Airborne Command and Control Squadron (VAW) 121 was created out of a "super squadron" VAW-12 on 1 April 1967. Flying the E-1B Tracer until the mid-1970s, VAW-121 transitioned to the new E-2C in July of 1975. In 1978, VAW-121 made its first deployment as part of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 7 on the newly commissioned USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69). During this period, VAW-121 changed its squadron call sign from “GRIFFIN” to “BLUETAIL” and adopted the unique tail design that you see today.
Over the years, the BLUETAILS have also served aboard the USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67), USS George Washington (CVN 73), and USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) and have served with distinction in actions from Bosnia and Kosovo to Partnership in the Americas, as well as Operations Southern Watch, Iraqi Freedom, and Enduring Freedom. Additionally, VAW-121 provided critical support to recovery efforts during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and conducted several multi-national deployments and exercises from 2006-2008. In 2009 and 2010, the Bluetails deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom on the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69). In 2014, VAW-121 transitioned to the Navy’s newest command and control platform, the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye. The Bluetails were the second fleet squadron to receive the Advanced Hawkeye. In 2017, they also deployed onboard the USS Nimitz (CVN 68) in support of Operation Inherent Resolve conducting combat Damage Control Assistant (DCA), being the first E-2 squadron to conduct combat DCA since 1991.
In 2019 through 2020, VAW-121 completed the longest carrier deployment since the Vietnam War era, executing a near ten-month deployment around the world voyage, providing vital U.S. presence and maritime security in multiple areas of responsibility. VAW-121 was the 2019 Battle Effectiveness Award winner, more commonly referred to as Battle “E.” This reward recognizes sustained superior performance in an operational environment and sustained continuous readiness throughout the Fleet Response Training Plan.
Most recently in 2021 through 2022 VAW-121 added aerial refueling capability, completed Hawkeye Advanced Readiness Program (HARP), Air to Air Strike Fighter Advanced Readiness Program (SFARP), Tailored Ship’s Training Availability (TSTA), Air Wing Fallon, and Composite Unit Training Exercise (COMPTUEX). VAW-121 is currently on a scheduled deployment aboard USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) in the U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa area of operations, employed by U.S. 6th Fleet to defend U.S., allied and partner interests. In April 2023, VAW-121 returned from a scheduled deployment aboard USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) in the U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa area of operations, employed by U.S. 6th Fleet to defend U.S. allied and partner interests.