VAQ-209 is a Naval Aviation Reserve Squadron, based at NAF Andrews, near Washington DC. The squadron flies the Grumman EA-6B Prowler, and electronic jamming aircraft. VAQ-209's traditional role is to serve as backup for regular forces. Lately, to meet OIF and OEF requirements, -209 has been a land based deployable squadron.
VAQ-209's nickname is "Starwarriors". For several years, a small outlined Darth Vader head has adorned their tail. For this year, the squadron came up with a spectacularly painted CAG bird. Darth has been spotted in all of his glory!
A couple of shots of 161883, seen at the NAS Ft. Worth open house recently.
For those of you not 'in the know' ... CAG is a Naval Aviation term that dates back to the '30s, and refers to 'Commander, Air Group'. This was the fellow who commanded all of the aircraft deployed on an aircraft carrier. In the '60s, squadrons started paying tribute to their CAG by painting up one squadron aircraft in colorful, non-standard markings, and putting his name on the canopy rail. This aircraft was then known as the 'CAG Bird'.
These days, indeed since WWII, it is known as a Carrier Air Wing, not Carrier Air Group. However, the name CAG has stuck even after all of these years - calling the boss CAW just doesn't sound right, does it?