US Navy's VAW 115 E-2C Hawkeyes end 44-year service in Japan
The US Navy’s Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 115 ‘Liberty Bells’ has concluded its 44 years of service.
The squadron is one of the longest-serving forward deployed squadrons in the US Navy, and its end of service is marked by the departure of last E-2C Hawkeyes of VAW-115 from the Naval Air Facility (NAF) Atsugi in Japan.
Its operational responsibilities, and those of the E-2C Hawkeyes, will be taken over by VAW-125 'Tigertails' and the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye.
The VAW-115 and its 140 personnel will continue to support the US Navy carrier strike group operations from its new base at Naval Base Ventura, California.
VAW-115 will transition to the new E-2D Advanced Hawkeye platform at a future date.
The Liberty Bells squadron has played a significant role in various international events since its first arrival in Japan in 1973.
Liberty Bells made a total of 11 deployments to the Indian Ocean and North Arabian Sea from the late 1970s throughout the 1980s, and was deployed to the Persian Gulf in October 1990 as part of Operation Desert Shield and transitioned to Desert Storm, flying 179 combat sorties.
VAW-115 returned to the Persian Gulf again in 2003 and operated more than 350 hours in support of initial major combat operations under the Operation Iraqi Freedom initiative.
It also flew more than 80 hours in support of Operation Damayan in November 2013 following the destruction that was caused by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.
Image: Pre-flight inspection conducted on Liberty Bells of VAW-115 prior to departing Naval Air Facility, Atsugi, Japan. Photo: courtesy of US Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Ben Farone / Released.