Welcome to the homepage of VAQ-135 stationed on Naval Air Station Whidbey Island in Washington State. The mission of this squadron is to provide fully operational EA-18G aircraft to perform unrestricted Electronic Attack as needed throughout the world. The EA-18G Growler aircraft represents the most advanced technology in airborne Electronic Attack and stands as the Navy’s first line of defense in hostile environments.
Welcome aboard and congratulations on your assignment to the World Famous Black Ravens of Electronic Attack Squadron One Three Five (VAQ-135). The squadron is located in beautiful Oak Harbor, Washington on board Naval Air Station Whidbey Island. Operationally we are attached to Commander Electronic Attack Wing US Pacific Fleet (CVWP).
You will be joining a team of highly trained and dedicated men and women who are on the cutting edge of America's "Sword of Freedom." We're serious about our mission and take exceptional pride in the accomplishments and reputation of this command. We are recognized as a combat ready, can-do squadron that is well respected by both military and local civilian communities. The standards we set for ourselves are quite high and your professional and physical readiness will be an integral part of VAQ-135. Your sponsor, along with this website, should be able to answer any questions you may have regarding your transfer to VAQ-135 and getting to Naval Air Station Whidbey Island. Due to our deploying status, we ask that you utilize the Points of Contact and Helpful Links pages to assist in your transition.
We welcome you to the best duty in the U.S. Navy! You should be extremely pleased with your assignment to the Black Ravens of VAQ-135, and we are looking forward to your arrival.
Mission and Statistics
The E/A-18G is the fourth major variant of the F/A-18 family of aircraft. The EA-18G will serve as the Navy's replacement for the EA-6B providing a capability to detect, identify, locate, and suppress hostile emitters. The EA-18G will have the capability to operate autonomously or as a major node in a network-centric operation and will provide accurate emitter targeting for employment of onboard suppression weapons such as the High-Speed Anti-Radiation Missile (HARM). The EA-18 will perform full-spectrum electronic surveillance and electronic attack of enemy threat radars and communications nets. The EA-18G is a highly flexible design that enables the warfighter to perform a broad range of tactical missions, operating from either the deck of an aircraft carrier or land-based fields.
The EA-18G's electronic attack upgrades will meet EA-6B (ALQ-218, ALQ-99, USQ-113) Airborne Electronic Attack (AEA) capability to detect, identify, locate and suppress hostile emitters; provide enhanced connectivity to National, Theater and Strike assets; and provide organic precision emitter targeting for employment of onboard suppression weapons High-speed Anti-Radiation Missile (HARM) to fulfill operational requirements. The man in the loop operation and advanced information display system will allow real time assessment of the tactical situation and the appropriate response executed in accordance with the rules of engagement. The performance of the aircraft is compatible with the primary strike/fighter aircraft projected to be in the inventory in the 2010 time period, allowing it to be fully integrated into specific strike packages. It will also have the capacity to provide broad area coverage for extended periods of time to support numerous strikes or other air operations in a federated context. The EA-18G is being designed to perform a range of Electronic Warfare/Electronic Attack functions either simultaneously or independently.
The EA-18 will retain everything in it that the F/A-18F Super Hornet has today with two exceptions. The wing tip stations will have receiving antennas. The gun will be replaced with avionics boxes containing the LR-700 receiver and satellite communications, which interface with the ALQ-99 Tactical Jamming System pods.
60.2 ft (18.3 m)
16 ft (4.9 m)
44.9 ft (13.7 m)
33,094 lbs (15,011.2 kg)
48,000 lbs (21,772.4 kg)
13,940 lbs (6,323.1 kg)
Max External Fuel
9,744 lbs (4,419.8 kg)
2 x F414-GE-400
1 x Pilot, 1 x Electronic Warfare Officer
Nine weapons stations providing unique flexibility to carry ALQ-218 receiver sub systems, ALQ-99 Hi-band jamming pods, AIM-120 and AGM-88 weapons systems, and other stores to meet the needs for standoff jamming, escort jamming, time critical strike, or communications countermeasures.
The WORLD FAMOUS BLACK RAVENS of Electronic Attack Squadron ONE THREE FIVE were established on 15 May 1969 to provide electronic warfare in support of carrier air wings. Homeported at NAS Alameda, California, the BLACK RAVENS first flew the Douglas EKA-3B Skywarrior. In 1973, VAQ-135 relocated to NAS Whidbey Island, Washington, and transitioned to the Grumman EA-6B Prowler.
The BLACK RAVENS first deployed with the EA-6B to the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean from January to September 1976. Following that deployment, VAQ-135 transitioned to the Improved Capability Prowler (ICAP) and became the first fleet EA-6B ICAP squadron. With the venerable EA-6B, the BLACK RAVENS deployed onboard USS KITTY HAWK (CV 63) with CVW-15, USS AMERICA (CV 66) with CVW-1, USS ENTERPRISE (CVN 65), USS CARL VINSON (CVN 70) and USS NIMITZ with CVW-11.
In June 2011, the BLACK RAVENS were designated safe for flight in the EA-18G Growler. At the same time, they transitioned to the expeditionary role, reporting to Commander Electronic Attack Wing, US Pacific Fleet. The BLACK RAVENS made their maiden deployment in the EA-18G to the CENTCOM and EUCOM areas of responsibility in the summer of 2012.
The Command has taken an active role in the following exercises and operations during its storied history: OCEAN SAFARI '85, PRAYING MANTIS, PACEX '89, FIERY VIGIL, RIMPAC '96, SOUTHERN WATCH, DESERT FOX, ENDURING FREEDOM, IRAQI FREEDOM, TRIAL MACE, SOUTHERN STRIKE, TUMBLEWEED, COPE NORTH '15, MCSOFEX, and numerous RED FLAG events.
The squadron has earned various awards including the Navy Unit Commendation, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, the Navy Expeditionary Medal, CVW-11 Golden Wrench for maintenance excellence, 1986 and 2013 Association of Old Crows Outstanding Unit Award, 2014 Tactical Excellence Award, multiple Chief of Naval Operations Safety "S" Awards and multiple Battle Efficiency "E" Awards.
Additionally, in August 2015 the WORLD FAMOUS BLACK RAVENS returned home from an expeditionary deployment to the Pacific Command area of responsibility. For six months, VAQ-135 operated primarily from Misawa Air Base, Japan, to test and refine their tactical capabilities as well as increase interoperability with U.S. and international units throughout the Pacific.
Commander Kevin J. Volpe, United States Navy
Commander Kevin J. Volpe graduated from Duke University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Policy, receiving his commission through the NROTC program in May 1997. He was designated a Naval Flight Officer in August 1998 and reported to Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 129, NAS Whidbey Island, WA, for initial training in the EA-6B Prowler.
After completion of Electronic Counter-Measures Officer (ECMO) training at VAQ-129, CDR Volpe reported to the “Zappers” of VAQ-130. In 2000, he deployed with VAQ-130 assigned to Carrier Air Wing Three embarked aboard USS HARRY S TRUMAN (CVN-75) flying combat sorties over Iraq in support of Operation SOUTHERN WATCH. Following that deployment, CDR Volpe completed the Prowler Tactics Instructor (PTI) course at the Electronic Attack Weapons School and was designated a PTI in December 2001. He deployed again with the “Zappers” of CVW-3 aboard the USS HARRY S TRUMAN (CVN-75), participating in the initial invasion of Iraq during Operation IRAQI FREEDOM.
In August 2003, he reported to Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center, NAS Fallon, NV where he served as the Air Wing Coordinator and Suppression of Enemy Air Defense Instructor and earned a NATOPS qualification in the F/A-18 B/D. During the summer of 2004, he deployed to Baghdad, Iraq, to serve as Air Planner for Naval Special Warfare Task Group – Arabian Peninsula. CDR Volpe next joined the “Yellow Jackets” of VAQ-138 as Training Officer and Tactics Department Head, deploying in 2007 with CVW-9 embarked aboard USS JOHN C STENNIS (CVN-74) in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM. Following that deployment, he attended the Marine Corps Command and Staff College in Quantico, VA, where he earned a Master of Military Studies degree and graduated with distinction.
CDR Volpe checked aboard the “Rooks” of VAQ-137 in September 2008, where he served as Administrative Officer and Maintenance Officer while conducting inter-deployment training exercises with CVW-1 aboard the USS ENTERPRISE (CVN-65). He then deployed on Individual Augment assignment in November 2010 as the Deputy Electronic Warfare Officer at CJTF-101 / Regional Command East in Bagram, Afghanistan. CDR Volpe subsequently served as the Caribbean Regional Engagement Branch Chief at Special Operations Command South in Homestead, FL.
CDR Volpe has logged over 2000 flight hours, has over 400 carrier arrested landings and has flown numerous combat sorties. His personal awards include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Strike/Flight Air Medal (two awards), Joint Commendation Medal, Navy Commendation Medal (four awards including one with combat distinguishing device) and various other joint, service and unit awards.
Commander Mike Lisa, United States Navy
Commander Mike Lisa graduated with distinction from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1999, and earned a Master’s of Science in Physics from the Naval Postgraduate School in 2000. He received his Aviator Wings in July of 2002 from Meridian, Mississippi and reported to VAQ-129 for Fleet Replacement Squadron for training as a pilot in the EA-6B Prowler.
CDR Lisa’s operational tours include Junior Officer VAQ-131 deploying the EA-6B aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) supporting Operation UNIFIED RELIEF. He served as Department Head in VAQ-141 deploying the venerable EA-18G aboard the USS George H.W. Bush’s (CVN 77) maiden deployment in support of Operations NEW DAWN and ENDURING FREEDOM, then subsequently with Forward Deployed Naval Forces Japan aboard the USS George Washington (CVN 73).
His shore tours include U.S. Navy Test Pilot School, Carrier Suitability Department of Test Squadron VX-23, Safety Officer of the EA-18G/EA-6B Fleet Replacement Squadron VAQ-129, Instructor Pilot Fleet Replacement Squadron VAQ-129, Integrated Product Team Lead at the Hornet & Growler Program Officer PMA-265, NAVAIR, and the EA-18G Requirements Officer at the Electronic Attack Wing Pacific.
CDR Lisa has been privileged to serve with teams that excelled in combat operations. He wears the Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal, Navy Commendation (2 awards), and Navy Achievement Medal (4 awards). Other awards include the 2005 CDR Louis “Seadog” Fodor Memorial Awardee for outstanding Junior Officer Leadership in the Electronic Attack community, the 2013 Chief of Naval Air Forces Pacific Fleet Pilot of the Year, and the National Navy League’s 2015 Vice Admiral John Perry awardee for excellence in Electronic Warfare.
CDR Lisa has flown over 2,500 hours in 25 aircraft, numerous combat sorties, and 510 arrested landings including piloting the first embarked arrested landing of the EA-18G aboard the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Command Master Chief
CMDCM(AW) Timothy J. Nesser, United States Navy
Master Chief Nesser was born in Wisconsin but raised in Wyoming. In December 1988, he enlisted in the United States Navy and attended Recruit Training in Orlando, Florida.
Upon completion of Aviation Administration man (AZ) “A’ School at Naval Air Technical Training Center Meridian, Mississippi, graduating at the top of his class, he reported to his first duty assignment, Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, to TACTICAL ELECTRONIC WARFARE SQUADRON ONE FOUR ZERO (VAQ-140) in April 1989. While there, he deployed on USS DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER (CVN-69), completing two Mediterranean cruises, participated in Operation DESERT SHIELD/DESERT STORM and advanced to AZ2. In December 1992, he graduated from AZ ‘C’ School and transferred to shore duty at TACTICAL ELECTRONIC WARFARE SQUADRON ONE TWO NINE (VAQ-129).
In January 1996, he reported to ATTACK SQUADRON ONE NINE SIX (VA-196), where he completed a WESTPAC deployment on the USS CARL VINSON (CVN-70) before the squadron decommissioned in February 1997. He then transferred to ELECTRONIC ATTACK SQUADRON ONE THREE TWO (VAQ-132) in March 1997 where he completed two more Mediterranean deployments on USS DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER (CVN-69) and one gap-fill deployment to Prince Sultan Air Base, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. During this tour, he advanced to AZ1.
In April 2000, he transferred to ELECTRONIC ATTACK SQUADRON ONE FOUR TWO (VAQ-142) where he deployed twice to Incirlik, Air Base, Turkey and once again to Prince Sultan Air Base, KSA. In June 2002, he transferred to FASOTRAGRUPAC WHIDBEY ISLAND and was promoted to Chief Petty Officer in September 2002.
In June 2005, he reported to ELECTRONIC ATTACK SQUADRON ONE THREE FOUR (VAQ-134), where he completed four deployments to Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM. During this tour, he advanced to Senior Chief Petty Officer. In October 2009, he transferred to ELECTRONIC ATTACK WING, U. S. PACIFIC FLLEET (CVWP).
He reported to FLEET AIR RECONNASIANCE SQUADRON ONE (VQ-1) in May 2013 and was selected for Master Chief Petty Officer. In May 2015, he reported to his present assignment as ELECTRONIC ATTACK SQUADRON ONE THREE FIVE (VAQ-135) Command Master Chief.
Master Chief Nesser is a graduate of the U.S. Navy Senior Enlisted Academy (Class 186, Green) and the CMC/COB Course (Class 143). His personal awards include the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (Three awards), Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (Six awards), Air Force Achievement Medal, and various Navy and Air Force campaign and service decorations.
The Ombudsman Program was introduced to the U.S. Navy on 14 September 1970 by the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Elmo Zumwalt with a Z-gram. Admiral Zumwalt adapted his program from a 19th century Scandinavian custom originally established by the King to give ordinary private citizens an avenue to express their grievances to high government officials. The U.S. Navy shifted the focus away from the grievance-processing role to a primary focus on command communication, information, and referral.
Our VAQ-135 Ombudsman is here to serve and assist VAQ-135 families. An Ombudsman is an official command representative who acts as a liaison between the command and families. Our Ombudsman send out information about command & community resources and activities to families. They work closely with the FRG to serve your family in that regard.
When your spouse or family member has questions, comments, concerns, or problems, he/she should contact the Ombudsman, who can then provide resources to assist and/or communicate with the command on behalf of the family member. Your Ombudsman act as advocates for command families. They assist in emergencies and crisis, especially during deployments. They can provide information about both military and civilian community agencies that can help families solve a variety of problems, and successfully meet the challenges families face before, during, and after deployments. The Ombudsman contact information is below.
It is important if you have a change of address, phone number or email address, even if temporary, that you contact your VAQ-135 Ombudsman. If the Ombudsman does not have the correct information, they may be unable to contact you with command information. If you are new to VAQ-135, be sure to contact your Ombudsmen.
VAQ-135 Family Readiness Group (FRG)
Family readiness is the mutual reinforcement and support provided by the command to Sailors and their families. FRGs are a key component of mission readiness. FRG functions and activities are listed below:
Emphasis on activities during deployments
Mentoring of new family members
Assistance in times of personal, unit, or area crises
Coordinating deployment farewells and homecomings
Assisting with command sponsor program to include
Welcoming new families
Facilitating family member attendance at orientation sessions and FRG meetings
Social events (for example, holiday and children's parties) and activities
Fundraising - to support the activities listed above
The Black Raven’s FRG members can be reached via the VAQ-135 Ombudsman/FRG Facebook group or via email at VAQ135FRG@outlook.com. The FRG Board President can be reached by phone at 360-914-8835
Fleet & Family Support Center
Naval Air Station Whidbey Island has the Fleet & Family Support Center located inside the NorWester. The Center offers a variety of programs and assistance open to all hands. Classes include transition assistance programs, personal financial management classes, as well as a number of other self-improvement opportunities. The Center also offers personal and marital counseling.
To see what workshops the Fleet & Family Support Center is offering, call or visit:
Child care for military families is a high priority with most bases now providing care through Child Development Centers (CDC). CDCs can also assist families in locating qualified child care providers close to their residence. For more information, call or visit:
The Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society (NMCRS) is a non-profit charitable organization whose purpose is to assist Navy and Marine Corps personnel and their families in time of need. The Society is sponsored by the Department of the Navy and operates nearly 300 offices ashore and afloat at Navy and Marine Corps commands throughout the world. Trained volunteers ensure requests are handled by persons familiar with the special conditions of service life and who have a realistic understanding of the potential hardships facing service members and their families.
There are many sources for TRICARE information. Each military hospital or medical clinic has a health benefit advisor, managed care office or TRICARE Service Center. As some features vary from region to region, your local advisor, office or center will have the most accurate information about your health care benefit.
TRICARE briefings are held frequently, and all personnel and their spouses are urged to attend a briefing prior to deciding which TRICARE option is best for their family. In the Oak Harbor area or from out of town call 1-800-242-6788. Beneficiary service representatives are also available to answer benefits, claims and enrollment questions.