VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — The two Navy jets that crashed off Oregon Inlet Thursday morning are part of a strike fighter squadron based at Naval Air Station Oceana.
Known as the Fighting Checkmates, the squadron’s roots go back to the latter stages of World War Two.
VFA-211 became the first operational east squadron on the East Coast for the F/A-18 Super Hornet. The fighting Checkmates had combat deployments in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
That same squadron had an F/A-18 crash in the Persian Gulf in May of last year. It happened shortly after takeoff from the USS Theodore Roosevelt. The jet was part of a larger force in place Operation Inherent Resolve — the ongoing effort to combat ISIS.
It lost power and the flight crew ejected safely, but the jet was a total loss.
The price tag for one of the Navy jets is about $60 million dollars. It has a top speed of 1200 miles per hour at high altitude. Its top altitude is about 50 thousand feet, which it can reach in one minute.
Typical weapons for a fully-armed F/A-18 include a six-barreled cannon mounted in the nose, several different kinds of missiles, a laser-guided bomb and various general purpose bombs and rockets.
A Navy spokesman says the jets may or may not be recovered. Investigators will determine whether they will be needed in order to complete the investigation.
They will also see if recovering them is even feasible or physically possible.