Each US Navy aircraft carrier deploys with between 70 and 85 aircraft composing a Carrier Air Wing -- also known as a CVW. Among the aircraft types deployed in a typical Carrier Air Wing are:

  • F-14A and/or B "Tomcat" -- VF (Fighter)
  • F/A-18C "Hornet" -- VFA (Fighter Attack), VMFA (Marine Fighter Attack)
  • E-2C or E-2C+ "Hawkeye" -- VAW (Carrier Airborne Early Warning)
  • ES-3A and/or B "Viking" -- VQ (Fleet Air Reconnaissance, Refueling)
  • S-3B "Viking" -- VS (Anti-Submarine)
  • EA-6B "Prowler" -- VAQ (Tactical Electronic Warfare)
  • SH-60F / HH-60H / SH-3H -- HS (Anti-Submarine Helicopters, Logistics, SAR)
  • C-2A "Greyhound" -- VRC (Fleet Logistics Support, Carrier-On-Board Delivery, Airdrops)

The striking power of each Air Wing is more than most countries have in their entire air force. And given that over 70 percent of the world's population lives along the shorelines of the oceans, the aircraft carrier remains one of the most powerful military weapons available.