VIRGINIA BEACH--An Oceana-based fighter squadron ships out Friday for possible duty in Iraq.
VFA-81, "The Sunliners," left the Virginia Beach master jet base earlier this week to deploy aboard the San Diego-based USS Carl Vinson. The squadron has around 230 personnel and 12 F/A-18 E Super Hornet fighter jets.
The Vinson is scheduled for a 9-month deployment in the Fifth Fleet area of operations. News outlets have reported that the Vinson Carrier Strike Group could be ordered to "surge" to the region to join or replace the Norflk-based USS George H.W. Bush group, which is currently carrying out air strikes against Islamic State insurgents in Iraq.
The Sunliners' commanding officer, CDR Brett Dresden, said whatever tasking his squadron receives, his team is ready.
"It's absolutely a privilege and honor to serve at this time and make the world a better place," he said. "And that's exactly what those kids are thinking right now is that's what they're going to do."
Under the current schedule, VFA-81 won't return to Oceana until May 2015.