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March 4, 2016
 

History of the 355th Fighter Wing at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base

On July 1, 1971 the Air Force reactivated the 355th Tactical Fighter Wing (TFW) at Davis-Monthan with the Vought A-7D Corsair II as the primary weapon system. In early 1975 the 355 TFW prepared for conversion to the nameless Fairchild Republic A-10 (it would be nearly three years before the name Thunderbolt II was officially selected for the A-10). In October 1975 the 355th Tactical Training Squadron activated to conduct A-10 academic training. Five months later, on 2 March 1976 the wing received the first A-10. D-M was officially transferred from the Strategic Air Command to Tactical Air Command on 30 September 1976. It was also on this day that the 355 TFW became D-M’s host wing. Before the close of the decade, two additional changes would occur. On 1 September 1979 the 355 TFW was redesignated the 355th Tactical Training Wing, and on October 2, the last A-7D mission was flown, thereby ending an eight years presence at D-M.

In the 1990s, the 355 TTW continued to train A-10 crews for assignments to units in the United States, United Kingdom and Korea. During this period, the A-10 saw combat for the first time during the Gulf War in 1991, destroying more than 1,000 Iraqi tanks, 2,000 military vehicles, and 1,200 artillery pieces. Additionally, A-10s shot down two Iraqi helicopters with the GAU-8 Avenger Gatling gun. During the war, seven A-10s were shot down, far fewer than military planners expected. During this time, A-10s had a mission capable rate of 95.7%, flew 8,100 sorties, and launched 90% of the AGM-65 Maverick missiles fired in the conflict.

The Wing’s next contingency, Operation SOUTHERN WATCH, began on August 27, 1992, in an effort to enforce restrictions placed on Iraq following Operation DESERT STORM. The 355th supported this operation with five deployments to Southwest Asia in 1995, 1997, 1998, 1999, and 2001. All deployments were to enforce the 33rd parallel southern no-fly zone. In 1999, in addition to the regular Operation SOUTHERN WATCH A-10 rotations, the wing provided Compass Call assets to Operation ALLIED FORCE, the NATO air campaign over Serbia and Kosovo. The next change for the installation occurred on 1 May 1992, when the Air Force policy of “one base-one boss” was implemented. This resulted in all Air Divisions, including the 836 AD, beginning inactivated. With this action, the 355 FW was once again D-M’s host wing. Also on this day, the 41st and 43rd Electronic Control Squadrons and the EC-130E Compass Call aircraft were assigned to the 355th FW. These actions resulted in the 355th FW becoming the 355th Wing (WG).

The attacks on September 11, 2001, led to the initiation of three missions–Operation ENDURING FREEDOM (OEF) in Afghanistan, which Davis-Monthan continues to support, Operation IRAQI FREEDOM (renamed Operation NEW DAWN), and Operation NOBLE EAGLE. After OEF began, eight A-10s from the WG’s 354th Fighter Squadron (FS) deployed to Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan and provided close air support missions for multinational ground forces. Other deployments to Bagram Airfield followed in 2003, 2005, and 2007. In 2009 the 354 Bulldogs returned to Afghanistan in a historic deployment to Kandahar Airfield. This was the first time an A-10C squadron operated from this location. It was also during this deployment the 354th FS reached another combat milestone by utilizing the Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod in warfare, a first for an A-10C squadron. The 354th’s next six month deployment was to Osan AB, Republic of Korea, in 2011. For its flawless role in support of Pacific Command’s Theater Security Package, the unit was awarded the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award. 




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