The oldest continuously active fighter squadron in the Navy. This page is updated by the Public Affairs Officer for the Families and Friends of The Red Rippers.
General Information
Rank/Rate Sailors Name
VFA-11, Unit 60554
FPO AE 09505-6102...

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Be smart, use your head, and always think OPSEC when using email or phone!
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Three distinct squadrons have been designated VF-11, and two distinct squadrons have been known as the Red Rippers. The first VF-11 (never known as the Red Rippers) was established in 1942, was redesignated VF-111 in 1948, and was disestablished in 1959. The second VF-11, known as the Red Rippers was established in 1927 and went through numerous redesignations before being disestablished... in 1959. The third distinct squadron was established as VF-43 in 1950, was eventually redesignated VFA-11, and is the primary subject of this article. Officially, the US Navy does not recognize a direct lineage with disestablished squadrons if a new squadron is formed with the same designation. Often, the new squadron will assume the nickname, insignia, and traditions of the earlier squadrons.

The first Red Rippers
Early years

The first Navy fighter squadron known as the Red Rippers (the second VF-11) was established as VF-5 on February 1, 1927 at Hampton Roads, Virginia flying the Curtis F6C-3 Hawk. From 1927 to World War II, the Rippers flew several propeller aircraft including the Boeing F3B-1 and F4B-1, the Grumman FF-1 and F3F-1 and also held the following designations (designations tended to change based on the mission; e.g., "S" for scout, "B" for bomber): VF-5S, VF-5B, VB-1B, and VF-4.


On March 15, 1941, the Rippers were redesignated as VF-41. During World War II, they supported the Allied invasion of Northwest Africa, downing 14 Vichy French aircraft in the Grumman F4F-3 Wildcat.[2], and conducted air strikes against German forces in Norway in September 1943. The Red Rippers were redesignated VF-4 when they transferred to the Pacific Theatre in August 1943 aboard USS Bunker Hill (CV-17) and USS Essex (CV-9).For the fighter-bomber mission the Hellcat was fitted with wingroot pylons ,each of which could carry a 1,000 -Ib bomb or a 'Tiny Tim' rocket. Smaller rockets were carried on three zero-length launchers on each wing, as carried on the VF-11 'Red Rippers' aircraft.In the Pacific they flew the first air strikes against Tokyo in the Grumman F6F Hellcat. The Rippers also flew the F8F Bearcat for a time.

In November 1946, the Red Rippers were redesignated VF-1A, and finally as VF-11 on August 2, 1948.


After World War II, VF-11 entered the jet age, flying the McDonnell F2H Banshee during the Korean War from the USS Kearsarge (CV-33).

During 1956 the Red Rippers deployed to the Mediterranean aboard USS Coral Sea (CVA-43) and in November 1956, Coral Sea covered the Suez Crisis.

In January 1958, the Rippers reported aboard USS Essex (CVA-9) flying the F2H-4 Banshee. In the Mediterranean, Essex supported the Marines landing in Lebanon on July 15 until the end of August. Essex then transited the Suez Canal, operated with the U.S. Seventh Fleet, and then returned to the East Coast via the Cape of Good Hope.

In 1959, VF-11 moved to NAS Jacksonville and on February 15, the original VF-11 Red Rippers were disestablished, their men and equipment being disbursed to other squadrons and activities.

The second/current Red Rippers


On September 1, 1950, Fighter Squadron 43 (VF-43), known as Rebel's Raiders, was commissioned at NAS Jacksonville, Florida. They moved to NAS Cecil Field on September 18, 1950, and were initially outfitted with new F4U-5N Corsair night fighters. The squadron traded its night fighters for F4U-5s (day fighters) in October 1950. The squadron's first deployment was aboard USS Oriskany (CV-34) to the Mediterranean from April–October 1951.

In February 1952, the squadron transitioned to the F4U-4 and deployed to the Med aboard USS Coral Sea (CVA-43)

In the mid-50s, the squadron transitioned to the F9F-8 Cougar. In April 1958, the squadron transitioned to the Chance-Vought F-8 Crusader. On February 16, 1959 (the day after VF-11 was disestablished), VF-43 was redesignated as VF-11, the second to be so designated. That squadron decided to adopt the traditions and insignia of the first Red Rippers (although they do not claim the lineage).


The "new" VF-11 transitioned to USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CV-42), where they helped quell the unrest in the Dominican Republic in 1961. VF-11 was the first operational squadron to receive the F8U-2NE, receiving its first aircraft on February 8, 1962.

F-4 Phantoms from VF-11 launch from USS Forrestal (CV-59).
In January 1966 the Rippers traded their F-8Es for F-8Ds. In the Fall of 1966, they moved to NAS Oceana and transitioned to the F-4B Phantom.

The squadron saw its first combat on July 25, 1967 over North Vietnam from USS Forrestal (CV-59). The brief combat period on Yankee Station was cut short when, on July 29, 1967, the Forrestal fire occurred. VF-11 lost 47 men in the catastrophe.


The squadron made several Med cruises in the 70s aboard Forrestal. In 1972, the landed an F-4 aboard HMS Ark Royal in a cross deck exercise. On August 20, 1973, the squadron received its first F-4J, beginning the transition from the F-4B.


An F-14A from VF-11 intercepting a Soviet Tu-95 in 1985
The Red Rippers transitioned to the F-14 in 1980 and deployed two years later. The squadron’s combat debut occurred in early December 1983 when VF-11 F-14s engaged eight Syrian MiGs over Lebanon and were fired upon by Syrian surface-to-air missiles and anti-aircraft artillery. On December 4, 1983 the squadron flew combat air patrols over a Navy strike force from the carrier USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67), attacking Syrian positions in Lebanon. The strikes were in response to the Syrian SAM and AAA engagements. Two of the twenty-eight strong strike package were shot down, one A-7 from USS Independence (CV-62) and one A-6, the pilot of the A-6 crew died while the B/N was held prisoner by the Syrians for a year before being released. While they were deployed for operations in Lebanon, one aircraft sustained damage from a suspected surface-to-air missile. After three cruises with Carrier Air Wing Three and the Kennedy Battle Group, VF-11 and its sister squadron transferred to Carrier Air Wing Six and USS Forrestal (CV-59). In 1985 VF-11 Won the Battle E, and the Clifton wards. They deployed again in 1986, and stayed with CVW6/Forrestal until its last cruise in 1991, making a total of five deployments.


In January 1992, VF-11 and VF-31 moved to NAS Miramar and transitioned to the F-14D Tomcat. VF-11’s F-14As were transferred to VF-24 and VF-211.

In February 1994, VF-11 and CVW-14 deployed aboard USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70), in support of Operation Southern Watch. The Red Rippers returned to NAS Miramar on August 15.

In the Fall of 1994, VF-11 acquired Night vision goggles requiring substantial changes to the F-14's internal and instrument lighting.

In 1995, VF-11 received upgrades to their mission computers, providing air-to-ground ordnance capability. VF-11 sent their first aircrews to Forward Air Controller school in September 1995. Also in 1995, VF-11 was aboard Carl Vinson when she visited Hawaii for the 50th anniversary of V-J Day (Victory over Japan.)

In May 1996, CVW-14 deployed with Carl Vinson in support of Operation Southern Watch. On August 31 the Iraqi army attacked the town or Irbil in northern Iraq and several SAM missiles were launched against U.S. aircraft. The United States responded with Operation Desert Strike by attacking targets in the southern no-fly zone with cruise missiles launched from B-52s escorted by VF-11 Tomcats. Carl Vinson left the Gulf on October 1.

Upon return from deployment, VF-11 moved to NAS Oceana as the US Marines took over Miramar. At the same time, VF-11 transitioned to the F-14B and changed air wings to Carrier Air Wing Seven.

In 1997, VF-11 was awarded the Battle E and Clifton Awards as the squadron celebrated their 70th Anniversary. Also that year, VF-11 received the LANTIRN infrared targeting pod and dropped their first GBU-16 laser guided bomb.

In February 1998, the Red Rippers deployed from Norfolk with CVW-7 aboard USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74) on its Maiden voyage/world deployment. They supported Operation Southern Watch, travelled to Australia and Pearl Harbor before the carrier arrived at its new home, Naval Air Station North Island.


VF-11 made a deployment in 2000 aboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69), in support of Operation Southern Watch.

Seven hours after the September 11 terrorist attacks, VF-11 emergency sortied all squadron aircraft aboard USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67) to support Operation Noble Eagle.

They deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in early February 2002, and employed the first JDAM bombs from F-14s in combat on March 11, 2002.

In 2004 VF-11 deployed for the last time with the F-14 aboard USS George Washington (CVN-73) in support of Iraqi Freedom. During that cruise, VF-11 F-14s participated in the bombing of Fallujah during a 48-hour period between April 28 and 29.

On April 20, 2005, VF-11 delivered the last of their F-14s to the “boneyard” at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona.

The squadron reported to VFA-106 for F/A-18 Super Hornet transition training, completing on November 5, 2005.

In May, 2006, VFA-11 deployed to the Caribbean Sea supporting the Partnership of the Americas for two months as part of Carrier Air Wing Seventeen.

VFA-11 transferred to Carrier Air Wing Three and deployed with USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) in November 2007 to the Persian Gulf[. VFA-11 and the rest of CVW-3 returned home on June 4, 2008.

The Squadron recently swapped CVW's, Changing from Carrier Air Wing Three to Carrier Air Wing One.

The Squadron deployed aboard ENTERPRISE from January to July 2011 in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and New Dawn. While on deployment, the Rippers dropped the Navy's first GBU-54(v2) Laser JDAM.
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