has a pretty good breakdown of the organization of US military aviation units. Different services have different philospohies on what a wing, group, and squadron do.
The Navy has two kinds of air wings. The first kind is Carrier Air Wing, which are deployed onto carriers and are assigned squadrons for work-ups and deployment and do the operational employment of aircraft for combat, and other missions, etc. The Carrier Air Wings are composed of 75-85 aircraft of different types.
When the Carrier Air Wing returns from deployment, all of its squadrons fall back to the second kind of wing, known as the "type" wings, e.g. Strike Fighter Wing Pacific, which are administrative organizations and never deploy (so you'll never see one of these on a carrier), and are composed of usually just one type of aircraft, all F-18's or all S-3's, etc, to facilitate maintenance and basic and currency training. The type wings will have over a hundred aircraft all of the same type.
The Marine Corps has just 4 Marine Air Wings. A Marine Air Wing is huge, and will consist of over several hundred aircraft and helicopters, larger than a Navy type wing and totally overwhelming a Carrier Air Wing. Within the Marine Air Wing are several Marine Air Groups. Each Marine Air Group is similar to the Navy's type wing, will normally be composed of aircraft of all one type, e.g. all F-18's or all AV
-8's, all attack helos (AH-1/UH-1), or all support helos (CH-46/CH-53s) and consist of around a hundred aircraft or helicopters in a group. And within the Marine Air Group are the individual squadrons which of course are all one type of aircraft.
The Air Force is different in its operating principle. The Air Force Wing is a lot smaller than a Navy type wing or Marine Air Wing, but probably the same size as a Carrier Air Wing. The way I understand it, each wing has an operations group, a support group, a logistics group, medical group. The operations group owns all the airplanes (let's say an F-15 fighter wing will have 72 aircraft of 3 squadrons of 24 aircraft each but I guess it's different for every wing), and operationally employs the aircraft, supported by the support and logistics groups. Some Air Force Wings are composed of just one type of aircraft, and others wings are composed of several different types of aircraft. The one thing the Air Force Wing has to deal with that the Navy and Marine Wings don't care about at all is the Air Force Wing has to maintain the base infrastructure. The Navy and Marine Corps has a separate organization that deals with base maintenance. Looking at the globalsecurity.org site, the Air Force air wing structure is changing.
Anyways, probably doesn't answer any of your questions as to number of aircraft in a squadron. But gives some insight as to the disparity in the different size wings of the different services.
Navy and Marine squadrons tend to have 12 aircraft in a squadron (F-14/F-18/CH-46/CH-53's)
More specialized Navy/Marine Corps squadrons may have less or more than 12 aircraft in a squadron.
As for tactical organization of aircraft, at least from the Navy point of view.
2 aircraft is an element? (flight lead and wingman)
4 aircraft is a division.
Woodreau / KMVL
[Edited 2003-06-28 18:13:52]
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