US Naval Aviation in the 1980s: Atlantic and Pacific Fleet Air Stations
- Adrian Symonds
15th April 2023
The final decade of the Cold War saw unprecedented peacetime expansion of the US Navy, including Naval Aviation. President Reagan’s plan for a 600-ship Navy resulted in stepped-up construction of Nimitz class supercarriers and the aircraft to operate from them, including new types like the F/A-18 Hornet. Naval aviation was highly diverse, from carrier-borne F-14 Tomcats to P-3 Orions keeping vigil over the world’s oceans, SH-2 Seasprites operating from tiny landing pads on warships in heaving seas, and land-based adversaries playing the opposing force ‘bad guys’ during training.
Tensions were high in the 1980s. While US carrier battle groups prepared for confrontation with the Soviets, should the Cold War turn ‘hot’, they also engaged in combat operations in the Mediterranean and Persian Gulf.
Take a step inside the day-to-day operations of Naval Aviation in the 1980s.