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VFA-31 or Strike Fighter Squadron 31 is known as the Tomcatters, callsign “Felix”, a United States Navy strike fighter squadron stationed at Naval Air Station Oceana currently flying the F/A-18E Super Hornet. The Tomcatters are the second oldest Navy Fighter Attack squadron operating today.
In 1980, VF-31 and USS Saratoga concluded a 24-year period of continuous service together, the longest in US naval history.
VF-31 received the F-14A Tomcat in early 1981. The squadron’s first cruise was on board USS John F. Kennedy. In 1983, VF-31 embarked on its fourth cruise with Kennedy. The cruise took the carrier and its air wing to the southern Mediterranean off the North African coast. VF-31 regularly flew over Lebanese and Syrian positions in support of multi-national peacekeeping operations, often being fired at by Syrian AAA. During a mission in early December 1983, heat-seeking SA-7 SAMs were launched at two squadron F-14s. Although both Tomcats were able to return safely to Kennedy, this incident led to US Navy retaliatory strikes. On December 4th, both carriers in the Mediterranean Sea, Kennedy and USS Independence, launched strikes against Syrian SAM sites, losing one A-7 Corsair II and one A-6 Intruder.
VF-31 shifted carriers and air wings in April 1985 joining USS Forrestal along with its sister squadron, the VF-11 Red Rippers.
In June 1986, VF-31 and the rest of the Forrestal battle group set sail for the Mediterranean. While deployed the squadron participated in numerous fleet exercises. In August 1986, VF-31 participated in joint exercises with the Egyptian Air Force and Navy.
In September 1987 VF-31 and the Forrestal battle group participated in North Atlantic exercises above the Arctic Circle. In April, 1988 VF-31 and the Forrestal battle group set sail for a six-month Indian Ocean cruise which lasted for six months. While heading home from the “IO”, the battle group once again participated in North Atlantic NATO exercises before coming home to NAS Oceana.