The Diamond Anniversary Decade
The eighth decade of Naval Aviation was character-
ized by a buildup of its forces, the rise of world-wide
acts of terrorism and Naval Aviation's involvement in
response to the various crises throughout the world.
The decade began with American Embassy person-
nel being held as hostages in Iran. As had been the
case since the Cold War began, carriers were on sta-
tion in response to the crisis. The latter part of the
I970s had seen an increase in the number of carrier
deployments to the Indian Ocean. In the I980s that
trend was increased and strengthened. Undoubtedly,
this was the result of the ongoing and increasing prob-
lems in the Middle East, eastern Africa and the sub-
continent of Asia.
During the 1980s, Naval Aviation saw a resurgence
in its strength and capabilities. There was an increase
in its building programs and new technology
research. Many of Naval Aviation's aircraft for the
1990s and the 21 st century were introduced in the
1980s. They included the F/A-18 Hornet, the SH-60B
LAMPS MK III Seahawk and its derivatives, the MH-
53E and the AV-8B Harrier II. A new aircraft concept
was introduced with the rollout of the V-22 Osprey, a
fixed-wing, tilt-rotor aircraft capable of vertical take-
off and landing and horizontal flight (VTOL). Missile
development kept pace with the aircraft. New intro-
ductions into the operating inventory included the
HARM, Skipper, Hellfire and the cruise missile
(Tomahawk). The platforms for these missiles also
kept pace with developments. Additional nuclear-
powered aircraft carriers were commissioned and
more were authorized for construction. A new class of
multipurpose amphibious assault ship (LHD) was
commissioned with more scheduled for completion or
The decade of the 1980s was special for Naval
Aviation. In 1986 it celebrated its 75th anniversary.
Throughout the year, many of the advances in the
development of Naval Aviation were lauded, as were
the men and women who contributed to its growth.
Naval Aviation's continued involvement in internation-
al events was emphasized and its need to maintain its
readiness and capabilities was reaffirmed.
Naval Aviation's involvement in international
events-major highlights of the 1980s-began with
Iran and the continuing hostage crisis, 1979-1981.
Libyan operations in 1981, 1986 and 1989 demonstrat-
ed Naval Aviation's air-to-air and strike capabilities. In
1983, a carrier and amphibious task force took part in
Operation Urgent Fury and the re-establishment of
democracy in the Caribbean island of Grenada.
Operations in and around Lebanon kept Naval
Aviation occupied during the mid-1980s. Responding
to hijacking and terrorism in the Mediterranean basin
was an ongoing requirement for most of the 1980s.
The other hot spot for Naval Aviation was the Persian
Gulf and the Iran-Iraq war. Naval Aviation was
involved in numerous periods of short-lived combat
operations in the Persian Gulf area. The escorting of
reflagged oil tankers and the monitoring of the Iran-
Iraq war kept Naval Aviation on the line from the mid-
1980s. As the decade ended, a new crisis appeared
when Iraq invaded Kuwait and the UN imposed an
economic blockade on Iraq to force its withdrawal
The activities of Naval Aviation were not limited to a
combat role. In 1982, the U.S. Navy began working
closely with U.S. Customs and the Coast Guard to curb
the influx of drugs into the country. Navy E-2C
Hawkeye aircraft became a permanent participant in
helping to detect drug smugglers. Other activities
included continued involvement in the manned space
program and assistance during natural disasters, both
at home and abroad.
The 1980s ended on a high note, featuring a contin-
ued detente between the U.S. and the Soviet Union.
During this decade, Naval Aviation continued to show
its diversity and multiple capabilities.
1 January The names of the first group of selectees
for the new Naval Aviation Hall of Honor at the Naval
Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Fla., were made pub-
lic. The 12 men approved for enshrinement by the
Chief of Naval Operations on 10 July 1980 were: