8th FS mission it to train new F-16 pilots and requalifying former F-16 fighter pilots
The Black Sheep of the 8th Fighter Squadron (FS) have returned.
On Aug. 4, 2017 in fact the 8th FS was reactivated at Holloman Air Force Base (AFB), N.M., Aug. 4, 2017, six years after its last inactivation May 13, 2011, as part of the 56th Fighter Wing (FW), Luke AFB, Arizona.
The unit, first activated at Selfridge Field, Michigan, Jan. 16, 1941, as part of the 49th Pursuit Group, has maintained and piloted various styles of aircraft under an ever-evolving mission.
As told by Airman 1st Class Alexis P. Docherty, 49th Wing Public Affairs, in the article 8th Fighter Squadron reactivated after six years, such aircraft including the P-40 Warhawk, the P-38 Lightning, the F-117 Nighthawk and most recently, the F-22 Raptor, were utilized throughout World War II, the Korean Conflict and in parts of Southeast and Southwest Asia.
“In July 1968, the 49th Tactical Fighter Wing was assigned to Holloman after several European assignments,” said Arlan Ponder, 49th Wing director of media operations and former base historian assistant. “From May through October 1972, the 8th was deployed to Takhli Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand for combat operations. While in Southeast Asia, the 8th flew air interdiction and close air support missions. They received an Air Force Outstanding Unit Citation with a combat Valor device for their participation in Vietnam.”
In continuation of its colorful history, the 8th FS will now maintain and pilot F-16 fighter jets, with its sister squadrons, the 311th FS and 314th FS here.
According to Lt. Col. Mark Sletten, 8th FS commander (who took command of the 8th FS on Aug. 4 at an activation ceremony led by Col. James Keen, 54th Fighter Group commander) more than 40 F-16 fighter jets are projected to be transported to Holloman, which is almost double the amount of aircraft currently stationed at the airfield.
Noteworthy this historic event comes at a unique time as the U.S. Air Force (USAF) is currently experiencing a fighter pilot shortage.
To alleviate this issue, Sletten explained that the 8th FS is dedicated to train new F-16 fighter pilots and requalifying former F-16 fighter pilots as part of a production effort.
“Our mission is to build the future of air power and to lead the Air Force in developing Airmen while training F-16 fighter pilots,” Sletten said. “My goal is to produce Airmen and fighter pilots who are first and foremost, professionals, and who are lethal and passionate when it comes to their craft.”
Photo credit: Airman 1st Class Alexis P. Docherty and Tech. Sgt. Amanda N. Junk / U.S. Air Force
Artwork courtesy of AircraftProfilePrints.com