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US Navy Electronic Attack Squadron VAQ 131 completes first expeditionary deployment in Japan.

| 2020

According to information published by Commander U.S. Pacific Fleet on November 16, 2020, the “Lancers” of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 131 completed their first expeditionary deployment aboard Naval Air Facility (NAF) Misawa, Japan, November 6, 2020.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 An EA-18G Growler assigned to the "Lancers" of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 131 launches from Misawa Air Base, Japan. (Picture source U.S. DoD)

Electronic Attack Squadron 131 (VAQ-131), also known as the "Lancers," is a United States Navy tactical jet aircraft squadron specializing in kinetic and non-kinetic Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD). They are based at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, flying the EA-18G Growler and are part of Carrier Air Wing 8, deploying aboard USS George H.W. Bush.

The EA-18G Growler is an American carrier-based electronic warfare aircraft manufactured by the American company Boeing. It is a specialized version of the two-seat F/A-18F Super Hornet.

The Growler has more than 90% in common with the standard Super Hornet, sharing airframe, Raytheon AN/APG-79 AESA radar and weapon systems such as the AN/AYK-22 stores management system. Most of the dedicated airborne electronic attack equipment is mounted on a plate in the space that used to house the internal 20 mm cannon and on the wingtips. Nine weapons stations remain free to provide for additional weapons or jamming pods. The added electronics include AN/ALQ-218 wideband receivers on the wingtips and ALQ-99 high and low-band tactical jamming pods. The ALQ-218 combined with the ALQ-99 form a full spectrum electronic warfare suite that is able to provide detection and jamming against all known surface-to-air threats.

As an expeditionary squadron, VAQ-131 now deploys their EA-18G Growlers to airbases worldwide and fluidly integrates with U.S. Air Force and foreign entities. While deployed to NAF Misawa, VAQ-131’s primary objective shifted from their previous mission of supporting combat operations while deployed to the Middle East, to supporting security and stability operations in the Indo-Pacific.

Additional operations and exercises that VAQ-131 completed include, working with the P-8s from the “Screaming Eagles” of Patrol Squadron (VP) 1 during Exercise Keen Sword 21, integrating with the Navy’s only forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), and working with other U.S. Air Force assets that would fly in and around Misawa.

Although this was their first expeditionary deployment, VAQ-131 made sure to make the most of every moment and proudly represented the U.S. Navy.

VAQ-131 conducted 591 sorties, with 188 trilateral integrated sorties between the U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, and Japan Air Self-Defense Force, with a combined total of 958.6 flight hours.

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