An F-14 Tomcat with a commanding officer's modex.
A C-1 Trader displaying an Admiral's modex.

A modex is a three-digit serial number used for United States Navy and United States Marine Corps aircraft.


The first digit of a modex indicates an aircraft's squadron within its carrier air wing. Modexes beginning with 1 or 2 were assigned to fighter squadrons (VF) until the F-14 Tomcat was retired, and were reassigned to strike fighter squadrons (VFA) flying the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. Modexes of 3 and 4 also refer to attack aircraft, including the Hornet, and formerly the A-7 Corsair. 5XX modexes are reserved for heavy attack aircraft squadrons (VA) such as the A-6 Intruder. A modex with the first digit of 6 refer to AWACS (VAW), electronic warfare (VAQ), or anti-submarine warfare (VS) squadrons. Helicopter squadrons use modexes beginning in 7.

The last two digits indicate individual aircraft within a squadron. Modexes ending in 01 are the squadron's commanding officer's aircraft, while the CAG's aircraft (often called the CAG bird) has a modex ending in 00. The numbers increase as pilot seniority decreases. Modexes of 000 are used for aircraft transporting Admirals.

Marine aircraft use three-digit modexes only when assigned to a carrier air wing. When land-based, they use two-digit modexes that do not include squadron information. Land-based naval aircraft use three-digit modexes, but they are the last three digits of the aircraft's bureau number and do not give any information concerning the aircraft's squadron or pilot seniority. Carrier onboard delivery aircraft also used bureau number-derived modexes, but occasionally use the aircraft carrier's number (for example, 68 for an aircraft assigned to USS Nimitz).


See also

  • [Naval aviation]
  • [United States Marine Corps aviation]

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