AH-1, A-3, A-4, A-6, FA-18, AC-130)
B - Bomber – multi-engine aircraft designed for bombing surface (land or sea) targets.
Usually larger than Attack aircraft. (none currently in naval service) (B-1, B-2, B-52)
C - Cargo/Transport (C-2, C-9, C-12, CH-46D, CH-53E, C-130)
D - Director – for aircraft capable of controlling drone aircraft or missiles. (DC-130)
E - Special Electronic Installation these aircraft perform the following roles: Electronic
Counter Measures; Airborne Early Warning; Airborne Command & Control; Tactical
Data Communications Link; Electronic Intelligence (E-2C, EP-3E, E-6B, EA-6B)
F - Fighter – includes aircraft considered multi-mission designed for ground support such
as the F-4. (F-14, FA-18)
H - Search and Rescue. Aircraft whose mission required installation of special
equipment specifically for performance of SAR and C/SAR (Combat SAR). Used for
insertion and retrieval of Special Operations forces (SEALS, Marine RECON, Green
Berets, Rangers) (HH-60, HC-130)
K -Tanker (KC-135, KC-10, KA-3, KS-3. KA-6)
L - Arctic, specially modified for operations in the Arctic and Antarctic regions (LH-1,
M - Military – special purpose modifications that frequently include extra navigation
equipment and special operations capability (MV-22, MH-53, MC-130)
O - Observation – aircraft used primarily for directing Close Air Support (CAS) or
directing artillery fire. (OA-4, OV-10)
P - Patrol – long range, multi-engine aircraft with the primary mission of maritime
reconnaissance, ASW, and mine interdiction. (P-2, P-3)
Q - Drone – aircraft designed or modified to be capable of being controlled from some
where other than inside the aircraft. (QA-4, QF-4)
R – Reconnaissance – aircraft having equipment permanently installed for photographic of electronic reconnaissance (such as the mine hunting sonar on mine hunting helicopters) (RP-3D, RF -4C, RF-8G, RH-53E)
S - Anti-submarine – shorter range shipboard aircraft designed for a similar role as Patrol
aircraft. (S-3B, SH-60F)
T - Trainer – aircraft used for training personnel on the operation of aircraft or related
equipment. (T-2, TP-3A, TA-4, TC-39, T-44, T-45)
U - Utility –aircraft that perform miscellaneous missions which can include carrying
cargo, passengers and other grunt work. (UH-1, UP-3A, UC-12)
V - Staff (Think VIP) - aircraft used for transporting of VIP personnel. Plush
accommodations. (VH-3, VP-3A, VC-20)
W - Weather – aircraft used for gathering weather and weather related information. The
more famous ones fly through hurricanes. (WP-3, WC-130)
X - Experimental, these aircraft are purpose built for experimental use only and are not
themselves ever planned for wide spread production. (X-15, X-29, X-33)
Status Prefix Symbol:
J – Special Test, Temporary – aircraft used by specific organizations to temporarily test
configurations or equipment. The aircraft must be capable of being returned to original
configuration. This is not normally used any more.
N – Special Test, Permanent – aircraft modified to be permanent test beds for equipment
or configurations. They are not capable of being returned to their original
Y - Prototype, Developmental – aircraft procured in limited quantities for pre-production testing and development. (YFA-18, YF-22)
X - Prototype, Experimental – aircraft testing the design. These are the original aircraft built of a type. Some never get past this stage. (XF-22, XF-23)
Aircraft with long service or production life-spans can have several modifiers to variations in production or various modifications to one specific Bureau number. C-130 aircraft have had countless modifications and have been produced in AC-130, DC-130, EC-130, HC-130, KC-130, LC-130, MC-130, NC-130, and WC-130 variants many of which are back fitted onto existing airframes.
A-4 Skyhawk- Vietnam era light attack aircraft. Replaced by A-7 Corsair II. TA-4J still performing job as FAC (Forward Air Controller).
A-6E Intruder- Navy's last true all weather attack aircraft. Can carry more than twice the bomb load more than twice the distance of the FA-18E/F. No longer in service.
A-7 Corsair II- joint light attack aircraft used by USAF and USN into the early 1990s. Replaced by the FA-18.
AV-8B Harrier- Attack, Marines only. Specializes in Close Air Support (CAS). Due to be replaced by the F-35 JSF.
C-2A Greyhound- Carrier logistics support. More commonly know as COD (Carrier Onboard Delivery) bird
C-9B Sky Train II- Land based logistics support. Military version of the DC-9 aircraft. Cargo and/or people mover.
UC-12B/F/M Huron- Logistics support Base Ops short hauler. Small twin-engine turboprop. Commercially called King Air. No longer controlled by NALO, many have been turned over to the Air Force or turned into trainers.
C-20D/G Gulfstream- Land based logistics support (VIP). Primarily people mover.
C-40A Clipper- Boeing 737 built for US Navy. Replacing C-9 and DC-9 aircraft.
C-130 Hercules- Land based logistics support. Marines have KC-130 variant for refueling CH-53 helicopters in-flight. All special EC-130s, LC-130L (Antarctic) have been turned over to USAF, ANG units, or sent to the bone yard.
EA-6B Prowler- Electronic Attack. Jams any electronic transmissions: radar, communications, what ever. Derived from the A-6 Intruder. Sole electronic warfare aircraft for USAF, USMC, and USN. USAF and USN crews in joint squadrons. Replacement FA-18 variant in the works.
E-2C Hawkeye- Airborne early warning. Performs Command & Control, Air Intercept Control, and many other functions. Provides radar coverage out to 200 nautical miles. E-2C 2000.
E-6 Mercury- Strategic Command and Control. Centrally based out of Tinker AFB, OK. Yet another Boeing 707 derivative. Communicates with submerged ballistic missile submarines to give launch signal incase of nuclear attack.
F/A-18 Hornet- Fighter/attack. Designed as a replacement for the A-4 and A-7 Light Attack aircraft. F/A-18E/F versions to be replacement for A-6E Intruder. It can carry 1/3 the bomb load 1/3 of the range an A-6 could.
F-4 Phantom II- the plane that the F-14 AND F/A-18 were designed to replace. Saw combat all around the world in a multitude of nations service. The ONLY aircraft the F-4 Phantom came out a consistent loser against was the F-4 Phantom (in the Geek - Turkey skirmishes over Cyprus in the 1870s). QF-4s are used as target drones. The common practice is to stencil the pilot's name as ENS NOLO (No Live Operator Onboard). Everytime the QF-4 survives an attempt to blow it apart with missiles, the rank is changed (for example LCDR Nolo has survived 3 attempts on his life).
F-5 Tiger- Fighter used as enemy aircraft by aggressor squadron for Dissimilar Air Combat Maneuvering Training (DACM). F-5E is the two seater version.
F-14 Tomcat- Fighter. Fleet defense. Only aircraft capable of firing AIM-54 Phoenix missile. Between the Tomcat’s long range and the 100+ mile range of the Phoenix, it pushed the fleet defense bubble well away from the carrier. Also targeted for replacement by the less capable F/A-18E/F
MV-22B Osprey- Tilt rotor aircraft able to take off, hover, and land like a helicopter, but able to fly the safer and more fuel efficient profile of an airplane. Replacing MH-46 for landing Marines in hostile places.
P-3 Orion- Patrol, Reconnaissance, ASW, ASuW. NOAA hurricane hunters use specially built WP-3 aircraft. Testbed NP-3Ds come in a variety of styles.
EP-3E Aires- Electronic reconnaissance aircraft. Made famous for its visit to Hainan Island, PRC.
S-3Viking- Carrier antisubmarine warfare, Air Group Electronic Support.
TA-4 Skyhawk- Training, observation, aggressor squadron aircraft.
T-2 Buckeye- Trainer. Primarily replaced by T-45.
T-6 Texan II- JPATS joint service training aircraft. Replacing T-34.
T-34C Turbo-Mentor- Turbo-prop trainer.
T-39 Sabreliner- Business Jet along the lines of an early Learjet. Used for VIP transport.
T-44 Pegasus- Multi-engine trainer.
T-45 Goshawk- Trainer replacing T-2 and TA-4. Derived from British Aerospace Hawk.
AH-1 Cobra- Helicopter attack Marines Close Air Support.
UH-1N Iroquois- Helicopter combat support, Utility, SAR. The N variant is twin-engined. Genuine Jack-of-All-Trades.
SH-2 Seasprite- Helicopter antisubmarine, light. Not in active or reserve naval service.
SH-3 Sea King- Helicopter antisubmarine. HH-3H and VH-3 only variants left in active naval service. Currently used for SAR and VIP transportation.
CH-46 Sea Knight- Helicopter combat support. Used for underway replenishment, VERTREP and amphibious assault. Some models are also SAR capable.
CH-53D/E Sea Stallion- Helicopter mine countermeasures, combat support, VERTREP. The MH-53E Super Stallion variants are three engines, larger fuel tanks, and drop tank capability. Many versions are capable of in-flight refueling.
TH-57 Sea Ranger- Primary helicopter trainer.
SH-60B Seahawk- Helicopter antisubmarine light. Uses sonobouys. Operates primarily from small boys (DDGs, FFGs)
SH-60F Oceanhawk- Helicopter antisubmarine. Uses dipping sonar. Operates mainly from carriers.
HH-60H Seahawk- Helicopter combat support, special. Takes people who aren’t there where they didn’t go and picks them back up. Has hoist, drop tank, and in-flight refueling capability. Also used for SAR.
SH-60R- replacement for SH-60B and SH-60F.
CH-60S- Replacement for CH46.
102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 114 115 116 117 118
101 102 103 104 105 106 107 201 202 203 204 205