This history of VAW-120 goes back to 6 July 1948 when Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron TWO (VAW-2) was commissioned at NAS Norfolk, VA. Shortly after being formed, the squadron moved to NAS Quonset Point, RI, and was re-designated Composite Squadron TWELVE (VC-12). In those early days, the squadron successively operated the TBM Avenger, the AF Guardian, and the AD-5W Skyraider. In 1956, the squadron was re-designated Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron TWELVE (VAW-12). With the new name came a new aircraft, the "Guppy" version of the AD-5W Skyraider. In 1961, the WF-2 Tracer, more affectionately known as the E-1B "Willie Fudd," arrived to begin its long tour in AEW service, and the following year the squadron returned to Breezy Point at NAS Norfolk, VA.
In July 1966, VAW-12 received the first E-2A Hawkeye, and was supplying detachments utilizing two different aircraft aboard ten Atlantic Fleet aircraft carriers in addition to training personnel for those detachments. With over 200 officers and 800 enlisted personnel, VAW-12 was reorganized as an Air Wing, and on 1 April 1967, Admiral T.E. Moore, Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, commissioned Carrier Airborne Early Warning Wing Twelve with six operating squadrons. That same year on 1 July, Replacement Air Group Squadron ONE TWO ZERO (RVAW-120) was commissioned as Wing Twelve's training squadron with a formalized training mission.
The squadron received the second generation E-2B Hawkeye aircraft in 1970, followed by the arrival of the E-2C on 31 May 1973. With the delivery of the first Advanced Radar Processing System (ARPS) aircraft in 1978, RVAW-120 trained Naval Flight Officers (NFOs), Flight Technicians and maintenance personnel in both the APS-120 and APS-125 radars. This continued until 1980 when all east coast VAW squadrons completed transition to the APS-125. In 1984, RVAW-120 trained aircrew and maintenance personnel in the APS-125 and APS-138 radars as east and west coasts continued to prepare for full transition to the TRAC A/APS-138 Radar System.
In May 1980, the 2F110 Operational Flight Trainer (OFT) was delivered and ready for use in early May 1981. The OFT is designed to simulate actual in-flight emergencies and train Replacement Pilots to handle such emergencies prior to receiving E-2C training flights. The 15F8B Weapon System Trainer (WST) arrived in October 1984 and was accepted for training on 19 November 1984. This latest arrival provided staff and Replacement NFOs with the latest technology for the Grumman Hawkeye.
In May 1983, RVAW-120 officially became VAW-120, Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron ONE TWO ZERO, reflecting the task load of a fleet squadron and a training squadron. NFO training was moved to a new site in April 1983 where the new 15F8B WST is currently housed. Pilot training was also moved ot the new E-2 Training Building in late 1984 for consolidation of the training mission.
In June 1985, VAW-120 received the first re-procured C-2As delivered to the Navy. This delivery marked the commencement of a long range procurement program designed to greatly enhance the Carrier On-board Delivery (COD) capability for Carrier Battle Groups. The addition of the re-procured C-2A Greyhound brought the added responsibility of creating a new training program for the Naval Aviators and Aircrewmen of Fleet Logistics Support Squadrons VRC-30 and VRC-40 which included the first ever C-2A night carrier qualifications.E-2C+ Group II Hawkeye.
VAW-120 received its first E-2C+ (Group I) aircraft in November 1993. This aircraft introduced the enhanced APS-139 radar system and the more powerful and efficient T56-A-427 Allison engine. The E-2C continued its technological growth and in February 1994 the command took custody of its first E-2C (Group II) aircraft. This version of the E-2C introduced the powerful and innovative APS-145 radar and an impressively accurate Global Positioning System (GPS) to aid in navigation. As a result, the Group II curriculum for pilots and NFOs was established to provide training in the new aircraft.
VAW-120 became the single site Fleet Replacement Squadron (FRS) in September 1994 when VAW-110, its west coast counterpart, was decommissioned. As a result, VAW-120 is currently the sole training site for all E-2C/D and C-2A aircrew.
Not only is VAW-120 responsible for FRS training for Pilots, Naval Flight Officers, and Naval Aircrewmen, but they can also be tasked operationally in support of defense and disaster operations. In response to the events of Sept 11, 2001, VAW-120 launched aircraft in support of homeland defense operations. Their missions included airborne surveillance, ground communication relay, and track management along the east coast.
In 2010, VAW-120 received its first C-2A Greyhound aircraft upgraded with a new 8-bladed, electronically controlled prop system and complete glass cockpit navigation system upgrade. In addition, VAW-120 received the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye, the most advanced Airborne Command and Control platform in the world. A new Weapon System Trainer designed for the E-2D was completed that, for the first time, incorporated full crew mission training. The E-2D training pipeline commenced in 2013 for Fleet Transition Squadrons and Student Fleet Replacement Aviators. In 2019, VAW-120 qualified its first Instructor Pilots on the brand new Aerial Refueling (AR) capable E-2D aircraft, paving the way for the cutting edge training of Fleet Aviators and Replacement Pilots.
On 1 Jan 2020, VAW-120 was re-designated Airborne Command & Control Squadron ONE TWO ZERO, reflecting the Hawkeye’s modern mission of airborne battlespace command and control coupled with airborne early warning. Furthermore, the year 2020 marked the first transition of a fleet squadron to AR capable aircraft when VAW-120 completed training aircrew from VAW-126.
As it has for over fifty years, VAW-120 continues to produce the world's finest aircrew for the essential missions of Carrier-based Airborne Command and Control, as well as tactical Carrier Logistics Support.