CAPE CANAVERAL SPACE FORCE STATION, Fla. - Near the end of 2021, members of the Florida Air National Guard’s 114th Space Control Squadron hosted the U.S. Navy’s Electronic Attack Squadron 139 (VAQ-139) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.
“The purpose of this operation was to bring two Electromagnetic Attack Squadrons together,” said Lt. Col. Anthony Surman, 114th assistant operations officer. “We wanted to create a forum where our teams could hear directly from other tactical electromagnetic warfare experts about the capabilities of our systems and also learn a little bit about space missions and the many activities going on at Cape Canaveral.”
VAQ-139 operates the Navy’s EA-18G Airborne Electronic Attack Platform, or “Growler,” a specialized version of the F/A-18F Super Hornet designed to suppress enemy air defenses. The 114th Space Control Squadron deploys with the Counter Communications System, a transportable space electromagnetic attack platform that denies adversary satellite communications.
“This was an operation in the making from our days working together in the Pentagon,” said Commander Kevin Jones, VAQ-139 executive officer. “From our initial discussions, we knew there would be a close relationship and bond between attack-minded operators."
In planning, the members quickly learned that both squadrons shared an affinity for cats. VAQ-139 is known in the Navy as the Cougars, and members of the 114th are ThunderCats.
So planners appropriately named the mission Operation SPACECAT, a two-day mission from Whidbey Island Naval Air Station, Washington, the home of VAQ-139, to Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.
“From my perspective, the most inspiring part of the day was sharing our respective capability briefings and getting the Growler crews on our operations floor,” said Tech. Sgt. Evgenie Borchers. “We speak the same language, we want to be on the attack, we share similar challenges, and we each have missions that are critical to success in a high-end fight.”
Jones said the mission was a success.
"Thanks to some awesome planning and coordination, we were able to land our jets on the historic Shuttle Landing Facility, and also learn about the critical mission of the 5th Space Launch Squadron before regrouping at the 114th squadron spaces to collaborate on electromagnetic warfare,” he said. "Freedom of action in the electromagnetic spectrum is a precursor to the successful conduct of operations in all domains. I have great appreciation for the advantages space capabilities provide the nation and the military. After witnessing my aircrew interact with the operators from the 114th, it is clear that to be successful in great power competition, we need fully integrated Electromagnetic Spectrum Operations and close relationships with all spectrum participants.”